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SnickerdoodleNinja's Romeo x Juliet Tv Review

Romeo x Juliet

Romeo x Juliet tv Review

Story & Characters

When you first hear that there’s an anime adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it can be easy to toss it aside, thinking that everything that can possibly be done with the story has already been done and overused. Well, think again, because Romeo x Juliet is a unique experience all its own. Set in Neo Verona, a city in the sky, RxJ paints the lives of the oppressed under the hand of the cruel Prince Montague, the same man who stole the crown from and murdered the Capulets. The sole survivor of the Capulet family, young Juliet must take up her father’s sword to right the wrongs of the Prince and restore peace to a crumbling Neo Verona- even as she falls in love with the tyrant’s very son Romeo.

While it’s not my intention to turn this into a full-blown comparison between the original play and the anime, there are some contrasts that are vital to note. While this is nothing against Shakespeare’s piece, due to its nature as a play character development and plot were extremely limited time wise. However, in RxJ, the 24 half-hour episodes allow the series to spread its wings and create an involved, well-developed story with fleshed out characters. For instance, take Juliet. No longer merely a sheltered girl under her parents’ constant watch, Juliet has instead been raised as a boy who fights for the sake of the people. While it would have been easy to stop there, RxJ goes a step farther, developing Juliet such that she means something different to many groups of people-to her followers, the sole heir to the house of Capulet; to the citizens of Neo Verona, a masked vigilante righting the evils of the Prince; to Romeo, a sweet young girl who wants nothing more than some peace and quiet. Torn in different directions by three equally real parts of herself, Juliet often struggles to reconcile her conflicting desires and needs. Interestingly enough, Romeo-the kind and idealistic hero who also struggles to understand the actions of his cold father- is the one person who can always accept all of her selves, while other groups refuse to accept all of her initially. In having its heroine be so multi-faceted, RxJ is able to make the star-crossed lovers aspect effectively emotional and develop a number of characters through their relationship with Juliet as they grow to love and accept all of her, making not just a few but nearly all of its characters come alive three-dimensionally.

Along with its characters, RxJ develops a story that ties the viewer into the world of Neo Verona by looking at many issues that are much larger than Romeo or Juliet. While their love is always at the heart of the show, the series never neglects for the two to consider the bigger picture around them, whether it be the needs of their allies, the suffering of the people, or the call of the ominous tree of Escalus. And while at times these elements seem as though they might become too grand for the series to handle within its scope, RxJ prevents these crises from feeling contrived (Shakespeare’ overnight plague coming to mind, anyone?) by using subtle hints throughout the story to make the climax more gripping and the final tragedy more heart-wrenching. Sadly, there are a few moments where back stories and other elements are not always given as effective of a lead-in as they could be, but as a whole RxJ shows evidence of a carefully planned story of innocent love, self-sacrifice, and justice.

While it would have been easy to ride on the coat-tails of the original story, RxJ instead chooses to develop its own unique take on a classic story while still staying true to several Shakespearean elements such as environment and star-crossed love- without being predictable despite viewers knowing how things must end. Overall, RxJ overcomes the limitations of its ancestor through well-rounded character development and a carefully planned yet rational chain of events that gain momentum and absorb the viewer into the tale of Romeo and Juliet and their heart-wrenching tragedy.

Rating: 9

Art

As befitting a Shakespearean tale, Romeo x Juliet is complete with medieval castles and costumes that remain true to the feel of the original story. That said, you’ll find no glamorous or gaudy outfits or colors here- rather than adding bold, vivid costumes and environments, RxJ uses soft pastels to contribute to the somber mood of an oppressed people living in a city that floats among the clouds. When it comes to moments that are meant to be particularly emotional, however, the characters and their surroundings almost seem to emit a soft glow-adding dimension and hope without detracting from the dreary setting.

However, while the environments and characters are usually well-designed and variant, there are some moments of glaring inconsistency. One moment the characters are beautifully animated; at another they are painfully flat and rather simplified. While not a huge distraction, the switches between gorgeous and average can be a bit disappointing. Further, at times the series throws in a couple of moments in which buildings are animated in 3-D. Again, not hugely distracting, and even a bit impressive-but fairly pointless given that the artwork is usually above par in 2-D anyway. Finally, to nitpick a little, sometimes the eyelashes of the female characters look more like crows’ feet than actual eyelashes to me. As I said though, that’s more me being nitpicky and strange than an actual flaw in animation, but I can’t deny that it makes me giggle at certain points in the series.

Despite some flaws in consistency, RxJ generally provides a beautiful and unique setting that through its characters and environment pulls the viewer further into the world of Romeo and Juliet, more than offsetting the moments of flatness while creating a world that you can easily get lost in emotionally and visually.

Rating: 8

Sound

If you’re anything like me, then slowly paced opening songs usually do little but put you to sleep before the show’s really even started. However, in RxJ, Lena Park’s cover of You Raise Me Up manages to spot-on capture the sacrifice and innocence of the series so perfectly as well as be so emotionally charged and uplifting that you almost forget that the song is a bit on the slow side. Sadly the endings are not quite so engrossing, but they generally fit the series quite well -which is a bit shocking, considering that the first ending sounds like a rock song, but it still captures the desperation of the characters and cruelty of fate nicely. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the second ending moves back towards self-actualization and moving forward, though while it fits the series it tends to be not so memorable. It’s also a bit sad that sometimes the transitions between the end of an episode and the start of the ending theme don’t always flow, but that seems to have more to do with the ever-changing mood of the story than a poor choice of endings. After all, it’s a bit hard to make a consistent flow when one episode ends in a blissful wedding and another in a brutal murder, and to its credit RxJ hits the nail on the head with its themes for the most part.

As a whole, RxJ uses background music fairly sparingly-but when it does, boy does it rock some socks off. Whether in moments of horror or respite, the orchestra and piano melodies are dramatic and intense, adding much to the emotional effect of the series without distracting the viewer from the events or dialogue. Granted, some of these pieces are repeated a number of times, but that’s not really a problem when you know how to use music sparingly and effectively.

When it comes to voice acting, the Japanese cast makes a strong show, despite a few awkwardly deep voices. However, just as English dubs are not always as suited to capturing voices in series set in modern Japan, the original Japanese cast does not seem as suited to RxJ’s heavy European stylization whether it be name pronunciation or translation of Shakespearean dialogue. Not that the latter is a fault with the voice actors, but it does make quite a difference between languages. For instance, take the following example: in the Japanese version, a particular line is subtitled as

“Is that a hope that will only be realized at Juliet’s expense? What of happiness for Juliet herself?”

The English dub, on the other hand, translates the same line as

“Can that hope take wing except at Juliet’s expense? Must her own happiness lie in ashes?”

While neither translation is shabby and it might seem like a minor difference, apply this discrepancy between lines throughout the entire show and there is a subtle yet considerable difference between the two in their likeness to Shakespeare. Thus, if you want the full Shakespearean immersion and feel, the already strong English cast is the way to go.

Overall, RxJ features a rich, wonderfully dramatic soundtrack with an immersive English dub. Though there are moments where musical flow is odd, as a whole RxJ’s sound once again shows careful planning and heart-warming emotion.

Rating: 9

Presentation

One of the major concerns that I personally have when I pick up romances is the concern that the series will become so in love with its main couple that it loses sight of all of its supporting characters. Considering both the title and play of origin, this was also a major concern of mine for Romeo x Juliet. However, RxJ proved me wrong, giving ample attention to a fairly large cast, whether it be the adorkable Romeo, the brooding, Batman-like Tybalt or even the comic playwright Will. Sometimes the characters fall prey to what I like to call “the dumbs”- the making of illogical or foolish conclusions or actions for no discernable reason-but as a whole, the characters and their motives, intentions, and desires are portrayed realistically despite any starting apprehensions on the part of the viewer.

To conclude, it’s important to note that you do not have to be a fan of Shakespeare’s original play to enjoy Romeo x Juliet. Personally speaking, I was fairly indifferent to the original play, but the thoroughly developed plot and characters, effectively dramatic music, and intertwining of a handful of genres (romance, fantasy, adventure, and even action) won me over almost as quickly as it took me to decide that a movie about Santa Claus, a demon, and Merlin would be terrible. And that’s saying something. That said, RxJ isn’t without some minor flaws, and if the idea of love at first sight, two star-crossed lovers being willing to die for each other, or defense of romantic ideals make you nauseous, then no, you will probably not enjoy RxJ-after all, if the show were any sweeter, it'd give you cavities. But if you happen to be even a bit of a romantic sap-and you know who you are, saps-then chances are you’ll fall in love with the heart-warming tragedy of Romeo x Juliet.

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

8.83 (very good)

Reviewed by SnickerdoodleNinja, Dec 22, 2011

Comments

  1. MisaSasekage Moderator Dec 23, 2011

    Romance anime aren't usually the genre of anime that I usually find myself enjoying because they are usually too overdramatic or the reIationships seems unrealistic; be it because of certain qualities in a character that are too exaggerated or something of that nature, but I enjoyed seeing an anime adaption based off of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. And like you stated it was nice to see that the rest of the cast wasn't lost in the shadow of the main couple. And I also like the differences between Romeo and his father. Juliet came off as a good female lead, strong and not sheltered or weak-minded when it came to her ideals. I didn't have too many bad things as a whole to say about this series, other than the art was a tiny bit inconsistent when it came to the characters and environnments at times.

    Very nice review Snicker-chan, it was very well written.^^ I got a good laugh while reading the Art section^^

  2. angelxxuan Dec 23, 2011

    excellent review first and foremost snicker, as I felt the anime deserved such a rating due to it's nature of depth and detail, it was just something I couldn't get into and pay that close attention to be bothered with it. I do remember watching it and the ending which was fitting, I wonder if people would be adventurous and venture into the real play/book (if they haven't encountered it) and watch/read it (not the hollywood version with Leo) but the real deal, just because you mentioned it in your review. I remember reading the infamous play of Romeo and Juliet and found such similar settings in this anime it was uncanny, as you pointed out as well. I suppose it was the romance part, not the actual plot of the anime, that drove my attention away. I can't wait to read another of your review and, someday, I'll get around to producing another review of my own

  3. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Dec 24, 2011

    While I haven't run into any looking for recommendations to get into anime series, I generally offer two of them off-hand to help make the transition a bit easier. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo and Romeo X Juliet. Generally speaking, I usually point more towards Romeo X Juliet simply because of the fact that it was a brilliant example of taking an already famous concept and building upon it in an aspect that is not only creative, but also brilliant and has by far some of the best music I've ever heard in an anime series.

    Btw, that Santa Clause movie you mentioned? I watched half of it several years ago and my life has been forever changed since.

    I greatly enjoy reading your reviews and this one is certainly no exception. You've truly honed your craft and you also have a great balance between all of the sections as well. By far your best review now, and now I want to re-watch RxJ.

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