Anime Review 27: Victorian Romance Emma, Munto, and Fruits Basket
In these reviews featuring three anime titles, what I did was judge each one based only on the first five episodes. Now, I still sometimes do this for new anime, calling them "at a glance" reviews. So, this is my judgment of three anime series based on first impressions.
Victorian Romance Emma
This anime is a story not unlike that of any romance novel on the planet. It's about a secret, longing love that develops between a maid, Emma, and a gentlemen, Mr. Jones, whose former governess is now Emma's employer. My initial reaction to this show was that it was nauseatingly cliché and boring, but episode 3 "spices" things up a little with a visitor from India, and I realize that at its core this is simply a different kind of anime than I normally like, but that doesn't make it bad. It will definitely appeal to people who like Victorian era imagery; costumes, scenery, horses and carriages, and so on.
It also appeals to the introverted mind; this is an anime that exists in the realm of thoughts and feelings instead of actions, and the viewer is allowed to peer deeply into every character's past and inner secrets. I thought of it as charming and sentimental, a little unoriginal, but definitely worth watching for fans of Victorian romance novels (the title says it all).
Munto is a short anime, only consisting of 9 episodes and one movie. Munto looks beyond mundane reality to a world mirroring our own, a heaven-like alternate reality, a world racked with war and chaos, accessed only by the mind of a special little girl here on Earth, named Yumemi. Yumemi has seen visions of this alternate dreamscape ever since early childhood; but she thought she was just insane.
However; a man who calls himself Lord Munto from this alternate world keeps reaching out to her in dreams and visions, begging her to lend him her power. She has no idea what he means by that, but he is gradually able to explain. It's a very magical show drawn in a beautiful style. I thought the plot was a little confusing at first. In the first episodes, not a lot is known about the war in the other realm or Yumemi's relationship to that world, but I wouldn't mind finding out.
Since contact with parallel worlds is common in fantasy anime, I would definitely recommend Munto if that is the kind of anime you normally like. It also has this hint of a romance blossoming between Lord Munto and Yumemi, so the typical anime-style long courtship thing is probably to be expected. But, from what I saw, the anime was interesting and beautifully crafted, so it might be worth checking out.
My first encounter with this title was with the manga, which I remember reading in high school because it was one of the first manga titles available at my local library. The manga is highly recommended, it includes more detail than the anime and tells a more thorough story. The anime was certainly cute and endearing like the manga, both adaptations are nice in the feel-good department. For me, this manga was what I think of when I think of manga (especially shoujo); it has all the classic trademarks; the bishounen varieties, the big round adorable eyes, the adorable sailor school uniforms, the cute little animals, and the tiniest touch of magic.
Fruits Basket is the story of a girl named Tohru Honda, who at the beginning of the series, is sleeping outside in a tent, homeless and without parents. She works hard and maintains a positive attitude despite all her setbacks in life, and her happy, loving, and hard-working personality earns her a place as a live-in maid for three brothers living alone in a big house.
Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Sohma have personalities as diverse as possible, it's hard to imagine that they're even related. The Sohma family is also hiding a secret: Whenever one of the members of the Sohma family is hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they temporarily change into a certain animal, each one a different member of the Chinese Zodiac, plus a cat. (Kyo is the cat, Yuki is the rat, and Shigure is the dog.) Normally, when someone else discovers this family secret, the Sohma family goes all M.I.B. and wipes out their memories, but out of love/respect for Tohru, when she finds out about it, they allow her to keep her memory.
This show is a little too girly for me, but I found it cute, and the magic gives it a taste of Ranma 1/2 and keeps the show entertaining. I would also like to watch more of this show because if you stick around, you get to find out more about the interesting history of the Sohma family and their curse. There's also an interesting love triangle that develops between Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru.