Anime Review: Romeo X Juliet (2007)
Director: Fumitoshi Oizaki
Studio: Funimation Entertainment
Total Runtime: 580 Minutes
Released: November 8, 2011
Availability: Out of print, streaming on Funimation.com, Hulu, subbed on YouTube
A Re-imagining of "Romeo and Juliet"
Romeo X Juliet is a Japanese anime loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. When I say it’s loosely based, I mean that the setting and characters have been changed a lot. Instead of Verona Italy, the story is set in an aerial continent called Neo Verona and Lord Montague rules with an iron fist after he brutally slaughtered almost all of the Capulet family except for Capulet’s daughter, the beautiful Juliet.
14 years later, Juliet, forced to disguise herself as a boy named Odin, masquerades as the Red Whirlwind, a caped vigilante fighting against Montague’s soldiers in the name of the people. During one such escapade, she nearly falls to her death but is saved by Romeo, Lord Montague’s son. She dislikes him and ignores him and returns home to where she and the remaining Capulet loyalists live in hiding, inside a theater owned by a playwright named William (a homage to Shakespeare himself).
Later, a girl named Amelia asks Juliet to help her get ready for the Rose Ball at Montague’s palace, she asks Juliet to dress as a girl and one case of mistaken identity later, Juliet ends up going to the Rose Ball and sees Romeo again and they fall in love at first sight.
An Interesting Re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s Tragedy
This anime is an example of how an adaptation can take the original material and reinvent it to be something different, yet still entertaining. This is a favorite series for me, and it is well animated and the score by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who is most well known for his work on Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, brings a beautiful score to Romeo X Juliet. Director Fumitoshi Oisaki is an excellent director; he takes this strange concept for this adaptation and pulls it off brilliantly. This is one of the shojo titles I enjoyed, and I don’t normally watch this type of anime.
Available on FunimationNow and Hulu, Youtube)
English (Available on FunimationNow and Hulu)
Superb, But Imperfect English Dubbing!
Romeo X Juliet has become known for its superlative English dubbing ever since the English dub was released on DVD. The English dub is actually done in Shakespearean dialogue with iambic pentameter in some of the dialogue and the English dub cast is top-notch.
Brina Palencia is perfectly cast as the voice of Juliet, I can’t think of anyone else playing her, not even her Japanese seiyuu Fumie Mizusawa. Chris Burnett has his first lead role as Montague’s handsome son Romeo and he’s sweet and innocent and his voice acting is excellent. Sean Hennigan as Lord Montague sounds different from the original seiyuu Kouji Ishii but is able to handle the Shakespearean dialogue well. J. Michael Tatum plays the quirky Playwright William and makes him entertaining. Maxey Whitehead had her first role long before she was cast as Czeslaw Meyer in Baccano! and Alphonse in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and she does a brilliant job as Antonio, Juliet’s sidekick, and tagalong kid.
The dub is somewhat inconsistent when they use Shakespearean language and old-fashioned English. Sometimes they use it a lot and sometimes they speak normal English. It’s unfortunate that they weren’t consistent because I enjoyed it when they would use it.
The Music Is Wonderful
Hitoshi Sakimoto did a wonderful job composing the score. The music is just lovely and I felt it fit the anime very well.
The anime’s only opening is Inori ~You Raise Me Up~" by Lena Park, which is a slight rewrite of the original song, “You Raise Me Up”, but she does sing the original version in the anime.
The two endings are "Cyclone" by 12012 (episodes 1-12) and "Good bye, yesterday" by Mizrock (episodes 13-24).
Will you watch the Romeo X Juliet anime?
Gonzo Didn’t Break Their Budget!
The animation studio Gonzo, who is no stranger to adapting classic stories, such as The Count of Monte Cristo, called Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, changed things but was still a brilliant adaptation of the original material. Romeo X Juliet completely changes the story and characters but still has the spirit and some themes of Shakespeare’s original play. The animation looks very nice but suffers from sometimes having poor renderings, and sometimes conspicuous CG (near the end of it anyway, it’s the trees).
CGI in anime has never really looked great anyway. Gonzo seems to focus on the first half of their show with their budget a lot and then, kind of skimp out the budget on the end, but even though Romeo X Juliet suffers from this problem, it still does look pretty good all the way through.
The Tragedy Was Rather Sudden
The tragic elements of Romeo and Juliet, the original play are often foreshadowed. But in Romeo X Juliet, they do hint at tragic things, but because they don’t really do a good job of it, the sad ending just seems like they had to remember that Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy.
It seems like they rushed the ending’s tragic side because they hadn’t planned how to end the anime. Not that the ending is bad, episode 23 made me cry, so it’s not bad at all, it could have had better foreshadowing in earlier episodes.
What doesn't work:
Interesting version of Shakespeare's tragedy
Inconsistent use of Shakespearean English
Foreshadowing of tragedy is weak
Exccellent English dub
The DVD has a making of special feature, textless opening and endings and episode commentary from the English ADR director and English voice cast.
There is violence, mainly sword fighting and that's all there is, it's not graphic.
There is some profanity, but not a lot.
There is no nudity in the anime, but there is references to prostitution.
Don’t Worry, Guys, You Will Enjoy It Too
If you’re a guy and you’re wondering, “Can I enjoy this too?” Yes, you can, it’s an interesting story, it’s got plenty of action and a good story, and if your girlfriend enjoys anime, it makes for a terrific and inexpensive present, as it’s part of the S.A.V.E. Edition lineup and you don’t have a lot of money.
I promise that this makes a great present and even a great date night with your significant other if they like romance anime.
Overall Rating: A-
Overall, Romeo X Juliet is an anime that even though the target audience is teenage girls, guys will enjoy this too because the action sequences are very well done and it’s not so sappy that they’ll be thinking “Ew, it’s sappy and stupid.” Despite its unrealistic setting, this is one of those stories that does actually have a realistic romance and the characters get enough development and even though the ending is an “it was his sled” ending where it’s a foregone conclusion due to the fact that we all had to study this in high school, it’s still a big punch in the gut because we want them to live. I highly recommend this. It’s a great anime that transcends its genre. It will make you cry, I did. Funimation is streaming Romeo X Juliet on their video portal, watch it here.
It’s a very underrated anime that I think people will enjoy, even if you didn’t like the original play. I’m very fond of it and I am happy that I have the original release in my anime collection, but the S.A.V.E. Edition makes it very affordable, and it’s an underrated gem that fans don’t really talk about anymore. It's a real shame because it's an underrated anime.
I really enjoyed it and I wish more people would watch it, because if you haven’t you’re missing out on a fantastic romance anime, and it’s one I can recommend if you’re looking for a romance anime to watch, especially if you’re tired of moe.
It's currently out of print for the DVD version and I'm very happy that I own a physical copy of the anime. I hope Funimation will reprint Romeo X Juliet because it's a very underrated gem of an anime.
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