Kurenai – Review

Title: Kurenai
Episodes: 12
Company: Brains Base
Genre(s): Drama, Slice of life, Action
Air Dates: 3 April 2008 – 19 June 2008

Synopsis: Shinkurou Kurenai is a high school student by day, but at night, he works as a dispute mediator, a job that can oftentimes turn very violent. After performing well at his job, his employer Benika finally hands him a new, dangerous assignment: the task of serving as Murasaki Kuhouin’s bodyguard. Murasaki Kuhouin is the seven-year old daughter of a rich and influential family and who was taken from her home at her dying mother’s request so that she can escape the prisonlike conditions within. This task will test Shinkurou’s mettle and ability to fend off the full force of the Kuhouins as well as his ability to open Murasaki’s eyes to how everyone else lives as he shows her how life is outside the Inner Sanctuary.

Pros:

  • Well-developed characters, from the main leads to even the side characters
  • Gripping storyline which is among the best of the more recent shows
  • Action is very intense and very well-choreographed
  • The episode in which they practice for that musical should not be missed

Cons:

  • The second half’s execution is just a touch below the first half’s

Review: It isn’t often that a series comes along and delivers a solid effort that’s extremely close to perfection, but Kurenai has done just that. For the lack of a better phrase, Kurenai is a complete package from start to finish. Its characters and character interactions are deep and meaningful, the action isn’t there for its own sake but advances the plot, and the plot itself is paced really well with a storyline that catches your attention and never lets go until the end.

To talk about how excellent this series sculpts its characters and how deep one could go in analyzing them would take forever, which serves as a testament to this show’s masterful ability with character crafting. Murasaki is a very animated character and watching her interact with her duty-bound and resolute bodyguard Shinkurou is a large part of what makes Kurenai so enjoyable. Furthermore, they even made sure that the side characters got plenty of screen time and development, thus, bringing them to life. By the end of the series, you will have a very good grasp of all the characters, their personalities, and motivations, ranging from Tamaki’s carefree spirit, to Yuno, who is forced to show her serious side around everyone else while acting girly around Shinkurou, to Yayoi’s continued attempts to impress her mentor, Benika who is both an empowering and nurturing figure towards her subordinates.

The villains are also well-presented in that they have a despicable air of upper-class snobbishness about them, making them really easy to hate. It doesn’t help that Ryuuji Kuhouin comes across as a first class creep who is fanatically devoted to the Kuhouin traditions and his bodyguard Lin is a hateful woman with a love for senseless violence. The only sympathetic character from the villain’s side is Renjou Kuhouin who seems to be battling his doubts with his role as the family head while trying to uphold traditions. This internal conflict helps keep Renjou’s human touch intact, offering him a chance at redemption.

The plot is extremely engaging and the manner in which they interweave two different genres together is truly amazing, especially considering how smoothly the series transitions from a slice of life series into a solid action thriller with a spectacular musical bit thrown in for good measure (viewers will definitely have to see this for themselves). Admittedly, not everything is perfect because the segment dealing with socializing Murasaki into the real world was just a few notches better than when the Kuhouin’s entered the picture. In spite of that, both segments stand strong on their own, but together, they make the series a complete whole.

Finally, the visuals are very detailed and I particularly loved the art because it did an excellent job of showing the slummy nature of Shinkurou’s neighborhood with its darker tones. The animation was also fairly fluid, which was definitely apparent during the action sequences which had the bonus of being well-choreographed. Ken Muramatsu’s work on the soundtrack also meshed well with what took place on screen, filling the series with many catchy piano melodies which had a good mix of solemn and light-hearted pieces.

Kurenai’s ability to weave two distinct genres seamlessly together is already exceptional, but the way it deftly handles the plot and the characters makes this series a real winner. From start to finish, this series has taken an intelligent approach to anime that few other series can ever match. To not watch this series at all is to miss out on what may end up being the best series of the year.

Score: Excellent

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

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