Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kurozuka -- Give It a Try

I'm not much for violent anime, but the sleeper hit of the season for me is the unheralded Madhouse show Kurozuka. Even if you aren't into bloodbaths, this show just grabs your attention and runs with it. Give it a try.

I'm not sure what genre this might fit into. Maybe it's a genre of its own: vampire historical science-fiction bloodbath erotic romance.

It's from a popular manga that I just couldn't make head nor tail of, but director-writer Araki Tetsurou has fashioned the story into a gripping anime. Araki-san was the director of Death Note, and he has brought in Paku Romi and Miyano Mamoru as the leads. They are both terrific, but Paku-san is just brilliant. Absolutely riveting.

Add Nakata Jouji, Fujiwara Keiji, Kuwashima Houko, Miki Shinichirou, Ohkawa Tohru, and Irino Miyu, and you've got one heck of a cast.

I won't say much. I don't want to spoil the plot for you. And there's a lot of plot. Suffice it to say that the setting has changed in each of the first three episodes, so don't expect anything to last.

Whatever the case, it's a beautiful show. The dark backgrounds are gorgeous. The animation is the rough perfection that Madhouse can provide. The overall feeling is lush, sensual, romantic, dark. Gore and flying limbs abound. Animation director Shino Masanori did Black Lagoon. The pics here are a selection from episodes one and two, just to whet -- or perhaps dampen, lol -- your appetite. (Click images to enlarge)

For more info, check ANN. The show doesn't even have a proper official site. Here is its Animax introduction page.

I think what got me onside with this show from the beginning is the fact that every episode is prefaced with a brief Noh recitation and dance. And the OP (YouTube), by Wagdug Futuristic Unity (basically Maximum the Hormone) is a great driving punk shout that really gets your blood moving. The ED (YouTube) by Shigi is beautiful and beautifully sung.

Search "Kurozuka" on YouTube to see streamed versions of the episodes themselves.

And by the way, another Tuesday night Madhouse show is also a sleeper hit for me: the shoujo-ish (or at least shoujo-ai-ish) supernatural mystery based on a well-known novel, Mouryou no Hako. Try it, too.


Ivy said...

Kurozuka is terribly understated, it needs to be recognized by the blog sphere. By the third episode I've yet to see any significant drop in quality, the plot is exciting and continuous, unlike many shows that shove filler down your throat by the second episode. Romi Paku needs to be heard to be appreciated. Her voice, tone and control are of another level, truly a seiyuu to look up to. Miyano Mamoru for once actually sounds different and I've liked how he's chosen to give life to the lead.

hashihime said...

@ivy -- Very apt comments. I was wondering why this was keeping my attention so well. The thing for me about Paku is that she not only has such amazing technical qualities, but uses them to communicate emotion so well. She's one of the seiyuus who can make me feel the emotion is real, rather than just simulated.

Anonymous said...

Who else do you reckon that can make the emotion seem real, rather than just simulated? and who's an example of a seiyuu that doesn't?

gaguri said...

If you liked Kurozuka, you might want to consider "Shigurui" as well. You say violent anime isn't up your alley, but something to just keep in mind in case you feel like another gorey animation for maybe few years later, since it's pretty much the best in what it accomplishes.

hashihime said...

@anonymous -- She's at a much lower level of professional skill, but I find that Hirano Aya, in her dramatic roles, can make me think she actually feels it. In her case, it's more like she has to use method acting because she doesn't have the technical skill, whereas Paku has both.

I've also gotten the feeling from Yukino Satsuki and from Koshimizu Ami. There are doubtless more. I remember being bowled over by Kobayashi Sanae in Glass Mask and by Takahashi Rieko in Simoun, but I'd have to relisten to be sure how they did it.

As for who is just a technical pro and doesn't communicate the emotion, the person I'm noticing recently is Mizuki Nana. In Itazura na Kiss and in Hakushaku to Yousei, it all seems very much "by the numbers." She does have great vocal color and skill, but somehow it doesn't communicate real emotion to me. That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed her character in both shows, however.

@gaguri -- I only watched one raw episode of Shigurui, so thanks for the recommendation.