Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): adventure, drama, psychological, science fiction
Initial Interest: Mid – High
Favorite Character: Nezumi
Opinion: Pretty good
Likely to Finish: Done
Sion is a bright teenager living a comfortable and promising life inside No. 6, one of this six remaining city-states created by The Babylon Treaty after the last great war devastated the world. On the rainy evening of his twelfth birthday, he meets a savvy adolescent who calls himself “Nezumi” (Rat) and is desperately trying to runaway from the authorities. For helping a fugitive of the state, Sion is stripped of all his privileges. Four years later, they meet once again. For better or for worse, Sion is about to unravel the secrets guarded deep inside No. 6. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)
This is another post-viewing pre-viewing thoughts, sorry.
I can’t honestly remember what my initial thoughts were on this. I remember seeing something at some point that made me want to check it out. That desire was later increased by further images and such. But I sort of stopped watching anime for… well since my last review here (apparently a year and a half, wow) so I never got around to it. But I’ve been trolling around Tumblr for a year now (MumbleMoose) and some people I follow are really excited about Free! So I watched the first episode (all that is currently available) and was suddenly hungry for more anime. I wandered around a bit trying to decide what to watch when I remembered that this series was somewhere in my mental queue, so I watched it.
I was pretty well on board with most of the cast, honestly. I picked Nezumi because it was really a choice between him and Sion (everyone else is sort of background/side characters) and I just like Nezumi a little better. He was kind of cool and totally badass and the further you got into the show the more you realized he was mostly just trying to hide how horribly vulnerable and wounded he really was. Plus he’s pretty and has a great voice (what can I say, part of me is very shallow).
What they did well: The characters are all pretty likeable. The characters were also pretty clean cut, their motivations and actions made sense and I never felt like anyone was completely out of character despite the fact that Nezumi believes this of Sion at one point.
What they didn’t do well: A lot of what I disliked about this series came down to it being too short. No. 6 has a pretty intricate plot that can’t very well be navigated in 11 episodes. They did the best they could but it kind of fell short. And now I’m going to explain that a bit more clearly in invisible text because it literally spoils the entire series, highlight to read. Otherwise scroll, it got lengthy.
So the overall premise is that we destroyed the world with war and left only 6 areas inhabitable which then became numbered cities. No. 6 somehow manages to become a big conspiracy with a massively controlling government which discourages reading of the classics (and probably most fiction books), art, and dissenting thought. Those who speak ill of the city or are otherwise deemed unwanted are rounded up and killed or driven out. This is about half the plot.
The second half of the plot involves a weird killer bee virus. People are randomly getting sick and super aging before a bee hatches out of the neck of their corpse. It’s a problem.
Additionally, we find out near the end that when they built No. 6 it was a forest and they massacred the people living there to try to get access to/control what seems to be some sort of bee goddess. Nezumi is the sole survivor of this forest nation and therefore despises No. 6 and everyone in it.
That’s a lot to cover in 11 episodes and they missed out a lot by not making it longer. We get a few brief sentences about the forest people that leaves a lot wanting. These few sentences are also essentially all we get of Nezumi’s backstory. This especially frustrates me because it’s heavily implied that he spent some time in the custody of No. 6’s officials which is never expanded on or explained very well. Theoretically they wanted to figure him out to help with the controlling the goddess thing but for most of the series it sounds like they had him for some time (a couple years maybe). Obviously this is also never made clear.
The bee thing is also really vague. In the end I couldn’t tell if the city was engineering the bees to kill their enemies or if they were a random anomaly the city was trying to handle while keeping secret or what. Eventually Safu, Sion’s childhood friend ends up being used to do something with/about the bees and fuses with the goddess to enact a bee massacre on the city. It isn’t really explained how or why Safu was an important component in the bee issue though. They also didn’t really explain how the goddess chose who died. You see a lot of the more affluent looking people die off in droves but you also see that the guy who was actively trying to overthrow the government get killed.
Really, even the general premise behind No. 6’s sinister government isn’t very well explored. We get to see No. 5 briefly and it isn’t nearly as strictly policed. There’s a scene where Safu comes home from No. 5 with an art book and they tell her she can’t bring it into the city. She’s also re-issued an ID bracelet that an elderly woman quickly comments on saying she knew Safu was from No. 6 because outsiders are usually really uncomfortable with the bracelets. But if there’s travel between the different cities (even limited travel) you’d think the people outside No. 6 might at least talk about how No. 6 is a bad/dangerous/weird place. But Safu returns to No. 6 oblivious to the strangeness of its system and only begins to question it when she finds out Sion has been labeled a criminal (apparently a murderer).
Sion’s appearance also annoyed the crap out of me. Everyone who gets infected with the bees ages rapidly and dies. Their skin turns kind of purplish, their hair turns white, and they die. But theoretically these cosmetic changes are the natural result of rapid aging. So when Sion manages to thwart the rapid aging/death part of being infected by having Nezumi cut out the bee, why does he get a weird mark wrapping around his body, white hair, and red eyes? I’m pretty sure the answer is because the animators thought it looked cool but that’s not really a reason.
Overall it could have been so much more amazing if the series had just been longer. 26 episodes might have done the trick but I feel like to really do the story justice it should have clocked in around 50. But it was 11. So we got almost no backstory for Nezumi, very little backstory for the world, slightly more backstory for No. 6. No real backstory for the area outside the city where Nezumi lived. And nowhere near enough build up.
Actually, that reminds me. How did the city outside No. 6 work? They start of saying that only these 6 areas were inhabitable but then there’s this entire city that is theoretically outside those areas. Was it just that it was close enough to No. 6 that it wasn’t in the uninhabitable area? Was the rest of the world actually okay now (even though N0. 6 is maybe 15 years old)? What was the deal?
Also, I really hated the opening theme, I wish they’d switched it with the ending.
In the end I actually did like the series, don’t get me wrong. I just think I would have liked it better if it had been long enough to really explore all the plot points.
Next official review: No idea.
Okay, so obviously I haven’t been watching anime and writing for this blog for over a year. I feel like I’m ready to get back to it now. The trouble is that I feel so out of touch with anime that I don’t even know where to start. So if any of you are actually reading this, please please please suggest something.
Also, I’ve gotten a couple of comments/emails in the last month or so and if you’re one of the people who sent those, I promise I will reply soon.