It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. Lord Leontes Montague, head of the Montague family, systematically cut his way through the ruling Capulet family and their retainers in a bloody coup. Only one member of House Capulet survived: the two-year-old Capulet heiress, Juliet Fiamatta Ars Di Capulet, who was spirited away by the captain of the guard and the few retainers that made it.Fourteen years later, Lord Leontes Montague is the tyrannical leader of all of Neo Verona. The surviving Capulet retainers are in hiding beneath a theater company run by a sympathetic playwright named Willy. Juliet is disguised as a boy named Odin, and she has no idea who she really is - all she knows is that she has to dress up as a male and work as Willy's stagehand. Whenever she can sneak out, she fights against the oppressive Montague regime as the Red Whirlwind, a Zorro-esque vigilante. As the Red Whirlwind, she gets into a bind and is saved by Romeo Candore Van di Montague, the idealistic only child of Lord Montague. Some time later, "Odin's" friend Emilia, Willy's top actress, invites "Odin" to a high-class party with her, thinking that "he" would make a very pretty girl. One case of mistaken identity later, Juliet is alone at the party, where she runs into Romeo again. You all know where this is going, right?Romeo X Juliet is very loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, emphasis on the "loosely". While there is still the plot of the Star-Crossed Lovers from rival families, it shares time with the eventual coup by the Capulet loyalists once Juliet is told her true heritage — yes, Romeo plays second fiddle as Juliet's love interest. As for the characters...most of them resemble the originals in name only. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop this series from being good on its own merits.The series also draws a bit on other William Shakespeare plays for both character names and plot elements. The cross-dressing and disguises reach the point that Romeo meets Juliet three times without realizing that they are the same person. Inevitably, someone else dresses up as the Red Whirlwind. And, of course, there's a play within the play that matters to the plot.This is generally a serious anime, and features action scenes on a regular basis, though the fights never reach the absurd levels of a lot of shonen anime. Just don't forget the Dragonhorses! (think: Pegasus).This anime is available legally in the U.S. streaming on Funimation's Video PortalThe examples below contain unmarked spoilers for plot points that are carried over from the original play.If you are one of the few people who don't know the ending ofRomeo and Juliet, you are advised not to read any further.
Think about it. A soft spoken druid priestess in white who's determined to revive the great world tree that provides its people with health and safety? Sounds uncannily familiar, until the part where she starts making human sacrifices.
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Episode 23 showcases Juliet and Romeo fighting against each other due to clashing differences. Episode 24? The second half is a Wham Episode and Mood Whiplash all at once. You just know that this anime is going to end horribly, but when Romeo dies first to protect Juliet, and then Juliet sacrifices herself to save the floating colony, you realize the ending was a Tear Jerker waiting to happen.
Ascended Extra: The entire Montague family. Even though the Capulet family is mostly dead here, they're still a signfigant force of the story as opposed to being a moving prop. The Capulet family gets focus in the play due to Juliet's arranged marriage, whereas Benvolio is cast aside quickly, and Lady Montague has one line. In this story, Romeo's the one with the Arranged Marriage instead, among other things!
Bilingual Bonus: The wanted posters for the Crimson Whirlwind are in Italian. Also, during the church scene in episode 11, the aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Handel's Rinaldo opera plays; the lyrics go "Let me weep my cruel luck and sigh for freedom".
Break the Cutie: Things really don't work out for poor Hermione, and it really shows. Episodes later, Mercutio as well.
Competence Zone: The show has a surprisingly wide Competence Zone, to the point that the trope might as well be averted. Prepubescent Antonio, his grandfather (Conrad), and every Capulet supporter in between are reasonably competent and don't require rescuing on a regular basis.
Conspicuous CGI: Unfortunately, despite one of the show's strong points being the beautiful hand-drawn animated fight scenes and characters (to the point that the characters are virtually on-model for all 24 episodes), most of the buildings and furniture stick out like a sore thumb. The biggest offenders are the family flags (done similarly in the Code Geass anime) and the crazed branch-roots of the Escalus tree during the finale.
Cool Mask: The Red Whirlwind has one, as well as a billowing red cape and a very Nice Hat.
Cycle of Revenge: House Capulet wants to overthrow Lord Montague for usurping the throne and killing almost the entire Capulet family, which he did because he's the bastard son of a prostitute and a Capulet.
Ironically, he also ends up seducing a Capulet and siring a bastard son of his own, who also wants revenge on him.
Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: On her sixteenth birthday, Juliet is told he real identity, which makes her relationship with Romeo all the more complicated.
Even Evil Has Standards: The commander of the carabieri, previously shown to not be a particularly nice man, refuses to enforce the order to kill any guards that desert, saying that any that wish to can leave. Later he surrenders and opens the gates to Juliet's rebellion.
Even the Girls Want Her: Juliet. She and Romeo are the official couple, but after learning Juliet's true identity, her friend Emilia admits a bit of attraction towards her as well.
The Exile: Romeo eventually becomes this. He comes back when Juliet begins her rebellion
Expy: Aside of Romeo, Juliet, Benvolio, Mercutio and Lord Montague being expies of their Romeo And Juliet selves, Hermione is a genderflipped expy for Count Paris, and William is an obvious stand-in for Shakespeare himself.
Eyes Always Shut: Hilariously played with when a nobleman who looks like this mistakes Juliet (disguised as Odin disguised as a girl) for Emilia, his actual date, and rushes out with Juliet before Emilia has a chance to return and explain the situation.
Eye Scream: Curio loses an eye protecting "Odin" from abusive guards. That prompts Juliet to become the Red Whirlwind
The last 10 seconds of the final, 24th episode shows Romeo and Juliet standing in a shrine in front of Escalus, alive and holding hands.
Heel-Face Turn: Tubal turns against Lord Montague after the latter orders the peasant's quarters of Neo Varona burnt to the ground.
The Hero Dies: Did you really expect Juliet or Romeo to come out of this one alive? Though the last 10 seconds of the final episode makes it really ambigous...
Heir Club for Men: it's literally stated that Capulet daughters get sacrificed to Escalus to sustain Neo Verona and keep it afloat, meaning that only men have a chance of inheriting the throne.
Heroic Sacrifice: Lancelot and Juliet. Romeo too, depending on how you interpret the ending. With Ophelia dead and Neo Verona safely landed, it can be assumed the tree won't be calling for blood anymore. Plus Juliet won't be consigned to eternal torment, since she'll instead be spending eternity with Romeo.
Hope Spot: Twice in the final episode, once when Juliet opens her eyes when Escalus is destroyed, and once not even two minutes later, when Romeo drives his sword through Ophelia, killing her - the scene that shatters this hope is when Romeo is shown with one of Ophelia's branches driven through his chest.
Incest Is Relative: Laertes is revealed to be the son of a Capulet man (who abandoned him, leading to his Start of Darkness), and he later has an affair with a Capulet woman, resulting in Tybalt. With these in mind, Romeo and Juliet themselves plausibly fall under this, though it depends on how distant the aforementioned nameless were related to the Capulets.
It Gets Easier: In the earliest parts of the anime, Juliet has a Heroic BSOD when she wounds a soldier who tries to kill her. Later in the second to last episode she has no qualms about making good on a promise to run Romeo, her love interest and husband through if he tries to stop her. She loses the fight though.
Karmic Death: Lord Montague is killed by Mercutio, who has been driven insane as a result of Lord Montague's actions.
Kick the Dog: Lord Montague does this on a fairly regular basis, but perhaps the most shocking example is when he kills his old friend Titus for blackmailing him, forcing Mercutio's descent into insanity.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Half way through the series, Willy confides to Juliet how he's been wanting to write a play about two Star-Crossed Lovers who both die horribly. Juliet, understandably, doesn't share his enthusiasm.
Love at First Sight: Romeo and Juliet, though it happens to Romeo twice (once with the Red Whirlwind and once with Juliet).
Malignant Plot Tumor: Escalus dying becomes the focus of the final two episodes after being fairly irrelevant to the main plot until then.
Mythology Gag / Fridge Brilliance: It should also be noted that back in Shakespeare's time, the parts of women were usually played by young boys (11-13 years old). And then you have Juliet dressing up as a male and going by the name "Odin"...
Virtually every character not from the original play is named after other Shakespearean characters. Even characters who went unnamed in the original play, like Lord and Lady Montague, are given proper names borrowed from Shakespeare's other works.
Tybalt outright telling Mercutio that he's not worth killing. In Shakespeare's original play, Tybalt kills Mercutio in cold blood.
Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Montague inadvertently condemns Neo Verona to a slow death by slaughtering House Capulet, whose blood keeps Escalus alive and healthy. And of course he gets increasingly paranoid throughout the series as he learns that there's a Capulet survivor out there somewhere and she's really pissed with him.
Off Model: From about episode 15 or so the gorgeous character animation gets choppier and cruder and almost caricatures of the earlier work. Even more glaring when there's a flashback to a better-animated episode.
Riches to Rags: Romeo's courting of Juliet eventually pisses his father off enough that he ends up exiled from the city and working in a derelict old mine (though part of that is his own decision; he could've easily just supervised the mine without having to lift a finger, but chose to take part in the actual mining as well.
Romantic False Lead: Hermione, who initially comes off as an unfortunate victim of circumstance, but at some point shows her Yandere side. Unlike others, she does get better. Subverted, also. We were led to believe Tybalt would be a male Paolo of the Kissing Cousins variety at the beginning, but this doesn't happen.
Romantic Runner-Up: Hermione is a female version of this; while Romeo was never particularly interested in her, her only flaw was perhaps being too accepting of Romeo forgetting about meeting her whenever he ran into Juliet, at least until she gets stuck on the wrong end of Break the Cutie...
Runaway FiancÚ: Romeo (contrast with this role in the original play—yep, Romeo's the one stuck dealing with romantic issues while Juliet plans a coup)
Sheltered Aristocrat: When the story begins, Romeo is the sympathetic version of this trope, as is his friend Benvolio, albeit with a lesser emphasis on nobility and a greater emphasis on clumsiness. This aspect lessens, particularly in Benvolio, when they get hit with Character Development, and Benvolio adapts to peasant life rather quickly anyway.
Shipper on Deck: For the main couple, Antonio, Willy, and also Cordelia to a certain degree, but Tybalt, of all people, takes the cake.
Juliet herself ships Benvolio and Cordelia.
Shoot the Dog: Tybalt takes Juliet to confront a snitch and tells her to kill him so that he can't report back to Montague in the future. She lets the priest go, and Tybalt has to kill him to save her life.
Snicket Warning Label: You know that scene where everyone important with a hint of combat ability shows up in the throne room? It's completely alright to stop watching after the end of that scene and skip the final two episodes if you want a (mostly) happy ending.
Son of a Whore: Montague, supposedly with a Capulet noble for a father
Tagalong Kid: Antonio often tags along with Juliet when she goes out as the Red Whirlwind. Fortunately for the audience, he's surprisingly competent and sensible for a token child in a show with teenage protagonists.
Trailers Always Lie: So remember how at the end of the trailer, there's a big Duel to the Death between Romeo and Juliet on top of a tower, showing how their families' feud has driven them against each other, and as the fight intensifies they suddenly plummet off the tower's edge and share a passionate kiss as they descend? Remember how awesome that was? Well it never happened.
They do end up having a duel ending in a kiss but for different reasons than the trailer implies and in a radically different location
Tsundere: Cordelia is a bit of a Type B (more deredere), towards Benvolio.
Yandere: Hermione, at her worst. Being Romeo's fiance, she seems rather demure at first, but once she finds out about Romeo's love for Juliet, she subtly starts showing some subtle signs of mental instability. And then comes episode 16... She did get better, though, at the end of that very same episode no less.
You Killed My Father: As the series nears its end, it becomes a question of whether Juliet, Tybalt, or Romeo will be the one to kill Lord Montague, with the former two having lost family at his hand. It ends up being the fourth candidate, Mercutio.