Reviews: Romeo X Juliet
Beautiful production can't save a disappointing plot
In terms of production, Romeo x Juliet is a truly stunning anime. The animation is well-done throughout the series with some great character design, and despite not being all that colorful, the backgrounds are gorgeous to look at. But the crowning glory of this series is the amazing music and excellent dubbing. The instrumental score by Hitoshi Sakimoto is excellent and adds so much emotional depth to the scenes, and the song "You Raise Me Up" is just a damn beautiful song despite being a bit cliche. Sub fans will have my head, but this anime is definitely worth watching in english because of its amazing dubbing. Not only are the voices excellent, but just like in Shakespeare's plays the characters occasionally talk in poetic dialogue that just fits the overall tone of the series. It just adds that extra something to this anime that plain spoken english just can't give. HOWEVER. They are not kidding when they say In Name Only. In fact, I'd say you could change all the names and some of the script and completely get away with calling it something totally unrelated. It makes me wonder why they even bothered to try to make a connection in the first place. You might say it's because there's two lovers who can't be together and they die at the end. But since this version is so much Lighter And Softer, Romeo and Juliet are perfectly capable of having a happy ending if the series stopped a few episodes short. Instead the series introduces a bizarre fantasy element to justify their deaths Just Because The Play Said So. What's the point of straying from the play so much only to suddenly stick to its ending? Not only that, but the plot is also lightened up to the point that the heroes and villains are almost cartoonishly simplistic. Romeo is so virtuous and good he could be a Purity Sue, while you might as well play Dracula music every time Montague shows up. The conflict between the houses is between one that is angelically good and another that is demonically evil, which really ruins all the potential drama. It's further muddled by some aggravating wallbangers, too-convenient rescues, and lazy coincidences. Overall, it's damn stunning to look at and listen to, but the weak and simplistic plot can't hold up the epic production. And it's a damn, damn shame.
Better than the Original
I'm not a fan of the original. I find this version superior in every way. In the original, I didn't care about the characters at all. Romeo was a rash playboy. Juliet seemed shallow and not too bright. The plot wasn't all that great either. In this version, Juliet kicks butt. She's a bit rash like the original Romeo, but she's got noble intentions and more to her than just longing after a boy. She has her flaws, but she's idealistic and cares a lot about other people and she learns from her mistakes. She sees that her actions have consequences and it effects her. This version's Romeo is a little too perfect, but if you can ignore his Gary Stu qualities, he's cute and sweet. The plot has a lot going for it, and is done in such a way as to make it seem as though Romeo and Juliet have a chance. In addition, the side characters are extremely like able and the art style is beautiful. The new world they're put in is interesting and the dragon steeds are my favorite pegasi creatures. The series as a whole does have it's flaws, but I would recommend it for anyone who loves romance, fantasy and doesn't mind seeing Shakespeare played with. Personally I give the series a 9/10.
Fanfic Turned Anime.
The writers forgot the meaning of a tragedy. A tragedy is when a character has a doom brought upon themselves due to a flaw in their character. In the first play, Romeo caused many of the events in the play due to his hot-blooded actions. The Montagues and Capulet families hatred is little more than fuel for Romeo's blaze of rash actions. Juliet on the other hand is someone who wants to break her boring life with adventure. She is so caught up with the dramatization of her relationship that she is apathetic to her family's hardships. They caused their own demise but that is what makes it a great tragedy. In the anime Romeo is a submissive shrew that's only flaw is being born into the wrong family. Juliet is hot-blooded but only in the most idealistic way. The dastardly Montagues are the evil characters and the Capulets are good. Romeo and Juliet's relationship try to fit the modern standard of a romance which is not only predictable and boring, but lacks the hormonal passion that made the original so famous. The ending is very tacky and while supposed to be sad, does not resemble a tragedy because the characters have nearly no actions in their own control. The entire cast feels like a fangirl imagined a Shakesperen plot. Tybalt is now the smug anti-hero with a troubled past. Mercutio is the charmer that has daddy issues. Romeo is the now the shy, blushing, love interest that can't admit his feelings. Then there is Juliet who turns into this badass cross dresser that is also shy about love. These characters couldn't be interpreted further from the originals. The anime is a typhoon of cliches that massacres its source material to match a romanticized viewpoint from a media perspective and fulfill modern moral standards. Fanfiction with a budget is still fanfiction.
Could have been much better.
I didn't like it. I'm not a Shakespeare purist, I didn't mind the setting change and plot expansion, I actually enjoyed it a lot in the beginning, even if the story did use some cliches. However, some point after Episode 7 ( Lancelot's death) I felt that the series started going downhill. The plot became weird and boring and poor characterization began to show. Romeo's storyline tended to be really, really boring and a bizarre fantasy element comes out of nowhere when the main La Resistance plot would have been fine. Specifically I had issues with Juliet, Mercutio, and Tybalt. Our heroine is introduced as a badass vigilante who routinely gets into sword fights, but in a later fight she freaks out over wounding a mook, which completely breaks my suspension of disbelief and comes across as chickification as well as a narmy attempt at drama. You'd think the Red Whirlwind would jump at the call to overthrow Montague the tyrant, but Juliet just angsts about it and runs away with Romeo. She went from strong and capable to "love story character". Mercutio is a smug, irritating jerkass who sucks up to the Montagues and pays for it in the end—why is Romeo friends with him? In the original play he was the comic relief, likeable, and straight man/foil to the idiocy going on around him. Why did they feel the need to change his character? I liked Tybalt better when he was just a Hot Blooded asshole. The show doesn't need more family-related angst, Freudian Excuses, and brooding, I couldn't help but think of Sasuke. For me, the complicated family trees didn't add anything to the story. In general, much of the series takes itself so seriously and tries to be epic and dramatic, but I didn't feel it. The characters' idealism is supposed to be heroic, but instead it's played up so much that it's unrealistic and wallbanger-inducing at times. I wonder if Romeo and Juliet will ever get bored of each other in eternity, as much of their dates when they weren't fighting for their lives were just blushing at each other and hugging. The series tries to fix the four-day romance = true love fridge logic from the play, but it's not any more convincing than any other anime teen romance. The series promises a lot in the beginning but ends up underwhelming.