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This series had a lot of promise. I originally got into it for its compelling cast of characters. It was at its strongest in the Nagasaki and Kyoto arcs, where the relationship dynamics of Tsuzuki, Hisoka, and Muraki took center-stage against a backdrop of occult horror. With the exception of the side-arcs that made it into the anime, everything else was profoundly unnecessary. The series just can't decide what it wants to be. The mood shifts violently and without warning from horror to comedy to melancholy to stupid. I found myself slack-jawed over the utter inanity of the Storybook arc and the like. Where was the high-intensity character drama? The melancholy horror? The epic spell battles? What is this bullshit and what happened to the story I was reading a few chapters ago?
Obviously the series went on indefinite hiatus before it got a chance to redeem itself (at least partially) by returning to and resolving the conflict between the three main characters. This is a huge black mark in my book. If the author had just dispensed with the idiotic filler arcs and resolved the series' main conflict, it might have seen a decent conclusion. -800 Respect Points, Yoko Matsushita.
Yami no Matsuei was good only occasionally. At all other times it waffled between So Okay Its Average and So Bad Its Horrible. If you still want to take a look, ignore the manga. Pretend it doesn't exist. Just watch the anime. Trust me, you're missing nothing. There's no character or story development or any interest or importance that got cut in the transition from page to screen. The anime takes what was good and leaves what was terrible. It ends with the Kyoto arc and while it, like the manga, lacks a definite resolution of the main conflict, it did do a good job providing some sense of closure. The theme of occult horror is held throughout and character dynamics remain the driving force of the story. The animation is only unremarkable at its worst and excellent at its best. With the notable exception of the truly deplorable opening and ending themes, the music is very good. The dub voice casts features solid performances from the three leads, with other actors ranging from decent to hilariously bad. It's worth a look if it's your thing, but it's certainly not going to turn any newcomers into anime aficionados.
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