Melody of Oblivion #1: Arrangement

Vandemar

imageMelody of Oblivion’s title comes from a song, which penetrates the universe and only Warriors of Melos can hear. The Melody is personified by a pretty, red-haired anime chick, who dances around and looks like she’s frolicking. In the meantime, the Warriors must contend with “monsters”, which seem to be two or three guys and girls who show up to do freaky things like eat people and turn into snakes, then disappear. Maybe I’m lacking a grip of the larger context, but considering this is the first disc, it should’ve at least drawn me in instead of leaving me slightly puzzled.

Episode 01 is titled “Warriors of Melos.” After the introductory text about the monsters and the fighting, we enter the far more common world of Bocca, a not-very good student who works part-time in a machine shop with a crazy old man. Just when Melody of Oblivion seems to be moving towards another “bad student hanging around doing stuff” yarn, it flips on the weirdness with monsters, human sacrifice, and dark doings.

imageThe Beginning of the Long Journey Afterschool, the second episode on the disc, continues where the first left off. Bocca’s interest in the Warriors of Melos and the Melody of Oblivion has lead to serious consequences. He can no longer be the simple schoolboy we met in the first episode, especially when the monsters want more of a sacrifice than usual this year.

Cape of the Midnight Sun, episode three, has the monsters put in another appearance, and Bocca must rescue the next sacrifice. This annoys the monsters considerably and they react by doing weird and creepy things.

In the last episode, Monster Union, we find out that not all the humans think monsters are terrible, baby-eating abominations. As usual, there are a bunch of middle management types trying to work with them and even siding with them. These people are called the “Monster Union.” The Monster Union has an evil talking parrot for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, unless it’s because evil talking parrots are awesome.

imageThis is the first anime I’ve watched that I can’t recommend for the plot or the characters. The plot is, as I said, occasionally weird, but usually nonsensical. There’s such a fine line between twisted and nonsensical, a slim zone of demarcation between a complicated plot and one that makes no sense I couldn’t figure out what they were hoping to accomplish or why they were fighting at all. Like the Druids at Stonehenge, I didn’t know who they were or what they were doing.

As for the characters, the main character is one of those sexless, near-android anime boys that show very little emotion. His eyes just get a little wider when bad things start happening. Sometimes this works, as in Gunslinger Girl, where the character’s lack of emotion is a touching character trait. Melody of Oblivion doesn’t manage to pull this off. Instead, it’s really hard to care about the guy because he’s not a stoic, he’s just boring.

imageThe art and music redeem the series some. The opening song is the kind of rockin’ out techno that I am simply incapable of resisting. If the rest of the series was as cool as the introduction, this review would look far, far different. The music within each episode uses a lot of classical-style themes, but sometimes pulls a musical rabbit out of its hat. I blurted “That’s really awesome” when the flamenco-style fight music first popped up in episode one and, indeed, it was cool, a piece of music more at home in El Mariachi than this weird anime about baby-eating monsters. Sound quality is outstanding, so sharp that sometimes you can hear the soft click of the pick hitting guitar strings.

The art style is interesting. I’d actually never seen it before. The characters are drawn in the usual anime style, but a lot of the scene backgrounds and such look like watercolor paintings instead of stark city realism. Characters are bland enough that the background frequently overshadows them. Why would you look at another anime guy when you could look at a nice painting? Melody of Oblivion also uses two different color schemes. Everything is happy and bright when things are going well and when the monsters come out, it uses lots of dark colors, accented by bloody red paint slashes. It’s definitely a unique approach to things.

imageAs much as I’m leaning towards a Hawkeye-style superslam, I’m getting a nagging feeling that there’s something I’m missing. I acknowledge the possibility that I just didn’t get it, which I’m hoping is the truth, since I really want this series to be good. And it may be one of those series that gets much better in the later episodes, but I don’t think I’d want to sit through these first 4 episodes again, unless it was simply as an academic exercise to study the art style and enjoy the music. I think I’m more in love with the concept and what could’ve come from the Warrior of Melos story than what actually came of it.

Entertainment: 5.0
I didn’t like the characters and didn’t understand the plot

Technical: 8.5
A visually interesting art style and an aural treat from the music almost redeem the disc. The extras, though, are quite skimpy.

Overall: 6.0

DVD Features: 2.0 Dolby Digital English and Japanese Audio, Two English Subtitle Streams (Dialogue Translation and Signs Only Translation), Non-Credit Opening

Episodes: 01-Warriors of Melos, 02-The beginning of the long journey after school, 03-Cape of the Midnight Sun, 04-Monster Union

Pick up Melody of Oblivion from AnimeNation

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