Utawarerumono Volume 1: Mask of a Stranger

Hawkeye

A man with a mysterious past, a kind hearted healer, angry forest spirits, it almost sounds like it could be an RPG. Utawarerumono offers what every good fantasy anime should: action, mystery, romance, and plot twists galore.

image masked man is found badly injured in the forest, and is rescued by a sweet girl named Eluluu. With the help of her grandmother and little sister, they nurse the man back to health, but he has no memory of who he is or where he came from. The villagers welcome the stranger despite his odd appearance, and soon the man finds himself with a given name, Hakuoro. After seeing the friendship of the villagers, Hakuoro wants to help them, and when the local forest spirit starts terrorizing and killing people, he steps in and devises a plan to vanquish the spirit. However, an angry spirit isn’t the villagers’ only problem, as tension is tight between the people and the local lord. When a beloved villager is murdered by the Lord’s Guards, they decide it’s time to rebel.

The animation on a whole was very good. The movements of the characters were fluid, the character designs were unique, not generic. The one major drawback was the CG that was spliced in here and there. The CG tiger fur was horribly out of place, and the CG fire effects were just bad. They would have been better off just relying on their 2D artists to do these scenes properly. Bad 2D fire would have been better then bad 3D fire.

imageThe voice acting was good. I’d seen a fan subbed episode of this series at a convention awhile ago and the English voices they choose for the characters worked very well and matched the same tone and feel of the original voices. The music throughout the episodes was also well done and helped set the tone.

The thing that does drive me crazy about this show is the native names of a lot of the females. For example, Eluluu, it’s hard to say and hard to type, and what’s worse is that she has a sister names Aruuru. From my understanding, it only gets worse from there when they start introducing ridiculously long nation names. Then again, what did I expect from an anime with the title “Utawarerumono”?

The extras had some fun stuff in this disc. The Omake Theater was very amusing in offering little comedy scenes with the characters. I, of course, always love character art galleries. And the disc also had a Glossary of Terms, which is very handy for figuring stuff out.

This anime was refreshing, offering surprising twists, interesting characters and a good mystery. It’s a good fantasy anime that throws the viewer into the world setting without making it hard to understand what’s going on. I look forward to seeing how the plot pans out, if the villagers will succeed, and finding out who exactly that masked man is.

Entertainment: 9
Very enjoyable, first anime in a long time I’ve been excited about.

Technical: 7
Good extras but I have a feeling that more bad CG awaits in future volumes.

Overall: 8.5

DVD Featues: Episodes 1-5, English 5.1 Surround Sound, Japanese 2.0 with English Subtitles

DVD Extras: Omake Theater, Extended Episode Previews, Character Art Gallery, Gloassary of Terms

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