In present day Tokyo, Kurenai Shinkurou, an orphan, works as a dispute mediator at the age of fifteen. Rough as the job is and as young as he is, Shinkurou is as yet not fully developed, and knows it. All the same, he wishes to achieve the strength necessary to be trusted with bigger jobs than the ones he gets now. He gets his wish, as often happens, in a form least expected: He is asked to be the bodyguard of Kuhoin Murasaki, a seven year old girl raised in complete isolation and luxury. Sensing something bigger than he is but unable to abandon her, Shinkurou finds unexpected fulfillment-and more expected exasperation-in fulfilling his job, as Murasaki becomes, like a family member, a treasured part of his life, as eagerly adopted by the other occupants of his apartment building as by Shinkurou himself. Murasaki, a good girl at heart, learns quickly, and life gains a new shine…but the Kuhoin family is a strong and mysterious force, and in time, Shinkurou must find out whether his early intuition that the job was too big for him was right…or not.
Brains Base (Kamichu, Soul Eater)
Aoi Yuki as Kuhoin Murasaki
Miyuki Sawashiro as Kurenai Shinkuro
Sawa Ishige as Juzawa Benika
Takaya Kuroda as Kuhoin Renjo
Ryoko Shintani as Yuuno Hozuki
Aiko Okubo as Inuzuka Yayoi
Drama, Comedy, some Action
From April 3, 2008 till June 19, 2008
As of this review, series finished airing too recently to have been released.
Kurenai consists of twelve episodes. There’s no mention of a sequel, but it is based on a series of novels, and only covers the first. Fingers crossed!
Animation has grown. Lines are smoother, color is richer, and in general anime producers seem happy to bask in the glorious fulfillment of modern day animation. And in the midst of this, Kurenai, with muted colors and muted sound, dares to make an art of understatement. Well made and enjoyable, Kurenai nevertheless is startlingly quiet in execution. Even the previews are done with no sound and the upcoming title is announced in a leisurely, laconic baritone. But it is definitely a success.
Character could well be said to be one of its strongest points. A drama driven largely by the people in it, Kurenai successfully makes merely watching the members interact entertaining, even if the art takes getting used to. The faces seem downright ugly at first, but given time, they grow on you, and you get a feel for the way they show expression. Shinkurou clearly has the potential to be very strong, even as he is equally clearly not there yet(and remains so throughout the show-no power-ups, sorry). But once off the job, he becomes a soft spoken person all too easily put off balance by the other boarders in his apartment, his friend Yuuno, and sometimes Murasaki as well. Murasaki herself is as adorable as any seven year old lead could be asked to be, even as she learns what living in the real world means. Spoiled though she may be, she’s a good girl, and watching her grow and learn is a large part of the attraction of the early episodes(it’s a can, Murasaki, you need a can opener). Tamaki and Yamie, the other boarders, make some odd ducks: Tamaki is blond, happy-go-lucky, and something of a bimbo; though she hides a vulnerable side. Yamie dresses in black, wears a skull on a long cord, and seems the more normal of the two, until you realize she can’t tell the truth to more than five questions in a row. Both, in the end, are clearly good hearted, and come to look after Murasaki as well, in their own way(very own way. As an older brother seven times over, I didn’t find all of those scenes funny-but I’ve promised myself never to let a review become a rant, so that will be all on the subject.). What with their characters, the veracity with which Murasaki absorbs information whether it’s creditable or not, and Shinkurou’s constantly being blindsided by one, the other, or both, the first half the series makes a warm and entertaining experience, and the second, a personal one.
As for plot…well, it’s almost secondary. While it can’t quite be classed as one of the genre, Kurenai has a strong feel of a slice of life story. The series more depends on entertaining, endearing, and drawing you in, episode by episode. At some point, the hinted at turn that would force a showdown and close happens, and when it does, it is strong, but because of who Murasaki, Shinkurou, and the Kuhoin family members are, not because of startling twists and revelations, or betrayals, or tense action. There is some action, but Kurenai’s style means you can’t really say tense. There is no adrenaline rush or heady power surge that brings the almost impossible victory to hand. Characters stay at about the level they begin. But again, don’t think that means it wasn’t strong. It was strong for different reasons. Character reasons. And in the end, we have a very reasonably happy, and very touching, ending. It’s complete, though you can see where you might like things to be taken further someday. Kurenai is based a series of novels, but the anime only covered the first, so if this one was successful enough, a sequel isn’t all that unlikely. Lets hope.
Kurenai rates four out of five for a very enjoyable watch with a good, touching ending. A unique style, well worth watching for anyone who thinks they can do without vivid colors and a quickening of pace and pulse. It has its own beauty.
Final Rating: 4/5
This Review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Information such as cast and airtime were taken from ANN’s encyclopedia listing. Everything else, a.k.a. everything in the summary and review body, are and always will be the origination of the author.
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