So when I first found out about this title, the first thing came into mind is, “What the hell does Utawarme….Utaworm…..Uta…Damn it, I can’t even say it right!! What does…that damn word mean?” Well, after that, the title of the show is translated into English as, “The One Being Sung”, which does describe one of the character’s rise in the series and funny thing about this being based on a videogame and how it was supposed to be a harem, considering I didn’t see the whole harem part in this, but more on that later.
A man awakens in an unfamiliar village with no memory of his past or identity. The only clue: a devil-horned mask which conceals the upper half of his face but cannot be removed. Still recovering from the bad wounds he had when he was found and without any clear direction, the man settles in to village life and soon becomes not only a valued and respected member, but effectively a member of the family of healers – old Tsukuru, young Eruru, and even younger Aruruu – who helped him recover, even taking on the name Hakuoro, which belonged to the long-dead father of the girls. Trouble won’t leave the village alone, however, as a discontented former villager tries to exploit their resources, a tiger-like forest god threatens to rampage, and an unfortunate series of events leads to unintended rebellion. Throughout it all Hakuoro stands as a stoic source of inspiration even though he is deeply troubled by haunting images of his past.
I got to say right off the bat; the story does have an interesting plot of an amnesiac main character that probably has a disturbing past of him and he probably does once you get further into the show. There is the aspect of war and how you think everything is going to be fine but it isn’t as worse shit continues to happen to them, deaths that can hit you hard emotionally if you really wanted them to live, and the trials of rebelling against the higher authority. Now, I know this is based on an adventure/role-playing/eroge game (or just Japanese adult visual novel) and I guess like the adaptations of that, you sense no trace of them nor do did I find any typical harem traits aside from the amount of girls there with wolf ears (then again, mostly everybody in the show has either wolf, cat, dog, rabbit, etc. ears) but saying it’s a harem because there’s lots of girls (or guys if it’s a reverse harem) doesn’t exactly make it one (OK: Maybe that one or two times). I will say that it does get too sappy at sometimes but just enough to not be overbearing melodramatic.
Characters are 90/10 on the love/hate scale although it is more of an ensemble cast of characters and most of them have these different stories to them, like Hakuoro and his unknown past, why later in the series people thinking he was a murderer and why he can’t take off that mask. I would have like to know more about the sisters Eruru & Aruruu and most of their family life but it was more preoccupied with the long war and all that. Oh yeah, one character that I couldn’t stand in fucking Nuwangi. I just cannot stand that guy and desperately either wanted him easily defeated or killed off. Luckily, he’s not in the show for long but he was still annoying as hell.
Animation is actually great here and it’s expected being at the 2006-2007 anime boom year. The show was made by animation studio Oriental Light and Magic, the same studio that did not-so-great animation for a great series (Berserk). Like I said, the show does have a very playful nature to it, but during the battle scenes, expect a lot of bloodshed in there but luckily, it isn’t overly excessive and violence for the sake of being violent. The opening theme is….dangerously catchy to listen to, but you might need to listen to it several times to not forget about it. Overall, the music is fairly decent for what it is.
The English dub by ADV Films (later re-licensed by FUNimation) is a great effort done with the script being close to the original source and although there aren’t any standouts, the performances of John Gremillion as Hakuoro and Kira Vincent-Davis as Eruruu deliver some great dialogue.
FINAL VERDICT: Utawarerumono is a delightful and ambitious show that has its playful side with the characters and also the more darker-toned and serious side of itself that seems to fit within and since FUNimation rescued it from obscurity, you can easily buy the whole series or watch it on their website if you want. It’s a watch recommendation from me.
So, what does Utawarerumono receive?
HIGH Solid B. – 8.5/10
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
UTAWARERUMONO – animation by OLM, LLC. / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment (formerly ADV Films)
THE MIND OF THE HYBRID ONE – my Tumblr Page.