Witch Hunter Robin #1: Arrival (2002)
Director: Shukou Murase
In present day Japan, a secret organization named STN exists. Their purpose: to police warlock and witches who use their powers against mankind. After the death of one of their agents, a new addition to the team arrives, somber ROBIN, a 15-year old craft user who has the ability to create fire (think Firestarter) with her mind. We follow Robin and hew new comrades as they hunt down a slew of odd witches and slowly get to know each other in depth.
WITCH HUNTER ROBIN is a Japanese TV show that sports 26 episodes in all. VOLUME 1 contains the first 5 episodes. In a perfect world, I would’ve liked to have seen all 26 episodes before putting bloody fingers to keyboard but alas, this world is flawed, my rent checks keep bouncing, studios are on a remake spree, there’s no money to be made on the Net, I keep meeting dunces in bars and worst of all...I ONLY GOT TO WATCH 5 WITCH HUNTER ROBIN EPISODES! ARRRRRGHH! All that aside...
By frame one, this deliciously dark and Gothic serving of anime enraptured me. As the stylish opening credits were rolling before my eyes, I knew deep in my blackened heart that I was in for something special. Thankfully, I was right on the dot. Just like any other quality TV show, I found myself quickly immersed in the wild and mysterious situations, the colorful characters at hand and their twisty relationships. As the episodes went by, I became more and more addicted. By the time I finished “Number 5”, I trashed my apartment like a coke head desperately craving his breakfast fix. I WANTED MORE!
The show reminded me a lot of the "X-Files" in terms of its structure. Episodes acted as stand-alones with our heroes hunting down various types of witches, while at the same time, acting as a serial, offering up more about the characters and their rapport through each episode, and therein, adding layers to the overall storyline. Vibe-wise, I’m no expert on animation, shite...to do this day I still think that the McDonalds logo is the best freaking piece of art ever created, but I was totally enamored with it. It was bleak, atmospheric and sported subtle use of CGI that enhanced the visuals. I also particularly relished the contrast provided by the clash of modern day setting vs occult elements of old. It gave the show quite an absorbing tone.
Now although WITCH HUNTER ROBIN did have its fair share of enthralling action sequences, those of you looking for an all-out jamboree of physical servings will be disappointed. The characters, their relationships and the investigation angle were all put in the forefront with the Bang-Bang acting as the cherry on top. This is an intelligent, spiritual and character-driven show first and an action anime second. I adored most of the peeps in this coven with Goth Doll Robin being my favorite on every level. Her striking get-up and her fly lulus did it for me. On an emotional level, her loneliness, enigmatic nature and at times, naïve personality, also wooed me. Amon was the shite too, being the trenchcoat-wearing badass of few words that he was. His shaky relationship with Robin was one that engrossed me and I hope that they go further into that in the following episodes.
On the bad spell side of the wand, the shows were somewhat uneven in terms of satisfaction. For example, #5 ended way too abruptly, leaving me thirsting. There were also some characters that weren’t explored enough while others just bugged me. For example, Kosaka the “comic relief” was NOT funny. His constant yelling got old fast. Dojima, the little rich girl, who didn’t contribute much to the team or the story also stroked me the wrong way. Hopefully both players are killed off or vastly improved in future episodes.
But on a whole, WITCH HUNTER ROBIN was a keeper. Its mix of taxing well laced tales, suspense, awesome horror set pieces, zany directing and character exploration truly cranked my dial. I’m definitely hooked on this mofo and will HUNT down the rest of the series as soon as I finish this slice of pizza. HERE I COME ROBIN!
Although the series did contain violence, bloodshed was rare. Trust me when I say this though...it didn’t need the red sauce to be the money.
I watched the show with the English dubbing and although some of the lines were cheesy at times due to poor translation, the dub acting was pretty good...no complaints from this a-hole.
T & A
None, back to my bootlegs of a naked Smurfette masturbating to Papa Smurf porn I go!
Shukou Murase went bananas with the crazy angles, slow motion and use of quick and loud to slow and silent. The morbid atmosphere sprinkled about was also appreciated. There’s enough pizzazz here to feed a small country (whatever that means).
Iwasaki Taku put out a poignant and at times, hard-pounding score. I also dug the pop-like tunes. Shell (opening credits) and Half Pain (end credits) owned!
Release Date: October 7, 2003
IMAGE: The Standard Full Screen - 1.33:1 image was mucho detailed with striking colors to boot. Flawless.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound served the dialogue and the music to a T. All was loud enough and crystal clear. We also get a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound option and English Subtitles.
EXTRAS: The extras here were fairly standard, we get: Textless Opening (the opening without the written credits: think music video) Textless Ending (same thing), STNJ Personnel Files (bios of the characters), Liner Notes (info on the many Witchcraft symbols found in the show) and Trailers for other Bansai Products.
I was looking for insight as to the making of the show, its origins, what not but didn’t find any of that here. Interviews with the creators of the show would also have been appreciated. Bummer extra wise.
These first 5 shows served as a firm introduction. I was left with a lot of promises and I hope they’re lived up to in the future shows. My appetite is now wet and I can’t wait to chomp into the rest of this series. A mature tone, stellar animation, endearing characters, suspenseful situations, morbid feel and groovy horror-inclined scenarios. What’s not to love? ROBIN can crash at my pad any day. Off on my hunt I go…
The episodes found on this first DVD are: 1) Replacement 2) Addicted to Power 3) Dancing in Darkness 4) Stubborn Aesthetics 5) Smells Like the Wandering Spirit.
The same company that made Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star produced this show.