Anime Taste Testing: Baraou no Souretsu and Sasaki to Miyano

Neither are great, but at this point, I’m taking what I can get.

Baraou no Souretsu/Requiem of the Rose King

Does anyone else get the urge to laugh whenever anime tries to do something historical and non-Japanese? I know this series is likely meant to be extremely dramatic and possibly even poignant, but it’s really hard to take any of it seriously when everyone’s a bishounen and wearing what I guess is Japan’s version of Middle Ages outfits, which is… well, ‘not historically accurate’ would be putting it pretty mildly.

Even if the show somehow got that down pat though, the drama is just so theatrical and overblown here that it honestly feels more like watching a stage play than an anime. This isn’t helped by the fact that probably a good half of this premiere episode was made of still frames, which gave the appearance of the series being very cheaply made. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know – perhaps it’s all just part of the artistic vision of the piece. Unfortunately, even if the latter is true, I’m not sure it was to Baraou’s benefit; it’s hard to get successfully hooked on something when neither the storytelling nor the visuals are compelling enough to act as a vehicle for the plot or its characters, non-fiction or otherwise.

I’m probably going to give this a second episode, if only because I’m still a sucker for historical dramas – probably one of the least represented anime genres out there. However, I’d advise any potential viewers to treat this more as a dark fantasy that just happens to be loosely based on historical text. Poor Shakespeare would be turning in his grave.

Score: 5/10

Sasaki to Miyano/Sasaki and Miyano

Weirdly enough, despite scoring Sasaki to Miyano more highly than Baraou no Souretsu, I doubt I’ll be giving this one another shot. Probably not for the reason you might be thinking, however. I’m normally the first person to clock BL anime for being unnecessarily creepy and downright predatory – I mean, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve probably seen at least part of every single outright BL/yaoi anime that’s ever aired (though granted, there’s not actually that many of them), and I quite literally based a chunk of my PhD on the topic. So, as you can imagine, I’ve seen my fair share of gay anime relationships, most of which are deeply, deeply unhealthy and typically abusive to some degree.

Sasaki to Miyano is not that, which is incredibly refreshing and enough for me to give it a decent score right out of the gate. Aside from Sasaki maybe being a bit too hands-on at first (which is passed off as “skinship” by Miyano, who at least doesn’t particularly seem to mind, but still), this seems like a remarkably wholesome relationship. If cute and fluffy is your thing – complete with frequent sparkly backgrounds and slapstick reaction faces at every turn – then this anime is probably for you. My only major issue is that there’s very little of substance here, and cutesy just isn’t enough to keep me invested. I got bored by about the halfway mark, even if, to the show’s credit, it retained enough goodwill to keep me watching until the end credits.

Bottom line, this is a point for BL as a whole, even if it’s not really my thing. No episode 2 for me, but it makes a respectable showing, so I’d say give it a chance if you take your yaoi with a generous spoonful of pastel-colored fluff.

Score: 6/10

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7 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Baraou no Souretsu and Sasaki to Miyano

  1. “Poor Shakespeare would be turning in his grave.” – honestly? knowing Shakespeare and his approach to adapting historical material, I imagine he’d be all “yeah, nice!” about this. I mean, for all their greatness as literary works, Henry VI I-II and Richard III themselves are the most blatant kind of propaganda with lies, made-up stuff, straight-up character assassination… 😀 and as we know from his other works he, like most of his contemporaries, wasn’t all that concerned with historical accuracy or anything of the sort.

    Anyway, as someone who loved the first part of this manga I’m very sad to hear about the bad production values, then again I hadn’t been expecting much. Manga like this shouldn’t be adapted into anime unless there’s a distinct creative vision behind it, not just adding color to manga panels and slapping them on the screen. Then again, this just makes it easier for me to resist the temptation to watch the show because while I loved the first half of the manga the second half went to hell so hard, it has soured me on the whole thing.

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    1. Haha, good point. Although, he might have had a thing or two to say about the production values. As to the anime just existing to slap some color on the screen… well, not even a whole lot of that, either (although I’m assuming that part at least /was artistic choice, given the nature of the story). I’d say you’d only need to watch the first couple of minutes to get a pretty good sense of what I mean.

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      1. True! I’m really scratching my head because if you check out the manga, you’ll find that the art, even the color art, is high-contrast and dramatic (as befitting the high melodrama of the story, and personally I use the word in the best possible sense – at least for this part of the manga), so adapting it looking all subdued and pastel is just weird. I guess the publisher decided the manga was popular enough to turn it into a franchise (there’s also a novel spinoff, a high school parody manga, another spinoff will start in the spring, and apparently it’s getting a stage play too, which is kind of hilarious) so they were going for anime-as-glorified-commercial done on the cheap and quick, instead of a properly handled adaptation.

        By the way, a note re: the outfits – sure there are some ahem, exaggerations, but the mangaka has done very extensive research on outfits, foods, etc. so when she deviated she did it with full knowledge of what she was doing. (Many of the outfits are actually either fairly historically accurate, or well, more accurate than not.)

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        1. That’s a shame. I’ve never seen any of the manga (I’m just not really a manga reader in general), but it sounds as though the anime creators either couldn’t be bothered adapting it all that well or it simply didn’t translate very well to screen (or both).

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  2. @Requiem of the Rose King: I think Shakespear would be enjoying the royalties… It’s definitely style over substance, but I adore the style. I can’t take it seriously either, but in this case that’s good, because if I did take it seriously it’d be awful. Oh, and of course we have an animal mascot. I’m on board.

    @Sasaki to Miyano: I thought it was qute, and I’m definitely on board.

    Both of these shows are candidates for favourite new show of the season; Bisque Doll is in the running, too (and Tribe Nine, which feels like a Danganronpa-styled mash-up of Basquash and Inazuma Eleven [which I’m just guessing because I’ve never actually watched it]). Considering that we’re still going to have Ranking of Kings and Vanitas, this season is at least going to be entertaining for me.

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    1. I wouldn’t necessarily mind the style over substance thing if the style itself worked for me, but it just… doesn’t. There’s no other way to put it, I think the production looks cheap and bland, and yet somehow still just as laughably melodramatic as the storytelling, which is certainly a feat.

      I haven’t gotten around to watching Tribe Nine yet, but it’s on my to-watch list.

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