Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Japanese Adaptation of a Famous Western Work
Main Studio: Gonzo
Since the moment I heard the name Romeo x Juliet, nothing could of possibly been made that lived up to the name. I was therefore destined for disappointment with this show, it was only the precise nature of the disappointment that had yet to be determined. When I first heard about it, I had recently finished the sublime Gankutsuou, and so the idea of another Gonzo adaptation of classical western literature was highly appealing. Of course none of the people who worked on Gankutsuou would turn out to be involved. The concept of making weird adaptations of classics definitely has more places to go. How about Pride x Prejudice, Flanders x Fields, or uh, Rumpole x Bailey?
Going into Romeo X Juliet, the best advice would be to throw out what little you remember about the original play from high-school English class. You should also forget that Baz Luhrmann movie as well, but more as a general rule rather than for any specific reason. The first clue something weird is up with this adaptation is that it’s set in Neo Verona, as in “Neo Verona Is About To Explode”.
What we have here is a very loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which sort of of takes the names and rough setting, then goes crazy and shoots up a canning factory. Get this, William Shakespeare is actually a character in the show, except everyone calls him Willy, and he’s exceptionally camp. The idea here is that he writes the real play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ based on the events of the show, which sorta makes total sense.
The various guises of Juliet, and Romeo poncing about on his flying goddamn horse.
Juliet, last surviving member of house Capulet (who naturally used to rule Neo Verona), is hiding from society at large, from her own gender, and also from her own assumed identity. As the show begins, she’s pretending to be a boy named Odin, and also assumes a Zorro-like persona called the Crimson Whirlwind which she uses when going out into the city to fight crime like Batman. These three different personas are a pretty weird direction to go in with Juliet. I’m still not sure where the majority of her hair is supposed to go when she’s dressed as Odin.
Romeo on the other hand is just regular Romeo, flying around on his Pegasus being a hated noble, and son of Lord Montague who rules Neo-Verona with iron fists. Almost all the conflict in the show comes from the fact that Lord Montague is a jerk, and at any point in the series, simply killing him would fix almost everything. The rest of the cast are names from Romeo and Juliet, and some from other Shakespeare plays as well.
Romeo and Juliet rolling around like idiots, crushing someone’s garden.
Over the course of the show almost nothing from the play happens so really don’t expect it to. That said, it does drift confusingly far from the original material. All right it is set on a fantasy floating-island continent place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it needed to stray as far as it did. There are a few episodes in the second half of the show where Romeo is sent by his father to run an ore mine staffed by convicts, and is told to get it to double it’s yield. This plot goes on for many episodes, and I furrowed my mental brow the entire time. Then a bunch of stuff with magic trees happened. Okay, while there are times where the plot does sort of benefit from having Romeo and Juliet slapped onto it, there are also a lot of other parts when it could easily just be any old fantasy show with nothing to do with any plays wharsoever.
Who could forget this classic moment from the play?
I feel I must mention the presentation at this point. The art, being a Gonzo show, is great. It’s by no means as good as Gankutsuou, but it’s using a totally different style from that show. There are almost none of the 3d sets that Gonzo likes to use here, and no weird clothes effects. No fighting robots either, just in case you were wondering. The music is composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who you might know as the guy who did the majority of the music from Final Fantasy 12, infact it sounds like leftover music from that game. Neo Verona even looks a lot like Rabanastre the main city in FF12, so if you have played it you’ll keep probably getting flashbacks to it for better or for worse.
Overall I did enjoy this show. It has some sword fighting, a surprisingly un-sappy love plot, and some badass characters like Tybalt who is pleasantly unstoppable with a sword. Unfortunately though the last few episodes were pretty dumb. I find that most anime shows struggle with endings, and like the majority of them the plot goes all weird ‘n’ crazy just to make it seem more epic than it really needed to be. The ending also manages to be staggeringly un-tragic, for an adaptation of what is predominantly a classic tragedy. They had moved a bit far a way from the classic simplicity of a plot-devicey vial of death-effect inducing liquid to really be tragic.
Coming up next season, an anime cross-over version of Poirot and Miss Marple. Oh wait they already did that? Fine, how about an adaptation of Les Misérables? Oh shit, that too? Well, how about Friends? Anyone done an anime version of Friends yet? No? Good. Make it.
Arbitrary Rating: 7 – Yeah fine.