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Nabari no Ou #2 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 00:00
Nabari no OuIt's fair to say that the first volume of Nabari no Ou fell a long way short of impressing. This time around, there's a slight shift away from the angst and more noticeably towards action and violence - which gets quite bloody in places - but unfortunately that doesn't really do much to change the overall impression...

The Alya Academy possessed the Daya forbidden technique - able to prolong a life indefinitely, if fed a sufficient source of life to work with. The students of the Academy, strongly loyal to their ailing principal, have struck on the idea of using the Daya to keep him alive - and with Miharu and his friends on the grounds and intent on taking the Daya from them, guess who's just been marked as potential ingredients for the Daya's use. Meanwhile, Kouichi is revealed to be an immortal, a "gift" (or perhaps curse, depending on your point of view) granted to him as a result of experiments into forbidden techniques - and he's not the only one around. Through all this, the relationship between Miharu and Yoite continues to grow, but as Yoite's condition worsens and his death draws near, he begins to feel that perhaps simply being erased from existence wouldn't be the best thing for him after all...

Apart from a general feeling of "meh", the most noticeable feeling I had about the first volume was confusion: the series just wasn't being all that clear about what it was about. Nabari no Ou translates, my very flaky Japanese tells me, as Nabari King - which Miharu's mastery of the Shinrabansho would presumably make him - but there's precious little talk of such things in the show itself. Even the oft-mentioned "Nabari world" is never explained - is it a place or realm that the characters can access, or is it a concept, encompassing the various ninja villages and their adherents? You have to work that out for yourself. Is the series really even about the Nabari world, or it is just about Miharu and Yoite and the relationship that grows between them? You could certainly make a very strong argument that it was - in which case the majority of what goes on in this volume is just 'flavouring' to go along with how that plotline develops. I could ask more questions, too; about the 'forbidden techniques', the presence of immortals in the world, the form of the Shinrabansho itself and why it seems to be so important to gather the forbidden techniques together to use it when it seems quite capable of deciding for itself when and if it should be used.

Which is really what my biggest problem with the series is. Personally, I go quite strongly with the idea that the series is first and foremost about Miharu and Yoite, as that explains why so little effort is put into fleshing out the rest of the story - you don't really need to know it. Unfortunately, it's all that background material that contains the most interesting storylines - there's plenty of conflict there, acts of betrayal, hidden motivations, and more going on there, all stuff that could be genuinely engrossing if it was given more time.

It would certainly be more interesting than the two boys, who remain almost devoid of any real personality. Try as I might, I just couldn't connect with them, couldn't see what they saw in each other or why they were so devoted to each other - and with that connection with the most important characters of the series simply not there, it becomes a real chore to watch. If it seems like I'm repeating a lot of what I said in the review of the first volume, that's because there's really not a lot of change between the two volumes - a little more violence as the series reaches its climax, a little less angst between the two boys as they become more comfortable with their roles and with each other, but that's about it, and it's not enough to really make the series any more appealing.

Interesting ideas, yes, but interesting ideas aren't enough to make a show, and Nabari no Ou fails on the implementation. Not one that I could recommend.

Rating - **