Molly Lovey-Dovies-a-lot – Romeo x Juliet

Posted on Feb 27 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day and White Day to all our lovebirds in 91.8 land (though I am certain you have gotten past that by now) and to those whom I have shared the alternative holiday known as Singles Awareness Day with each passing February, I welcome thee into my humble review. In keeping with the inevitably unavoidable subject of love, I thought it would be fitting to delve into the hearts of the two most well known lovers, Romeo and Juliet, made famous by the English play write, William Shakespeare.

Today, we open our hearts to a recent adaptation produced by Studio Gonzo in the 24 episode series, Romeo x Juliet. Only loosely based off of its namesake, the story tells of two young lovers of House Montague and House Capulet caught in a war of 14 years. I needn’t worry about spoiling the ending because if anything stayed in tact… Well, I don’t think I need to say much more

We begin our story the in floating kingdom of Neo Verona. The land had separated from the Earth, held aloft by two trees known as Escalus (a throwback to Shakespeare’s character, Prince Escalus), however, Neo Verona’s inhabitants were blissfully unaware that there was a literal pitfall beneath their feet, fated to crumble at any given moment. The land, though, was ruled peacefully under the guidance of Prince Capulet and his loyal followers until a coup, led by the merciless Lord Leontes Montague, ended in bloodshed, erasing the existence of all members and loyalists of House Capulet, except for a few who managed to escape, among them being Capulet’s young Daughter. Since, Montague crowned himself ruler over Neo Verona, leaving the peace once established by Prince Capulet in shambles.

Enter Odin, 14 years after the events at the castle. This young “boy” lives a modest life under the care of Conrad, a once staunch Capulet loyalist under the roof of notable play write, and I kid you not, William (he even dons the likeness of his namesake, often reciting famous quotes from various plays such as Richard III). Odin finds companionship with young Antonio, the grandson of Conrad, and “his” long time friend, Cordelia who must keep a dangerous secret (or two)

You see, Odin likens himself a hero of the commoners; a young Robin Hood, if you will, protecting the common folk from the iron-fisted rule of Montague. This often finds Odin brushing carelessly with the law, getting Cordelia and Antonio in the middle of the heat. At least the mask creates a handy façade to keep young Odin from being discovered for what “he” really is.

I present to you the last surviving Capulet after the massacre that destroyed her family, Juliet Fiamatta Ars de Capulet. Forced to live under the guise of a boy for 14 years without so much as an explanation (in truth, to protect her from being captured by Montague and murdered in cold blood), her identity was revealed to her on her 16th birthday. It is now the hope of Conrad that she may take up her father’s sword, marked with the Iris of the Capulets, and lead a motley crew of loyalists to over throw the Montague rule.

But here is were the wrench in Conrad’s plan is thrown in. This wrench’s name is Romeo Condorebanto de Montague, the 16-year-old heir to the crown. It should go without saying that he is good looking and fawned over by many; a real “Gary Stu”, but I digress. He greatly opposes the tight fisted rule his father has over the city and hopes to use his inevitable rise to power to fix what his father destroyed during his 14 year rein.

Bloodshed, murder, corporal punishment. Yes, that’s very romantic if I do say so myself. Here’s where things get all mushy and “awwwwwww”. Mistakenly forced to the Rose Ball at the Castle, Juliet adorns a dress for the first time in over a decade and a mask as dictated by the general expectations of a masquerade type shindig. Pained by nonsensical memories of the ballroom she scurries from the party out to the fountain garden where she finds herself face to face with Romeo, the “bratty noble-boy” who saved her from a bloody death of a fall on his dragon steed. Yes, a flying horse. Love at first site if I ever saw it.

It just wouldn’t be a true love story, though, without a little emotional torment. It takes the couple a few episodes to realize that they are involved with their enemy, but love knows no bounds. A few sword fights, a martyr death, noble exile and a manhunt later, the lovers find themselves in an impossible predicament. Though, we all know the traditional end to this story, as ordained by the play, the end truly twists the heart. It’s a tear-jerker.

Normally, I wouldn’t take such time to layout the plot, but this story is a tad more involved then my past series endeavors. Along the way, we meet many faces with names that would be familiar to any who have read or seen a Shakespeare production. Some are more important than others. Heck, one is introduced and dies in the same episode. Talk about plot priorities.

The theme of love and dedication is stronger than that of the character development. Juliet’s bloody past is all we really hear about ad nauseum. The story touches on why Lord Grouchy-Pants (Leontes Montague) is such a, dare I say it, a grouch and why Lil’ Grouchy-Pants (Tybalt) has a stick up his rear. For the most part the story does not stray from our lovers very often. Why waste time on the lesser? This would do the real Willy proud (I guess).

So, where does that leave us, though? This series is riddled with literary clichés, made famous by our curious play write. We’ve got your Mary Sue’s, your Gary Stu’s, your “Daddy hates me” and so on. We even have this peculiar sense of fantasy woven into an otherwise down to earth story. Between the floating utopia, the magic trees, girls meshing with giant trees and a mysterious pale being who forces to the girl to mesh with the magic tree which happens to be dying… Yeah, the whole fantasy aspect seemed to be an afterthought.

Though it plays a pivotal role in the end, they could have made more of an effort to actually blend it into the story. Instead we get: “Oh! You’re the last living member or a massacred family.” And twenty episodes later: “Oh! You’re cursed. Doomed to be turned into a magical tree to save the world from crumbling and falling into the Earth.” Sounds like someone got the short straw.

As heart wrenching as the story is, the character designs are fairly commonplace, but for what they lack in originality, they make up for in quality. Gonzo produces some good work (others, not so much, but I digress), but the movements of the fight scenes are second to none. Every swing of the sword and waft of the cape has purpose and life. Even simple scenes within deserted graveyards and atop sky-brushing plateaus, filled with the petals of Irises floating through the air like a kitchy Shoujo spring romance beneath a cherry tree. Yet, the addition of the iris feels far more mature. Having grown up around irises, I feel a sense of comfort and reminiscence.

This story plays out every young girl’s fantasy romance (or, at least, I speak for myself). Combining a sense of innocence with duty and justice, this series presents itself as a favorable watching experience for both genders. A bit of action, a bit of young romance, a bit of crazed psychotic assassination. What’s not to enjoy on a cozy night with your better? And if you don’t find yourself shedding even a single secretive tear and claiming it’s something in your eye, then you, my cold-hearted friend, need to read a different review. P.S. Some girls like it when men cry. We have a thing about broken, and occasionally emotional men. Don’t ask me why.

In the end, despite its character-related shortcomings, this series in strong in story and intent. If it made you cry or something along those lines, then mission accomplished. Some would argue that the emo was slathered on a tad thick, to which I would agree, but it did manage to get the point across. When it comes to adapting a well-known theatrical drama into an anime made to be more accessible to the younger crowd, they almost needed to be overzealous with their emotional portrayals.

So this brings me to something I just discovered as I was perusing through other reviews of this series. Two words:

Josh Groban

Yes, because I live under a rock and American pop culture is such a blasted mystery to me, I hadn’t the slightest clue that Lena Park’s “Inori~ You Raise Me Up”, the opening to the series, was actually an adaptation of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me up”. One would think I would have gotten a clue a little earlier, but (and I blanch at admitting this as many of my good friends would death glare me to, well, death) I had never once heard a Groban song in my miserable little life. You learn something new every day. Despite this pop culture faux pas, I love Lena Park’s rendition. Her soft voice compliments the innocence of Romeo and Juliet’s love. (And, I’ll admit, Josh’s original isn’t bad either.)

Without drawing this out much longer, I will say that this show is a little bit of good, great and “could use some work”, but as a stand alone concept (forgetting this series’ classical routes for just a second) it is just right. You try cramming a classic romantic tragedy of mind numbing length and wordiness into a modern, easy-to-understand anime. Now, if you’re a stickler Shakespearian relevancy then this is most certainly not a good pick, however they (meaning Funimation) did redeem themselves by keeping the stereotypical theatrical language in tact (something we don’t get in the original Japanese track).

Pros: This series has quite a few things going for it. Every movement of the sword or cape has this liquid, flawless nature that is the best I’ve seen from a period or romance series. The Shakespearian language of the dub really sets the stage for this timeless romance. Also, if Josh Groban and Lena Park had a musical baby, it would be this opening. It just screams innocence and immortal love. Maybe not “screams”, but you get my point. Finally, the story, though a tad heavy-handed at times, is truly heart wrenching and satisfying. Wait wait, one more thing: This show gets an extra gold star for having William Shakespeare be his own comedic relief. If only we saw more of him.

Cons:Romeo x Juliet is a tale of two immortal lovers fated to a life of love and hardship. With that said, I can see where it would become exceedingly easy to pile on the emotional drama a bit thick or perhaps I should say it is not the right kind of drama befitting a Shakespearian adaptation. Some would say that this is the series unfortunate downfall. However, when all is said and done, it is supposed to be a tragic story. Those silly Japanese and their ideas of life’s “drama”. Also, character development could have used a bit of buffing. Just saying.

WARNING! REPETATIVE MOLLY HAS BROKEN LOOSE. USE CAUTION! Great, for those who’ve stayed, I will say that this is an exemplary anime adaptation despite it’s pitfalls and character development. So be it, we’re past that. I still see this as a choice Valentine’s/White Day date show (or Single’s “I’m going to buy my own chocolate and eat it all in one night” Day show. Your choice). Despite your Facebook status, give this series a chance and I promise it will deliver, if only a little.

Now, go get your “cuddle-bunny” or “sweetie-pie” and cozy up by the computer, because it’s a mushy-gushy lovey-dovey Valentine’s day. See you in March!


Hey you! Got any suggestions for a series for me to review? Have any comments on how I could better you reading experience? Or perhaps you just want to shower me with undying praise. Whatever your reason, leave your suggestions or comments here in the conveniently placed comments section under this here article (you must be a member of this site to do so, but you should already be one, right? *wink wink hint hint*), in the forums under my feature section (or message me, that’s cool too) or shoot me an email at Willy wink attack!!

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  • christmas4477 February 27, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    It’s just like the normal Romeo and Juliet. Only Juliet is Zorro and Romeo has a pegasus

  • EagleEyes February 27, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    More characters need cloaks and masks.

  • pollardy February 27, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    needs more gnomes

    • mollybibbles February 28, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      No. I’ll have to disagree with you there. No gnomes are needed….. Seriously. Gnomio and Juliet? WHY?!

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