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Catgirls 2006-09-25 13:24

Utawarerumono Overall Series Impressions & Total Series Rating
This thread is to be used for discussing the entire 26 episodes of Utawarerumono ... your thoughts about the show, overall impressions, hopes or desire for another season, speculation on the ADVFilms R1 English language release (Shadow Warrior Chronicles), etc., etc…

A few subjects you might want to ramble on about:
  • General impression of the series.
  • Opinions on the overall story, writing & plot devices.
  • Thoughts about the animation quality.
  • Characters/Character Design

  • How the anime compared to the Game.
  • What the show meant to you.
  • What could the creators/animators/writers could have done better.
And so on.

The poll represents your total series rating. In other words, how you would rate all the episodes combined (1-10)? If you'd rather rate the whole series by technical/artistic merits, you can do so. An example:

Animation Quality: 1-10
Voice Actors: 1-10
Script: 1-10
Adaptation from Novels: 1-10
Editing: 1-10

Average = Total Series Rating

Or a combination of the two. Or your general gut feeling.

Zaris 2006-09-28 17:21

This is my personal overview of Utawarerumono. Some things you’ll agree with, some things you’ll disagree, some of you will hate how I philosophize (I’m an idea man!), and some things will probably spark personal newfound thoughts and conceptions of the themes and characters pertaining to the story. I will say now that everything from episodes 1-26 is subject to be revealed and discussed so people who haven't seen this anime yet, careful careful. Here we go.

Part One. Utawarerumono – The Dramatic Construction

What Original Story?
Transcending Fantasy
The Medium

Part Two. Characters – Evolution and Timescape
What You Leave Behind
The Ones that Don’t Change
Destiny – Hakuoro and Eruruu’s Budding Romance
Obscurity – Getting Serious with Hakuoro and Eruruu
Intimacy – Forgiving Hakuoro and Eruruu
Tackling the Issues - Was it Incest?

**What can I say? I'm a writer... = P

Utawarerumono – The Dramatic Construction
To say that discrimination doesn’t happen to you is a lie. Everybody is different with their own prejudices and opinions. You have all found comfort in the association of friends and people who are similar to you, whether it is by age group, gender, race, philosophy, or sexual preference. Some of us are able to handle these differences diplomatically; others are more driven by the primordial instinct to wipe groups dissimilar to themselves into extinction. But all these groups form a confine around themselves – be it physical or mental – to filter out the majority of those differences away from them. This can take the form of a group of high school students eating lunch every day at a secluded spot of their own or businessmen chatting golf and software next to the same water dispenser every office break time. It is a private zone that comforts those inside and few outsiders get to enter. The comfort of similarity is an instinct that stretches back for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, all inside this zone is not necessarily perfect; there is strife and discord amongst each individual because not everyone is the same. People rationalize and generalize their way into these groups, the details of each individual are left to be argued and disagreed upon. Thus is the basis for internal conflict. However, there is such a thing as external conflict, where groups are driven by the primordial instinct to eliminate those generalities that conflict with theirs. So as you can see, man is not perfect, and yet it is the fundamental desire of every individual regardless of their age group, gender, race, philosophy, or sexual preference to seek perfection by becoming united and understanding with one another. This is the paradox of living. At our current state, the limited cranial capacity of the human brain can only allow us to truly understand a handful of things in its absolute detail, whether it is a skill, an idea, or a person. These understandings, however, transcend the differences that separate individuals and groups apart. This is what we call “love”.

And these are the fundamental bases of Utawarerumono. To enlarge the situation of conflict between individuals and groups is to dramatize. To tell this act of dramatizing is to tell a story. To tell a story is to entertain and provoke change in the listener which will impact his or her desires in life.

What Original Story?
You’re probably thinking to yourself that you’ve seen these kinds of stories before. Here is a man who went from a nobody to a somebody. And you’re probably right – Rocky and Star Wars and Spiderman are common examples. So what separates Utawarerumono from the rest of these much over told themes and plots? Aside from the fact that it’s a TV show, the differences lie in the internal structure, the factors that lead from point A to point B to point C etc. Without these factors, we wouldn’t be able to stomach all 26 episodes.

The shadow of the series is Hakuoro’s past. You wonder and speculate, you dream of what he is or what he could be. We begin by seeing him as a tall man, a well-built man, intelligent, confident, kind. He is everything you could wish for in a prospective mate. But the only thing missing is himself. It’s like running a credit check when looking to rent an apartment. Your history says a lot about you, but in Hakuoro’s case, his history is absent. So he creates a new history. Through the course of Utawarerumono, he goes from stranger to caretaker, father to leader to finally the highest position that any mortal of that time period could allow: emperor. There he dictates fair policy, grants asylum to the wrongly incarcerated, and cares for the sick. Everybody in these types of stories earn their magnificence in some way. Luke Skywalker blows up Death Stars, Maximus stays alive in the Roman Colosseum, Hakuoro ends tyranny and internal conflict, which in turn earns him the hearts and respect of the individuals of his country. He has made a praiseworthy history for himself.

But like Star Wars and RPGs, there comes a point where the past catches up with our protagonist in which he must confront. Oftentimes, it is brought about by the antagonist of the story. Utawarerumono is along for the ride in these cases, but the factors as I said make it more interesting and more original than previous tales of such similitude. Hakuoro is not the son of a killer, nor is he an artificial lifeform built to destroy. No, he is the eventuality of a series of events that over an undisclosed period of time, has inherited the powers of mankind’s god and was split into its kinder, nobler half (tell me a show or movie that sounds anything like this). The evil half of himself was passed on to his antagonist, Dii – the epitome of external conflict, the man who forces Hakuoro to acknowledge the fact that their existence brings death and misery to others in exchange for selfish acceptance and praise (and indeed, Hakuoro has. His wisdom became the jealousy of individuals and nations throughout the land). The bringing about and disclosure of this truth is sudden yet gradual, shocking yet sensible. And as god, Hakuoro’s reaction to this revelation reflects the fundamental desire of all humans, and it is his larger-than-life sacrifice that makes the climax of the story so great.

The secondary theme of Utawarerumono (that, by the way, isn’t present in the game or was at least of low emphasis) is the concept of knowing when you’re in control of yourself. This is epitomized in Eruruu and in the agreement that binds her body and soul to Hakuoro. As people, we take comfort in being in control of our own actions. Losing that ability is frightening, confines us in undesirable chains. The question that Utawarerumono presents us is, “what is there that is exclusively yours?” And the answer to that is that it is the human heart.

A false realization occurs towards the end of the series after the audience witnesses the contract being made firsthand. To Eruruu, all the moments in which she took care of Hakuoro from their first encounter onwards were in reality the effects of the contract taking place. Devastated, she searches for something to call her own, and it turns out to be her own heart. The body is the physical shell of a person, the soul is the form that defines sentience, but the heart is the source of emotion without shape or form to take hold of. The ultimate truth is that she and everyone else has always been in control of themselves and making their own choices. No contract is powerful enough to prevent this, and this idea culminates vividly in the final scene with Hakuoro and Eruruu. She confesses that her feelings for him have always been real. The young girl, fully in touch with her emotions for the first time since episode 23, proves to him that not even angry words can keep her heart away from whom she desires. Utawarerumono is, in addition to being a story about morality, a romance that reassures us that everything we do, the love we give to others, is a choice.

Transcending Fantasy
Utawarerumono breaks ground in a lot of ways regarding the genre of fantasy while keeping it fresh and of high quality. First and foremost, the amount of races shown throughout the series is colossal and more amazing than most. There are the familiar humans, but they’re so few in number as compared to the more prominent “species” shown: fox ears, cat ears, bunny ears, people with ridiculous amounts of strength, people with wings, people with wings for ears, and so forth. Appearance: it is one of the primordial factors that divide people in general and the people of Utawarerumono apart. But surprisingly, they are in constant contact with each other (the Onkamiyamukai people make certain of that), live, and coexist on the same continent without driving each other to extinction. It is a rare kind of environment without the all-too-common elves or orcs or dragons. And yet, most importantly and ironically, everybody (as one eventually finds out) is of the same kind of human stemming from an identical origin.

Secondly, our male protagonist is an orphan in his unique way. Not only is he a lot older than your typical male lead, but he is the offspring of a divine being. Some people are created through artificial means, most typical stories’ lead character/s are born through natural conception. Here, Hakuoro literally is god, spat into the world of Utawarerumono with no recollection of his true identity. Fantasy has always revolved around the finding out of one’s own origins. It is the drive of the orphan, seeking greatness beyond conformity, destiny beyond normality, and because he is an orphan, he has no family ties or social obligations, which allows him to seek truth outside of the boundaries of various groups and communities. But oftentimes a clue is given to him, such as a mysterious dream or a beam of light. Hakuoro, unfortunately, has no clue to start with. You’re thinking about his mask, but you see eventually he stops talking about it to the point that it isn’t even there. It is a signifier that he is separate from all the other individuals, but it doesn’t answer any questions – in the beginning, or at the end. Also, Hakuoro doesn’t actively go out and find the truth for himself. The unique quality of Utawarerumono makes it so that as he rises into the messiah, the truth finds him instead.

Thirdly, the talisman common throughout fantasy stories happens to be not a mysterious object or animal familiar, but a flesh and blood individual named Eruruu. A talisman is the orphan’s object of power bestowed onto them at the time of their initiation. Frodo inherited the One Ring during his guardian’s birthday/going away party. Hakuoro obtained Eruruu the moment he was breathed life. The talisman reveals itself through the world of journey; it is a physical symbol of a hero’s impending destiny and reveals its true nature as the hero advances towards his goals. While the medallion on Eruruu’s hair might seem like the more obvious talisman, as it is a surprise object of power to both Hakuoro and Eruruu at episode 25, it is reduced in significance because it is only realized as significant after the fact. Eruruu, not the hair ornament, was drawn to represent the inner most spiritual and psychological essence of the protagonist, Hakuoro. The uncommonly thing about Utawarerumono, however, is the fact that the talisman talk back (Tinker Bell is like the last classic example to do this), influencing and guiding him through life and hardship. Thus, the hero clings onto her for sentimental reasons, all the while not knowing the latency of her meaning. This is what makes the story and romance within Utawarerumono so dynamic; Eruruu is both Hakuoro’s driving force and answer to his life’s mystery. When he confessed that he saw a part of Mikoto within her, it said that he was seeking Eruruu out as well.

The Medium
Realizing the factors that make a story great is one thing, coming to a concrete understanding of it without having to hit the rewind is another. It comes down to presentation, a.k.a. how was the story told? To me, the biggest flaw of the series was its trying to cramp so many eggs in too few baskets. It left far too many unanswered questions that could’ve been easily rewritten over or if they simply had not shown particular scenes at all. The most prevalent of them all include:
- Karura on a slave ship outside the Na Tunk palace
- Kamyu going vampire on Aruruu
- Dii and his undead creations
- Seeing the Noseshechika Emperor on the floor in Dii’s hidden chambers
As far as I’m concerned, these don’t seem to advance the plot in any way, especially the latter. Why show something so completely anonymous and not explain or go into it before the end? It’s unnecessary plot devices which become seen negatively as screen time fillers. Utawarerumono doesn’t need fillers; if anything, it needed more screen time for some of our more neglected characters of the show.

One of the things it did very well in the beginning half of the series was go back to previously mentioned plot devices and talk about it aloud with others. This is important, for Utawarerumono is not an easy story to grasp for first-time viewers. The taste of its reverse evolution factors in episode 22 is hard-hitting and strange. This is partially solved by the fact that we are constantly going back to it every episode after that (the exception being 24). What I find discouraging is how such important flashbacks are not discussed between the characters. Hakuoro and Eruruu practically keep their knowledge of each other to themselves until the very end. This enhances the romance quality, yes, but the tradeoff here is that you have to constantly go back to what you saw. Thus audiences are expected to understand what’s going on the first time they see and hear something, which are futile expectations and in the end causes frustration amongst viewers. As I said, Utawarerumono is a difficult story to understand the first time around. We need to constantly return to presented material and see how it impacts the characters so that we can recognize its significance.

That said, I certainly wish that the series was an hour long show. But I have never seen hour-long anime before in my life, and the fact that this is a show presented in Japan at practically 3 in the morning makes it understandably an unrealistic, unprofitbable, and risky endeavor. But in my opinion, such an investment in time for this series would’ve upped the show considerably, even if 26 whole hours of Utawarerumono is still barely enough time to scratch the surface. But if we had that extra time, we could see a lot more out of Touka and Karura, find out about the childhood of Benaui, and perhaps even more intimate thoughts of Hakuoro and Eruruu. Heck, even the war content could be lengthened for the bloodlusters, and Dii could have had more time to explain his bizarre self with more passion and umph. The ending, as I thought, was rushed and compared to the game wasn’t as emotionally driven the whole length through. It felt more like those heart pulse machines, where you have a flat line of boredom with emotional moments spiking at various intervals. The scenes at the end were great, yes, but didn’t carry the emotion that great endings should give.

The animation is definitely superb (minus the first half of episode 14, but we knew it was new artistry). As I said before, anime is more than story, it is art and should be treated as such. The more body movement, the more blinking, the more audiences will say the producers spent a lot of effort to deliver quality anime. Early anime recycled their footage practically every episode, and oftentimes scenes consisted of a single large panel that was panned in whatever direction it went. These are the signs of artists getting lazy. I understand that everybody gets lazy every so often, but what’s important is that effort remains consistent, and the producers of Utawarerumono certainly did.

Comparing the first frames of episode 1-2 and the frames of 23-26, you will notice that the look of Eruruu has subtly changed, indicating the passage of time. She looks so much like a child in the beginning, then her body and face turned into almost that of a young adult at the end. I have no idea if this was intentional or just a change in artist, but the evolution of her age and maturity played well visually to me, so that’s a notable plus.

The computer graphics is another story, however. CG is cheap and efficient, but it is hard to downgrade the pristine look of computer graphics into that of animation. And it is almost easy to tell the difference. Anime is like stop-motion animation, drawn frame by frame so it isn’t always smooth. CG is smooth, and while it looks good, the differences are usually apparent, and that becomes distracting. There’s the small bits of CG such as sky, water, and sun glare that are perfectly fine because it is so small that you’d hardly tell the difference. When you have CG soldiers flooding the screen, it not anime anymore and it becomes laughable and difficult to watch. The CG has helped many moments of Utawarerumono. But frankly, I’m just glad that they used less and less of it as it concluded (compare the series finale to episodes like number 7) before they got too dependant on it.

Characters – Evolution and Timescape
As you may or may not know, Utawarerumono stems from an awfully long hentai game (imo the hentai content is so minimalistic compared to other games that American standards would probably rate it NC-17 than the full blown 18+) and like all harems, there’s more than one individual to mess with. Unfortunately, time constraints limit the amount of attention devoted to each character. Some are bound to get the cut while others will receive more story and screen time than their “competitors”.

I knew from the start that Utawarerumono was going to fail in terms of total character development. There are more than a dozen main characters throughout the series and just as many sub-characters guest-starring each week. 26 half-hour episodes aren’t enough to go into each of person. As a result, everybody suffers by not getting the attention they deserve, including Hakuoro and Eruruu. Then what ends up happening is like what I said in Part One regarding the flashbacks: we’re expected to see something about the characters once and understand fully the significance. And that’s asking too much from the audience. They suffer and the story suffers.

One example of this problem is Mutsumi. She’s the first person in the established time period to use colloquial Katakana, a relatively modern Japanese alphabet. How could she know Katakana? For this to happen, there had to have been a Japan to create the language, which means there must have been an Earth. But said time period appears to be a time before modernity. Thus, the revelation Mutsumi presents by saying “Bye-Bye” instead of “Sayonara” is that Utawarerumono is set in the future, not the past, and Mutsumi comes from a time before Katakana fell out of speech practicality. And I’m sure 99% of the audience missed this. This is the result of having too many characters and not enough time. Some weren’t even delved into at all; they remained the same two-dimensional personality from beginning to end. A character that doesn’t change or undergo some kind of drama isn’t very fascinating – one of the reasons why I dislike Karura’s character in the anime as compared to the game. But these are the circumstances in which the producers were probably forced to work with. I just think it is a shame that it had to come to this.

This is a character-driven anime with too many characters and not enough drive. And when I say drive, I mean evolution. Stories is drama, and drama is conflict. Conflict are those tests in life that make or break you, but whatever happens will evolve your being. Thus stories are miniature evolutions, each individual going through conflicts in their life that will expand their mind to new possibilities to satiate their fundamental desires. And after all, evolution is life. I wish the characters that I found enjoyable got more time to evolve, but I suppose I should be lucky they got as much screen time as they did. It could very well have been a lot worse.

What You Leave Behind
Dorii/Guraa, Benaui, Kurou, and Touka probably suffered the hardest out of all the characters. They’ve been turned into personas and ideologies embodied into that individual physically and mentally. Try as they might, their attitudes never change. We learn next to nothing about Dorii and Guraa during the series aside from the age-old question of their gender (yes, they are male, as it is obvious in their speech in episode 26). There was no background given to Benaui, and believe me he does have one, however relatively small it might have been. Kurou got barely any screen time at all; his only defining moment in the series was back in episode 11, where he hesitated giving his report about the tragedy that befell Eruruu and Aruruu’s birthplace in front of the girls. There, we see that he’s capable of a little sensitivity, and that’s more than what you could ask for from someone who doesn’t get to speak half the time.

This also places Kurou in a surprising position of being a more well-rounded character than Touka (and naturally so, since she started extremely late in the series). One of the few moments in which we learn something about Touka aside from her overzealous nobility was episode 17, when she developed a crazy fondness for the Mikyuum. Most people just went hysterical with her cuteness without realizing the fact that Touka indeed has a weakness for extremely cute and cuddly things. This is demonstrated well in the game, but not so in the anime. Here is yet another example of where we see an unusual reaction out of a character and is expected to grasp the totality of its meaning. But how do we know if she’s just crazy about small animals or cute things in general? Thus, the audience doesn’t get it, and this doesn’t do Touka’s character much justice either. This could only have been solved with the proper allocation or extension of time.

I admit that I felt sorry for this pathetic fellow as the series progressed, but Oboro is perhaps the most three-dimensional sub-character in Utawarerumono. If you will recall his first appearance in episode 3, he was impulsive, self-driven, and stubborn. This constantly led to his undoing and to others, and one after another he lost confrontations and arguments with his sister Yuzuha. But all that changed in episode 16, when he actually showed a little more control when he sparred with Benaui. The only exception to this rule was when he went Rambo in episode 22 and got struck down first by the Avu Kamu. But then, he didn’t experience much of an attitude change until 25. The biggest evolution was probably his fighting technique.

We saw Oboro in the beginning as the honorable thief much better at taking orders than giving them. But definitely, being the first to say and act on a whim is not leader material. But he matured well from his original self and he was definitely seen as leading the group at the end of 26. He could talk to his sister without ending with a disagreement, was able to listen to the advice and suggestions of his peers, and was in total control of his emotions. Plus, he wasn’t losing contests anymore (coming to a draw at best, but it’s better than losing). Oboro had arrived at becoming a better man, and Hakuoro saw it too.

The Ones that Don’t Change
Karura stands out in my mind as one of the more human and more stereotypically womanly characters out of the entire sub-character list. She is polite, courteous, and knows when not to intrude in affairs. But also, she sees things in a perspective outside of the other individuals, and I’m not talking about smashing. I’m talking about how she carries a more heartily knowledge about life than all the other characters combined (minus Eruruu). This probably stems from her race, but since her race is now extinct, we have no basis for comparison.

The flaw with a character like hers was revealed at the end of episode 19. She had zero excitement to see her brother again after years of separation, and even insisted that they leave immediately. Eruruu calls her stupid, and in a way that’s kind of correct. Perhaps her kind has a more apathetic tendency to family, and granted we may never know for sure. But a character that is unwilling to change just becomes as static as Touka or Benaui, with little left to offer but physical attributes and displays. Since we already know how his or her mind works, the evolution pretty much ends there. Remaining appearances of the person ends up being bland, comical, or redundant.

Aruruu pretty much flows with the above description as well, but since she is a child, you can’t expect a lot out of her. Aruruu brings a cute factor into the series with her smile and innocence and the fact that she owns all the cool pets in the palace. As the cuddly mascot of Utawarerumono, she definitely has a high appeal factor. She’s stubborn and completely spoiled, but there is a level of noble innocence in that pea-brain mind when it comes to her daddy that we really like. Thus you don’t really expect anything bad to happen to such a character, but something does, which already puts her and the series in a more eye-opening light than many other fantasy stories by having audiences shout, “How could you!?”

Destiny – Hakuoro and Eruruu’s Budding Romance
When I volunteered to translate the last 5 episodes of the series because the author of Random Curiosity was going through a phase with real life, I spent a lot of time reading the text from the actual game because sometimes the anime version of the characters are saying exactly what was said in the former. Call me a bad translator, but I saw no reference to Hakuoro ever saying that Mikoto was the only woman he ever loved, game or series. I’d like to disprove this statement, first and foremost. If this statement even exists, it is because Hakuoro was just trying to push Eruruu away from him. But from my analysis, he fell in love with the young physician, and vice versa. The chemistry begins almost immediately at the start of the series, and here is the walkthrough.

The recipe begins with a very stereotypical but largely popular and successful female role: a healer – young, virgin, kind. Giving her a noble occupation to compliment her disposition enhances the empathetic, selfless nature of her being. She is a very lovely girl. But her parents are deceased, her longtime friend has turned into horny, uncompassionate, immoral scum, and her peasant village is going through hard times. We frown as our instincts tell us such a girl doesn’t deserve this kind of misery. Now throw in this mystery man into her life, a well-built, intelligent, confident soul found injured and rescued by this girl. He owes her his life, so he starts performing all kinds of miracles and good deeds to her family and village. Everybody loves him, he’s selfless and noble, and the village is removed from fear and prospers. When two identicals are brought together under one roof, the stage is most certainly set for romance.

Was this meeting of Hakuoro and Eruruu a chance encounter? There’s no such thing in a fantasy; all encounters are meant to be. Witsuarumetia-Hakuoro and Witsuarumetia-Dii awoke with guns blazing and Hakuoro lost the fight. He needed time to heal, but the problem was asking who, so Hakuoro was presumably drawn to the one artifact that still existed in the world that meant a lot to him – Mikoto’s ring amulet. He found the bearer of the amulet to be Eruruu and coerced her into devoting her life to him. What an abomination to be done onto an innocent girl! Fortunately, he forgets it all when he transform into the Hakuoro we see in episode 1, and everything appears new and sweet. The climax of their relationship occurs when knowledge of these events are once again brought into the light.

How Eruruu did not see a connection between the entity and the mystery man later to be titled Hakuoro is unclear. There are various explanations that would make this circumstance seem acceptable. The sky’s the limit. One plausible explanation would be that Eruruu believed she hallucinated the encounter with Hakuoro in his entity form and that Aruruu never was mortally injured; some time later, she finds a man wearing a mask dying in the forest and could see no relation between the two events. I’m not saying this is what happened; this is merely one of several possibilities. There is no canon information provided between the time of the contract and Hakuoro’s human injuries so we are left speculating on the oddities.

Time goes by, and fate takes Hakuoro’s deeds one step further by having him lead a rebellion against tyranny. It wrongfully took the life of Eruruu’s last remaining family, but fortunately our protagonist was man enough to stand up for her and say enough was enough. He slays the feudal lords and unites the country into one as its new emperor. Having failed to protect Eruruu’s grandmother, he makes it up to her by taking her into his family with all the luxuries and privileges of the palace provided within. This makes Eruruu to like him even more, and it’s here that she crosses into the first level of adulthood and sexual maturity and develops an actual crush on Hakuoro. The person she healed is now healing her.

In episode 8, Hakuoro calls her the equivalent of a sister and immediately we’re given a full blown close-up of Eruruu’s unmistakable disappointment. Obviously, she wishes it to become something more. Karura sees it almost immediately, and Eruruu unconsciously demonstrates the fact in her sleep during episode 11. She wasn’t reaching for a piece of fruit there; she was dreaming of Hakuoro to hold onto during such dark times. Her village had been brutally destroyed with absolutely zero survivors, making she and her sister Aruruu the last of their kind. Hakuoro understood this, so he went over to Eruruu’s room to watch over them during that night of such tragedy. He sees Eruruu sleeping miserably, so he recovers her blanket and pets her hair compassionately. And then Eruruu grabs hold of his hand and it suddenly dawns onto him: Hakuoro had lost his birthplace as well, which makes him no different than Eruruu. All they have left is each other. This is the earliest point in which Hakuoro would develop any kind of romantic feelings for the young girl.

Obscurity – Getting Serious with Hakuoro and Eruruu
At this point, the feelings and obligations for each other are set in stone so it wouldn’t be very unusual for the two to be seen together all the time. They are undergoing the second stage of romance: understanding the nature of their significant other. Is this merely friendship or an infatuation or die-hard love? The answer is revealed in all sorts of ways in Utawarerumono – physical contact, spoken words, actions made in the name of each other, interactions made with outside characters. And as these are done, we the audience learns more about them personally so that we can comprehend why they fit so unusually well. But as what happens frequently in fantasy love stories, they don’t admit to having feelings to one another, and usually not to even themselves. This backfires on Eruruu terribly as we will see.

In episodes 11-13, Hakuoro went through some tough times with an identity crisis. A powerful suggestion had been planted into him making him think that he’s as low as the lords he had slain in the rebellion previously or quite possibly worse. Although there’s no evidence to prove such accusations, there’s nothing to contradict it either. Here, Eruruu takes the first step and says everything he wants to hear, that she’ll always be near him and that to her, Hakuoro will stay Hakuoro. We learn several other things about them from this ordeal. Hakuoro takes Eruruu’s word over everyone else’s in the series, so we understand that he places her at a higher regard. And it’s special enough for him to try and take it the next step by pulling her into his arms, but luckily he restrained himself from those kinds of impulsive urges. He may or may not have been drunk, but the evening scene showed that somewhere in the back of his mind, he is incredibly attracted to Eruruu. As for Eruruu, everything about what she said about herself to him can be taken as the truth. It was a bold move of her to speak out her thoughts to him, but of course, she minced words so that he wouldn’t know that she is attracted to him as well. In the meadow scene, she tries very hard to deny any kind of latent meaning in calling themselves family.

The irony is that her comfortableness around Hakuoro, while not very apparent through words, is vividly displayed through all kinds of physical acts and responses. She hugs him rain or shine and massages his shoulders. She lets him stay in her room all day and gets totally embarrassed when she’s complemented by him. But in fact, the biggest indicator (and we see in the game a whole lot) is how quickly she gets prone to jealousy. During the incident with walking in on Karura’s “fling”, she demonstrated several classic signs such as ignorance and avoidance. With Kuuya, she followed him into the woods. Fortunately, Hakuoro caught on and handled the situation in the way he does best: talking and showing her that nothing is going on. It’s because of Eruruu that he can do the right thing and sleep at night. He thinks about and talks about her, and it gives him comfort. So he eases any kind of misunderstanding she might have on the caravan to Na Tunk, but still minces words, uses the same family excuse she used to express how close they’ve become while not implying anything further (this is a convenient parallel to the events of episode 13). The ‘F’ word may have been used intentionally or not; if it was, Hakuoro may have actually been aware of how she felt about him, but felt it inappropriate to love her back.

Intimacy – Forgiving Hakuoro and Eruruu
Episodes 22-23 is the climax in Hakuoro and Eruruu’s path to a true relationship. It’s here, when they start delving into each other’s past, that the wrench is thrown. A partial truth becomes revealed to Eruruu where afterwards she does things atypical of her personality, such as the withholding of knowledge from Hakuoro. After the attack on the palace, Eruruu goes into a state of deep thought and confusion, for now she realizes that the contract was not a joke or a hallucination. Had it really taken control of her life? This is where presumption and keeping secrets plays against her, to the point that she was forcing her body over a cliff.

Eruruu presumed that Hakuoro knew about the contract the same time she did. But perhaps what struck her the hardest was thinking that he felt nothing for her (or much worse, her feelings for him were false and not of her own volition). Not asking or knowing brought her unnecessary pain. Hakuoro’s intimate words provoked not joy, but sadness. She wants his love (Yuzuha told us this), but the more she thinks about how it’s not real, the worse she gets. And from an audiences’ standpoint, it was only a matter of time before she goes and does something that would hurt her. And this is all unfortunate because her character wouldn’t have it any other way. After an upbringing of hardship, if you suddenly found out that the love of your life was actually giving you false feelings, you wouldn’t want to live either.

Luckily there’s her friend Urutorii the Yomoru, wise on her perspective on life and in a position to see the totality of Eruruu’s blight and do something about it. It could only have been Urutorii’s advice because she had helped her with one of her evolutionary moments before (grieving for her grandmother). And now Urutorii guides her again through another stage of Eruruu’s coming-of-age. She assures Eruruu that the thing that mattered most to her was still hers and that her feelings for Hakuoro were real. Whether this is true the other way around doesn’t matter to Eruruu anymore because she had been freed from the bondage. Quite fervently, Eruruu expanded her mind to something she had never before considered, which is to live life through her own heart and emotions. This is a complete contrast to Oboro’s quest for maturity. While he converted into a more controlled and restrained figure, Eruruu became less preoccupied with duty and more emotionally driven, outspoken, and impulsive (it’s more than a coincidence that twice Urutorii helped her through life, and twice it involved the release of her emotions). It wasn’t about what she must do anymore; it’s what she wants to do that mattered now. And with that, she became much more expressive towards life and Hakuoro in the last three episodes and in the final scene. This is her evolution, and it brings us into the third stage of the romance: acknowledgement and action.

Then what about Hakuoro? The truth actually impacted him a lot more and left him in a bigger quandary than Eruruu surprisingly. And again keeping things to himself didn’t help him either. By the end of episode 25, he fully understood the extent of how much an outsider he was to this world. According to Dii, he and Hakuoro were seeking praise of their “children” – whether they were aware of it or not – by invoking the fighting spirit of the land and killing off those that didn’t conform. The balance of the world had been thrown upside down due to their awakening, and while some groups benefited from their presence, others got mashed violently to the ground. It is a clash of methods to achieve the fundamental desire that all humans want.

The thing that really nips Hakuoro in the bud is how he forced an innocent girl onto him. If only he had never existed, he wouldn’t have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of lives and extorted Eruruu. So Hakuoro signs his own death sentence, seeing himself as disgusting and unforgivable, and as a sort of penance, he fights a bloody showdown against Dii with nothing left to lose. Fortunately he won. Too bad this was all under his own assumptions, as he never bothered to ask how Eruruu felt about him after the facts had been disclosed. If he did, things would have turned out quite differently.

Thus, Hakuoro came very close to leaving Eruruu forever based on his own conjectures. But it just so happens that Eruruu evolved a bit quicker than he did. Terrorized by the thought that she may never see him again, the hormones and feelings within Eruruu took possession of her heart and she professed everything she knew and thought about him, including her love. She had hoped that Hakuoro’s feelings were mutual, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to say it initially, and Eruruu saw that he was being unfair to her. As he turns, he implies that he does love her as he did Mikoto, but he had violated her. He thinks he’s unforgivable and doesn’t deserve her and wishes he was dead. But Eruruu pushes all that nonsense away and follows only to her heart. She leaps into his arms and kisses him. She forgives him. Eruruu's heart encourages Hakuoro’s heart to take control and it does. And as a result, Hakuoro reaches the final evolution of the romance with a reason to return to the world. Their destinies are conjoined.

Tackling the Issues - Was it Incest?
Utawarerumono brings up a controversial issue regarding the relationship between Hakuoro and Eruruu. It is generally accepted that the latter is a descendant of Mikoto because their appearance is strikingly familiar and that both characters in the anime were voiced by the same actor to further this point. Hakuoro (known in the past as Iceman) concieved a baby with Mikoto, which would have started the family tree leading to Tousukuru and then finally to Eruruu and Aruruu. If this is the case, then Hakuoro and Eruruu may have unknowningly started a relationship based on incest. However, this portion serves to prove that this was not so.

The simplest proof is that there is no proof. Since we live in a world where evidence, not speculation, is canon, the fact that there is no proof in their relationship being incest makes it not a love affair between father and daughter. As seen from the anime, we are left without any knowledge on the fate and whereabouts of Iceman and Mikoto's baby. It would be highly illogical for the soldiers that apprehended the two to leave it in the forest to die but rather take it back to the labratory and have it disected like Mikoto. If the baby had ceased existance then , the incest issue could be dropped right here. Of course, there is the the idea that it wasn't picked apart by the scientists, but instead left to maturate. When Iceman turned all the last remaining Humans into slimes, the remaining experiments found their own way out, and Mikoto's baby survived in the hands of others. But if this or if the child was left behind on the surface (and survived), this would still not be incest by another important factor: the factor of time.

Utawarerumono is sketchy when it comes to the timescape of the story. We are left with absolutely no information as to how long wars took place or how long rebellions lasted. Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence or canon references to the time lapse Hakuoro suffered when he was sealed by Mutsumi and when he awoke. It could have been a century (four generations by our standards) or a couple of eons. But since there is no way to tell, there is nothing to support the fact. And even if it was a couple of eons, it would still be in error to call their relationship incest. That would be saying every relationship that was happening on Earth at this very moment was incest. After all, mankind stems presumably from a single womb. The fact that we come from the same mother (and probably the same father) would make us all brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. So unless you are prepared to accept this, Hakuoro and Eruruu's relationship is valid and appropriate.

I think it’s safe to say that nobody wanted Hakuoro and Eruruu to be under the same bed sheets more than I did. I was very surprised with the end result of the anime because I actually got more than I wanted. The game version of Utawarerumono puts you in the position of Hakuoro and you actually get to hear what he is thinking to the situation. Sometimes just looking at a face or a body isn’t enough to understand what one person is thinking. Television is a visual medium which isn’t really good at conveying thought. The series missed out on some things, but it botched portions of it for the better. That much, I’ll say.

The ending was not a sad ending at all, at least not for the two protagonists. It was entirely joyous, heartwarming. What’s more is that, unlike the game, Eruruu was the one initiating physical intimacy, not the other way around. Which is just as well since the anime portrayed Hakuoro as having the sex drive of a dead fish. But when I saw the kiss, I was left with my jaws open and my heart sinking. I’m a romantic; I like seeing the many ways in which two people can fall in love. The circumstances in this anime makes Hakuoro and Eruruu’s very original and dramatic. I’m glad there’s some new stories still out there in the world. I saw the two in that white void with their lips pressed together and thought, “This is wonderful.”

It is wrong to think that the anime should have to stay true to the game. The series is an adaptation, and lots of people believe that adaptations should stick 100% to the actual events when in reality they’re not obligated to. It is merely the starting point of a story with everything in between and the end are subject to twists and turns for the sake of enhancing drama. It’s important not to let game events cloud your judgment of the series.

Utawarerumono is the reason I got into anime again. I listened to Musou Uta on animenfo radio back in June and I liked the song so much that I wanted to research the anime it came from. I suppose Cardiac Glycoside was right: I came for the furry ears. But the more I watched it, the more I fell in love with the series. I haven’t felt this way towards any one story since Final Fantasy IX. The concept is just as high up there, but the drama is way better delivered, the animation and character design is beautiful, and the romance is just wow. I’m not going to be bored of this anime for a while.

Concept: 10
Story: 9

Animation quality: 8
Computer Graphics: 6
Character Design: 10
Voice Acting: 9
Music: 8

Utawarerumono: 9 (A must watch)

relentlessflame 2006-09-28 18:40

Excellent analysis, Zaris. I have to admit, despite the fact that I've been known to get into some pretty long analysis myself in certain situations, I was a bit skeptical when approaching your post. (The fact that you had a table of contents didn't help ease my apprehension! :heh:) That being said, I can accept your analysis.


Originally Posted by Zaris
That said, I certainly wish that the series was an hour long show. But I have never seen hour-long anime before in my life, and the fact that this is a fan-made show presented in Japan at practically 3 in the morning makes it understandably an unrealistic and risky endeavor.

It would be an interesting idea, though I agree that it'd certainly be a true rarity. I'd be curious to see how such a move would have altered the pacing - if the show would have been better as 26 full-hour episodes, would it have worked equally well as 52 half-hour segments? Pacing is a funny thing. Of course, that's not to mention the impact on other aspects of the production, animation, and so on. As it stands, and as you pointed out as well, I felt the series composition staff certainly did an admirable job given the constraints. The plot felt a bit "tight", but they managed to cover a lot of ground, and cover it fairly well.

However, what do you mean by "a fan-made show"? When I think "fan-made", I'm thinking a bunch of amateurs putting something together in their spare time because they want to; couldn't be further from the truth here.

Anyway, perhaps I'll have my own set of thoughts to post some day, but again I would say that I can accept your analysis and conclusions. I really enjoyed this show.

Zaris 2006-09-28 19:57


Originally Posted by relentlessflame
...what do you mean by "a fan-made show"? When I think "fan-made", I'm thinking a bunch of amateurs putting something together in their spare time because they want to; couldn't be further from the truth here.

I was kinda basing that particular statement off of this. According to Catgirls, Utawarerumono broadcasted at 2:40 every Tuesday morning in Japan. And when I heard the phrase 'otaku-oriented show', I thought it meant fan-made. That's not right actually. It has to be company-produced. I was probably disorriented when writing this at 2am and looking for something to quote.

But still, is anime often given an airing spot in the middle of the night there?

ChainLegacy 2006-09-28 20:30


Originally Posted by Zaris
But still, is anime often given an airing spot in the middle of the night there?

As you said, 'otaku-oriented' shows are, from my understanding. If only the otakus are expected to tune in it is given an obscure time such as 2 AM.

I'm not going to go into detail because in all honesty I would consider that work and I generally only do things I enjoy during my free time :heh:. I don't count the arts, as they don't make or break the story for me, and voice acting is the same, though I believe good voice actors can greatly enhance a show. In general, though, I thought the VA's and the animation in Utawarerumono was terrific.

The storyline is so interesting from the beginning. At first you're sort of getting a Twelve Kingdoms/Princess Mononoke vibe, which is, in my opinion, a good start (expansive fantasy worlds ftw). It eventually becomes tactics related, which is sweet too, and then finally it goes sci-fi on us. It pulls together so many things I enjoy that it was pretty hard for me not to like it. I agree with the general consensus that some characters were under-developed, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Obviously, Hakuoro and Erruru made the series, but they had a colorful cast behind them, even if they were static.

Overall, I'd give Utawarerumono a 9 for enjoyment, which is all that truly matters to me in the end. I admit that I am a fairly easy grader, but I can't help the fact that I like so many things so much, lol.

JarOfMayo 2006-09-28 21:06

Spoiler for on the late night spots... really off topic lol:

More or less I agree with Zaris... Its been so long since seeing an anime... end so well... I mean I've seen good endings to anime, but this was just so... special in a way. lol I guess game-players might feel it lacked but as an independent production itself Uta was great.

Sinestra 2006-09-28 21:14

I gave the whole series a 9 there were parts that could have been done better but thats every anime. what made this series for me were the charcters i fell in love with each and everyone one of them. There distenct personalites allowed you to be drawn into the story. The charcter development i feel was done very well and we get to see how the charcters grow and better themselves or revert back to toddlerhood. Over the story was imaginative and refreshing with some kick ass fight scenes. Usually my biggest problem with anime is not the animation its the writing and script prep. I didnt mind the writing at all. well i had fun i hope you did to

Aruruu and mukkruu rule all

GundamZZ 2006-09-30 00:23

The reason for Hakuoro to wear mask, Not.
Yep! It's some average looking face, but it would earn the empathy from average looking otaku. You know who you are(me, too).

The culture and custom of the world is suppose based on Ainu. It makes me want to learn more about these people. That's all for now.

Cardiac Glycoside 2006-09-30 01:22


Originally Posted by GundamZZ
The culture and custom of the world is suppose based on Ainu. It makes me want to learn more about these people. That's all for now.

I find it odd that there is any Ainu influence at all since the Ainu language and culture are moribund. You can thank the Japanese for that [/editorial].

BTW: check the lower left. And add the "h" to the beginning of this link.

Zaris 2006-09-30 02:44


Originally Posted by Cardiac Glycoside
...check the lower left. And add the "h" to the beginning of this link.

Well according to that, it looks like the mask covers part of his forehead hair as well. With hair like that, I wouldn't be surprised if he rode harley davidsons in a previous life. = P

I dunno. It's a nice-looking face regardless.

panzerfan 2006-09-30 03:21

The thought that I have coming out of Utawarerumono at first is very sobering to me:
Vicious cycle.

The thought keeps haunting me as the drama of humanity in Utawarerumono reaches its conclusion, ever pounding at me, ever relentlessly so and ever drives me with a sense of lament. As the mask man returns to his cocoon, I cannot help but think of the current state of affair us, the humanity today is in. His trek to make that full circle leaves me unsettled, to say the very least.

My thoughts, after reading through all of this makes me have a strange notion that... are we demiurge as well how does one save the demiurge?

I feel terrible thinking of how much
Uitsuarunemitea's sufferings have been and how humanity, the great maker, fails to alleviate even ourselves from the self-fulfilling prophecy of omniscience. The concept of God as Uitsuarunemitea hurts a great deal... and how that humankind betrays itself in order to bring forth creations in its image and is too coward to call them as its children.

At least Uitsuarunemitea has not totally forsaken his own children.

Saving a demiurge... through the span of the entire series, Aruru seems to answer that with her actions and Eruru through her thoughts. It is something that I think I will need to work at to develop but I somehow just feel that way. Aruru's approach, instead of that of following her father's words down to the letter, as it is with Mutsumi, is that of looking after the family unit above all else. This has driven her onto numerous close calls and an ideological clash with Mutsumi, not to mention shouldering the responsibilities from those actions with her own life on the line. She turns the tide of battle and fortune with that stubburness to act for the 'greater interest' and doesn't hesitate to implicate her own child Mukuru, or even Eruru into the fray. This resolve alone makes me feel alot better.

Deathkillz 2006-09-30 05:45

zaris ~ before i even start reading it ill give you a cookie for writing a book :p

Animation ~ amazing...cute charas and the lot ^_^ 10/10
Sound ~ the voices fit well (KEWKEKE? ;)) and the background music op/ed etc is really good 9/10
Story ~ the story as a whole was good...however parts i did not like are plot holes...nothing much is explained so in order to fully get the story you have to play the game (which i havent -.-) 7/10
Characters ~ not enough development!! hakuoro is a brick wall when it comes to a relationship and the side charas like touka and benawi was shunned off :( if they could be focused more i would have been happy 7/10

overall 8
even tho its really goo it can get confusing (especially near the end) and the wtf flashback scenes :p and background info on the series is also needed to fully enjoy it...but still its a must see if you havent ^_^

illusion 2006-09-30 08:46

Wow, just wow. Your an amazing writer, some parts of the text just blew me away.

Trax 2006-10-01 06:48

Although I haven't finished watching this series yet I found it rather average. So unless the last 4 episodes somehow deliver I would give this a 6 or something because I found the character development and story severely lacking. Well to be fair, the animation, design and sound would pull it up to a 7 I suppose.

White Manju Bun 2006-10-01 16:00

Overall I give this series a 9/10, it was definitely one of my favs from this past season of anime. All the different characters made it amusing to watch and the fighting scenes were awesome and got even better with the intro of Karura and Touka.

Still wondering about the twin archers tho, I still say they are guys XD

Zaris 2006-10-01 16:13


Originally Posted by Myself... lol
We learn next to nothing about Dorii and Guraa during the series aside from the age-old question of their gender (yes, they are male, as it is obvious in their speech in episode 26).

Part 2, section 1, first paragraph. In the epilogue portion of episode 26, Dorii and Guraa said 「僕たち」 (boku-tachi), meaning "we" as exclusively spoken by males in Japan. If it was "we" in a general or female form, they would be saying 「私たち」 (watashi-tachi) but they didn't. So they're men.

I could be very mistaken about this fact tho. I need an actual native/linguist to confirm this. = |

UPDATE: Created a new section: Tackling the Issues - Was it Incest? (I have lots of free time -.- )

Pakxenon 2006-10-02 22:27

I am currently the lowest voter... (6)

Starts out with a good premises, good fantasy settings, likeable characters, and a predictable but well-wrought out concept. This kept me going the first half. Half way through, several slower episodes kicked in to slow it down and focus on the characters and happiness - okay. But after that, it got repetitive - win wars, gain new harem member, defeat new villains. Then at the end, many people started thinking 'wtf giant robots?', then I lost my respect for the series there.

#1: Each villain is hateable. I hate hating every villain. I wished they would die, but they won't until the next next episode. They are purposefully illustrated to gain some cheap points for Hakuoro. No matter how good each villain arc is, it got repetitive with the same victory for Hakuoro and the hating. I don't want another Full Metal Panic! S1 (die, Gauron!!!!), but the way the villains are portrayed was just really cheap.

#2: There is no limit of supply for humans. The population in this story could feed an alien race for hundreds of years even if the humans are still waging war against each other. Soldiers keep dying, but it doesn't look like it in the next battle. Very inconsistant and unbelievable for the most part of this aspect.

#3: In the end, not even Hakuoro's harem could put a scratch on the 'mecha'. They are shown to be all powerful, but at the end they turn out to be useless. The cheapness goes the other way around! Ironic yet still cheap.

The story and character relationships were great, but they all turned out to be useless at the end. A big set-up for a finale of confusion.

Dooken 2006-10-03 14:27

Wait wait, how can we say that Dorii and Guraa are males? What about the episode where they get Oboroo drunk and they are naked sprawled around him? I thought that I saw the curve of breasts then, but maybe I was mistaken.

Onizuka-GTO 2006-10-03 15:17


Originally Posted by Dooken
Wait wait, how can we say that Dorii and Guraa are males? What about the episode where they get Oboroo drunk and they are naked sprawled around him? I thought that I saw the curve of breasts then, but maybe I was mistaken.

lol. leave him. male...female....who cares?

as they say: "whatever floats your boat"


ChainLegacy 2006-10-03 17:52


Originally Posted by GundamZZ
The reason for Hakuoro to wear mask, Not.

Is that an official picture or is it just a photoshop? (I can never tell with these things...).

As for the Ainu, they are similar culturally to many Native Americans (in fact some researchers believe the Native American peoples and the Ainu were descended from a common group).

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