First Impressions: Romeo x Juliet

I have never been a fan of strict romance animes. When the romance is the plot it’s never curried interest from me. I’ve always preferred my romance as a sub-plot to other stories, like most Young Adult novels, but hopefully with a super interesting main plot. But this week I braved the kawaii-desu waters of anime romance and plucked the first object I could think of. This time we add androgyny and melodrama to our recipe as we take a brief look at the absolutely bonkers Romeo x Juliet.

The anime is very loosely adapted from the Shakespeare stage play, so loosely it’s faded and appears to have holes. That being said, Shakespeare Nerd I may be, I’m not gonna be unfair and compare this to the original play. Let’s all just relax and let the story speak for itself.

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Alas, we won’t stick around for the tragic ending

The floating island of Neo-Verona has suffered a great tragedy: Vicious Lord Montague skipped the feud stage and straight up murdered the Capulet family overnight. Now Montague rules over the island with an iron fist, using the mysterious tree of Escalus, that has so much Mysterious Power it glows. He’s on the hunt for the only Capulet to survive the massacre, the princess Juliet, who now lives in the city as the begger boy Odin. The princess’s retainers have rescued and kept her hidden for years now, until her sixteenth birthday, despite her frequent bouts as a freedom fighter named The Red Whirlwind. Now they expect her to lead a rebellion against the Montague’s and reclaim her throne. Just one problem… she’s in love with Montague’s only son, the romantic and bright-eyed Prince Romeo.

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I wasn’t sure you were the one, but two meetings was all I needed

This is Shakespeare Fanfic at its most insane. There are references to Willy’s work just about everywhere: Plot elements and names are borrowed from other works; common troops are running around like headless chickens; William himself is prancing around the work to drop hints,  and everyone in the dub attempts to talk in this pseudo-olde English. But where the curtain rises on a fantastic idea, it stops just short on execution.

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That melodrama just creeps up on ya

 

This anime is trying way too hard. There is no subtlety to be had on first impression, just a coating melodrama that only gets thicker and thicker the more you watch. The writers don’t let the natural emotions of the moment resonate with the audience, instead having characters emote harder than an actual stage play of Romeo and Juliet.

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I’m feeeeeeeling!

And when the show isn’t relying on these dramatic, emotional moments, it gives characters that feel off-kilter on occasion. Juliet’s character, for example, plays between a roguish freedom fighter and a mourning maiden of sorts, but the gap between personalities is too wide. The whole thing feels like dance of the caricatures and hurts the enjoyability overall.

But for all the anime falls short of, it has some very nice fine details. The art and animations are beautiful, with smooth action and stunning color. Gonzo was at the head for this odd rebirth of a classic, and I’m genuinely impressed at the lack of animation bumps and glitches with the action scenes. The color has a lot of pop and effects can be downright stunning.

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Pretty baby….

The anime also boasts some well-placed musical tracks, barring the mismatched opening and closing songs (soft love song capped with heavy progressive rock, sure). Of all the things you could accuse this anime of, and that’s a lot, you can’t say it isn’t easy on the eyes and ears.

Ultimately, my first impression of Romeo x Juliet is mixed. I have my misgivings about the execution of the story, but that boils down to a not having a big interest in heavy drama.  The anime seems unapologetic in its melodramatic romance and head over heels in love with recreating the world of The Bard. I respect its want to be something all its own, even if it didn’t quite hit the mark in my personal opinion. It’s something I won’t  be watching on my own time due to taste, but it has the potential to be a cult classic. It’s a strange, not subtle, visually stunning anime that represents a fun experiment. Results may vary, but the road it paved is not.

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Did you like Romex x Juliet? Was it just a little too melodramatic for you, or sing to you? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow and like for more content just like this.

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