Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anime review: "Rainbow - Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin"

I first noticed "Rainbow" last year in, I think, spring anime preview of AnimeNewsNetwork. It had good grades so I decided to watch it as soon it was finished. Of course, this got little delayed, but I watched it now.

I must says first that I almost quite after watching first few episodes. I don't usually abandon anime after I once started (I did it maybe two or three times), but I was very tempted with this anime. First five episodes were quite terrible for me. It wasn't the plot but the characters. Even though this anime is marked as seinen, it doesn't give this impression at first. Sure, it has some disturbing scenes, but it is full of kids, bravado, laments about male honor, friendship and tough love. But after watching all 24 episodes, I see that quitting before end would be a serious mistake. Even though "Rainbow" has a streak of shounen during whole running (the premise that if you try hard enough, you will succeed), it is definitely a great seinen anime, very educational and inspiring.

Plot is split in two parts. First part (first twelve episodes) describes six teen boys that end in prison-like disciplinary school where they meet Sakuragi Rokurota, a boy year or two older than them. Although all boys ended there because of violence and crimes, in their core they are all good guys. And with the help of Sakuragi, their inner core will come to light and turn them into solid men. Unfortunately, not everybody is interested in their well being. They are tormented by sadistic guard Ishihara and perverted doctor Sasaki. Two of them had an additional reason to want their ill: Sakuragi knows about crimes Ishihara and Sasaki did in past. Second part (episodes 14-24; episode 13 is a recap) deal with their life after getting out of school. I liked this part much more than the first, but that is probably because I was finally accustomed to the atmosphere of this anime.

As I said, this series is a curious combination of shounen and seinen. It is idyllic about guys being able to get out of every problem by expressing super-human efforts, but the problems they get into it are always serious and real-life, and they never get without consequences. And most important, they actually learn from their mistakes. Much of the bravado in first part is actually somewhat exasperated teen perspective to life. Even though this anime promotes friendship and trying, it doesn't do it in childish way.

Seconds thing I liked about it was the zeitgeist. Although I can't be sure how precise and true this representation of life in Japan after World War 2 is, it definitely looks believable and real. Consequences of atomic bomb, poverty, PTSP, chasm between old and new generation... I never watched anime dealing with this time period before, I think.

I wouldn't discuss much about the characters, because this is what this anime is about, so I would be impossible to avoid spoilers. There are seven main characters and bunch of side characters (especially in second part), but each one is easily recognizable and memorable. This is anime with one of the best growth of characters during the running. From violent kids to respected and honorable men.

Also, I wouldn't like that you get an impression that this is some serious drama. It has a lot of humor and funny scenes, action, fighting. But everything is done in believable and real-life way.

Visuals are nothing stunning, but nothing bad also. There is lot of good music throughout the anime. One thing that irritated was that female narrator. At least it only happened once or twice shortly during every episode.

"Rainbow - Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin" is definitely a good seinen anime, although I had much problems with first few episodes. A very good watch for those how like anime about real life and real people.

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