Jouran: The Princess of Snow and Blood (First Impression)
- Studios: Bakken Record
- Source: Original
- Genres: Action, Historical, Supernatural
- Synopsis: “Set in alternate history Japan in 1931 and the 64th year of the Meiji era, the Tokugawa shogunate was never abolished and Emperor Meiji was never restored to power. The anime will follow the activities of “Nue,” an organization of shogunate executioners who enforce the government. The country has developed its own energy source, the “dragon vein,” and has achieved a unique development in which science and the Edo period are mixed. However, behind the glamorous city, the dissident organization Kuchinawa strives to overthrow the administration, while the Nue of the Tokugawa regime, who was entrusted with its extermination, are in conflict. Sawa Yukimura, whose family was killed when she was young, continues to search for Janome, the executioner of the Nue.”
Finally it’s the start of the Spring 2021 season and what better way to start off the first of the series with an original anime set in the Meiji Era! The Meiji Era was around the time where the West was a big influence on Japan which resulted in rapid technological advancements and new fashion (suits and top hats were IN) but that didn’t stop tradition from taking precedent as kimonos were still popular as well as the architecture! Anyway enough about my love for the Meiji Era! Let’s dive in!
There’s a focus around the color blue as it seems to be the source of power for these superhumans (which I’m guessing are some type of science experiment with some successful…and some not so successful products). While there is a scientific element to the superpowers, there’s also a hint of something supernatural. A mixture of human made creation as well as something beyond which is quite interesting though I’m not quite sure where it will lead us!
As I mentioned about the setting for Jouran takes place in, what you could say is the Meiji Era in an alternative timeline! The west was a big influence at the time and that can be seen in the architecture and background throughout the show. It’s the little details that no one pays attention to that I appreciate the most! I enjoy seeing both traditional Japanese architecture as well as more western styles that involve prominent columns while keeping the roof’s aesthetic similar to the other buildings. A subtle yet charming look I’d say! And let’s not forget about, what we can assume is Edo Castle surround with some type of protective structure. The building definitely help set the atmosphere and help quite well with immersion.
Another aspect that’s often overlooked is composition. I love the clear display of depth within the scenes and even the placement of characters. A good composition will bring out the best in a show whether that’s the art, the animation, and even the story. I did appreciate these scenes with not only gave a moment of rest from story development and action but also helped established the setting and the nature of the world that Yuki lives in. A warm and loving place with a lurking darkness underneath.
The characters themselves are fairly interesting though the first episode wasn’t quite enough time to really introduce them. We get a glimpse of Yuki’s past and a vague idea of why she’s the silent beauty type, but again not enough to hook in the audience in my opinion. The anime will most likely way until the third episode to really get the story moving so until it’ll be a lot of world building and character development. The character designs are quite slick though that can’t be said about the animation which is average (maybe slightly below) at best, which is a shame to say as the story looks like it will include a number of fights scenes.
I pulled this particular scene into the first impression because it really stood out…but why is that? If you watch the scene with the sound, the man in the suit is speaking in English WITHOUT an accent. I just think that super cool and a really nice detail thrown in there! Like an easter egg! Speaking of voices, the opening theme is performed by RAISE A SUILEN. I mention them time and time again as they’re starting to perform opening for anime other than their own (kinda like Egoist…this sounds like an interesting post to write about…)! Continuing along the with the topic of soundtrack is the background music for Jouran. As you can expect, it’s a mixture of traditional japanese music with western genres like rock. If you liked the sound and atmosphere of Demon Slayer, I think you’ll fit right at home here (though the animation isn’t nearly as good).
While there are a lot of good things happening on paper, the execution doesn’t quite nail it on the head. Jouran rushes through character development to jump into the action as it stumbles with its animation, but picks itself up through thoughtful composition and a distinctive soundtrack. That being said, my gut feeling tells me that the cons will outweigh the pros and the animation style will be the downfall of the show, if the writing doesn’t do it first. This is something that could go either way and I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell you to watch it.
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