We've finished watching Romeo x Juliet. My first episode review is here.
The series is set on the flying continent of Neo-Verona. The prefix 'Neo-' could make you think it's a sci-fi story, but it's not -- in essense, it's set during the Renaissance, just like Shakespeare imagined the original.
Neo-Verona was ruled by two families: the Capulets and the Montagues -- until the evil duke Montague killed off all the Capulets and seized power! Only Juliet, the daughter of the duke Capulet managed to escape with her life (on a pegasus, obviously). Ten years later, Neo-Verona sighs under the boot of the duke of Montague, who rules with an iron fist and who manages to keep the nobles in check through fear.
But Juliet has grown up to become a beautiful young woman -- even though she is called 'Odin' and disguises herself as a boy. She lives in the theatre of William Shakespeare, a minor noble who plays at being a playwright. But often she goes out in a red cape, calls herself 'the Red Whirlwind', and saves the common people of Neo-Verona of the machinations of the duke's men. During one such excursions, she is saved by Romeo, the son of the duke of Montague.
Obviously, they fall in love, without knowing who the other is.
And so begins the drama. And quite a drama it is: the plot meanders quite a bit, and both Romeo and Juliet can't seem to make up their minds as to what the best strategy to be together will be. There's the time they elope together, but then they get caught again. Then there's the time that Romeo decides he needs to face up to his responsibilities and goes to the mines where his father has made him governor to punish him -- while Juliet decides to face up to her heritage and organises the Capulet revival. And there is the time that they decide that, no, they do want to be together...
Anyway, it's what you'd expect, really. There's some narrow escapes, there are some good fights, there are some embarassing moments between Romeo and Juliet, and even more romantic ones. There are the evil escapades of the duke, who doesn't stop at anything to keep his power secure. There are some noble sacrifices of the good guys, and some displays of cowardice by the bad guys. There is some background info on why the duke is the way he is, but that doesn't really matter by the time you get to know about it.
And then they kill the duke of Montague, Romeo and Juliet are reunited (for the third time or so), and then they still have a few episodes left. So the plot about a winged tree that keeps the continent aloft that needs feeding is invoked, which seemed really tacked-on.
The actual ending itself is pretty ambiguous, but that fits the series quite well.
This being a Gonzo series, everything is quite gorgeous. The character animation is smooth and crisp, and the CGI (numerous flyby's of the city on pegasus-back!) is where they went really all-out.
The music is quite okay, though the opening and ending themes are sappy romance ballads, but that is to be expected from a series like this.
Voice acting is good. Especially the duke of Montague has this nasty undertone in his voice. I thought the supporting cast (Shakespeare, his servants, Romeo's mother) were the most interesting ones, because they can be multi-dimensional. That carries over in the voice acting too.
- Beautiful to watch;
- An interesting remix of the classic tale.
- One-dimensional characters;
- Plot meanders.
It's just a high-budget series that seems to be focussed on technical perfection, and that lost sight of plotting or characterisation along the way. Which is a pity -- my verdict of 7 could have been much higher if a bit more thought had gone into the story.