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A true science fiction epic.
on January 22, 2009
How is it that this show isn't better known? "Jyu-Oh-Sei" is an 11 episode series that manages to stomp nearly every full-length sci-fi anime series out there in spite of it's briefness. At the end, it seems impossible that such an epic and perfectly-paced storyline could be over so quickly and leave such a large impression. That is a true testament to the writer and the director of this series. Guaranteed to thrill any sci-fi fanatic.
The story begins as a simple revenge tale. It takes place in a human colony in the Balkan star system hundreds of years in the future. Our hero Thor and his twin brother Rai (both 11 years old at the start) are mysteriously kidnapped after discovering that their parents have been murdered. They are dropped off on the planet Chimera, which is a world used by the colonists for capital punishment. The worst criminals are abandoned there and are either soon dead or wish they were. The planet is as harsh as they come; monstrous plants are the top of the food chain and a single day and night cycle takes an entire year. Half of the year, the plants flourish and the planet is one massive carnivorous jungle and the other half is complete darkness and Siberian weather. Great setup.
Thor soon learns just how harsh Chimera is. It is kill or be killed; but he soon finds that he has an uncanny knack for survival. He also finds that there is civilization on this harshest of planets. The people of Chimera are a tribal lot broken up by skin color into a series of clans known as Rings. Each ring is lead by a Top, a Second, and a Third with the Top position being decided by single combat within each Ring. If a Ring's Top is able to defeat each of the other Rings, he becomes the Beast King and is able to return to the colony. In other words, if Thor wishes to return home, solve the mystery of his parent's death, and exact his revenge he has his work cut out for him.
"Jyu-Oh-Sei" would already be an outstanding series based on premise alone. The planet is so intriguing a setting and the characters so strong that it could have cruised almost indefinitely without losing the viewer's interest. But the story flies by with amazing velocity, even jumping several years ahead at one point. It's got places to go and people to see, that's for sure and not one minute is wasted. The show is merciless and unpredictable -which it displays very early on- and filled with twists and turns of the best kind. Even though a savvy viewer will likely soon suspect which character is pulling the strings, the purpose remains an unsolvable mystery until the final episodes which feel like an all-out mental assault on the viewer as bombshell after bombshell hits. The final act is absolutely amazing and jam-packed with pure genius. It's extremely easy to lose track of the mysteries altogether as you become wrapped up in the intrigue, romance, and drama of the story, which makes the effect of the barrage of revelations even more shocking. Without any major spoilers, I'll just hint that perhaps the world where mankind's forsaken are sent may in fact be their only hope for survival. Like I said, epic.
While the price of this set is pretty exorbinant considering the small number of episodes, it's well worth it if you've got the bucks. This is a top-flight work of science fiction that should enthrall both anime newcomers and veterans who've seen it all. There is no weak link in this series; every aspect seems to have achieved near-perfection. I was legitimately sad to see it end; but that feeling may have been partly because of the cheap shot near the end that seems to have no purpose other than to break the viewer's heart. Cheap shot aside, "Jyu-Oh-Sei is animated sci-fi greatness. All who profess to love the genre must not hesitate in seeing it.