June 6, 2008
I decided to watch this series on a complete whim. As a lover of tragedies and angst, I’ve always liked the original Shakespearian play well enough, despite its many flaws. Unfortunately, if the original play had many flaws, then this incredibly loose adaptations has them tenfold.
STORY – There’s no hiding from it. This series is a horrible bastardization of Shakespeare’s play and retains very few similarities beyond character names, references, and the fact that Romeo and Juliet have the purest and most cliche love for each other ever! That said, the changes made are interesting, if nothing else. The fantasy elements don’t seem important at first, but devour the series at the end, which I found very unpleasant and unnecessary. Indeed, the second half the series, because that’s where most of the major divergence from the original play occurs, I found to be less entertaining than the first. Everything just got very repetitive after a while and I found myself not caring at all about the fate of the characters, which is never a good thing.
But even the story for the first half of the series wasn’t very impressive in general, and even now, I’m not sure why I even bothered to finish off the series. The pacing was haphazard and there were far, far too many redundant scenes involving Romeo and Juliet’s apparent infatuation with each other, not to mention certain character repeating themselves a thousand times, as if you didn’t already know what was going on. I’m all for the romantic fluff, but come on, this is stupid. In summary, there was nothing great about the story of Romeo x Juliet at all, and that’s considering I did like the original well enough. I suppose then, if you really didn’t even like the original, you wouldn’t find anything of interest here at all.
CHARACTER – I didn’t really like any of the characters in RxJ. It was really kind of sad. I was especially disappointed that Mercutio’s role was diminished greatly until near the end of the series and even then, he was not the character he was in the original — upsetting because there, he was my favorite. Not to mention that he was incredibly out of character. Tybalt was similarly unrecognizable, but at least he remained Juliet’s cousin, unlike Benvolio, who was no longer Romeo’s cousin. Romeo and Juliet themselves were kind of… eh. Well, Romeo was a great, big pussy with that cliche sense of idealism and justice. This made him incredibly annoying for the entirety of the series, and I found it hard to sympathize with any pain and suffering he went through.
Juliet was probably the most interesting character in the series, which really isn’t saying much, but hey. Because she was forced to dress like a man all her life (to keep her identity a secret), she had a lot of boyish qualities about her and was therefore a little more badass than her original counterpart. This made it kind of interesting, but as the series progressed, she lost her male persona and her stereotypical girly qualities kind of took over, including lots of ridiculous heartbreak/lonely scenes that were full of ridiculous.
I found the stark good guy/bad guy division in this series to be incredibly boring. There didn’t seem to be very many shades of grey and it was basically CAPULETS GOOD, MONTAGUES BAD, or at least, Lord Montague was the definition of evil. This was painfully obvious in all interactions between Romeo and Lord Montague (his father). Cliche character personalities are cliche. They tried to rectify this a little at the end by giving Lord Montague some pathetic sobstory to explain why he was the way he was, but it wasn’t very convincing at all, and I certainly wasn’t impressed.
ARTWORK & ANIMATION – I really dislike the style RxJ is drawn in. The noses are just ginormous, and I don’t like it. :( Other than that though, the animation in the opening is bloody gorgeous… too bad it doesn’t carry into the series! Overall, I’d say the animation in the actual episodes was pretty average, maybe on the lower end of average though. I was especially not fond of how they treated equine anatomy, but that may just be me.
MUSIC – The opening theme for RxJ is a Japanese cover of “You Raise Me Up” (which has apparently been covered more than 125 times, according to Wiki). About half the music in the series was also this song, including an English cover by the same singer, and various instrumentals. Most of the other music was pretty negligible, probably because this theme is what stands out the most. It’s a pretty song though and the artist, Lena Park, has a very nice voice. The end theme is okay, but nothing amazing.
VOICE ACTING – I saw this entire series subbed. Nothing stood out as good or bad, so I guess average all around.
OVERALL – As you can see, this was a pretty mediocre series all around, and it’s no wonder it wasn’t very popular at all. Like I said, I still don’t understand exactly why I got so hooked (I saw the entire series in about three days), especially since I’d recognize its sub par quality from the very beginning, but I did, so I guess there has to be some redeeming qualities about it… I just can’t really think of any right now. But that might be because I really hated the ending, which was incredibly lame! In conclusion, I absolutely do not recommend this series at all unless you’re extremely curious or extremely bored. Or masochistic.