Title: Narutaru aka Shadow Star Narutaru aka Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tama Taru Ko
Company: KIDS STATION
Format: 13 episodes
Date: 7 Jul 2003 – 29 Sep 2003
Synopsis: On a summer trip to her relative’s house, Shiina encounters a strange star-shaped creature while swimming. Shiina befriends the creature, names it “Hoshimaru” and takes it home with her. Soon afterwards, Shiina encounters others who have creatures of their own and learns that they are weapons called “dragonets.” Unfortunately for Shiina and the rest of Japan, not everyone who has a dragonet is as well adjusted and friendly as Shiina is.
Mood: Lighthearted and innocent, which slowly changes to dark and disturbing.
Plot: Incomplete, although quite interesting.
Pacing: Slow in the beginning.
Don’t let the childish intro sequence or the fact that Narutaru was aired on a kid’s channel fool you, Narutaru is no kid’s show. The artwork is similar to that of kid’s anime, but much like Now and Then, Here and There, this serves to show how these children have lost their innocence. As early as the third episode, there is talk of selective genocide to create a perfect society, and it only gets darker from there.
I never would have thought that an anime that starts off with a typical childhood trip to Aunt and Uncle’s house would end with three of the most disturbing single episodes I have ever seen. Much like Battle Royale, Narutaru shows what is darkest in humanity by giving power to children and letting the results speak for themselves. It is too bad that these themes were not more fully developed, and most of the important plot questions were left unanswered. What exactly is a dragonet and why are they here? The world may never know.
Konaka Chiaki has written many excellent anime scripts, but failed to properly pace Narutaru. When you only have thirteen episodes to work with, you cannot afford to spend three or four of them in battles that do little to advance the plot. Without all the numerous wasted episodes early on, there would have been ample time to answer questions and flesh out the ideas presented, but things don’t always work out the way they should. In all honesty, Narutaru would have been far better suited to a twenty-six episode format.
Narutaru had far too much promise to end as it did, but unfortunately that’s all we get. As it stands, there are far better dark and disturbing anime than Narutaru, but fans will still have their interests hooked. If incomplete endings are a huge turn-off then steer clear of Narutaru. Or, be like me and watch it for its themes and hope against all hope for a sequel.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Kuma