The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

No. 6

Title: No. 6
Genre: Drama
Company: Bones
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 8 Jul 2011 – 16 Sep 2011

Synopsis: Shion is a bright boy living in the controlled utopia No. 6. One day during a typhoon, he harbors a wounded boy, Nezumi, who is on the run from the law. The authorities find out and banish Shion and his mother to a lower sector of the city. Years later, Shion discovers a disease running rampant through the city – a disease that instantly ages the host and births a wasp. Shion is to be executed for this knowledge, but he is rescued by Nezumi, and together the two grow closer and wage battle against the totalitarian city.

The Highlights
Shion and Nezumi: The pair have an interesting relationship, even when it is later overshadowed by the plot.
Plot: Decently lean in the beginning but grows convoluted and ridiculous by the end.
Suspension of disbelief: Totally broken by the introduction of magical elements.
Environmental message: Misguided and idiotically implemented.
No. 6: A city populated by cardboard villains.

No. 6 is exhibit No. 1 for the idea that too much plot can ruin a good story.

There is indeed a good story in No. 6 crying to be told: that of Shion and Nezumi’s relationship. It’s rare to see a sensitive, nuanced portrayal of two men falling for each other and wrestling with their feelings in any medium — much less anime — but that is the direction in which the early parts of No. 6 tread, with the threat of the totalitarian No. 6 looming in the background to give an extra sense of urgency. Nezumi is a wounded soul; Shion, a naive idealist, and the way the two clash while growing closer to each other gives No. 6 a strong sense of humanity.

If the whole of No. 6 were about Shion and Nezumi keep hold of that humanity in the filthy, castoff area surrounding the sterile, utopian city, then the series could have been solid, interesting and different. Alas, the existence of a totalitarian entity such as No. 6 means that it must eventually be toppled — and with the destruction of No. 6 the city comes the destruction of the potential of No. 6 the series.

No. 6 walks a fine line from the beginning. The disease that rots No. 6 from the inside out is clearly born of fantastic science, but it is introduced early enough that it can be accepted as an established part of the anime’s world. However, everything comes crashing down in episode 8: Through the means of a long, laborious info dump, half-baked magical elements bring with them the means to destroy the city. From the moment they are introduced, however, they feel like a cop out. Although they may have existed in the source novel, the way Bones uses them here feels like a desperation move from the writers to find a way to end the series in 11 episodes.

With the plot magic also comes an obvious environmental message. You see, the leaders of No. 6, being cruel and arrogant folks, destroyed nature to build their monument to cold, rational science, but now to save themselves they want to grab the power that exists in nature! The story has good intentions, but the message falls flat because Shion and Nezumi are essentially fighting strawmen. The foot soldiers of No. 6 make the Britannian government look like Johan Liebert. The villains are evil in such a laughably ham-fisted way that it’s impossible to take them seriously. Even when No. 6 introduces effectively evil set pieces, it’s too little, too late. The resolution that comes about as a result of the nature side “winning” seems misguided and hypocritical as well.

But despite the many deep flaws of the writing (not to mention the animation and art, which vacillates from solid to shockingly ugly for Bones), I can’t bring myself to give No. 6 too bad a score. At their best and most interesting, the light of Shion and Nezumi’s relationships shines strong. Even while the anime did its best to wring every drop of melodrama from the plot in the finale, I could still find myself moved just a little bit by Shion and Nezumi. That No. 6 could not be good enough to move its audience more, however, is the real tragedy.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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