The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

The Third – Aoi Hitomi no Shoujou

Title: The Third – Aoi Hitomi no Shoujou aka The Third – The Girl with the Blue Eye
Genre: Action
Company: Xebec/WOWOW
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 13 Apr 2006 – 26 Oct 2006

Synopsis: The world as we know it has been ravaged by a devastating cataclysm. What was once a green, water filled world has become a series of vast deserts where people struggle to survive. In these dangerous times, Honoka uses her skills as a Jack-Of-All-Trades mercenary to make a living and to experience everything she can about the place she calls home. Along with her artificial intelligence tank, BOGIE, and her skills as the “Sword Dancer”, she takes on jobs to protect people from everything from giant insects to bandits to the predications of the sometimes overly authoratative The Third, a self appointed ruling body of this world. During one of her adventures, she meets a strange young man who seems to have as much an interest in the world as she does, but along with him comes a lot of mystery and potential danger.

The Highlights
Animation: Gorgeous, except for a couple of odd episodes.
Music: Inspiring and moving.
Pacing: Story arc format keeps things quick.
Originality: Not very.

The Third is probably the best anime of 2006 that nobody watched. Everywhere I went to try to promote this show, my reaction was usually met with a “huh?”, a “what anime?”, or a similar response. Too bad, they missed out on a good one.

The first episode sets the pace for the animation quality, which stays top notch for the almost entire show. Characters move with a welcome smoothness, and the CG work for inanimate objects like BOGIE the tank are done with a higher quality then you’d expect from a TV series. One scene of CG work later in the show is probably some of the best combat CG I’ve seen from an anime ever outside of a theatrical release. If CG animation is a short cut, they should at least put some effort into it, and I’m glad Xebec did that here.

I also fell in love with the music, which mixes in acoustic guitar work, some celtish aspects, and rock to form a nice mix of styles. But the production committee keeps the music selections appropriate, having the dreamier background musics for the times when Honoka, et al, are immersed in the fantastic mysteries of their world, and the rock for the ending themes. The intro, “Sajou no Yume”, by Sasaki Yuko, is currently a part of my MP3 list, as is the track “The Third Theme” and first ending theme “ING” by Chou Hikou Shounen.

There are two major gripes with The Third, the first of which is readily apparent from the get go, and the second later on. The first is that the show isn’t very original. Post apocolyptic worlds have been done before in just about every medium created by man. The trick to taking a “worn” concept and making it work is to have something the audience can experience for the first time. The Third does a very good job of giving us a unique perspective on what happens after a cataclysm. We get to see what the new indiginant species are like out in the wild, with Honoka reminding us that just because some things have gotten bigger, meaner, and deadlier, doesn’t mean they aren’t alive. And we get to see new mysteries and urban legends that have sprung up as a result of both technological mishap and extraterrestrial interest in Earth. Even taking some old myths and legends, like vampires and fairies, and putting a new spin on them allows the viewer to have a sense of wonder at the creativity put into this world.

The other major gripe is that the show is arc-oriented. Normally this doesn’t bother me, because it works in a lot of other anime, but here it seems almost to be a detriment to the show. Each arc lasts anywhere between 4 to 6 episodes, consisting of Honoka getting into a new adventure and leading to a satisfying conclusion. Part of the problem here is that sometimes the arcs don’t relate to each other, as if one or two of the arcs could have been taken out and ignored without any problems to the overall show. This, unfortunately, makes the show feel episodic in a way. It is also what leads to the rushed feeling the ending gives us. Essentially, a final problem, climax, and resolution is given to us in the span of a mere four episodes. A final arc that’s supposed to finish the series and tie everything together in that span of time essentially killed the momentum that had been built up to that point, and relied too heavily on a half-assed deus ex machina to pull it off.

To sum up, The Third is good times, up to the end. It’s gorgeous to watch, beautiful to listen to, and the characters are fun to follow, but if you’re expecting everything to be wrapped up on the same believably epic scale, you’re out of luck.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: TypicalIdiotFan

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