The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Witch Hunter Robin

Title: Witch Hunter Robin
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Jul 2002 – 24 Dec 2002

Synopsis: STN Japan Division (STN-J) is an organization with the sole purpose of hunting down and capturing witches – people who are gifted (or cursed) with forbidden supernatural powers such as telekinesis and mind control. Robin Sena is a Craft user who joined STN-J from Italy and learns to work together with the team, as well as the dark conspiracy that is imminently hovering over them.

The Highlights
Story: Dull in the beginning, but gradually picks up towards the end.
Visuals: Impressively consistent and crisp.
Music: Worthy effort by Iwasaki Taku, though not his best.
My reaction to its abrupt ending: Outrage.

If you happen to be a fan for supernatural phenomena and witchcraft à la TV series Charmed, but without the fluff, then Witch Hunter Robin may just make your day. The series did well at keeping me glued to the tube with its stunning visuals and colorful cast, as well as the slick action sequences and somber atmosphere that render this series a feast for supernatural junkies. For those who are not into the new-age stuff though, you may need to reconsider before picking up this series.

The series started off pretty well, but after a few episodes it becomes evident that the series adopts the stereotypical “Monster of the Week” formula, which will turn off certain viewers. This is solely because it does nothing in adding to the plot and though some are entertaining, most of them are boring and can be considered as just add-ons. The only positive aspects of these Monster of the Week episodes are that they progressively reveal traits of the seemingly mysterious STN-J crew, and the emotional complications of the myriad of witches they hunt down.

However, things get really intriguing after the Monster of the Week theme comes to a close, as the enigmatic history of STN-J is slowly divulged. This is where the action and pace of the plot reach full throttle and rewarding the patience of the audience for enduring the dull first-half of the series. Then, just when the climax comes to an end, the series comes to a halt so sudden that it will stump viewers for a long time, much like Juuni Kokki. It inevitably becomes the Achilles’ heel to the series, since the ending of a series like this is an aspect that is of paramount importance to any viewer.

The cast is wonderful in the aspects of aesthetics and background, but that’s about it. Though they look cool and sport demeanors, little can be said about the camaraderie between each of them. Certain episodes did well in exploring the backgrounds of each character, but most of the time, the facial expressions and body language of the crew is almost nonexistent, particularly Robin who is especially impassive. Ultimately, what you have is a motley crew that knows how to capture the bad guys but not how to show their emotional side.

Luckily, the music is one of Iwasaki Taku‘s better works. The opening song, “Shell” by Bana sets the gloomy mood perfectly and its closing sequence “Half-Pain” (also by Bana) will leave viewers with that cryptic aftertaste… a fitting choice for such an anime. Other than the two songs, the atmosphere of the whole series is further enhanced with an array of both gothic and eerie music.

Witch Hunter Robin, in the end, is a mixed bag. While it fared very well in the visual and audio department, little can be said for the erratic plot and abrupt ending. If you are into the supernatural, and visuals and music play huge roles in your selection of viewing anime, then by all means pick up this series. Otherwise, you may want to search elsewhere for something more solid.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: AC

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