The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito

Title: Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito aka Yami, the Hat and the Travelers of Books
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 2 Oct 2003 – 25 Dec 2003

Synopsis: For Azuma Hazuki, her sister Hatsumi is her universe; an intense, unrequited admiration of her sister overwhelms Hazuki. Though Hatsumi doesn’t speak, her natural beauty makes her popular with boys, which Hazuki jealously doesn’t approve of. However, at midnight on her 16th birthday, Hatsumi magically disappears right in front of Hazuki’s eyes…

The Highlights
Premise: Unique and highly intriguing.
Plot: Totally incoherent and poorly paced.
Characters: A few well-developed characters surrounded by a largely vapid cast.
Cinematography: Erratic, but excellent camera work.

If there was ever a criticism that could be leveled against all visual novel to anime conversions, it’s that they’re disjointed, but in that regard, Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito is far and away the worst I’ve seen. It’s tragic, because at its core the premise is a good one that, had it been explored and executed in a different way, would have made an interesting and unique experience. However, the execution of the plot progression is terrible; the audience isn’t offered a reasonable explanation for what is going on until right towards the end, and the plot and characters are presented in such a haphazard way that the overall story is just an incoherent mess.

Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito‘s music isn’t anything special, but it’s tolerable and does a decent job of establishing mood and atmosphere most of the time. The highlight track is definitely the catchy, melodic ED song, Eien no Inori wo SasageteĆ¢ by Kobayashi Sanae. The animation is acceptable for something made in its time. Visually, though, the highlight are the sporadic displays of excellent cinematography and camera angle choices. It’s ironic that these tended to show up in scenes of episodes that were actually good.

Asking some interesting questions, at its fundamental level the premise queries what would happen if you introduce an omnipotent being into various lives, touch them in different ways, and then disappear suddenly. It’s an intriguing idea that’s unfortunately handled poorly in an anime plagued by pointless episodic arcs and noticeably absent explanations for the plot, which is almost guaranteed to leave most in the audience bewildered and having to fill many of the gaps themselves. The characters are a mixed bag. Hazuki and Gargantua are both offered fascinating and timely backgrounds, but are both insulted by hackneyed resolutions. Lilith is horribly one-dimensional throughout the entire course of the series, and Hatsumi aka Eve is actually a far more enigmatic and fascinating character when she doesn’t talk. The rest of the cast are completely ill-developed and disposable, making them feel less like side-characters and more like extras.

Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito is an intriguing concept trapped within a terrible anime. Its ideas and themes are relatively unique compared to those generally explored in ‘visual novel-to-anime’ conversions, but its originality is hampered by a plethora of pointless characters and pointless episodes and a story that shows complete disregard for chronology. For a lesson in how to waste potential, very few beat Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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