No. 6 Review

Anime

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No. 6
Studio: BONES
Publisher: Siren Visual
Release Date: December 6, 2012
Price: $49.95 – Available Here

Overview:
No. 6 is a series that had ton sof potential but was doomed to never live up to it. Weighing in at a mere 11 episodes, it was always going to be hard for BONES to adapt the epic scale portrayed in No. 6’s source material with such little time. In the end the result is a sloppy, awkwardly paced, relatively disappointing anime series albeit one with real heart underneath all its flaws. But is heart enough to make up for such apparent faults?

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Story:
Set within a supposed utopian future, No.6 follows Shion a young boy who one night has a fateful encounter with a fugitive by the name of Rat (Nezumi). This encounter ultimately changes Shion’s life and sets into motion the events of the series.

No. 6 itself is a walled in utopian city in a time following a catclysmic world wide disaster. Outside the walls lives the rejects of society, the ones who live in a slum-like environment in the baron wasteland beyond No. 6’s walls. Rat is one such inhabitant.

Oddly enough despite its title this series spends most of its runtime outside of No. 6. Opting instead to spend multiple episodes outside of No. 6 simply pondering what to do about No. 6 and its inherent darkness beneath the squeaky clean surface. There is undoubtedly a secret behind No. 6 that is far more grim than it appears. As the series progresses layers are slowly peeled back revealing this secret. The final payoff however is bizarre to sa the very least.

Throughout the course of 11 episodes we come to care for Shion and Rat as they lead a slow burning rebellion against No. 6. There is some pretty strong boys love under-tones in this relationship but these characters are so endearing that it does not feel shallow, instead it feels like genuine love between friends. This may be off-putting for some who do not find these kinds of relationships interesting, but if given a chance you may find that their connection is truly moving at times.

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As for the aforementioned payoff, everything culminates in a grand way which is heavily juxtaposed with the rest of the entire series which hums along like slow jazz. The finale hits hard and fast not in ways that feel very out of place with the 10 episodes that preceed it. It all wraps up very poorly in a confusing manner that doesn’t exactly fit with the themes displayed in the series. Coming from absolutely out of nowhere things take a turn for the extraordinary in what is an incredibly bizarre way to end such a quiet series as No.6. In the end it is a flawed ending to what was an anime riddled with them.

The biggest problem with No. 6 is that it had too little time to tell so very much. On top of that it squanders the time it has instead of putting it into proper plot progression and world building. When the viewer constantly is confronted with the thought of ‘How are they going to wrap this up in x amount of episodes left to go?’ there is a serious problem. The viewer shouldn’t worry that a series won’t end properly, that is just TV basics. Despite all that though, No. 6 is still fairly intriguing and the central relationship is something not too common in anime, making it worth a look in for its unique qualities alone. Other than that, this is far from what its potential promised, which is a true shame.

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Visuals and Audio:
In terms of aesthetics No. 6 is disappointingly bland at the best of times and just plain ugly at its worst. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the nature of the series but it really could have used some more creative visuals. Animation wise BONES have done a good job however, it is an overall fluid series in that regard, it is just the uninspiring art that ruins it.

The series’ soundtrack is perhaps its biggest highlight, with brilliant track after brilliant track lifting the material to heights that it doesn’t really deserve. Without this beautifully composed soundtrack No. 6 would honestly fall apart. It is the fulcrum of this series undoubtedly as it serves as the glue that holds everything together both tonally and atmospherically. The opening and ending songs are notably great selections that set a great mood for the series with finesse.

This release from Siren Visual happens to feature a dubbed audio track by way of Sentai Filmworks which was honestly one of Sentai’s weaker attempts at anime dubbing. Greg Ayres is once again horribly miscast this time as Shion in a very cringe-worthy performance to say the very least. This is one release that you’d probably want to stick with Japanese audio.

Extras:
Siren Visual have done a great job with No. 6 in way of special features. On this DVD collection they have included an English dub (even if it could be better) which is something that has become less and less common in recent times with many anime simply being fast-tracked with a sub-only release. That isn’t all though, Siren Visual have even managed to get a hold of Japanese audio commentaries which is sure to delight those with an interest in what went into making the series. Both of these extras alone are great, particularly the audio commentaries which will surely provide some added shelf life to this collection.

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Overall:
No. 6 is an anime that has a lot of heart and invests most of that into developing the relationship of its two characters. This is something that is does quite well and it should be commended for creating such an interesting pair of characters. Unfortunately the world and story surrounding these two is so heavily flawed that it all falls apart. Regardless No. 6 is an interesting watch for what it is, not because of its flaws, but in spite of them.

6--capsules-out-of-10

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Senior Editor & Anime Specialist

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