Set in a fantasy world full of magical abilities, The Book of Bantorra is one of those anime series that delves into some serious issues. It looks into the truth of people and whether one person’s desires mean more than another’s. Bantorra is an interesting, inherently dark series. It tends to focus on the corruption of the world and how selfish desire, whilst possibly providing happiness for one, can damage it and the people within. Since each person knows they will become a book, a lot of focus is placed on them creating an interesting life story. Essentially the show acts as a commentary on life and how people act and how this is amplified in a world where you’re life can be shown in full to anyone. A series in which every person is literally their own story it begs the questions that if every man is an island, then what is their place in the world?
The Book of Bantorra is set in a world where, upon death, the soul of a person is transformed into a stone tablet known as a book. Said books allow any who touch it to see the events of that person’s life. Naturally, these books are highly sought after for various reasons, some less…innocent than others. The books are guarded by the Armed Librarians, who protect and store them in the labyrinthine Bantorra Library. Each of these Librarians possess incredible supernatural powers which they use to protect the library and all of the books housed within from their enemy, The Shindeki Church otherwise known as The Church of Drowning in God’s Grace. Each member of this church seeks out happiness, believing that they will attain entrance into Heaven by sating every one of their desires, whether it be fame, money or murder. Rather than being outright evil, they’re more selfish than anything, their doctrine being to achieve their deepest desires regardless of any obstacle. They’re still evil, but that tends to come from their specific desire, like a longing to murder or destroy.
As the series progresses questions are raised about the ethically questionable nature of the Armed Librarians Acting Director Hamutz Meseta. Established as a mysterious character, it becomes more apparent that she possesses a slightly vicious nature, and that is to say a very violent nature. It calls into question whether the ends justify the means, just another complex issue the series explores. She possesses an intense lust for battle and actively searches for one strong enough to kill her, all tying into the theme of sating desire, though she opposes those with said doctrine.
A lot of the moral questions also arise from the characters known as Meats. These beings are not even referred to as human, being labelled no more than cattle, mentally broken to the point of emotionless servitude. Their role in the plot forces you to wonder what constitutes a human, is it an inalienable right of birth, or can it be lost? The irony being that those who create the Meats are themselves less human, being able to actually do that to another person.
The series itself is broken up into small story arcs, each which focus on specific characters and their own internal conflicts. These more personal stories tend to develop characters, providing insight into their motivations and desires and creating a deeper universe. From the arcs presented, it is made clear that there is a much larger plot in action, though it has yet to culminate as of the end of Part I. Each arc pieces together more information, creating an interwoven story that runs deeper than each character.
Visuals and Audio
The animation in Bantorra was done very well. The movement of the characters in action scenes was very fluid. The combat scenes also tend to display a fairly generous helping of wounds, notable in that there is generally a believable amount of blood shown from each. The characters themselves also possessed a unique style, each easily distinguishable from one another. The characters also show a lot of emotion and variations in their expression. Occasionally there was some obvious CGI used, which didn’t really fit into the visual style of the series but thankfully it was used sparingly, the main example being a boat in the first episode. The series also contained some very picturesque, if sometimes haunting, locales. The backgrounds did an excellent job a conveying the dark, sinister world that the story was describing.
The soundtrack for Bantorra suited the situations of the episodes very well. It relied on orchestral pieces to further the dramatic tension in scenes. The violin was also used frequently, adding an ominous sense. The English dub of Bantorra was done very well. Each character was uniquely voiced and actually had an emotional range, the voice of the character Hamutz Meseta especially. Her voice acting, performed by Shelley Calene-Black, made the character more believable and interesting, inciting curiosity into her own personal story and development.
There really isn’t much in the way of extras in this Part I DVD collection. There is a textless version of the opening sequence as well as an alternate intro and ending. Also included is a short trailer for the series itself.
The Book of Bantorra is a unique and interesting series. It delves deeply into what it means to be a human as well as how desires and action affect the world. It presents the world as dark with faint traces of hope, in the form of people. The series itself is a commentary on life, in its own twisted sort of way. Part I ended partway through a story arc, which is kind of annoying but it leaves you wanting to know what happened. Hopefully Part II answers some of the plot threads left hanging, but in a series like this that’s almost certain. All in all it’s a dark yet curiously uplifting series.
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