Read Nabari no Ou Reviews Online.
This review is based on a preview disc supplied by Madman. It comes with the feature presentation only, English dialogue, and no extras.
Story and Characters:
Introduce a young teenage boy with very powerful secret hidden power. This secret power is coveted by other clans for their own purposes, which at this early stage remain unclear. This boy comes across as incredibly apathetic or, as I see him, disconnected from his world. It is almost as if he doesn’t want others to get hurt through his actions or ability and will use this so-called uncaring attitude to keep separate. However, he does not hesitate to turn on the “doe-eyes” to get his way if necessary; and we do find snippets where he shows caring and compassion. He ends up with three self-appointed guardians (a school friend, a teacher, and a female samurai) to guard him and his ability from the other clans. The first seven episodes on this disc establish the characters, settings and a general understanding of the story. It appears that each character has some secret or other, which may be revealed in time. Progress of the story itself, in my view, appeared slow and ponderous mixed up with several ninja-type fight sequences. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into the mood of enjoying this series. The main protagonist’s ongoing apathy annoyed me and the other characters introduced at this stage didn’t have enough depth to offset the ponderous story. This story may appeal to those who are looking for a contemporary-styled Naruto.
Scenery has an almost watercolour style, nicely detailed yet etherial-looking. Characters appear thin and, as Raimei described the others, scrawny. Not quite CLAMP dimensions, but not far off it. That said, the designs are more-or-less attractive and reflect each character well (such as Miharu having a perpetually disinterested look on his face except when he’s just been doe-eyed, got his way, and out come bat wings and a nasty grin). There are plenty of fight sequences with lots of action and implied violence; as well as lots of slow-motion action points where fighting characters pass each other for dramatic emphasis. For those who like this sort of action, I doubt you’d be disappointed.
The English voice actors come across convincing. Miharu (Brina Palencia) oozes apathy throughout his dialogue, but when the situation demands it can turn on an emotion-charged speech when needed. Raimei always reminds me of Asuka Langley Soryu from Evangelion: brash, loud and energetic most times. The rest of the cast come across well, conveying determination, menace, and concern where required. The music is, overall, unremarkable but does work where required with dramatic orchestral scoring for action sequences, overlaid with what I’d consider characteristic “ninja-type” flute flourishes. We have the heavy rock opening and the typical slow ballad for the closing credits.
The Bottom Line:
To be blunt, this series has not appealed to my interests. For those who like ninja stories and, in this case, in a contemporary setting with the separate “world” of Nabari, I’d expect you may enjoy this. Ironically, some repeated words of the opening theme “I don’t care” sum up my observations of the series as a whole. It’ll get 3-stars from me, just.