「革ノ命」 (Arata no Inochi)
“Arata’s Life”

We’ve been down this road with Satelight before, and it’s a worrying one.

I mentioned earlier tonight in my Mushibugyou review (sorry Stilts, I liked it) that it was an advantage not to have any experience with a source material when it undergoes significant changes for an anime. I have no such leisure with Arata Kangtari, and as such, I can’t help but be acutely aware of just how different the course of the anime looks – at least for now – from Yuu Watase’s manga.

I’m a pretty big fan of that manga, from the author of Fushigi Yugi and Absolute Boyfriend, among others. It’s not what I’d call profound or a masterpiece, but it’s a damn good yarn – a traditional shounen-style action story from an author with a shoujo background and sensibility. The combination works very well – I’ve always been fond of Watase’s artistic talent if not always her taste, but Arata was the first time her skills as a storyteller impressed me much. Free of the constraints of the shoujo genre and not weighed down with a lifetime trying to conform to those of shounen, she’s come up with a manga that isn’t limited to being either one.

Cut to 2013, and this adaptation. Arata is an ongoing manga and even if it weren’t, it has way too much story to effectively be told in one cour. That’s why the news that this series was going to be one cour was somewhat worrying. Satelight has some track record for such series, prominent among them recently the last series from Arata’s (and Sartelight’s strongest) director, Yasuda Kenji – Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. I adore Ikoku Meiro, and I think it’s one of the most emotionally penetrating anime in years, but it undeniably ended unceremoniously right in the middle of the story. When faced with one-cour series adapting manga with stories too big to fit in them, a studio can either stop in the middle in this fashion, or try to cram everything they can in leading up to an anime-original ending (see Zetman for a recent example). There are downsides to both approaches, but the early evidence is that Yasuda and writer Sekijima Mayori are going to pursue the latter route.

All I can really do as a viewer and blogger, then, is to judge the anime for its ability to tell a coherent and compelling story in the time it’s been allotted. So far the returns are pretty good, as this was a solid premiere from a storytelling standpoint, though already the pacing has caused me a few painful moments. We’re introduced quickly to main character Hinohara Arata (Okamoto Nobuhiko), a first-year high schooler with a doting mother and younger sister. By all accounts Arata seems a bright, attractive (well, this is Watase Yuu) and athletic boy – but there’s a dark secret underlying his family’s intense concern for him. Arata has been the subject of terrible bullying in middle school, especially from Kadowaki Masato (Kimura Ryouhei) – a boy who’s very much an ominous presence in Arata’s high school. Faced with a betrayal and the seemingly impending resumption of his days as a target, Arata tries to will himself out of existence in a fit of self-pity.

Meanwhile, we meet another Arata – this one played by Masuoka Yoshitsugu – who lives in the mythical world of Amawakuni and has problems of his own. The land’s Princess is getting on in years and Arata’s clan has the duty of providing a daughter to replace her – which is an issue, as no daughters have been born to the clan in generations. Arata’s Grandmother impresses on him that it’s his duty to dress as a girl and participate in the ceremony as a girl, since the clan is subject to being eradicated as punishment for not providing any female heirs. This Arata has a strong sense of duty and agrees, at least to try and buy time for a more permanent solution to be found, and heads to the capital under the protection of Kotoha (Takagaki Ayahi) – osananajimi, healer, priestess and all-around mensch. Sadly things go very wrong at the ceremony, as the ones assigned to serve the Princess – the Twelve Shinsho – decide to use the transition to murder the Princess and take power for themselves. After an attempt on her life is nearly successful, forcing her to use magic to effectively suspend herself in time in order to survive, Arata escapes and is blamed for the Princess’ murder by the Shinso point man, Kannagi (Ono Yuuki).

An awful lot happened in the first episode on both sides of the divide, and it leads to the two boys switching places (though those around them see no change) thanks to the magic of the Kando Forest, where the Amawakuni Arata flees after the incident. I think it manages to get the "coherent" part down pretty well in spite of that, though the "compelling" half is more problematic. Most acutely felt for me is the loss of detail on the subject of Hinohara’s bullying – this was a much longer process in the manga, and one of the most harrowingly realistic portrayals of bullying I’ve seen in any format. I had some concerns with the decision to give Hinohara and Arata different seiyuu – in my mind I always pictured them as having the same voice as well as the same face – but in hindsight I think it was a smart move. Both Masuaka and Okamoto are quite good, and it helps to highlight the difference between the two, which go a lot deeper than just hair color. Where Hinohara is plagued with self-doubt and even self-loathing, Arata is a rather genki and game-for-anything sort of lad – and each is going to get a taste of how the other half lives.

In premise, we’re pretty much in line with manga canon at the moment – we just got there a whole lot faster. And it’s a very good premise, with a lot of potential drama and comedy as Arata adjusts to high school in modern Tokyo and Hinohara to life on the run in a land of magic and monsters where the powers that be want him dead. Fortunately for him he’s one of the chosen ones who can wield a Hayagami, the magical weapons about which we’re going to learn a whole lot more, and very soon. His is the flashier story, but Arata’s tale in modern Tokyo is a very good one as well – and one of the very interesting questions we’re facing is just how much screen time it will get when screen time is going to be so limited. I have a good deal of trust in Kanji Yasuda, though the challenge facing him in fitting this story into one cour is a formidable one indeed.


ED Sequence

ED: 「エンディングテーマ」 (The Misfit Go) by (OLDCODEX)



  1. I’ve been following the manga ever since it started and though I’ve yet to see the episode in its entirety, I’ll reserve judgment till then.

    One thing though is the characters look fairly well done from the screenshots although Arata (Ugh, I subconsciously see Arata from Chihayafuru) looks a bit off (?) Needs to be more bishie as per the manga’s description.

    I hope it won’t become too “emo” though… since, at times, the manga causes me to facepalm *_*

    BUT! Still hopeful 😉 Definitely gonna give this the 3-episode tryout period XD

  2. The backstory seems so weird. He is so crushed by his ‘bullying’ when it’s just one guy not liking him. There may be more to it, but as all we get to see is this guy having a grudge against him. But he doesn’t actually do anything.

    1. They condensed multiple chapters worth that dealt with his being bullied into a couple minutes, it’s more complex than him not being liked. Show Spoiler ▼

  3. People were struck with the vague idea that this series had BL, or at least hints. I can assure you that after reading about 15 volumes of this, it isn’t like that. The pacing of this episode was horrible though, so I don’t have high hopes for the anime.

  4. We’ve been down this road with Satelight before, and it’s a worrying one…a source material when it undergoes significant changes for an anime…just how different the course of the anime looks – at least for now – from Yuu Watase’s manga.

    Strange phenomenon, that. If both the source material and the TV show are substantially different plotwise, then often one or the other ends up being worse over all. But if one does indeed end up being worse, i wonder why it’s usually the TV show instead of the book/manga that it was based upon…

    1. Good point, if you change stuff from the source material, one would imagine it’s for the better since the producers/director already knows how the source materiel was received by the audience and it’s flaws would be easier to see, so it’s more likely the TV show would be better more often than not.
      Maybe you could attribute that to the negative reaction of the existing fanbase of the adaptation(they probably make up a large part of the audience in adaptations) – since if you’re already a fan you probably wouldn’t want anything to change.

      1. Definitely at least partially attributable to that- probably also significantly attributable to “shovelware” mentaility; i.e., let’s put something subpar out (An adaptation, TV show, tie-in game) quickly and make as much money as possible at a minimal cost…

      2. Some of it simply comes down to “time”. Most Manga, especially ones that run for a number of chapters, have a whole lot of thought put into them over quite a long period of time. What this means is that while “more people = more brain power” is true, having time to roll over the issues, from a story telling point of view, is very important. You have time to think through a lot of the problems.

        Further, with that time normally comes multiple versions of a story. A writer might be on their 5th version of the major plot details and found little tricks to fit all of them together. That just isn’t doable for the production schedule of an anime, especially given the committee aspect to most of the production planning. You see this in Light Novel adaptations quite a bit. They pick the number of LNs to get through, then compress or expand as needed to fill that requirement.

      3. I like it. Bureaucratic reasons that don’t necessarily involve any malice. The hard task of making a certain anime of a certain length is thrust upon some production team that may not even like the source material. Systemic dysfunction…

    1. Definitely.

      With how risk-averse anime producers are these days I’m surprised they haven’t tried to force in a half-cour, 6 episode format. They would also probably try to limit all material to moe/super-cute, visual novel adaptations, and shows with easily reproducible mecha.

      1. There are worst ones. Haven’t you seen any of the ten or so minutes per-episode or even two to three minutes per-episode anime around :p? Many of them would do a lot better if they were give twenty minutes per-episode at least.

  5. So even though I liked the first episode, the voice actors, and the animation, it seems they’re giving the anime the same treatment as Mushibugyo and Magi before them.I am disappoint.

    I’m going to pull a Stilts and advise people interested to read the manga either first or side by side if they continue to watch the anime ;p

    I never remember what’s skipped unless the scene was strong enough for me to remember or someone else says it.I couldn’t tell if there was anything skipped in this episode, however Show Spoiler ▼

    Lastly, Show Spoiler ▼

    1. I always think the right advice is “watch it and decide for yourself”, but that’s especially true when the episode was actually quite a good one (as this was). Without any baggage from knowing what’s being left out from the manga, there’s no obstacle to viewers enjoying this series. And I’m willing to give it a chance to make something out itself, given the limitations it faces.

  6. Not really digging the character design, but as far as plot is concerned, not half bad for its first episode. It’s rushed, but it’s somewhat intriguing with two people swapping places and walk in each other’s shoes. You are right though, there seem to be so much stuff to cram in with only one cour.

  7. The first episode looks pretty, as does Kotoha. =3

    Seriously, though, it’s a wait-and-see approach that should suit best when watching something like this. The ongoing manga doesn’t look like it’s near the end just yet, so looking at the news that there will be 12 episodes makes one wonder if they would consider a sequel at all.

    introduction-wise, it really is a bit of material to cram in. I have no doubt there are a few viewers (notably the non-manga readers) who will be confused by what transpired. If they wanted audiences to cop a feel of how modern Arata felt like, they certainly did it well enough.

    On the positive side, I liked what they did to convey the feelings of modern Arata. The VA conveyed a numbness of emotion through the voice to signify he isn’t quite over his bullying trauma, then the lighting used when he first learned about the betrayal and his despair was pretty good.

    Wait and see, wait and see. Let’s see where this all goes.

  8. God I seriously hope they aren’t going the route of throwing in some of the material and then BSing an anime original ending to it.

    I didn’t like how they rushed through things in the first episode, but it’s not that surprising. Kind of reminds me of Persona 4 in the sense that they have to end the first episode with the MC awakening to a power so they do whatever it takes to get to that point. It’s not like they can’t show the bullying via flashbacks as the series goes along.

    But going to have to hope they at least keep things stable. I’d rather have a series end and never get that sequel since going the other route makes sure you don’t get one (unless you’re Full Metal Alchemist).

    I have to say the ED was really weird. Were they trying to make people think this was a BL series?

  9. Great twist beginning episode the original person switch with different person though I wish it was at least 2 episode to explain why he got hunted down by 12 protector.

    Lim Lynn
  10. yuu watases previous animes were good but that was like ages ago. I watched in particular fushigi yuugi which was a really good anime considering its shoujo and it ran like 50+ episodes plus ovas. another is ayashi no ceres, it was ok, with a slightly more mature rating. looking at how shoujo anime are nowadays, I won’t place high hopes on this one.

  11. Hotaho
    Hide Hayagami in the arm, palm or leg.
    Jewel Ebb Flow Michichi no Tama Kikuri Hime projector use for communication. What you said during the trial it really made me please. At the moment I understood. Arata Hinohara has a Kotoha Himezoku uses Unumezoku to heal his wounds and Arata Hirohara has a sister name Nao Tsukuyo Light Dragger and Shinshingami Saniwa Tsutsuga Dragger Western double edge sword. Himezoku teacher met Arata Hirohara
    Finally escape from Gatoya and crash the boat on Narutaki. Hayagami choose shou uses kamui when fighting enemy. Awawakuni 12 Territory under 12 Shinshou. Later, Ginchi and mother left safely. Kigisu Hitari zokushou and Ohika whole family Kane ri killed. Rank of Emperor have others submit to you. Without Himeou here you got to know that Shou will go around making others to submit to them. This is the result of it. Your zokushou and ohika were good people even though he only just met me he believed in me. He protected me He believed in you until the end too. I want to be stronger and stop all these stupid nonsense done by those guys. Himezoku was a teacher nickname Seo sensei appear from Tsukuyo real name Tanken Light based Dragger born in Shikuyo. Volume 3 Chapter 27 Page 15 Kotoha kisses Hirohara Arata. Even it’s dangerous to be by your side. I don’t want to let you go. Why can’t you see that!

    Lim Lynn
  12. Arata Hinohara switch Oribe. Later, Arata Hinohara switch later with Arata Hirohara. Whereas, Harunawa switch with Kadowaki.

    Volume 5 Chapter 45 Page 11 Harunawa switch side with Kadowaki.
    Akachi submit to Kannagi
    Volume 7 Chapter 62 Page 3
    Sousei no Hinowa Isora entrust Nakisawa.

    Volume 13 Chapter 144
    Kannagi and Yataka allies. From Gatoya to Ama no Iwakura. Zekuu Himura Okoro Tsukuyo Tsunado Nakisawa
    Kisara Rai senha Raisen Kimon Orochi Onigami

    Volume 11 Chapter 98
    Congratulations on your 1st year of service Kotoha I’ll give these necklaces to you. That’s what I was given for my years with her. She had a stone that was the same as the one she wore on her head. I was curious about it so I asked her and she said ,”No matter how far we are separated Michihihi no Tama has the power to let us meet. I wasn’t able to grant happiness. Give it to someone you truely love that’s what she told me.”

    dead Akachi Submit Yorunami Kugura Kannagi Yataka _______ and Hirohara
    dead Kikutsune Ears Submit Isora Tongue Ikusa Nose Ameeno Eyes Shim Body Harunawa Mind destroy Oribe and Kadowaki.

    Lim Lynn

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