「復興の誓い」 (Fukkō no Chikai)
“A Vow to Rebuild”
Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro isn’t a bad adaptation by any means. It is true to the spirit of the source, competently interprets the characters and setting, preserves the fantastic performances of the cast and the score, and has carefully paced the story for an episodic format. By many measures, it is good enough. But for fans of the source material (and I consider myself a big one), ‘good enough’ is, unfortunately, rarely good enough. Fans are fickle and fans are greedy. We’ve already experienced all the drama of the source game, rode through the ups and downs of the story and undergone catharsis, and we want the adaptation to make us feel exactly like – no, feel more than we did the first time around. That’s not really a viable expectation for any story but still we demand it, like violent junkies always seeking a bigger hit.
So the question begged is, why adapt a story at all? There are the utilitarian reasons where a different medium may be able to reach a wider audience, but for those who already experienced the original, what reason do we have to consume the adaptation? Obviously, that’s a question of the advantage that one medium has over the other. And even more obviously, the advantage of anime is the animation. Anime lets us see what may have been a more static story come to life, sometimes even larger than life. I’m not the only one watches an anime adaptation and knows that one scene and will tell all their fellow viewers that it’s totally awesome and – no, wait for it! Wait for it! It’s coming! It’s going to knock your socks off!
…And then it doesn’t land and our metaphorical balls are now a metaphorical shade of blue.
I’m not saying Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro is that disappointing. But it is disappointing, even if slightly. While Futari no Hakuoro has never let its production values stop it, they do hinder it. It’s hard to deny that it doesn’t have generally uninspiring action scenes and the models decompose quickly in distance shots. And the disappointing part is that we know that FnH is capable of more but it shoved all the awesome in the OP and didn’t have enough left over for the episodes.
I’m not necessarily asking for sasuga action scenes, recognising that action is not necessarily the main strength of Utawarerumono. But there were many opportunities for FnH do things better than the game, to prove itself as an adaptation, and but it falls just short each time. For example, in the game the bridge destruction to be very tragic but never shows it being that impactful in a physical sense. The anime, though, understands it should be catastrophic. Here was a chance to sell the enormity of this piece of infrastructure, really ramp up the destruction, go full disaster movie, and capture the calamity in riveting animation, but all we manage is lots of dust and some still shots. It had the right idea but could not pull off the execution. The heart was willing but the flesh was weak.
I will probably drop coverage of Utawarerumono after this season. Again, it’s not a bad show per se, but I really want to like ait and don’t really want to be put in a position to critique it every week. Maybe I’ll come back at the end and write an overall impression about the show. And, hey, Futari no Hakuoro could always turn itself around. There’s a lot of epic in the story yet to come and maybe its saving itself for Utawarerumono’s true summits. I sure do hope so.