Of all the new anime debuting this season, the one I was most anticipating was always Jyu-Oh-Sei. I’m basically a massive fan of Studio BONES, and despite a few less than stellar exceptions (Ouran, Kenran); I’m worryingly in love everything they churn out. I could cite Full Metal Alchemist or Wolf’s Rain as my favourite series of theirs, but I’ll take the obscure route for now and say their best work is KURAU: Phantom Memory. If you haven’t heard of KURAU, it’s probably because ADV pre-licensed it back in 2004 and have since failed to release it over the ensuing YEARS.
Jyu-Oh-Sei translates into English as Planet of the Beast King. Imagine a cross between Battle Royale and LOST and you’ll be half way to understanding the story. Two twins get unceremoniously dumped on a deserted planet with nothing but brutal criminals and carnivorous plants for company.
The first two episodes are by far and away the best I’ve seen this spring season; the setting is gigantic, colourful and genuinely alive and the story has a strong pace and direction. Said identical twins ((Rai) one a weakling, the other (Thor) a badass) want to get off the planet but must first face a few home truths- in a land where survival of the fittest rules, it’s either kill or be killed. Thor wastes no time killing those who threaten his life, he’s almost talented at it, but Rai is weak and lacks conviction. It’s suggested that Rai is eaten alive by a particularly violent plant, and Thor even assumes he’s dead, but the fact we see no proof of this death is a big hint that Rai will return in later episodes- and in badass mode too.
We’re slowly introduced to the planet Chimaera and the fascinating ways in which it’s governed. People are just dumped there and there is a shortage of water, so fighting for whatever resources are left plays a big part. Tribes have formed based on skin colour (there are four separate groups) and there is a shortage of women too, so rather than romance being allowed to develop naturally, woman are allowed to pick and choose their husbands; the men have no say in this whole process.
To keep this review to a short enough length, I’ll conclude by adding that the artwork; full of expansive, varied alien landscapes is brilliant. If you haven’t started watching Jyu-Oh-Sei yet and you enjoy a good yarn, then look no further, this is show you’ve been waiting for.