Scoreboard:

Scoreboard

c+
Story
65%
Characters
70%
Art
75%
Animation
70%
Sound
80%
Overall
65%
ProsCons
Enjoyable early story/first half, nice main characters, the action worked, and ending ties things up fairly wellstory tanks near the very end, anime-original arc doesn't hold up, some character assassination near the end

Review:

There are a lot of shows that go down the same path as Sousei no Onmyouji. They start out with a pretty good adaptation of the source material and even expanding on things to add some depth. Then they decide to branch off and go down the anime-original road to the end. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you don’t expect to be able to adapt the whole story (because it isn’t done) then sometimes it is nicer to end on a firm note rather than waiting for a sequel (where is Spice and Wolf 3!) The problem with Sousei is that while it did a solid job of telling its story, it really fumbles it hard at the end. Even the original material isn’t all that bad, but when the story starts to fall apart it really doesn’t hold up.

It is just a bit frustrating looking back on this show. For for the majority of the series it wasn’t bad. At the very least I enjoyed the setting and the characters in the early going. It had some nice emotional moments as we found out more about the two leads and followed their journey. But it is hard to look back fondly when things just fell apart near the end. The story seemed to lose track of what themes it had been sticking to for the majority of the show. Characters continually made boneheaded decisions so utterly frustrating that I wanted to punch them. And these were characters that for the most part I enjoyed following.

People often say it is more about the journey than the destination and that is fair. But when the destination is like driving off a cliff you can’t fondly look back at the whole trip that took you to that point. It is a mixed bag, but luckily I can at least try to break it down a bit in order to cover what the show did well and what it didn’t.

Story

Again the story in the first half of the show wasn’t bad. The setup for the show is that basically there are two worlds. The regular world that we live in and a kind of mirror world called Magano that is filled with monsters called Kegare. In that world exorcists/onmyouji fight and defeat those impurities. The two main characters are Benio Adashino and Rokuro Enmadou. The first of them is a very talented young onmyouji who has a troubled past, but is striving to cleanse Magano of the Kegare. The second has removed himself from fighting Kegare and being an onmyouji because of his own past. The Onmyouji Organization proclaims them to be the Twin Star Exorcists (Sousei no Onmyouji) who will be crucial to cleansing the world of impurity.

The first half of the show follows these two characters getting to know each other. They really don’t get along at first and building up a legitimate partnership takes time. Eventually the show goes into it’s anime-original arc and then starts to plummet near the end of the show. As a whole the first half was decent and solid. I don’t think it was a great or amazing story, but it wasn’t too bad either. I liked some of the twists along the way and seeing Rokuro and Benio mature as individuals. The main antagonist was a creepy piece of work. There were even worthwhile hurdles for the characters to overcome. As a whole the first part made me invested in events.

There were parts of the story that did catch me by surprise. Rokuro’s past was more involved and heavier than I had imagined it would be. Even Benio had more going on than I might have expected. It was just interesting to see how the two characters responded to their own pasts. They both changed and grew by being together. And there were times you had to wonder how they were going to get out of a situation in one piece. The wall they had to climb to reach their goals seemed high and worth the challenge.

Unfortunately the second half of the story just wasn’t as good. The original arc for the most part wasn’t that bad. It felt a step down in some ways and a bit too cliché at times. Yet they at least managed to tell a decent story and had me wondering where things might be going. They introduced several threats and challenges for the main characters to overcome. The story added some new characters and for the most part they were likable enough. In terms of the level of story it was not as good as before they went down the original path, but it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t get behind it. At the very least if it maintained that level of quality I could have left the show feeling ok about it.

Instead in the last few episodes the story just started to fall off a cliff. They tossed right out the window the idea of the main characters cooperating and growing together. Instead Rokuro starts turning into a cliché main hero. You learn a terrible secret about him and he tries to do everything by himself. For a good while Benio devolves into the heroine that requires protection. Instead of being a competent character in her own right who has personal and emotional stakes in the conflict Rokuro is taking on. But that’s ok because Benio herself becomes a total idiot soon after. The two main characters become absolute idiots who make the worst decisions and become near unlikable. Luckily the last couple episodes somewhat salvage their characters so it can end on a positive note.

I just can’t say the story ends in a good place. There were points I just plain wanted to stop watching. If I hadn’t been covering that show, I might have really gone through with that. The series ended up with 50 episodes and the last 10 or so was a terrible slog. I just go back and forth on this since for the first half I was enjoying it.

Characters

The main characters (Rokuro and Benio) as a whole were pretty decent leads. Well at least until the story made them start acting like idiots, but let’s not go over that again. Rokuro starts out as a familiar kind of shounen lead. He’s got a special arm that leads him to mostly focus on punching his enemies into the ground. Though he does gain various abilities to round himself out, as a whole he’s less about augmenting himself beyond simply unleashing that arm. He is visibly impacted by his past and initially has retreated from getting involved in more onmyouji business.

As a whole he develops pretty nicely through the show. Benio’s involvement in his life shakes things up. He starts to chase more of his childhood dreams again. He’s more visibly emotional than Benio for a lot of the show. Rokuro isn’t the type of person who hides what he feels that well. The nice thing is that he visibly matures through the show and becomes a likable person.

Benio is an interesting contrast to Rokuro at the start. She’s able to use a variety of enhancing spells to make herself faster, stronger, etc. But as a whole she doesn’t match Rokuro in pure strength, her advantage is more in speed. In terms of emotions she’s more withdrawn and doesn’t give away much early on. While Rokuro is the type to wear his heart on his sleeve, Benio is more subdued. Though she can get upset and emotional, it isn’t as easy to draw that out of her. While Rokuro’s traumas turned him away from the fight, in a sense they fueled Benio’s desires to get stronger. Though it doesn’t mean her method of coping was any healthier than Rokuro’s method.

As a whole I really did like Benio as a character. She is driven and struggles against the challenges the story presents. Often she has to overcome dismissal by the enemies that she wants to overcome. As the story goes along she does get more open in her emotions and that is nice to see.

There are a variety of supportive characters. This was a 50 episode show. So I’ll just comment lightly on some important ones. Mayura Otomi is Rokuro’s childhood friend and becomes a fairly involved character as the show goes along. Early on in the story she serves as a kind of normal existence that offers Rokuro a different path for his life to follow. She also has a strange habit of throwing out nonsensical nicknames for people when she gets emotional or flustered. It can be cute though and as a whole I did like Mayura. She gets surprising chances to grow, more so than I would expect from a character that starts where she does.

Seigen Amawaka is Rokuro’s onmyouji teacher from when he was young and is a fairly important character in the Onmyouji Organization. He starts off with a pretty bad first impression, but you get to understand just what his motivations are. I definitely didn’t start out liking him all that much, but as the story went along I appreciated what his character was about.

A key character through the story is Yuuto. He has a rather important connection to the main characters. He starts out as a pretty well handled character. The way Yuuto behaves early on has a sense of menace to him and you can’t help but be uneasy. The downside is that later on in the story he really falls off a cliff. While Rokuro and Benio have troubles near the end of the story….Yuuto is just plain silly. He becomes such a ridiculous caricature of himself that you can only groan when he’s on screen.

Visuals

As a whole this isn’t a bad looking show. Surprisingly Studio Pierrot managed to keep the quality going pretty steady. In a 50 episode show there were some low points, but it was regularly pretty good. The action was pretty well handled and I liked the unique visuals they showed for certain abilities. It had a style of its own. As a whole the characters looked good and I liked the action sequences.

Conclusion

I just don’t know what to say about Sousei. The first half of the show was really quite solid. I enjoyed the story and was interested in the journey of the main cast. There was a feeling of wanting to see where they would go and how things would turn out. Sadly how things turned out as an anime-original ending that went to hell. The original arc wasn’t even that bad for the most part, but they couldn’t hold even that level of quality straight to the finish.

What do you even say about this show really? It’s an average show that dips really hard at the end. It might have even been above average at points. There was a reason I was pulled into blogging it. I just wish the story hadn’t fallen off so hard at the very end. I still think it is worth checking out and maybe jumping ship when a clear stopping point presents itself and before it heads into the original arc.

It’s never a good thing when you are glad to see a show end. But that’s just how I felt by the end of this. Looking back though it was still a good ride. When the show was at its best (mostly the first half) it was good. The action held up, the characters had good growth and were likable. The antagonists were threatening and I was pulled in. But the show fell so hard at the end and the second major arc (that covered half the episode count) was so average that I can’t rate it highly. What doesn’t work drags the show down. The first half might have been a lot higher, but combined the show is a C+.

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About

An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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  • GreyLurker

    The first half I felt was really well done. Not only did they stick closely to the manga, but even when they did their own stuff they used elements of the manga and built on them. They skipped a few things I wish they hadn’t but in general everything before the Time skip was pretty good.

    And then they decided to go their own way. The story after the time skip was mostly average, with a few bad and a few good, but mostly just sort of average.

    until the very end where as you say the whole thing just goes right over a cliff. As someone who is a fan of the manga, the whole thing was unbelievably frustrating, particularly when characters end up going totally opposite directions from where they are supposed to go.

    it’s kind of a bubbling pile of nerd rage caught in my throat.

    • FlareKnight

      Yeah, that basically describes it. A series that started off quite well, got average post time-skip, and then at the end just fell utterly flat. Pretty sad really since it did start off nicely and make you optimistic about the series as a whole. Also makes it incredibly hard to actually grade it since it is almost 3 separate series crammed together.

      Can understand that rage inducing feeling really.

      Well at least it was partly a good adaptation and series.

      • GreyLurker

        Viz has been releasing the Manga and I think they are around volume 8 or 9 now. The first fight with Yuto and the Time Skip is around Volume 5. If you ever get around to reading it, I think you’ll see why I was so eager to have that fight animated the way it was originally meant to be.

        To be honest I would actually love to talk with you about it, but you said you wanted to avoid manga spoilers and it is kind of a huge thing.

        I…understand why they went the way they did. It let them tell a full story and give it a solid ending. If they were going to go with a long run series they needed to do that. Had they gone with two or more single season runs they probably would have held closer to the manga. But 50 episode run, they needed to have an ending.

        • FlareKnight

          Yeah, I’m getting into reading the manga now and it has been a good ride.

          I’ll probably get caught up sooner or later, but just enjoying going through it.

          I also understand their thinking. When you get to that massive episode count….having a legitimate ending makes sense. I just…see so many times when it doesn’t feel right. Soul Eater for one. Nothing but regrets that I’ll apparently never see the material animated after the point where the anime and manga diverged. Sure the anime has an ending, but it’s not as good.

          I wish some of these shows would have gotten adapted after they finished. It doesn’t always make sense, you want to capitalize while something is popular and ongoing….but geeze. Such is how it goes I guess.

          • GreyLurker

            I noticed Amazon dose sell it for Kindle at a lower price than normal, but I’m old and just don’t feel right without paper in my hands

            Gad, I remember the Soul Eater one…argh, so frustrating. At least when they did anime original for Claymore it was in a way that they could still pick up the story with no problem had they done a second season.

            I guess that’s what comes from animating a series that is still on going.

          • FlareKnight

            I can understand that. Though for me paper always feels a bit uncomfortable on my fingers. Maybe it’s because I don’t read enough books.

            The Claymore ending. That was so darn weird. I mean you are right that they ended in a way they could pretty easily pick up a second season. But that’s what bothered me. They changed so much….and yet it all ends at the same place. What was the point of changing anything then? It just felt weird.

            Soul Eater….if there is any show I wish would get the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, treatment it is that one. So many good moments that just didn’t get animated. I mean come on Anime, I picked up the complete BD package for Soul Eater. You can reward me with a true adaptation now.