Released in the United States under the title of Ceres: Celestial Legend
, the new series from Watase Yuu reaches a dramatic end in the last volume released by Viz
. The last three episodes continue to be as good as the ones preceding it and viewers expecting a tear inducing finale will not be disappointed. With a last set of episodes rife with reunions and farewells, even the most hardened anime fans are hard pressed to not cry. Included with the three episodes is a small set of extras. Among them is the standard Ayashi no Ceres
character gallery. Also included is the new version of the opening title sequence. While the song is still the beautiful “Scarlet” performed by Iwao Junko, the animation has changed slightly. The new sequence is a collage of many of the memorable scenes that have occurred throughout the series. It is beautifully done, and when it watched after the series is completed, the scenes will make any viewer want to start the series all over again. Another extra on the disc is the ending sequence that plays during the last episode. In actuality, it's a different version of “Scarlet,” but it is played over a segment that shows the characters a few months into the future. Once viewers see the version on the last episode with the character dialogue along with it, seeing it again without the credits and dialogue will bring tears anew.
While the extras may provide for sad nostalgia, it is the episodes on the disc that are breathtaking. The episodes are riveting and are guaranteed to turn on almost anyone's tear ducts. The first episode on the disc, however, wasn't quite as good as the ones after it. In fact, it seemed rather rushed, and outlandish in a way that makes one wonder if perhaps Watase ran out of ideas on how to end the series, or perhaps just ran out of steam. Some of the elements in that episode just don't seem to fit in with the rest of the series. Also, there are minor contradictions that appear that would confuse those viewers that have been paying close attention to the details in the series. The last two episodes more than make up for it, though. So many emotions are thrown at viewers that oftentimes within a five minute time span, one might find themselves cheering lustily one moment, groaning the next, and bursting into tears a second later.
The last segment is especially nice, not because it's anything spectacular, as it's not, but because viewers are so emotionally charged by then that the sentimental lines delivered are more than enough to bring on a fresh wave of tears. The downfall of the last scene lies unfortunately in the last few seconds. As viewers are left crying pitifully with the power of pent up emotions, the effect of the scene is killed instantly by a brief inscription that flashes across the screen that reads to the effect of “the future lies in the hands of the children.” Although the intention was probably to leave an inspirational message to heighten the grandiose image of a child's hands reaching upwards across a shot of Earth in the background, the end result is so lame that any attempt at being deep is shattered. Not only does the inscription lead some viewers to inadvertently pull back and stare at the screen in absurd horror, it might lead some to burst out in a merry peal of laughter at the absurdity of the situation.
The one major downfall of the last volume is the dubbing, which is as bad as it was in earlier episodes. Regardless of the scene or situation that the characters find themselves in, the dub actors just don't have the right substance to convey the emotions that the Japanese actors indulge in. To be fair, the actors and actresses shriek and moan when it is necessary for their characters to do so, and they follow the script meticulously, but it is exactly what they do right that leads to their destruction. The actors do everything by the book. That is precisely what makes their acting so blasé. It seems as though they don't input any of their own emotions into their characters. Like John Malkovich said in “Being John Malkovich,” “how can you make your character weep if you yourself are not weeping?” Putting all cases of drained emotion aside, there is also the problem of casting. Some of the voices were simply not right for the character. Mrs. Q, for instance, is given a voice that sounds like a cross-dresser with a fake German accent. In cases like that, it's not a problem of acting, it's simply a problem of the voice. With the emotional charge that the last episodes carry, the full viewer reaction is much easier extracted from hearing the Japanese track than the dub track. Unless one has been listening to the English dub throughout the entire series and has been immunized to the acting, it is much harder to get as worked up and tearful in the last scenes than it is listening to the Japanese track.
Despite some of the trivial downfalls that the last three episodes have, they are still worth watching. While Ayashi no Ceres may not be deeply symbolic or life changing, nor would it ever be considered a masterpiece, it is still a wonderful series. It has all the traits of a good series: action, mystery, humor, romance, pleasing character designs, nice music, and above all, heart-wrenching emotion. For the fans of the series that have not yet picked up this volume, there is no excuse elaborate enough that would warrant not seeing it. As for the people that haven't seen this series yet, what are you waiting for?