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REVIEW: Witch Hunter Robin DVD


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nhat



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:31 am Reply with quote
Wow I remember this series (barely) when watching on adult swim. It was slow as heck lol thats all I can really remembered about it
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meiam



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:45 am Reply with quote
Yeah Amon was boring and the last arc felt forced spoiler[the agency is bad because of course the agency is bad] but it was still a fun show and a type of storytelling that has literally vanished from the anime landscape. It's strange considering how big ghost in the shell was.
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belvadeer



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:02 pm Reply with quote
I had very good memories of watching this show on Adult Swim. One episode that comes to mind constantly was spoiler[when Robin meets that husband and wife who lost their daughter, and the wife wants Robin to be their daughter because she resembles her]. That episode actually tugged at the heartstrings for me.
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:28 pm Reply with quote
I would definitely agree Amon had little more to offer than the tall brooding image. However beyond that major character weakness the show was always, and still is, a favorite of mine. The tone of the show was definitely more of a break from the normal fare of its time. While the core story may be overplayed by this time I still think the show presents it rather well. One thing that has not changed though, and remains a strength of the show, is the soundtrack. It definitely helped to elevate the show itself and I would argue is still to this day a top 10 soundtrack from a series. I still have the original OST cd personally.
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pajmo9



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:45 pm Reply with quote
It always impressed me how they made the show feel more like a live-action police drama then an animated one despite the supernatural elements. It's to bad Syfy never made a live action show out of it after licensing it, or maybe we're lucky.
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Spoofer



Joined: 03 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:56 pm Reply with quote
I wanted to like this show so much based on the fantastic opening and character designs, but couldn't. From the point where Robin spends an entire episode struggling with her powers solely because she was too vain/emo for glasses, it only got worse and worse.
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Mr. sickVisionz
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:37 pm Reply with quote
This was the first anime I ever dropped. Waaaaaay back when I was renting DVDs from Netflix around '04. I felt really bad about it at the time because I had this stupid idea that something was "wrong" if I didn't finish a series I started.
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SejinPK



Joined: 22 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:30 pm Reply with quote
This anime used to be a huge favorite of mine, though it's been several years since I last watched it. The OP instantly became one of my favorite songs, even to this day. It also has a wonderful instrumental version, which IIRC is played during the end credits of one of the episodes in lieu of the normal ED.

It's a shame they didn't keep the on-disc extras. I remember an interview with Taku Iwasaki and Bana, who sang the OP and ED, where Iwasaki talked about how the instructions he was given for the soundtrack were essentially to make it like an American crime procedural. Also, there was a lot of info in the extras about witchcraft, primarily history and discussions of the various occult symbols used in the show.

Something I find amusing about Witch Hunter Robin is that, despite how adult the hunter characters' designs and behaviors/demeanors often are, they're actually pretty young. Like, Robin is only 15 years old! Amon is 25. Karasuma is only 19! Even though I know this, whenever I watch the show my brain automatically ages up the characters because their designs and actions/words often make them seem older than they really are.
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LightningCount



Joined: 04 Mar 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 3:49 pm Reply with quote
The reviewer mentions Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but interestingly enough, Witch Hunter Robin was created and aired both in Japan and the US prior to that title. GitS: SAC Season 1 was October 1, 2002 – October 1, 2003 in Japan and started airing in the US on November 7, 2004, whereas Witch Hunter Robin was July 2, 2002 – December 24, 2002 in Japan and started airing in the US on February 16, 2004. As such, I tend to think of Witch Hunter Robin as the starting point of the modern police procedural anime (with a twist). That's a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself, especially for a directorial debut (by Shūkō Murase).

The more popular, ongoing Psycho Pass from 2012 was basically Witch Hunter Robin meets Naoki Urasawa's Monster meets Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. But if you look at Psycho Pass vs. Witch Hunter Robin, in particular, you will see a lot of similarities in character roles, organizational structures, plot beats, thematic ideas, and specialized tech. Personally, I found Witch Hunter Robin's characters and world building to be more rounded and enjoyable than Psycho Pass on the whole. (And I like WHR better overall than GitS: SAC, as well)

Witch Hunter Robin is a series that's grown on me over the years, despite its flaws, for how human its characters feel on the whole. Yes, some are more cryptic/reserved than others, but the camaraderie of how they have to do their jobs while also living a regular life rings pretty true to life. The way the story evolves, even if a bit uneven, is both surprising and fascinating, and the atmosphere, art direction, and just direction in general stands out to this day. (The animation is not super high-budget, and the models go off-point many a time, but the shot selection makes up for it in the regular-life, mystery, and action scenes.) Plus, that soundtrack is amazing. Now clearly I'm not suggesting it's perfect or everyone will love it, but in terms of that tiny slice of anime that exists with stuff like Cowboy Bebop where things are just a bit more realistic/serious and yet also more artsy (while still being stylized), Witch Hunter Robin is one of the standouts in the conversation.

I don't know how he feels now, and I'm sure the review would be more muted, but ANN editorial director Zac Bertschy's first reaction back in 2003 in the original review for this site stated: "One of the best anime series of all time, certainly the best one this year." In the context of what I noted above regarding its uniqueness, I can't say that's too far off. Even taking the bad with the good, it's memorable. For better or worse, you won't find a lot of anime experiences quite like this.

EDIT:spoiler[ I was thinking about what was said about Amon. There's sort of a purpose behind his character being so dark, brooding, and mysterious, though. I haven't seen the entirety of the series in a few years, so I don't recall all of the details, but he's so distant/remote because he doesn't like the idea of a replacement agent so soon in Robin after the last one was lost under dubious circumstances; he doesn't like the idea of working with a powerful witch at all, since his own family background scares him that he will awaken and go out of control someday; and finally, he is a watchdog of sorts for the Japan side of STNJ, and the presence of an outsider/foreigner coming in on such short notice is concerning as well, forcing him to look over his shoulder while also trying to be a mature leader. He wants to do things how he's always done them, and Robin's presence means he has to do some "babysitting" of sorts. When you frame it all like that, and the fact that he's trying to maintain a relationship with his boss' daughter all the while, his characterization makes a lot of sense. This series tends to be a lot more show than tell, until very late. But the hints are there, which makes re-watches extra enjoyable, in my opinion.]

EDIT 2: Fixed Japan's end air date of GitS: SAC Season 1.


Last edited by LightningCount on Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Carol LeBras



Joined: 23 Nov 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:01 pm Reply with quote
I'm an older viewer that turned on to anime a few years ago, and found this on Funimation and it appealed to me because while the characters like Robin are extremely young the stories do not feel like they only appeal to teenagers. To me it had a very similar feeling as the 5 season live action TV program La Femme Nikita that ran from 1997-2001. I really loved the OP song and have listened to it repeatedly since. It was mysterious and bleak and a bit slow but maybe that's my kind of anime, it felt good to be watching something that was not set in high school and did not depict superheroes, though they did have powers they don't look different from normal people. I will not be purchasing the DVD because I just don't ever watch my DVDs, I only stream and it would be a waste of money though I really felt it was worth watching. I hope that Funimation will keep it on their servers for many years to come.
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One-Eye



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:32 pm Reply with quote
I agree with pretty much everything that Theron stated in his review. It is slow to get to the main plot and it can feel rushed and inconclusive towards the end. Still I found it interesting and worth my time for the style and the potential. I haven't seen it in a really long time and was looking forward to picking it up to watch again. However, the loss of extras and not even an upscale to BD kind of kills it for me. Its a shame.
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GeorgeC



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:51 pm Reply with quote
I'm surprised there was no Blu ray release.

You mean to tell me this was done digitally in such a way that an upscale wouldn't be worth it?!?

Glad I kept my Bandai DVDs then!
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:56 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
In other words, there's no reason to double-dip on this set if you still have the earlier releases in good shape, unless you want to condense shelf space.
And for those of us with the Bandai Anime Legends collection, even that reason disappears, since the shelf space savings are negligible.

GeorgeC wrote:
I'm surprised there was no Blu ray release.

You mean to tell me this was done digitally in such a way that an upscale wouldn't be worth it?!?

Glad I kept my Bandai DVDs then!


It should theoretically be possible to upscale WHR with decent (i.e. "not worse than DVD") results, but this release is in keeping with other Sunrise/Funi releases like Angel Links and Crest/Banner of the Stars. If there's no Blu-Ray in Japan, Funi hasn't been able to release Blu-Rays in the US.


Last edited by Zalis116 on Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cardcaptor Takato



Joined: 27 Jan 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:45 pm Reply with quote
How does Witch Hunter Robin compare to Darker Than Black? I stopped watching Cartoon Network around the early 2000s as my primary source of anime as I had moved to collecting anime DVDs and I never got around to watching this show, even though I heard a lot of good things about it. But Darker Than Black was a similar type of formulaic crime procedural sci-fi type of show from around the same era and I had a lot of the same problems with Darker Than Black that this review has with Witch Hunter Robin.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:54 pm Reply with quote
Cardcaptor Takato wrote:
How does Witch Hunter Robin compare to Darker Than Black? I stopped watching Cartoon Network around the early 2000s as my primary source of anime as I had moved to collecting anime DVDs and I never got around to watching this show, even though I heard a lot of good things about it. But Darker Than Black was a similar type of formulaic crime procedural sci-fi type of show from around the same era and I had a lot of the same problems with Darker Than Black that this review has with Witch Hunter Robin.


DTB was a bit more action and a bit less serious/gothic, the supernatural element was also toned down. The closest comparison for WHR is definitely ghost in the shell, otherwise I'd compare it to a procedural drama more than any anime really. It doesn't have the philosophical side of psycho pass (or rather it's not so in you face about it).
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