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Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - Witch Hunting for fun and profit

There seems to be a whole new genre that's become quite popular in the last few years amongst the Anime crowd. It seems to go back quite a ways, with its root in manga and even American comic books. It centers around the idea of a dark hero. A dark hero tends to have some massive shadow that drives their actions. Sure, dark heroes date back to Batman, and even further back, but this latest generation of dark hero seems to cross a line that even the Batman hasn't crossed. Whatever motivates that hero causes him to blur the line between good and evil. Many times the justification is simply that the people they destroy had it coming.

Of course, this dark genre is a lot more than a hero willing to kill the bad guys. There is a whole stylistic look that accompanies it. It's always dark, with the prominent colors being blacks and grays. When bright colors appear they always seem blunted in some way. Dark moody music always makes its way through the seams just to help drive the point home. The hero is usually big and bad and carries a large gun. The hero always seems to be one step from giving it all up and simply joining the other side.

There are actually quite a few Anime that walk that thin line into the dark side. Ironically enough a lot of them tend to be hentai titles with lots of tentecular beasts running around. In recent years, a few mainstream titles have popped up. Some of them walk the line between dark drama and action adventure, where others remain rooted in darkness. Those walking the line are titles such as Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. Most of what people remember from those titles tend to be the comedy and the dramatic fight scenes. When both cross the line into the dark, dramatic back-story it was usually a quick foray then right back into the action. Of course, no matter how close the hero strays towards that dark side, in the end it remains clear what side of the law they were on.

A more recent tale that remains rooted in its darkness is Hellsing. Featuring the unusual pairing of a naïve policewoman recently turned vampire and her master, an ancient, all-powerful vampire, this story explores the darker side of humanity when normal humans are given powers of the undead. What follows is a long and twisted road of plot twists, betrayal and gruesome carnage. In the end, most viewers are left wondering who was bad and who was good.

So along comes a new series to carry on the dark tradition. Entitled, Witch Hunter Robin, this tale follows a group of government agents that take it upon themselves to protect the general populace from witches. No, Batman's old sidekick hasn't found a new job; this story focuses on a new member of STN-J who has to adjust to the way things are handled in Japan. Her name is, obviously, Robin, and she is a craft user.

To start with, everything is dark. Everyone wears black, the sky always seems to be gray, and of course, when they're hunting the witches, it's always at night. Amazingly, violence is kept at a minimum, resorting more to the original horror motif of leaving it to the viewer's imagination. In a lot of ways, this actually builds on the suspense potential of the show.

In the first few episodes, very little background information is given. It's clear that each of the major members of the cast have their own personal reasons for being with STN-J, but very little has been told. It does seem clear that the boss of the group, Hattori, has something on everyone. The rest of the crew, minus Robin and Amon, come across as the standard ragtag group of mavericks that somehow happen to be the best in the business.

Robin's origin is the most clearly laid out in the early episodes. From Europe, she is a replacement agent. She is a craft user, which makes everyone on the team nervous. The past of Amon on the other hand hasn't even been hinted at. In the first episode, he acts alone to subdue a witch. This sets up the lone wolf stereotype common in hero type Animes. Somewhere along the line, though, his character quickly falls in to line to work with his teammates. Through the early episodes, he remains wary of Robin and her abilities.

So far, the plot stays on a pattern of; introduction of the target witch, investigation of that witch and the eventual capture. The rest of the story and the overall plot have yet to come to light. There does seem to be a tie between Robin and Amon, but most of that is hinted at in the opening credits. Nothing in the story itself has come forward to tie them together. The concentration of the story and dialogue seems more intent on establishing the purpose of STN-J than revealing why witches exist and why STN-J was created to hunt them. There is a lot of built up potential within the story, so things should get more exciting as the series progresses.

Witch Hunter Robin remains and dark and very serious Story. The music, setting and overall look help establish the mood. For those that like a very serious storyline, this is definitely the series for you. There is a lot of built-in potential, so hopefully, as the series progresses, the story does not disappoint.

With its stylistic look, and serious mood, expect this one to be licensed by Bandai. This one is a no brainer, but not a sure bet, since Bandai Japan had a hand in the creation of the series. Bandai has experience with these dark tales thanks to recent releases such as Betterman and Silent Möbius. Overall, this title brings that dramatic edge that is sorely missing from domestic creations.

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