Just as it seemed Robin was finding her place and settling into life at the STN-J, a series of chilling events lead our young heroine toward an inexplicable and startling truth. Ulterior motives are the name of the game in this volume, as the upper echelons of the STN spring a dastardly trap and storm STN-J headquarters in pursuit of their former progeny. Fearing Amon is among the conspirators the remnants of the STN-J secretly try to uncover the truth behind these attacks, but unbeknownst to them the STN’s plot to silence Robin is little more than a ruse designed to shroud their true motives.
In my prior reviews of Witch Hunter Robin I gently bemoaned the series’ lack of any real overarching plot, but with volume # 4 Witch Hunter Robin puts such piddling quibbles to rest. The plot, it seems, has begun in earnest as the seemingly cosy world of the STN-J begins to fall apart before our very eyes, and the precarious balance between the hunters and the hunted inexplicably shifts.
The first sign that all in Robin’s world may not be as clear-cut as it seems, is signalled by the arrival of The Inquisitor. As the name implies, this so-called Inquisitor screens prospective Hunters to see if they have what it takes to join the STN. As one character remarks, the Factory will go to any lengths to get a new Hunter onside, and their morally dubious recruitment methods certainly suggest there’s more to the organisations’ seemingly benevolent manifesto than meets the eye.
Aside from the shady political machinations that dominate this volume, Amon’s largely ambivalent presence is also beginning to have a greater bearing on the series. The statuesque Hunter has always trod a fine line between protagonist and antagonist, and in this volume his true colours are laid bare for all to see. Elsewhere the revelations come thick and fast, mixing edge of your seat action with good ole fashioned sleuthing. It’s still the same old Witch Hunter Robin we have come to know and love, but it’s a lot edgier, grittier and less forgiving than ever before. As the pieces of this convoluted puzzle come crashing down, so too does the series’ “monster of the week’ stigma, revealing a genuinely intelligent, shrewdly crafted and eminently gripping little series, one that makes for darkly compulsive viewing.
Visually, few series come close to equalling Witch Hunter Robin in the eye candy stakes. The combination of esoteric design, striking cinematography and Goth-lite set dressings is impressive to say the least, and the haunting, minimalist score just gives the series that added touch of class.
Witch Hunter Robin volume four marks a turning point in the saga that is both a much needed and welcome break from the norm. Gone are the episodic Witch slaying antics that made up the bulk of volumes one through three, and in its place we have a cleverly crafted conspiracy thriller cum paranormal actioneer. To put it in no uncertain terms, if you’re an advocate of mature, and intelligent anime Witch Hunter Robin should be at the top of your shopping list.