Jyu-Oh-Sei: Planet Of The Beast King, is something of an oddity. Produced by Studio Bones, better known for high-profile series such as Wolf’s Rain, Darker Than Black, and Eureka Seven, this shorter series could be easily missed as it sneaks in under the radar.
The show begins as two brothers, Thor and Rai, awake to find themselves on the surface of the planet Chimera, a dumping ground for violent ne’er-do-wells and troublemakers. How did they get there? How long can they survive there? All alone and at the mercy of Chimera’s hostile plant life, the two young boys must face a double-edged struggle for survival. Before they can even begin to search for answers regarding their predicament, thay must contend with not only the aggressive flora and fauna, but also the savage denizens of this forgotten world. And thus begins a tale of intrigue that will span several years before all is finally laid bare.
So, we’re in pretty gnarly territory here – not that you’d necessarily get that from the show’s opening theme, which quite honestly wouldn’t seem out of place on a kiddies’ TV show circa 1990. When a story revolves around the epic tooth-and-claw struggle for survival in a harsh environment, perhaps it’s NOT A good thing that the theme tune puts you in mind of ‘Inspector Gadget’. Still, after we’re done with the rather jumbled expectations the opening jingle leaves us with, the show itself isn’t at all bad.
Bones have made a name for themselves with their polished animation and staggering action sequences, which you might expect to be on full display here. Unfortunately, Jyu-Oh-Sei bears the hallmarks of a slightly less opulent production. It’s a good-looking show, no doubt, but not quite up to the visual standard we’ve come to expect from the studio. There’s none of the whizz-bang craziness or flair of the Bones-animated shows mentioned at the top of the review, alas. It’s by no means an unsightly effort, and certainly holds up, but it just lacks that special something.
Musically, things are better represented with a pleasing and unobtrusive score, which makes up for that pop-tastic and incongruously upbeat intro at the top of every episode. In fact, the music manages to create a certain atmosphere that definitely works in the show’s favour.
At a modest 11 episodes in length, Jyu Oh Sei isn’t in danger of outstaying its welcome. It’s a perfectly watchable piece of soft sci-fi anime fluff that neither does anything exceptionally well or offensively bad. On the downside, there’s a fair whiff of ‘too many ideas, too late in the game’ about the final episode, which might leave you (as it did me) wishing that the middle section of the story had been trimmed down a bit to give the finale some breathing space. The final episode feels particularly rushed, and could well leave you feeling unsatisfied, especially as a few plot threads aren’t quite explained or ironed out as clearly and comprehensively as could be.
But if there’s one over-riding criticism to be levelled at the show, it would have to be that it plays out in quite a ‘safe’ fashion. The interesting setting of Chimera aside, this could be any one of a hundred anime adventure shows. It really doesn’t offer anything drastically original at all. In fact, it’s quite possible that if you’ve seen more than a few anime shows you could find it all very predictable. The ground it treads, let’s be honest, is very well worn.
That said, there’s a place for the sort of entertainment this show offers. It may be middle of the road, but that’s no bad thing, and I can see it making perfectly acceptable fare for a lazy weekend with drinks, snacks and maybe even a few friends to hand.
Worth a look – but don’t expect anything astonishing.