Asura Cryin’ Complete Collection Review

Asura Cryin’ started out life as a light novel series, written by Gakuto Mikumo, published from 2005 to 2010. As with a lot of these light novels, it was first adapted into the manga series (illustrated by Ryo Akizuki and released from 2008 to 2010) before it was brought to the moving screen in 2009. The series was split into two cours airing in the Spring and Autumn respectively, with all 26 episodes included in this set!

So, enough about the information, what is the actual story like? Well, it’s pretty crazy, especially to begin with. The phrase “throwing everything at a wall and seeing what sticks” comes to mind, with the first episode featuring a stand-off between a yakuza type with pyrokinetic powers, a scientist woman with special powers and a man from a secret religious order who summons a mech, all while our protagonist Tomoharu Natsume cowers in fear as he continues to talk to the ghost of his dead friend who floats above him… oh and a girl dressed as a shrine maiden (with mismatching eyes) who attacked, earlier looks on from a distance. It’s like the writer wrote a scene between all the different genres he could place the series in and had them fight to see which he should go for. Add in the fact that earlier in the episode we had Tomoharu join a new high school and anger the other boys by being direct with the school idol (who is also the demon with mismatching eyes mentioned earlier), and you have one mixed up message of a debut…

So let’s give a basic synopsis of the plot as it is at the start: Tomoharu was in a plane crash where he survived (albeit injured) but his best friend didn’t. Said best friend, Misao Minakami, is now a ghost who floats about Tomoharu, but only he can see her. On his first day at a new school a woman drops off a heavy suitcase and says that it’s from Tomoharu’s brother, Naotaka. Later that day a demonic girl attacks him, and then the aforementioned genre face-off soon follows, which results in Tomoharu opening the case revealing purple goo… which then turns into a mech.

This is where you need to get out your notepad to keep up with all the terminology. So the mech in the case is called an “Asura Machina”, Tomoharu would be its Handler and Misao is the machine’s “Burial Doll”, the pact between a Handler, the Asura Machina and the Burial Doll “explains” why only Tomoharu, and other Handlers, can see her. Without going into too much spoilery detail, there are other things involving pacts with demons that can create an “Asura Cryin’”, a more powerful form of Asura Machina that also has an independent creature/sentient thing called a “Daughter” that can combine with it to make it even more powerful.

Throughout the whole 26 episodes a lot of characters come and go, but the one thing that stays true is that Tomoharu is in love with both Misao and Takatsuki Kanade, the girl who was dressed like a shrine maiden and tried to get her hands on the briefcase, or “Extractor”, in the first episode. Takatsuki is a demon and the daughter of a fire breathing owl (… Yep) and thankfully, although there are moments of comedy and the occasional “naïve boy accidentally touches a woman’s breast” gag, the series never dives into any kind of Harem cliché and instead it really ends up being about a boy who loves two women and can’t make up his mind, a source of real stress sometimes, rather than pure comedy.

The main gripe I have with the series is that, thanks to its frantic pace, no big threat or main villain stands out, they all come and go, with one or two very nearly destroying the Earth if it weren’t for Tomoharu and his Asura Machina Kurogane (which I don’t think I’ve mentioned the name of yet…) New concepts and powers also come and go sometimes weekly, if I were watching it weekly as it aired anyway and therefore it’s not very rewarding to follow, beyond the aforementioned relationship with Tomoharu and his love interests…

Although the series was split into two seasons, the episode numbers stay the same, meaning beyond a bigger chunk of action happening in Episode 13, it does feel like a single show watching it through. The  opening and ending for the first thirteen episodes are “Spiral” and “Link” respectively, both produced by pop band Angela. This trend follows in the second half, with Episodes 14 to 26 having the Angela songs “Alternative” and “Kanata no Delight” over their opening and ending.

It has to be said that the release is pretty barebones. No English dub, the discs open up to a list of episodes and that’s it (no other menus) and the only extras are clean openings, endings and some trailers for other shows. Disc 2 even features the last few episodes of Season 1 and the first few of Season 2, though they do split the screen in two to show where Asura Cryin’ turns into Asura Cryin’ 2.

So, how to sum up my thoughts on Asura Cryin? When I accepted this review I knew very little about the show, and what I found out about it sounded pretty generic. Turns out I was wrong, only because the show never settles down on one genre or one tone long enough to fall into a pitfall of generic cliché. Our lead protagonist and his two love interests really feel like an anchor, the only constant in an endless stream of action, mystery and ever-changing antagonists and world ending plots (or worlds ending plots…) It’s fun in places and has some good action scenes, but I can’t say it’s well written or ever really made me care much about the greater cast of characters. I’d advise watching it as an action-heavy aside to other things you’re watching, but I can’t recommend you should pay top price for it…

6 / 10

Cold Cobra

Having watched anime since it was airing late night on the Sci-Fi channel in the late 90s, I consider myself... someone who's watched a lot of anime, and then got hired to write reviews about them. Hooray!

More posts from Cold Cobra...