No. 6 is one of the newest novel-based anime this season, and from previews to the first episode (or rather second since that’s out too) it looks to be pretty solid. Having the well-known studio BONES behind it just makes the animation a whole lot more credible than what we’ve seen in some other series lately.
The premise is this: No. 6 is the name of a city that was built in the aftermath of some great war that laid waste to much of the planet. As a result, military powers have all supposedly been banned, and the six remaining states (whoever they were) formed six city-states, one of which was No. 6.
Shion is a boy who has been raised in the comfort of No. 6 ever since he aced the exam at 2 years old. From then he and his mum have been living in a really pretty home in Chronos, one of the better districts in No. 6. Being in the top educational institution, on the way to entering the special track for the really intelligent and a successful future – what more could he need or want?
But if things were that simple this anime would have ended there and then. No, Shion isn’t quite unhappy at all he has, rather, just feels that something is lacking, although he knows not what said thing is. He’s what you’d call…content yet not so. He’s looking for more.
No. 6 however has its own secrets, first of which is presented here – the ‘Moon Drop’ which sits at the center of the city and howls every now and then. People seem more fascinated than afraid of it for some reason that isn’t quite explained. Nonetheless I’m sure the explanation for that will come…eventually.
In the first episode, we see that Shion’s celebrating his 12th birthday, with his childhood friend Safu, an equally intelligent (if not more) girl. It’s evident to the audience how Safu really likes Shion, but he’s completely oblivious to her advances and misunderstands it.
Meanwhile, from the beginning till now you see another young boy, struggling to escape from a group trying to shoot him down/catch him/something that doesn’t bode well for this black/gray-haired brat.
After a really typical scene of a birthday celebration and beginning Shion leaves for home, right before a typhoon hits No. 6. He’s more excited at this anomalous event rather than irritated/threatened/bothered like Safu is, which makes him a bit different. But he is bothered when the Moon Drop howls and Safu is that of fascination instead. Upon reaching home, he goes to his room and well, does something really odd for a young boy with a high IQ, according to stereotypes.
Screaming in the face of a typhoon is something you don’t really see in any anime, much less from someone like Shion. But anyway when he’s momentarily distracted by the ‘environment system’ in his home squealing about the windows he has opened to face the mighty winds outside, a boy with beautiful gray eyes appears in his home.
This young boy is Nezumi/Rat/Mouse (whatever TL you want to use, really, interchangeable Japanese terms are notably annoying here), and his presence, his actions and everything about him will just about flip Shion’s life upside down.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I first watched it, except perhaps the really good animation. Knowing that it was BONES who were in charge made me expect really good graphics and golly there were! The backgrounds look really well done, and in my opinion the animation is pretty smooth although there are parts that look unrealistic (such as Safu’s grandma’s knitting actions). For a somewhat futuristic city it pulls it off rather convincingly well.
The first episode however leaves much of the plot to be desired, although if you bother to go search for novels and manga versions you’ll know that this first episode is merely a set-up for the events to come (timeskip 4 years later, mind). It does show how Shion is really not some normal elite kid and thinks differently from his peers – somewhat aloof, naive yet thoughtful, in comparison to Safu (almost like a foil character) who is much more willing to demonstrate her intelligence. And then there’s Nezumi/Rat/Mouse who is the opposite of Shion – suspicious, bitter, dark. It’ll be interesting to see how the relationships pan out as a result. And no, I am not going to narrow it down to Nezumi/Shion despite seeing the really strangely close interaction in just one episode.
The voice actors are pretty capable in delivering the expressions and emotions underneath each character, but what I’m sort of surprised with is that Shion’s seiyuu doesn’t seem to change after the timeskip. His voice doesn’t break? Or did it break earlier than 12? Ah, well. Besides that, Nezumi/Rat/Mouse seems to have a deep voice from the very beginning ie. episode 1 onwards – which is rare for a kid looking his age – but that might be to aid the overall feel of maturity and bitterness from being exposed to the harsh realities from young. But Shion’s seiyuu, Yuuki Kaji, seems to be in a lot more productions with somewhat important roles whereas Yoshimasa Hosoya isn’t that much out there…yet. Big break perhaps? Same with Safu’s seiyuu – little data on ANN.
The character designs according to promo material, the websites and all however indicate that Shion somehow will get white hair (out of what reason, you’ll have to find out in later episodes or thru’ novel/manga translations) and when compared to Nezumi/Rat/Mouse (I’ll decide which name to use next time perhaps), it almost feels like they’re Allen and Kanda from D.Gray-man.
There’s quite a bit to anticipate about this new series, since the first episode really does not move much in terms of plot. It might have been better to add perhaps another episode to make a one hour special opening episode like Kamisama no Memochou (which I might review as well since I’m watching it too) to make it more exciting and hold the audience, but perhaps BONES thought the animation would be good enough to trap most people into continuing.
Which is, unfortunately or fortunately, what drove me on to find out novel translations, manga scanlations and eventually watch the next episode which just came out today and will do a seperate post for. No. 6 episode 2 reviews coming up next.