A group of strange, white-haired kids are searching for the girl who is the key to their happiness, and the only clue is a picture of a crescent moon. Tohma is a kid who lives with his parents in a remote island, looking to make friends and find meaning to his life. Helga is an orphan desperately seeking a place where she can truly belong. Their chance meeting will change their lives forever.
summary by Soundchazer
Highs: Interesting plot twists; great direction; nicely crafted story
Lows: Simplistic character designs; sometimes borrows a bit too much from other anime
There are times in the career of a director when you notice that a particular project becomes a labor of love, the favorite child, a special milestone. Spielberg had his with Schindler’s List, Otomo had Akira and Anno had Evangelion. After watching the last of the 26 episodes of Fantastic Children, I knew this was Nakamura Takashi’s pet project. He was involved everywhere: creating the story, co-scripting and designing the characters. The result becomes obvious by the level of coherence this anime has as there are no strange deviations, forced explanations nor a rushed ending. And this series came at the right time in his career… after working as key animator for Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind and Macross: Do You Remember Love?, chief animator in Akira and a director of Robot Carnival, Nakamura has the experience to make it work.
It is evident that Fantastic Children was intended to be reminiscent of anime of days past, and the choices made perfect sense. First off is the utilization of Nippon Animation, the company that nurtured Miyazaki and Takahata before they went on to form Studio Ghibli, which has perhaps one of the most seasoned group of “old school” animators. This is not to say that the animation looks dated as CGI is used often, but the whole feel is simplistic in nature; it is made to tell the story, but not to distract the audience. Secondly, the music in general has the cadence and rhythm of something out of the ’80s. The ending theme, Mizu no Madoromi by ORIGA, is a memorable piece that automatically made it to my top 10. Finally, there is a matter of the story itself, told in a very classic narrative style with cliffhangers after each episode. Every important character gets enough screentime to appeal to the audience.
Obviously, the use of a classic style has a flipside to it: pacing and design. This is a product that will definitely not appeal to those looking for something more frantic in pace like Love Hina or FLCL, since it uses dialogue more than visual elements to tell the story. The character designs will also be a turn off to those used to the angular look, since this anime is closer to the round faces of Astroboy than it is to pointy chins of Utena.
In the end, if you are craving for rich characterization or waiting for a story to bring to fruition the promises of a capable resolution that Please Save My Earth was unable to deliver, Fantastic Children is the perfect choice, worthy of instant classic status.
Fantastic Children can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.