a.k.a. Ou Dorobou Jing
There is a legend told among thieves about bandits so crafty that they could steal the stars from the sky. They are called the “King of Bandits,” and Jing just happens to be one. Jing travels the country with his albatross companion Kir, and together they hunt only the most valuable of treasures. Be it a rare color, an ancient mask or a girl’s heart, Jing and Kir are always out for an adventure.
summary by Ender
Highs: Fantastic world; situations and characters; lively soundtrack
Lows: Lack of development; several lame stories
I often state that the one thing I always look for in anime is imagination. After all, what good is animation if you can’t go hog-wild with all sorts of ideas? King of Bandit Jing gets that part down pat… but it’s all the other stuff it needs to work on.
The first thing anyone will notice about this anime is its setting. Everything and everyone in Jing and Kir’s world has a purpose beyond what the audience can perceive; swords can be keys, an anchor can talk and an animal can attach itself to a person and transform into a cannon. Neat. Also, it’s all designed in this colorful, retro-modern art style that would make most exhibits at The Met blush. This is the kind of weirdness anime needs to show more often. The alternative rock music by Harada Fumiko and Scudelia Electro is the bow on this pretty package and creates an atmosphere not unlike a music video. The opening and ending songs, Shout it Loud and Sha La La, are swanky pieces worth sitting through the credits.
Yet, despite how interesting this world may be, the plot just barely gives the visuals justice. This is an episodic show that has Jing running to different locations, much akin to Lupin III. Sadly, there’s just not enough to do. The risk of making a universe so bizarre is trying to create stories that fit. And most of these stories do not as they lead to such a lack of suspense and plausibility that the viewer loses interest. Most of this is because it’s just so hard to believe in the main characters. By the end of the series, Jing and Kir have done so much that none of it matters and, if anything, feel even more distant. They just don’t present the same sense of caring and connection other characters of their ilk generate.
This series is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, which is a shame because of how original it can be. Maybe if it had decided to do one adventure instead of several smaller ones, then my review would have been different. But as it stands, if you wish to see one of the more fantastic settings out there in the anime world, then check this one out. Other than that, you’re not going to get much out of watching the adventures of a little boy and his talking bird.
King of Bandit Jing can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.