a.k.a. Strange World of the South Seas: Neoranga
For years, the Shimabara sisters (Minami, Ushio and Yuuhi) have lived in Tokyo without their elder brother… until the day a letter from him leads them to the island nation of Baro and forever changes their lives. There, they find a gargantuan god worshipped by the islanders that is known only as Ranga, but their brother has long since disappeared. The sisters return home, their lives remaining somewhat normal until the day that Ranga rampages throughout Tokyo; its sole purpose is to protect the successors to the throne of Baro, which are the Shimabara sisters.
summary by Eek
Highs: Epic first arc; good use of narration
Lows: Takes a complete dive after the first arc
I saw the first few episodes of Neoranga long before I sat down to see it in its entirety. Believe me, I began with the misconception that this was going to be good. Despite how it reminded me of Godzilla movies of yore, this anime proved just how wrong my gut feeling was.
I can clearly see how I got such a false impression: the first arc’s episodes quickly develop an epic quality to themselves with heavy character growth, the real-peoples’-lives-are-at-stake atmosphere and even the grave tone in every seiyuu‘s voice. As time is taken to detail how Ranga’s presence drastically affects the daily lives of Tokyo residents, it’s properly shown how the military, secret government officials and the Shimabara sisters wrestle for power over the situation. All of this is wonderfully narrated by none other than Ueda Yuji (Asano Ikuya from The Twelve Kingdoms, Urashima Keitaro from Love Hina). His voice adds the necessary impact to the anime, but in addition, the narration itself gives so much insight into characters and even allows for proper foreshadowing of what’s yet to come.
The narration remains topnotch throughout, but Neoranga reveals its true colors after the first arc: mostly filler with sparse dabs of substance (or what we’re led to believe is substance). This causes the pacing to become erratic and the anime as a whole to unfocus. On top of that, it continually tries to juggle comedy that isn’t funny and drama that’s trivialized by bouts of schizophrenia throughout two-thirds of the episodes. All in the same scene, the tone can go from jovial to serious to happy-go-lucky to grim at the drop of a hat. How funny or dramatic is a mecha dressed as Santa Claus who then has to fight for the people of Japan?
If the beginning is Viagra®, then the rest of Neoranga is the antidote. Many otaku have never heard of this anime, so if you’re tempted to watch it, stick to the first arc to get the most out of this series without it becoming a waste of your time.
Neoranga can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.