The STN-j is a shady, secret organization dedicated to the persecution and capture of dangerous witches. Their newest member is, ironically, a witch named Robin, who just returned to Japan after a long stay in Italy. Just about time, as the STN-j is now facing a strange challenge: an unknown enemy, somehow related to a witch coven thought destroyed three hundred and twenty years ago… and Robin seems to be involved.
summary by Griveton
Highs: Characters; art and animation; music; atmosphere; plot; climax and ending
Lows: CGI feels overused sometimes; “Monster of the Week” theme in first half could have been shortened
The premise of Witch Hunter Robin looks awfully Hellsingish at first: A secret organization uses supernatural creatures (in this case witches) to hunt other supernaturals. For this type of setting to work, it usually must be backed by either an engrossing story with interesting characters… or lots of style and atmosphere. Witch Hunter Robin has both.
At first, the series starts off rather weak; the first eleven episodes are standard “Monster of the Week” fare. However, they do start developing the themes and character conflicts that will be dealt with later on. During the second part of the series, everything changes radically. The slow-moving plot takes you on a roller coaster ride of twists, revelations and character development that carries on to the very last second of the series without losing its grip. And what an ending! While not the most original by any means, the perfect ending makes you know what the conclusion will be without actually giving you any solid proof.
Creating visuals and sound capable of complementing the plot and characters of Witch Hunter Robin is no small task, but Sunrise succeeds. The character designs are great, and the art style and animation are nothing short of amazing. The CGI work is superb, and although there are instances where it feels overused or out of place, those are few and far between. Fight scenes are particularly outstanding, as Robin’s abilities make them not only interesting, but also pure eye candy. The sound doesn’t lag behind at all, either. The soundtrack, composed by Iwasaki Taku, is excellent and emphasizes the events as they unfold.
In the end, it’s hard to find any flaws worth mentioning in Witch Hunter Robin. The first half, although maybe too long, is a great introduction to the series, and the second half never feels rushed or condensed despite its breakneck pace. Add great visuals and musical score that create an engrossing atmosphere and you have a definite winner. Don’t skip this one.
Highs: Smooth and stylish artwork; character designs; some exciting plot twists
Lows: Frigid characters; everything picks up too late
The only way to get myself hooked on a series is with carefully fleshed out characters developed right from the start. Many anime use a “Monster of the Week” routine to slowly develop characters without the distractions of an elaborate storyline; this is fine as long as there actually is some development and not just people running into plot-related elements every five episodes. Witch Hunter Robin uses this system in a bad way.
The entire first half is hard to finish in one setting because of how slowly it develops without getting more than ankle-deep in characters’ pasts and ambitions. A dozen episodes of witch-chasing is more than I’m willing to pay for an eventual intricate turn of events; watching the beginning of a series should not feel like a chore. This results in the downfall of many aspects in the long run, as the drama is forced at times and many action scenes feel similar.
I complain a lot, but the last episodes were worth the wait. Granted, only a handful of characters were eventually developed adequately; Robin and the Factory finally got what they merited in last-minute revelations. As for the eye catching, fans of the modern, high budget art style will definitely be pleased by Witch Hunter Robin‘s visuals. Even if it is the inner beauty that counts, the detail and originality in each of the character’s design makes things very interesting. Also, aside for hiding mouth movements every so often, animation is fluid, nicely integrating computerized imagery. It comes with a decent Iwasaki Taku soundtrack, even though the same songs are used time and again with slight variations.
Witch Hunter Robin is more than just a pretty series, for sure, but far less than an ambitious and gripping anime. More action? More drama? More development? It doesn’t need much to tip the scale. Yet, when you do not feel compelled to immediately watch the next episode, something is definitely not right.
Highs: Intriguing characters; immerse story; impressive visuals
Lows: First half slightly too slow moving
Stylish, dark and well written, Witch Hunter Robin is a must-see anime for fans of supernatural drama. This anime features a wealth of interesting characters and fascinating episodes, not to mention the subtleties in atmosphere and mood, and the slick action sequences that make this anime a real pleasure to watch.
Though the first half of Witch Hunter Robin moves slowly in order to introduce the characters, even the Monster of the Week style episodes are engrossing. Though they don’t do much to further the plot, each episode gradually reveals more about the main characters while delivering a well crafted self-contained story about each of the witches they hunt down. While this slow delivery may turn off some viewers who are eager to get to the heart of the action, the second half is sure to please as events unravel and more of the greater story is revealed.
Visually, this anime is brilliant. The dark tones and simple lines of the artwork match flawlessly with the fluidness of the animation to create at atmosphere that is enhanced and heightened by the soundtrack. Though this anime from time to time shows its age with obtrusive CGI integration, it holds its own against more modern anime.
Though the slow moving plot may turn off some viewers, those that are willing to wait for the story to pick up won’t be disappointed. This truly is one anime where the positives far outweigh the negatives.