Looks like there's been some recent resurge of interest in The Twelve Kingdoms recently. Maybe it's the new volume of the novel series coming out or the 90 page story released in a Japanese magazine that sparking it, but the attention still being put on this series isn't too bad for a now 6-years-old TV series.
I don't blame Author for dropping the series after 5 episodes the last time he tried watching The Twelve Kingdoms. [See UPDATE, Below] The series didn't seem to promise much at that point other than handful of irritating main characters. Yes, there are loads of information and foreshadowing in those first five episodes, but those are extremely hard to catch without at least watching the entire series once to see how it all ties together. Fortunately, the end of episode 5 is the absolute low point1; the series really didn't pick up until a bit later, and I didn't proclaim it to be my most favorite anime of all time until I finished the third arc. Still, I'd like to see Author's "vent" after 3 episodes; most likely, I'd be nodding my head and saying "yup" to whatever grievances he had of the series.
Don's thought that the book might be better than the anime2 is correct, in my view. The novel covers Youko's3 descent and rise so much better than the anime, but the novel also is able to get into Youko's thoughts. The script for the anime is pretty heavily changed as animating the novel directly would have been even worse than the re-write; either we don't get to follow Youko's thought process as we witness her suffering, or we get a constant narration of her thoughts through-out the first 14 episodes, which most people would find annoying. So the anime essentially adds two more characters to travel into the Twelve Kingdoms with Youko4 who she can bounce thoughts off of and act as foils to her character.
Yes, I'll say it: The Twelve Kingdoms is my most favorite TV series anime of all time5. It was the series that got me looking into more serious animes, and was the first time I saw a truly serious approach to fantasy6 in a TV series7. The real main downside is definitely the ending. It didn't actually end badly, especially if you consider episode 39 to be the real ending, but it was more of a feeling of "there could be so much more!"8. It's unfortunate that Fuyumi Ono didn't complete the final novel yet (which is the real reason why the series stopped where it did), but when9 she finishes the series, and the anime is finally completed its entire 68 episode run, I'll be in line to be one of the first ones to watch and buy it.
UPDATE: Oops, I did misread. It was Toei's Kanon that Author dropped at five episodes. Still, my comment about the first five episodes of Twelve Kingdoms stands, as that seems to be the point several viewers decide to drop the series.
- 1. To me, at least
- 2. The first volume of the Twelve Kingdoms novel is covered by the first 14 episodes of the anime, with the exception of one episode (episode 10, I think) that covers a short story from a different volume.
- 3. I've seen it spelt "Yoko" and "Youko". I'm going to use the second spelling as that how I've been doing it since the official DVDs came out
- 4. Yes, Asano wasn't even in the novels and Yuka had a very small role in the first few chapters
- 5. Actually, it's tied with Haibane Renmei for that title.
- 6. in the medieval sense
- 7. And one of the very few series that did so. Others I've seen since include Berserk and Record of Lodoss War; the former was amazing, the latter was, well, less impressive
- 8. I'd treat episodes 40 to 45 as extras at this time. They are apparently important for later events which are not animated yet.
- 9. Yes, I said "when", not "if". Don't deny me the hope that it will be finished. :P