This is review number seventy eight. It’s another Summer 2011 anime. I’ve actually put this anime off several times and now I have a reason to watch it. Oh boy, I was greatly surprised. The anime is No. 6. It’s about a boy named Shion and a boy named Rat. Its eleven episodes and I will tell you now, this anime is awesome. Let’s read on.
The anime is about Shion, a resident of one of the six remaining cities that the government deemed livable after a war destroyed most places. It’s a place called No.6. He met another boy named Nezumi running from the authorities. Nezumi has his arm wounded badly and he was desperate to hide. Shion agreed to take him in. The two boys are very different but they found comfort being around each other. Shion healed Nezumi’s arm and helped him escape. Four years later, the two boys met once more. Their encounter this time is something that’ll change both their lives forever and help shed the truth behind the city called No. 6.
Taking the Pants Off
I’ve put off watching No. 6 several times now. I had it once before I started this blog and it just sat in my hard drive until the damn thing broke. I downloaded it and it once again sat, this time on my laptop. My laptop broke after I got ten measly reviews out so I wasn’t able to watch it. Now, I saw it on my list and I sat down at 3:30 in the afternoon with the sun glaring the monitor. It’s now 10:00 PM and I’m writing this review. I always believe that if an anime can make me watch it straight without me looking at the clock then I know it’s damn good. Haruhi Suzumiya first did that to me. No. 6 did it to me now. This is how an anime should be. It should have a compelling story that is the sole feature of the anime. I don’t care for stunning CG or breathe taking animation, I want a story. I got a story in No. 6.
No. 6 is a really plot driven anime with a deep theme about society and its grip on mankind. It’s very captivating and very thought provoking. The city called No. 6 is considered as a utopia. It’s the perfect place to live in with beautiful sceneries wherever you turn, a secured place void of crimes and the people living in it are always happy. Shion happily lives in this city and has grown to love it. Imagine his surprise when he suddenly got caught in a government conspiracy and he is to be taken to the “correctional facility” to keep him quiet. He was saved by Nezumi. In order to fully escape the authorities after him, Shion was forced to leave his past behind. He escapes outside No. 6. He saw the world behind the wall of his perfect Utopia. It’s a dirty, depressing and corrupt place called the Western District. There he slowly discovers the dark secret No. 6 is hiding from its citizen.
The contrast between No. 6 and Western District is something I really enjoyed. The thing that amused me was that it perfectly resemble an ideal society. There are always people on top and people on the bottom in every society. There are people who live their lives completely unaware or choose to ignore the life outside their own. A strong showing of the idiom “Ignorance is bliss” greatly resounds in the anime. While an ideal society is separated by an invisible wall, No. 6 and Western District is divided by a literal wall. All the things considered nuisance or problematic for No.6 is shoved outside the wall. The dire state of Western District is tragic but something completely familiar. The dirty slums with dirty people are all part of a growing society. The people in No. 6 are all happy living in this clean city with their families while the people outside are miserable and has grown to take everything in stride. It’s a perfect depiction that I really admire. This was one the setup of the anime and it has a lot more to offer.
The anime also features an oppressive authority. No. 6 is not a perfect place to live in. I find it fascinating the exclusion of literary classics in the city. Macbeth, Picasso and anything thought provoking is not welcome in the city. They basically ask the residents to be mindless drones that are completely submissive to the laws of the city. They tag them with an ID bracelet to monitor them. You soon realize that the people in this utopia are enjoying freedom at the cost of being treated by nothing more than livestock. “Freedom by being bound by the law” is a strong theme in the anime. The completely submissive personalities of the people in the utopia are certainly disconcerting. As you progress through the anime, you’ll soon see those happily carefree smiles slowly fade away as you get one step closer to what No. 6 actually is. The constant brainwashing by the authorities convincing the people that they live in a utopia is really something that’ll hit you. Are the people in No. 6 different from the slums of the Western District?
The biggest plot point of the anime is the relationship between the two main characters. Shion, a submissive person who believes that there is good in everyone in contrast to Nezumi’s realistic ideals that humans are rotten to the core despite where they live who won’t hesitate to kill you if given the opportunity. Their clashing personality is the main bread and butter of the anime. Nezumi would always feel irritated when Shion wouldn’t wise up. He’s always kind to everyone he meets that it becomes a bother to Nezumi. Shion wouldn’t last long in the Western District after he has lived happily in his little bubble of a utopia. Shion is a trusting and caring person though who once took pity on Nezumi while he has nowhere else to turn to. He believes that Nezumi is indeed a good person no matter how many times he grabs him by the neck and attempt to strangle him. Nezumi just grew up in a tough world devoid of love and he’s just doesn’t recognize it when it’s presented to him. Their personalities are so different but they somehow complement each other.
Shion and Nerumi would slowly become friends. The anime dedicated a lot of time to develop them. They would always get mad at each other. Nezumi hates the fact that Shion still clings on to No. 6 even after it tried to dispose of him and Shion doesn’t like Nezumi hating on No. 6 and not recognizing the city’s beauty. As the anime progresses though, the two began to depend on each other. Nezumi would slowly realize that Shion is important to him and Shion would slowly accept Nezumi as he is. There are a lot of soul baring exchanges between the two main characters and it slowly adds depth to the story. Nezumi starts out as this cold hearted and street toughen guy but he slowly started showing his soft caring side. Shion started out as this guy oblivious of the world outside his bubble but he started to adapt and soon started enjoying the dirty depressing place he is in.
The other characters in the anime had a specific role so they had limited development but they did their role well. The anime had a limited cast so it doesn’t ruin the story and the small cast actually makes the anime much more enjoyable. It had more time to establish its plot points and flesh out the two main characters. The rest of the characters had a specific role and they were all important when the anime enters its second half. I do believe a bit of development is needed because there were no emotional pay out for some of them but there were scenes where the viewers is tasked to sympathize with the characters.
There is some shounen ai here. Yeah, it reminds me of the Yoite and Miharu relationship from Nabari no Ou. It had a very small presence but it was very strongly hinted by the anime. Some of it is by dialogue which throws me off at times. It doesn’t really ruin the story and it actually intensifies some of the scenes helping us be more sympathetic to the characters. It’s not a misplaced element. It was very smartly presented as well.
The second half of the anime is where the plot points of the anime comes to a boil. The divide of the No. 6 and the Western District, the dark side of the authorities and the two main character’s relationship all came to an initial climax. It was something absolutely unexpected and something you wouldn’t believe the anime would enter. It was a shocking climax and a bit dark. It was effective though because after the climax erupts, the scenes after that keep on building and building until the ending. The second half is really the best part of the anime because of how well it executed all the elements. The thing I liked most is the ideals of Shion and Nezumi clashing and being slowly accepted by the other. It was surreal and I still couldn’t believe that the anime pulled off such a thought provoking second half.
The anime isn’t perfect though. I honestly believe it was but personal preference aside, there were some things the anime missed on. The first thing that was missing is a face for the authority. It was missing a leader. Someone the viewers can push the blame on. There were a lot of cover ups and heartless soldiers but there was no one leading them. The anime needed an antagonist to represent the other side of the coin. It mentioned some higher ups that drove some citizens out of No. 6 but they were faceless beings. It’s such a shame too because it was the missing that certain contrast in the anime. A person who stands firm on his belief that No. 6 is an absolute utopia.
The inclusion of “supernatural” themes also threw the anime off. It was an unneeded element that honestly ruined the anime’s potential. No.6 was apparently built on a home by some forest people but they only mixed that element in slowly entering the second half. The theme of supernatural interference was incorporated to the realistic theme of an ideal society. It was really just clutter and the anime could’ve survived without it. It could’ve stayed if it was established more strongly but the anime is only eleven episodes. Perhaps one more episode was needed to have the supernatural element more effectively incorporated. Instead, it just ruined the anime’s build up.
I pegged this anime a 10 of 10 in my head and I was ready to defend it until I saw the ending. Anime ending is always so weak and it always bugs me. Anime has mastered the ability to grab you with an interesting premise but it couldn’t satisfy you with its ending. It always has to be open-ended or anti-climactic. I do believe the ending isn’t enough for this anime but what do I know. I’m just a guy (with no pants on). It’s completely up to you if the ending satisfied you but after 560 anime, I can tell you it doesn’t. Screw the ending though because the anime is still solid with an outstanding story and a memorable cast.
Sight and Sound
The animation is OK. It’s not really grand but it’s enough to deliver the story. The character design is nice because it bordered on Shounen which makes the characters more serious. I love Shion’s transformation to this plain guy with brown hair to this stand out guy with white hair and red eyes. Nezumi is pretty cool as well because he is very manly but he has a slight feminine side to him. I’m trying not to spoil it but I’m sure you’d be thoroughly surprised.
The anime is full of sceneries. There is no drooling CG but the anime was still able to capture some scenery porn worthy pictures with its scenic shots. No.6 was nicely made with clean streets and the color white dominant representing cleanliness. There are luscious green sceneries and different colored flowers dancing to the wind. It gives you the idea of paradise with its laid back feel and calming atmosphere. Opposite to that is the Western District with its depressing atmosphere. It had nice scenes of a dirty run down place full of shifty people. There are flies everywhere, dead bodies are common everyday stuff and it’s just a really depressing place. It gives the feeling of “I don’t want to be here” which is really effective. There are some nice shots of a lifeless dessert outside the place and there is a white wall on the other side.
The opening song is really great. “Spell” by LAMA really captured the anime’s theme of freedom and discovery. The opening sequence accentuates it more with scenes of Shion walking along tall buildings and flashes of small scenes resembling the feeling of being trapped. Then it switches to this lovely scene where he is soaring to the sky and he slowly transforms. He then stands face to face with Nezumi.
The ending song, “Rokutousei no Yoru” by Aimer, represents the anime’s drama aspect. It had a lonelier vibe to it. It was accompanied by a touching montage of the two main characters in the snow. It really captures their bond and slight shounen ai. (XD) It was also a really love song especially when Shion’s mom would discover her son is alive and the song would suddenly play. It was nicely done.
7/10 “A strong story with two compelling characters.”
It’s not perfect though I honestly believe it could’ve been. It still had a nice story with a solid pacing and strong characters. I also enjoy the anime’s premise and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well. I highly recommend it.