Witch Hunter Robin Vol. 2: Belief
Who could've predicted that this excellent series would find its way over to the States so swiftly? It's been barely a year since we featured it here in Animefringe, and we now have two DVDs, the soundtrack, a shirt, and the series is about to begin its run on cable television, thanks to the Cartoon Network.
The industry has indeed evolved, and I couldn't be more pleased.
More important (to me, at least) than Witch Hunter Robin's mainstream success, however, is the actual quality of the show. Luckily for us, this series is worthy of the attention it's been granted lately.
Robin, the young title character, is the inheritor of a rare legacy manifesting itself sporadically from generation to generation in a given bloodline. In Witch Hunter Robin, Witches are people who have been born with this gift. There is a definite difference between the "Witches" of this show and people who consider themselves Wiccan.
As with all kinds of power, the various abilities these Witches develop can be used for either good or evil. Many of them go about their daily lives without drawing attention to their powers. When a Witch's power is used improperly, however, it's up to the secret organization known as the STNJ to track down the offending party and capture him or her for the public good.
Robin has the ability to generate and manipulate flame, and since acquiring glasses to sharpen her vision, she's grown quite adept at using her powers precisely. Other members of the STNJ have less obvious Witch skills, but they all prove useful to the team at some point or another.
This show reminds me of The X-Files at times. Each episode boasts a stand-alone plot, and while the story structure remains essentially the same for each episode (something weird happens, STNJ investigates, finds it's caused by a Witch, and then capture the culprit), characters are intriguing, whether they're on screen for five minutes or one of the main protagonists. You may know what's coming in a given episode, but watching each plot unfold is very entertaining as the story twists and turns its way to the end.
Realistic characters are made more appealing with some unique costume designs and hairstyles. Robin is easily one of the most elegantly illustrated characters I've seen in a long time, and I wouldn't be surprised if the male members of the STNJ were responsible for melting a few bishonen-loving hearts out there, either.
The animation doesn't exactly stand out, but then it's not because of a lack of quality so much as because Witch Hunter Robin doesn't rely upon flashy animation to draw in viewers. Instead of eye-popping animation, we're merely given a very good show with a dynamic plot and characters that we can care about. It's a more than fair trade to our advantage. Upon examination, you'll notice that the animation is actually some of the best animation out there for a modern show, but it seems so natural, so effortless, that you won't spend your time admiring it as much as you should.
Witch Hunter Robin has a very nice opening theme and creepy, slightly unsettling background music throughout. The main theme is catchy and morose simultaneously - a rather impressive feat. There isn't much dialogue in the show at times, but what's there is very solid, even in English. I'd have to warn those of you who shun dialects, however, because this is the type of show that usually gets them in English. You can get a taste for the sound of the show on the Cartoon Network, at least.
The extras for this particular release include liner notes, a detailed description of some of the equipment the STNJ uses for investigation, and a reversible cover. My case also had a cel-like extra with Robin showing off her stylishly good looks. There wasn't exactly a truckload of bonus material here, but then there are five episodes on the disc, and this is a series that you'll want to keep watching.
Even the box is nicer than average. The synopsis on the back of the package does a good job of describing the show and hinting at what it contains without ruining the plot, and all of the necessary data (soundtracks, rating, episode list, run time, and so on) was present and easy to find. If you're lucky (and quick), then you might be able to find the limited edition volume 1 with a special high-quality artbox. The special edition of the first volume also had a shirt, soundtrack, and shot glass. Altogether, those extras by far make up for the lack of interviews or other bonus material on this DVD. I love soundtracks.
Go ahead and watch this show on the Cartoon Network when it begins airing. However, if you want to see it in Japanese, without commercial breaks, unedited, and with some extra bonus material, then pick up the DVDs. They're worth every penny.