Funimation // 2007 // 290 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // August 19th, 2009
Is this truly a love that can never be?
When we last left our star-crossed lovers, things weren't looking so good for them or their beautiful city of Neo-Verona. Juliet, now having risen to her rightful seat as leader of House Capulet, has led her troops into a trap in pursuit of the murderous Prince Montague. In her shame, she leaves town with Romeo, Montague's son, and heads to the forest for some alone time. Out there, they see the true depth of their love for one another and get married, but Montague's troops have caught up with them, capturing Juliet and bringing Romeo home to daddy. Can't these two lovebirds just enjoy their honeymoon in peace?
While the first half of Romeo x Juliet wasn't the deepest or most compelling anime in history, it ended on an effective enough cliffhanger to make me want to see how it would conclude. I'm glad that I did, because in spite of its many little faults, it is good, angst-y teenage fun. The creators diverge even more from the original work in the second half, leaving the connection to Shakespeare, essentially, in name and tone only. As it goes, it becomes the wild, logic-defying climax that anime often does, but to the betterment of the series. It feels far less contrived this way, allowing them to have fun with the world that they've created rather than trying to shoehorn Shakespeare everywhere in this flying city. The dialog remains flowery, and often slides into iambic pentameter. Mediocre anime dialog doesn't fare any better in meter than out of it, so don't expect to much from the poetic language, but at least they were trying for something. Yes, dragon steeds still abound, and in greater numbers this time but, no, I still can't explain why they bug me so much.
No matter how far they verge from the original, however, they thankfully don't try to happy up the ending. They flirted with a positive slant a few times, and it made me nervous. While the ending has nothing to do with that of the original, it fits in nicely with the story and its emo-heavy tone. Overall the characters don't gel together quite as cleanly as they could and many of the subplots are either hastily resolved or abandoned altogether, but the main story is good enough to make it worth the time.
Though much of the dialog is shaky, the performances are almost universally good, both on the Japanese original track and the English dub, especially from the Romeo and Juliet voices; they have good chemistry together and their mooning tones do well to relay the overwhelming gravity of their romance. The songs, once again, are hilariously cheesy, as earnest as can be. Over all four discs of the two sets, the songs are sung in Japanese and have subtitles. This text changes, however, depending on the episode. In English, you can see the ridiculous things the vocalist sings about and, in Japanese, you can sing along, which is great fun.
Funimation's release of Romeo x Juliet: Juliet Collection, Vol. 2 falls right in line with its Romeo counterpart. The twelve episodes are spread over two attractively-designed slimcases. The image transfer is adequate for displaying the restrained animation, with strong colors across the spectrum and no noticeable errors in the transfer. The surround mix is good for the English side, if unspectacular, it does the job without adding a lot. The Japanese track is the better performance, but the sound isn't nearly as good, so pick your poison. Our only extras are a trailer, textless versions of the beginning and end title tracks (considerably less fun than what's included on the episodes), and a fairly interesting commentary track on the final episode of the series with various members of the cast and crew. This is a good addition and I wish more stuff like this had been included int he two sets.
Romeo x Juliet doesn't set the world on fire, but there's quite a bit to like about this series. Nicely animate with good performances, this should delight anime-obsessed drama kids.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 290 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentary