Rainbow: Final Thoughts

Is it some kind of unspoken rule that particular seasons of shows must adhere to a certain number of episodes? While the episode limit doesn’t hinder some shows (Gurren Lagann; 26 episodes), it definitely hurts a majority that otherwise could have been just as good as the manga preceding it (Death Note; 37 episodes). That said, I was surprised to find that my anime of the moment, Rainbow, came to an end this week, at a measly 26 episodes.

While I haven’t read the original manga by George Abe, checking out its Wiki page alone is clue enough that those watching the anime only have been gipped—the number of volumes totaling at 22. Even assuming that the manga was crazy text-heavy, resulting in the watering down of some volumes when adapted, I still think the series could have easily gone for at least ten more episodes… especially when considering just how little we still know about the main cast.

Without spoiling anything, the series seems to be fully aware of how little time they’ve been allotted and began to rush things significantly in their finale, tying pretty much everybody’s stories in mere minutes, literally hitting up each person’s epilogue one-by-one in a sloppily done narration. From the handful of talk I’ve heard about the series, one gripe most people have had with it was its cheesy narration. Though honestly, considering how the series takes place in a post World War Japan, the drama and cheese factor were practically expected. Every episode was done in this manner, as narrated by a mysterious female who we can only assume must have been one of the handful of female leads in the story itself, but are never actually given a straight answer to… something that seemed to be a trending topic for the series.

Starting off the series, you get a solid introduction to each character and how they relate to the rest of the characters in a world that seems to continuously be working against them. As the series progresses, though, and focus begins to shift from the characters as a group to the characters individually, you begin to see some favoritism in the writing as to just who we should be rooting for the most among the main cast—a rather unexpected move. As much I liked the quirkiness of some guys like Turtle and Cabbage, I was heavily disappointed to find that the series came to a close without Soldier getting an episode of his own. Sure, the whole “life of a soldier” thing has been played out to death, but we barely even get much of a story out of him even though he clearly has one to tell. Meanwhile, we’re expected to be sympathetic for characters like Mario in such little time that when the finale ends up becoming his story, I just feel let down.

Though I guess if I had to choose one character as an allegory on Japan's relations with America...

Another complaint about the series was in its form of villains, at least in the incredibly short first arc of the series. Motivation aside, it felt like if you were given a blatantly creepy character design, chances are you’d end up being a villain. After the “reform school” episodes, though, big changes in the series’ predictability come about, with enemies coming up from the most unexpected places. Considering the narration-format of the series, I would have enjoyed some kind of comment in the show made about this, especially taking into account how the main cast moves out of the frying pan of prison and into the fire of the real world.

Maybe it was some kind of dealie with the show’s budget that led to such a low episode count? Maybe they knew that a series with such sensitive content would ultimately not do well in TV rankings? Maybe the author just wants us to read the manga instead. Whatever the reason, Rainbow – Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin has become one of many anime series to end up with a sloppy ending adaptation due to episode count limitations. It’s just a shame that it had to happen to such a critically acclaimed manga series.

External References:
– Rainbow Simulcast Subbed Episodes (funimation.com / youtube.com)

Rainbow: Initial Thoughts

I’ve always been a fan of the buddy genre. Whether it be Rugrats, Recess, The Weekenders, or even live-action like Friends and Community, a ragtag group of people who work as a team to solve their problems always seems to work as a good foundation for a series.

Enter Rainbow (Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin if you’re fancy)—the story of a group of teens during the ‘50s in Japan, all sent to prison for one reason or another, that rely on their camaraderie to survive behind bars.

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but current prison shows in the US haven’t really been doing it for me. Maybe it’s the whole predictability factor combined with their cookie-cutter characters, but something about prison shows have just always turned me away.

Not true for Rainbow.

As feminine a name as can be, the series is far from such, covering the lives of six teens in jail post war. From the get-go, each character has some kind of distinguishing factor about themselves accompanied with a quirky nickname to match, which makes you already start to form a bond with them, believing that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding as to how they ended up in such a place to begin with. There, the group becomes cellmates with Anchan, who appears to have definitely seen better days. Honestly, the fact that each person in the one cell is around the same age to get along with the other is a bit hard to believe, though, considering the liberties most shows take in terms of plot, it’s entirely forgivable.

The fact that the setting takes place in Japan post WWII is enough of a change from your typical prison drama to entice viewers. And considering how Japan actually fared during the war, I find it interesting how such has even made it to Japanese television at all… though at least that explains the little note from the staff before the show starts. I would say something about it being strange to live in a country that’s lost a war, but then again I’m sure similar questions about being elitist obese kids is asked about Americans, so I’ll just stop there.

Six episodes in now, and I can definitely see myself following the rest of the series, my only complaint so far being that character designs for authority figures aren’t exactly the prettiest. Then again, in a show where authority figures are constantly shown in a negative light, I guess it would make sense for them to be ugly. Still, the constant use of rape-faces as a sort of bad guy constant is rather disturbing.

External References:
– Rainbow Simulcast Subbed Episodes (funimation.com / youtube.com)

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