First Look: NAMUAMIDABUTSU! -UTENA-

Alternative title(s): I Guess HIDIVE Couldn’t Figure Out How to Localize This One
Game Adaptation by Asahi Production
Streaming on HIDIVE

Premise

The Thirteen Buddhas have appeared in the present day to rid the world of earthly vices, and yet somehow there isn’t much for them to do? So they just hang out at a temple and chill waiting for the next big bad thing to happen.​

Jel’s verdict: “E” for Effort

This episode consistently found creative ways to present its “men out of time” premise and I appreciate the effort. For example, probably the most interesting idea was how the boys can project appearances to the in-universe humans that are different than how the audience sees them. So while we may be seeing a pretty anime boy in an elaborate costume, the people around them might see a little boy, a schoolgirl, or a modestly famous muscle-bound strongman… yes, that was one of them played for comedy. It’s a neat trick that they use to add a suprising amount of variety to otherwise mundane slice of life antics.

At the end of the day though, this is still an excuse to cart out a baker’s dozen of attractive anime dudes and have them sulk and pout and tease each other. There’s far too many introduced to us at once for us to particularly care past the main duo, and they all have flat, one-note personalities. The nice looking boys are the main attraction here, and if that’s you want this seems like a really solid option. I don’t personally plan on continuing to watch, but there’s certainly value here for those who want it.

Artemis’ verdict: Unexpectedly Fine

For one of those bishounen-centric game-based titles, Utena is surprisingly decent, albeit not quite in my wheelhouse, and I have a number of genuinely positive things to say about it. First off, there are some decent comedy ideas here in general; the whole fish/deity out of water scenario may not be particularly original, and I’ll grant you the likes of Hataraku Maou-sama and Saint Oniisan carry this off much more effectively, but the fact remains I like where a lot of the humour is based. The timing may be off on the jokes, but contrary to my expectations, the jokes in and of themselves were enough that I didn’t find the episode overly tedious to get through. The series also clearly has some sincerely nice, if not exactly groundbreaking or subtle messages, and I imagine they’ll go down pretty well with a viewership somewhat younger (and/or less cynical) than I.

Perhaps more importantly to its target audience, Utena is undeniably easy on the eyes, with smoothly-rendered and detailed character designs, a rich colour palette, and animation that easily surpasses plenty of other currently airing shows. Honestly, there would probably have been a time where I would have eagerly watched this, even if it’s not really my cup of tea these days. Go ahead and give it a try if you’re looking for something on the more relaxed or lighthearted end of the spectrum – you could certainly do far worse this season.

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