From the abyss blacker than the darkness, it is the shadow cast by the light of science.
Title: Asura Cryin’
Animation Company: Seven Arcs
Genres: Action, Mecha, Supernatural
Number of Episodes: 26
Note: Light spoilers, because seriously, if nothing is spoilt (or explained) there’s not much to say xP
So because I had nothing much to watch over the past few days, I decided to marathon something entirely new (even though I still have most of Eureka Seven to get through before next Tuesday when the sequel starts) and found Asura Cryin’, which was apparently about a guy named Natsume Tomoharu that is haunted by the ghost of his dead childhood friend. It had a cool name, so I thought “yeah, why not?” It turns out that while yes, Tomoharu is certainly followed around by Misao, that’s actually one of the lesser details of the setup.
Tomoharu is given a metal briefcase by a woman named Kurosaki Shuri, and gets attacked by a demon, Takatsuki Kanade who tries to take the case off him. After they get to know each other, First Student Council Kaichou Saeki Reishiro tries to kill them using his Asura Machina Hisui and Tomoharu fights back by opening the briefcase and calling out the Asura Machina Kurogane, turning Misao into its burial doll sacrifice and making him a handler. Now caught up in a different world, he meets other handlers, ex-handlers and contractors as they fight against various enemies, one of them possessing an Asura Machina and a demon contract at the same time – an Asura Cryin’.
Season 2 was where all the mindfuck started. The revelation of Reishiro’s burial doll Aine disappearing means that he is now an ex-handler, immune to magic. Because using an Asura Machina whittles away the soul of the burial doll, Tomoharu has to find a way to release Misao from Kurogane, while still using it to fight other handlers in place of Kanade, who is also slowly vanishing due to using magic without having a contractor. The reappearance of Tomo’s brother Natsume Naotaka adds to the mystery surrounding the entire world, which all centers around Tomoharu and his friends.
Now, wasn’t that a lot to take in? Yeah I honestly think it’s better watching it to slowly digest everything rather than try to get the whole concept all at once. We basically have people called handlers, who control mecha called Asura Machina that all have a dead spirit bound to them to make them work. Some people are heavily turned off by having an anime which you have to think properly to understand (like Ghost in the Shell) but once you do, you find out that this is some pretty cool shit you’re dealing with.
The characters are all unique and have fun personalities. The main lead Tomoharu isn’t a weedy guy for once, instead someone that turns out to be really cool at times – you might even find he’s err…out of this world cough Apart from Reishiro, the main cast has him pretty much surrounded with girls (as expected for a shounen) with Kanade and arguably Misao as the love interests. Kurosaki Shuri is the onee-chan figure, and Nia is the resident loli (by the way, older Nia is hot). There are other handlers as well, like Susugihara Yo for Shirogane or Kagakagari for Rhodonite. Seriously these names are all so cool xD
Boy did they develop these characters a lot. Basically, there was a lot of backstory for a lot of people, especially with the whole situation surrounding Shuri and Yo, as well as motives for people like Tokiya (from S2) or Kagakagari. Just when you think you understand something, they flip it right round – and there’s a particular episode in S2 when shit really does hit the fan, and everything comes crashing down around your ears. The last boss of the series is extremely unexpected, and the idea that things aren’t as you expect has never been more true for the last half of Season 2.
Amidst all the mecha battles and revelations, you’ve got school life. No, seriously. Somehow normal school life continues, and you have parties, festivals and sports days. One thing I liked about this though was that somehow, a random party will never just be random – it will always have some significance to later plot. I won’t question how no-one seems to notice the irregularity of Misao being a ghost, or how no-one says anything when two Asura Machina are duking it out in the school field. I’m quite taken aback by how the series swaps between light hearted comedy and serious sci-fi, especially when you realize that the status of being a handler or Asura Cryin’ will always be temporary – eventually, the burial doll will die and you become an ex-handler.
I felt the art was nice – the mecha weren’t badly drawn or designed, and everything seemed fitting for an anime produced in 2009. I wouldn’t be able to truly judge it though, since I watched it on Crunchyroll and…well, like with everything, you don’t get the best if you don’t pay up. Instead, you get these annoying ads that pop up at annoying times T_T Both OPs were nice, and gave a lot of foreshadowing (especially the one in S2). You think you can guess something from an OP, think again. Your theories are more likely to be thrown back at you than not.
Overall – yeah it’s a good show. You’re likely to be easily caught up in it once you start, but there are bits you might have to go over to fully understand, since it’s a lot to take in. Though the first season might not meet your expectations the second one certainly will, and it’s something that anyone who likes sci-fi or mecha should definitely try.