Second sight is a curse for Yumemi, a psychic schoolgirl who just wants to be normal. But she’s about to discover the true value of her gift, when Magical King Munto arrives in her world, with enemies in hot pursuit! Munto’s realm is linked to ours by magic, but that power is fading, and his world is on the brink of death. Yumemi is the only Earthling with the power to save his people…if she can only find the courage to use it!
Based on the above synopsis, and the fact that this is a one-shot 50-minute OVA, you probably think you know why this title came out as completely and utterly average. You’re probably thinking that this is just another “magical girl taken to alternate world” thingy, but with a huge originality problem, and a very unorganized, incomplete, and ultimately unsatisfying plot. Well, Munto’s not like that at all.
It has a completely different set of problems.
Munto's actually unexpectedly original. It’s refreshing to see one of these “magical girl to alternate world” shows, where said magical girl doesn’t actually go to said alternate world. And this show explores some interesting ideas, many of which actually don’t have to do with fantasy at all. As for organization and the like, again, Munto satisfies. There is a clear exposition, climax, and resolution, and a pretty even ride up to the climax and down to the resolution. It doesn't even seem rushed. Unlike so many of these one-shot OVAs, Munto doesn’t put too much on its plate.
That’s where the problems start.
In order to get everything balanced and stable within 50 minutes, the general quality of the production seems to slip a notch. Very early on, you begin to see what seems to be something like plot-lite, characterization-lite, and screenplay-lite. Many of the interesting ideas simply aren’t done well. While the whole picture does come together rather nicely, many individual scenes lack in quality direction, with dialogue that has major issues.
In fact, the dialogue in Munto especially grates on my nerves, because it really takes a lot of potential enjoyment away from the title. During situations that seem inspired and interesting enough; glum, grossly uninspired, and generally “lazy” dialogue invades. At its best, the dialogue sounds merely dumb, or cliché. At its worst, which is what it’s often at, it sounds horribly dumb AND cliché. None of this is helped by the English dub, which does not exactly glorify the original dialogue.
The animation seems to parallel this problem. Although not bad by any account, and even pretty nice looking at times, it looks as if it was done “only well enough to not stick out”. It’s the extra care that is missing.
Finally, we come to the music. Boring and utterly forgettable music is bad enough, but Munto’s faces another problem as well. That is, it is not integrated into the scenes well at all! It seems almost annoying and inconvenient in many places, as if a CD totally unrelated to what's on the screen is playing in the same room at the same time. Combine this with the dialogue, and you wonder if Munto wouldn't have been better as a silent film…
All that being said, this certainly isn’t a *bad* anime at all. It’s an enjoyable way to spend 50 minutes. But it’s certainly not worth going out of your way to hunt down. Unlike many one-shot OVAs under an hour, Munto maintains a commendable level of coherency and organization, allowing you to simply “watch and enjoy”. But, for some reason or another, the general spark and enthusiasm seem to be unfortunately dampered, including writing that really is just bizarre and stupid at times. If this is because of a simply lazy staff that has a hard time following through on good ideas, then that’s one thing. But if this is merely because of the type of production this is, length-wise, then I’m starting to think that maybe this type of story just isn’t meant to be told in 50 short minutes.
It does some good things, but could do it all so much more effectively. — Connor McCarty
Recommended Audience: There's a little violence and fighting, and very inexplicit gym locker room scene. Other then that, there are a few more adolescent themes that land this squarely in the preeteen and up category.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, English Dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Munto © 2003 Kyoto Animation
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