Haru Glory is a guy with a Big Sword (TM). He is on a journey to Collect Stuff (TM), in this case, Rave Stones, which will give his sword Unbelievable Powers (TM). He is the Chosen One (TM) who will wipe out The Evil (TM) in the land; in this case, the evil Shadow Guard (all of a sudden I'm reminded of Kingdom Hearts). Along the way he's acoompained by a Plucky, Big Chested Girl With Amnesia (TM), a bunch of Cutesy Mascots (TM), one of whom is a Pervert (TM), and some other dude. There are also lots of bad musical puns.
This is a series I've been waiting to see for a while. Which is why it's depressing to see such a competent looking series with likable (if not stereotyped) characters be such a disappointment.
The biggest problem with Rave Master is, far and beyond, its lack of orginiality. There's nothing original about Haru Glory or Elle right down to the clothes they wear and their stock character designs. They're cute, but don't have much detail.
And while the mascots are different from the typical fox/cat/dog kind, they're among the ugliest things in anime I've ever seen. Plue, a white thing with a carrot nose, is supposed to be cute, but he just stands there being ugly, making sounds like he is constipated. Another mascot, Griff, is some flying Easter Island statue head whose sole way of reeling in comedy is to look at Elle when she's changing or taking a shower (HAHAHA..not). If this is the best the mangaka could come with, or if he thinks these things are cute or funny, he needs to get his head re-examined. I shuddered at images of Plue before I even saw the anime, and after watching him, I hated him even more.
The villians aren't much better. Just your stereotypical "take over the world" type people, and when they aren't that, they're just jerks for the heck of it. They, too, have stock character designs, just like 99% of the cast of this series.
The animation doesn't hold up too well outside of the character designs and the scenery. CG is used badly, and the frame rate in action sequences is bad. Expect recycled frames a-plenty too, as you watch fights be dragged out for as long as 5 episodes each. And they do this multiple times in the series.
Rave Master, plot-wise, suffers from Dragon Ball Z syndrome, in that the manga wasn't given a long enoug run before the anime began. As a result, Studio Deen had to extend the fights to wait for the manga to go on for them to use more material. This would be fine if the fights were interesting, but they're not. And you know Haru will always win, even if it doesn't happen at first. He's our Plucky Protagonist (TM), after all, and the protagonist in shonen works never lose.
It's sad to see a series which looks good and has such likable leads be wasted with lack of originality and stupid mascots. Rave Master feels like Kodansha's attempt to find the next big shonen series, and with the amount of merchandise there is in Japan, they succeded in doing so. That doesn't mean I'm impressed, though. It just proves that Kodansha cares more about merchandising a mediocre manga than support one with a gripping story or original characters with depth.
For shame, Kodansha. For shame. No wonder you keep getting creamed by Shueisha and Shogakukan.
It takes more than competent art to make a good series, and Rave Master is proof. Oh, and avoid the dub at all costs. I regret that it was the only version I had to work with for the review (the opening theme always make me want to throw something at the TV). — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Even in its original Japanese, there wasn't too much objectionable contact. Violence is more of the bruises type than bleeding, and fanservice is minimal. There's drinking, but the majority of it is drunk by adults, and not our underage protagonist. Elle gambles, but mainly on things like horse races. Okay for pre-teens and up, I guess.
Version(s) Viewed: Broadcast (Cartoon Network), English dub
Review Status: Partial (7/51)
Rave Master © 2001 Hiro Mashima - Kodansha /2001 RAVE Production Committee/TBS/Studio DEEN
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