Someone at Bones has been reading the X-Men…
Bones is a big name in anime: Escaflowne, RahXephon, Wolf’s Rain, Scrapped Princess, Ouran High School Host Club, Soul Eater. They’ve spanned several genres, but some of the “signature traits” are very detailed animation and a preference for character-centric stories. On the animation aspect, Towa no Quon does not disappoint: people, backgrounds, monsters, cyborgs, even the “shadowy powers” who seem to be pulling the strings, they’re all drawn and animated with care and a very good sense of mood and atmosphere. The story, on the other hand, feels too familiar and phoned in.
What’s the story about? Well, there are mutant people with superpowers; when such power awaken, most people can’t control them and they become dangerous to themselves and those around them. An organisation called Custos employs assault troops and cyborgs to capture them, and either study or eliminate them (it’s not completely clear).
Quon is an exceptionally powerful mutant (strength, speed, regeneration, energy weapons, some kind of telekinesis…) who fights Custos to protect a large group of (mostly young) mutants, and the help them learn to control their powers. He’s been around for a very long time (regeneration will do that, just ask Logan), and after losing his entire village (including his brother Towa), he is determined to “save everybody”. “Saving everybody” has become so common in anime that it’s usually a flag for lazy writing…
Custos is apparently controlled by The Order, a vaguely-defined power group whose members appear via tele-presence as shadowy figures. If this does not remind you of the relationship between Seele and NERV, let me add that The Order only talks to the head of Custos, Kamishiro, and that he’s got his own agenda which is probably not aligned with either Custos’s purpose, or The Order’s wishes. He’s way less likable than Gendou, though: he’s not just manipulative, he’s clearly power-crazy and evil.
Final pieces on the board, the cyborgs used by Custos are very powerful (they can go head to head with Quon and hold their ground), but have some interesting emotional instabilities. I don’t want to spoil the only interesting part of the story, but let me say that some of the cyborgs are the only characters showing actual development.
In the end, Towa no Quon’s story is just not very good, and the characters feel very flat, to the point that not even director IIDA Umanosuke (飯田 馬之介) could make the show work, and he was not without experience: he directed Gundam: 08th MS Team, Hellsing and Origin: Spirits of the Past.
I did not notice the music, which is apparently written by KAWAI Kenji (川井 憲次), one of the greatest anime musician (from Maison Ikkoku to Ghost in the Shell to Eden of the East). Either the music was very well coupled with the scenes, or there was not much of it. I should probably skim the episodes again paying more attention to the background tunes.
In summary: nothing particularly original, an adequate presentation, plenty of fights. Not a bad product all in all, but very average.
Towa no Quon – Complete Series Collection is available now from Manga Entertainment.
Distributor:Manga Entertainment (UK)
Edition: DVD (2012)
2 DVD, 3 45-minute episodes each. Special contents: credit-less closing theme, trailers, and a commentary to the last episode.