Ballad of a Shinigami Episode 1 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:John Eriani
Review Date: Monday, April 28, 2008
Release Date: Monday, November 26, 2007



What They Say
Kouta, worried about Mai's health, walks her to and from school every day. One day, they find an abandoned kitten, and secretly keep it at a shrine. At first, Kouta considers it bothersome, but when Mai calls him the kitten's "father", Kouta begins to feel a sense of responsibility toward it.

However, recently Kouta has been drifting apart from his male friends with whom he used to play so often. When they invite him out to play, he finds himself unable to refuse, leaving Mai to take care of the kitten by herself...


The Review!
Meet Momo, Shinigami ID number A-100100.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Ballad of the Shinigami is based on a series of light novels by K-Ske Hasegawa. It has also been adapted into a radio drama and manga, more recently it has also become a live action show. The anime is directed by Tomomi Mochizuki (Kimagure Orange Road ) with character designs by Hiroyuki Horiuchi (Tenchi Universe). The plot of each episode tends to revolve around a small cast of characters with one of them passing away with some sort of lingering regret. Momo the white Shinigami who takes their souls helps them ease their sadness and allow them to move on as well as giving some sort of closure to those who have been left behind.

The first episode revolves around two young children who go to school together. Kouta and Mai appear to be inseparable and they walk home together every day. The reason for this is that Mai has collapsed in the past and this worries Kouta no end so he is always around to make sure she is okay. It's a sweet little friendship but it has a certain sadness to it as being a show that deals with death you can tell that something bad will happen. One day on the way home Mai discovers an abandoned kitten she wants to look after it and after a little convincing Kouta agrees.

They call the small kitten Blue and keep him at the nearby shrine. Each day after school they go to visit him and feed him, Mai suggests that they are his mother and father and so their little relationship develops more and they start holding hands as they walk home while a strange bell can be heard in the distance, at firs Mai only hears it but soon Kouta does as well.

After being begged by his class mates to come play scorer one day Kouta accepts and lets Mai know, she is fine with this as he had to look after Blue by himself just a few days ago. Sadly this is the last time that Kouta and Mai will see each other. Kouta blames Blue for all that is happened and is preparing to abandon him, until Momo the white Shinigami steps in and attempts to ease the pain Kouta feels as well as helping Mai move on.

Momo appears as a young girl dressed entirely in white holding a huge Scythe and by her side at all times is Daniel a small black cat with wings. She doesn't appear to particularly enjoy her job and Daniel says she cries too much to which she replies that the dead cannot cry so she sheds tears in their place.

The series itself is rather short with only 6 episodes and each appears to be its own little story. Hopefully in future episodes Momo will become more central to the plot and we can find out more about her and the world she comes from but from the previews I have seen I am unsure if that will happen. The plot while a little predictable was still enjoyable throughout even though I did feel a tiny sense of dread as it went along.

The Animation is your standard TV fare with cute looking character designs; movement is especially well done with Blue the little kitten. The music is kept to a minimum with a few piano ballads playing only during emotional scenes or when Momo makes her appearance.

In Summary:
Ballad of the Shinigami is a rather melancholy show, with some sad story elements but it also becomes rather uplifting when you realise that Momo isn't just interested in taking souls she also wants to genuinely help people both dead and alive. It's not the most exciting show around but it's interesting to see a different type of Shinigami as opposed to the ones in Bleach. I am looking forward to checking out the rest of the show to see where it is going and hopefully giving us more insight into Momo and Daniel as well as the people they meet.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Dell Inspiron I6400 Latpop running Windows XP Professional SP2



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 0 - All Regions
Released By: BOST TV
MSRP: 1.99
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ballad of a Shinigami