Saber Marionette J Anime Review
Saber Marionette J
US Release By
25 25-minute episodes
1996-10-01 - 1997-03-25
This is the story of a planet called Terra 2. Due to cloning, only men inhabit this planet. To make up for the lack of women robots called Marionettes were created to take their place.
Marionettes are soul-less objects without emotions, but there are a chosen few that have something called a "maiden circuit." This is basically an artificial heart, designed to give even a marionette a human personality and emotions. This is the story of one boy who happens to get ahold of three of these special marionettes.
I was surprised when I paid a visit to this site and found that there was absolutely no review of "Saber Marionette". I decided that this review had to be made. This anime has proven to be one of my (and many others') personal favorites.
"Saber Marionette J" may very well have one of the greatest presentations I have ever witnessed in an anime. As the story moves on, the marionettes grow emotionally. They grow strong relationships with each other and their master, Otaru.
This anime shows how three objects that are first seen as troublesome and/or outcasts grow into common everyday life, and learn about humanity, living things, the world, and themselves. In a way, this is a story about growing up, and it couldn't have been done any better.
The length is average, spanning at only 25 episodes (but followed by an OVA and another series, which I will review later). The series, however, never seems too dragged-out or too short. The story is presented perfectly, and without a hitch through all 25 episodes, and every episode is used fully, and there isn't one recap.
Presentation - 10/10 (Absolutely perfect. This should be a guideline to all animes that follow.)
The plot is top-notch. Basically, a regular everyday boy named Otaru fell into a river, and ended up at an old museum. Inside, he comes across a sleeping marionette. Awakening it on accident, the marionette sees him as her master, and almost instantly falls in love with him. Enter Lime, the main marionette of the three Otaru gets in this series.
Eventually, Otaru awakens two other marionettes: Cherry and Bloodberry. All three fall in love with Otaru, and he finds himself in the center of a huge dilemma. Needless to say, the anime has many hilarious moments, most supplied by the ever-annoying Hana, a guy who has a big crush on Otaru and tries non-stop to impress him.
While the plot may seem a bit cliché in ways, it actually is not. Working together, Otaru and his marionettes find themselves on an adventure to save the world, and the future of humanity. Besides this, a major part of the story is Lime. A large chunk of the series is devoted to her (and the others to an extent) maturing. Innocent Lime, however, (who is mine, and is GUARANTEED to become all others' favorite marionette) cannot understand the harshness of reality and what it means to have a heart.
The story is top-notch and will grab the viewer from start to finish.
Story - 9/10 (Well-done in almost every way. Some parts of the story may seem a bit too cliché, but it's forgivable.)
The music is very well done throughout the whole series. My personal favorites are by far the great opening song, and ending theme. The rest of the music is not great, but it's far from being bad as well. The music fits every scene, and helps make the show even more enjoyable.
As for the voices, they are all great, and well done. Lime's voice is the best, but all the others are also equally good. One thing I respected about this show is how the actors seemed as though they put their hearts into each character. The voices are also all so distinct from one another that just from hearing a voice, one can tell one character from another.
Sound - 8/10 (The music is all-good, but could have been better. The acting, however, is top-notch.)
Visually, this anime is nothing short of beautiful. The art is unique and gives all characters an adorable aura about them. Everything looks fresh, and not at all aged, even compared to the digital animes that are being released now. As for the animation, it is smooth and well done.
For being done through traditional cels, this anime is beautiful, and stands up to most others out there.
Visuals - 9/10 (Beautifully done, but there are a few times where age can show itself, but those times are few and far between.)
Overall, "Saber Marionette J" is by far one of the best animes I have ever seen. It is funny, exciting, emotional, and heart-warming all at once. No matter which genre you prefer, "Saber Marionette J" is great and definitely worth every penny.
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Notes and Trivia
There is also a comic series, released in parallel to the anime (neither is based on the other) written by Satoru Akahori with art by Yumisuke Kotoyoshi. It's available in English from Tokyopop. The anime series is followed by Saber Marionette J Again, then Saber Marionette J to X. There is also an earlier OAV series called Saber Marionette R, but that's not directly related to the rest of the series.
US DVD Review
Bandai's DVDs include stereo Japanese and English audio, as well as a Spanish dub (mono early on, stereo later), and English subtitles. Extras include music videos and character info and images. The discs are sold in three 2-disc sets on in an "Anime Legends" box set. The series is also available as part of a special-edition box set that also includes Saber Marionette J Again and J to X.
Rated 13-up by Bandai.
Violence: 2 - Many scenes of fighting, and some humans killed.
Nudity: 1 - There's some fan service, but still enough for the imagination.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Some groping, bouncing, and some mature humor.
Language: 2 - Otaru curses quite a few times throughout the series.
Available in North America from Bandai on 3 trilingual 2-disc DVD sets, and in an "Anime Legends" box set. The series was also previously sold as part of a special-edition signed box set that included Saber Marionette J Again and J to X (despite its limited-edition-ness and being signed by the creator, these sets are easy to find).