Nabari no Ou Season 1 Review

Right up front, Nabari no Ou wears its biggest running gag on its sleeve; it's right there in the opening theme song. The pop-rock opener's chorus ends with a repeated engrish shout: I don't care! I don't care!, which is, of course, the protagonist's greatest defining trait and the main source of the show's humor as well. Scrawny Miharu wields infinite depths of knowledge and power and he doesn't give a flip. Subtle as a flying brick indeed, but in Nabari's case, not at all a harbinger of bad things to come.

The series' premise is handled surprisingly well. Ninja warfare and superpowers locked inside angsty high schoolers are common tropes to any anime fan, so the talents behind Nabari have twisted both in positive directions. These ninjas are very modern folks. They gripe about their jobs, take public transit, and when it's time to fight, they'll start performing jutsu (or they might just pull out a pistol and drop their targets with less fear of tarnishing their designer polos.) In addition, Miharu's extreme apathy to world-shattering supernatural conflict may be a lame running gag, but his character is anything but one-note. He refuses to fight or take a side not because he's a dopey teenager, on the contrary, he's a very intelligent with major trust issues. Capricious, snarky, and detached from even the closest of his comrades, he's a bizarre hero, but given the manipulative pushiness of all the clans around him, it's easy to empathize - or at least understand where he's coming from. His reason for not fighting is far simpler. With zero martial arts experience and no muscles on his scrawny frame, he really couldn't be expected to, Shinrabansho or no. All told, the fight scenes are still highly glossy, and there are bizarre chants and shapeshifting aplenty, but the added element of Miharu's apathy to all the flashy ninja theatrics makes the show uniquely engaging...unless you came looking for a traditional high-energy action show. In that case, you'll be disappointed.

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