Hi Annieme-niacs! I’ve taken a little break from blogging reviews this weekend because I’ve been watching Mob Psycho 100, an anime not even I with my mighty powers can binge. That review should be coming within the week, though.
Tsunayoshi Sawada, or “Loser Tsuna” as he’s known at his school, is about as timid as they come–until he discovers he’s next in line to become boss of the Vongola family, a powerful Mafia organization. The Vongola’s most powerful hitman, a gun-wielding infant named Reborn is sent to train Tsuna into the best Boss ever!
Review: / 5
In all, this anime is true to a shonen: the action-centered plot, the teamwork/friendship, and the coming of age theme all speak to this. Tsuna’s development, while sluggish, is authentic and to his character, as are Takeshi Yamamoto’s and Hayato Gokudera’s. I enjoyed watching these three progress throughout the series.
While the characters seem authentic, I did find it difficult to become invested in them at first. I think this is the reason I had trouble binging this anime: I could, but I didn’t really want or feel the need to. I spent my time with other shows which captivated my attention because this one was lacking something for me. Because I’m a character-oriented consumer, I yearn for interesting, round points-of view. If not for my stubborn will to watch animes through until the end, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through the first season. I just didn’t care to. Ultimately, there are other Shonen shows that I prefer: Soul Eater, Naruto, Blue Exorcist and Hunter x Hunter are all good examples.
Character points aside, my main problem with the show is it’s pacing. Given the fact I’m covering nine seasons of anime, I’m going to break up this review into the arcs and seasons as follows:
- Exposition and Daily Life Arc: Episodes 1-19
- Kokuyo Arc: Episodes 20-27
- Varia Arc: Episodes 34-65
- Future Arc: Episodes 75-203
- Season Four and Season Five: 74-140
- Season Six: 141-153
- Season Seven: 154-177
- Season Eight: 178-189
- Season Nine: 190-203
Some might argue that episodes 1-65 make up the Daily Life Arc, but that’s a technically really in regards to my main concern–the Future Arc. I’m going to break this arc up a little bit, considering it’s over half of the series long (that alone is enough to know the pacing is skewed).
Let’s jump in to it:
Exposition and Daily Life Arc: Episodes 1-19 / 5
The sole purpose of this arc is to introduce us to the story and its characters. We begin with learning about Tsuna, his timid nature and mediocrity, as well as how this nature changes in the face of deathperation (I wish I could take credit for this pun, but it’s completely canon). We become acquainted with the mafia world, and witness Tsuna gain friends and begin to create his family. Great. My question is why are there 19 episodes? A standard season runs about 12-13 episodes, maybe 24-26 if it’s an in-depth one. We’re taking that time just for exposition without a solid plot to follow? I remain unconvinced why so many episodes were dedicated to this.
Kokuyo Arc: Episodes 20-27 / 5
This arc is well paced and easy to follow. The plot is well crafted and intriguing, and I relished chewing on it after having waited 19 episodes to get to this point. Mukuro Rokudo, who I lovingly referred to as Mumu throughout the series, is easily the most interesting character in the entire show. Tsuna’s development is well executed and his newly-acquired weapon seems well-matched to his character.
Varia Arc: Episodes 34-65 / 5
Honestly, this was my favorite arc throughout the series! We get decent and not over-bearing exposition, the training’s rising action, the battles themselves, as well as the character development which comes with that plot. All of these felt authentic and realistic to the setting. Tsuna’s yearn to protect his friends and keep Xanas from becoming the next boss is endearing. The only gripes I could have are on pacing and villain characterization. The season was a bit drawn out, but not more than what’s expected for a shonen. The Varia’s characters were a little flat, apart from Squalo and Xanas, and I would have liked to see some of the time spent here utilized by adding to Belphagor, Lussuria, Leviathan and Mammon characters.
Seasons four and five: Episodes 74-140 / 5
These seasons are the main culprits for the low-scoring review. Just look at how many episodes are dedicated to them! This arc was the reason why I took a long hiatus from Reborn! and why I dreaded watching it. The concept here is tepid–going into the future using the Ten-Year-Bazooka and saving the world–but I suppose it’s not unreasonable given we have animal-weapons, magical rings and deatherperation flames. However, I was surprised and disappointed to find this to be the primary focus of the series. Typically, future arcs are small and initially I thought this one would be as well.
Furthermore, it was anticlimactic: after waiting an agonizing 60+ episodes, there is no Boss Battle. No final big-bang scene to add a decisive conclusion to this part of the future arc. And no wonder! It’s pretty difficult to have a boss-level without a boss. Shoichi Irie’s transition from bad-boy to good-guy, while expected, was lukewarm. The explanation was weak and transparent with no real weight. In truth, I wanted Shoichi to remain a villain. I was hopeful that his character in this role would prove a pivotal turning point in the series that would allow it to transcend from “meh” to magnificent in the shonen genre. Using an antagonist that makes viewers feel conflicted, one with whom we empathize and understand, the story and characters become more realistic. The realism gives the series validity and keeps us invested. I should say that not many shonen anime shows do this, so I’m not taking off authenticity points. But I did want to mention it because I was so dissatisfied as a consumer and anime lover. This, in addition to the horrid pacing and wonky plot line? We’re in trouble.
Season six: Episodes 141-153 / 5
This was actually reasonably paced! It didn’t take too long, nor did it seem rushed. I enjoyed the breather outside of the future, and it was great seeing Yamamoto’s development. I take off points for realism in terms of the characters’ stamina– one week to accomplish collecting all of the arcobareno seals, given their injuries sustained during the battle, not to mention the mental and emotional stress? I don’t think so. That’s not realistic, even in this world.
Season seven: Episodes 154-177 / 5
This season is broken down into two bits, really: the training (episodes 154-166) and the Choice battle (episodes 167-177). The training was well done and believable, the choice battle was again anticlimactic and lacking weight. I thought: Oh, they’re running away. Great. Cool. I think demonstrating the difference in strength between the Millefiore and Vongola was well-executed, but this should have been done earlier in seasons four and five.
Season eight: Episodes 178-189 / 5
The pacing in this one is good, but similarly to season seven, I question how necessary it was to the series. The back-and-forth between the future and past (along with the inconsistencies in the time ratio between the two) was borderline irritating. This training should have taken place in season six, and it would have made the series more concise to have the Vongola train with the arcobaleno while they were obtaining the seals.
Season nine: Episodes 190-203 / 5
This is the final battle sequence between the Vongola and the Millefiore, and honestly, it feels a little short-changed and rushed. After drawing out this battle for over half of the series, the main battle is condensed to this: rushed fight scenes and manic plot twists. The fight scene between Tsuna and Byakuran was okay, but it felt like he went down too easily. When we put this fight into perspective of others, I’m left unsatisfied.
This series is a little below average in the shonen genre. Too much time was devoted to an arc which didn’t have a lot of weight to begin with, time which could have been spent crafting a more intricate and interesting plot and villains. To be honest, I was hoping Mumu would betray Tsuna— I was so ready for it! There were missed opportunities in this show, and its lack of depth led to its level-2 rating.
Am I wrong? What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below!
Watch on, Annieme-niac!