You thought Mahou Shoujo MadokaMagica had issues? I did too. The eerily cute magical girl concept turned many a head in the anime community. Needless to say a decade earlier something far more disturbing had turned those heads the other direction... Narutaru: Mukuro Naru Hoshi Tamataruko or in nonweeaboo is Shadow Star Narutaru since I like booing it up Ill insist on not using the obnoxious English title in italics. The fact is that the true title and direct translation of Mukuro naru Hoshi is literally The Star which becomes a Corpsehow about that for a title right? By the way this would be a kids show NOT meant for kids. 320http://moblog.net/media/g/o/r/gorillaking/gorillafartcommacaulayculkinhomealonefamoussc.jpg This will be your face. Let me reiterate: Narutaru IS NOT MEANT FOR KIDS. Some time ago an artist by the name of Mohiro Kitoh sat down and decided to write a story about children sodomizing and butchering each other. This wasnt unusual for him after all he even distinctly draws his characters as scrawny frail dilapidated pseudocorpses then suddenly mutilates them in the most horrific ways. He is like George R.R. Martin only far less nudity and number of years per character. He then in the most Machiavellian sense sells this maddening battleship of a series to a kids television network who promptly pick it up deceived by cute kids flying on goofy looking puppet thingies. Brilliant right? In some of my reading Ive found that this has to do with creativity through misanthropyKitohs Narutaru intentionally appeals to children when in fact he knows that it is not for them. His sense of artistry inundates the series with all of the tragic flaws imaginable distributed equally among the main characters. Were it not for the pathetic budget the extreme content and the deceptively cute dragonets which probably scarred the minds of several million Japanese children AND most likely bereaved that said kids station of money through punitive lawsuits Narutaru could easily have been developed as one of the most controversial anime in history. DISCLAIMER: I do not know if anyone actually seriously got hurt by this seriesahem except those who were in the actual seriesbut I can assure that this could have at least been an alternate reality for us in the real world had the show been more popular. A fascinating story Too bad its thirteen jumbled episodes of W and T and F. 55/100 Visiting her grandparents by the sea Tamai Shiina encounters a strange starshaped creature lurking in the depths by a torii on the coastline. After a series of events and sky surfing she decides to name it Hoshimaru. She returns to the shabby apartment and her normal lifestyle struggling to find strength and success at the Banda Academy Junior High. Strange things however have begun to occur around her as the world of dragons and humans begin to intertwine and blood begins to spill. I think Kitohs vision in the manga is probably significantly clearer as the nonsense I just threw together to describe the plot is probably the best I could come up with despite having watched the series twice. The fact is Narutaru did not have the budget it needed to be a success. From what Ive explored theres an entire season of information about Dragons worth learning as is the possibility of another season just outlining events to come after the gritty conclusion of episode 13. The series leaves a great deal of plot holes and mysteries unanswered so much so that the point doesnt really even seem to come across. I could easily just summarize the point of this series as life sucks and then you die BY getting ripped in half through your vagina and probably get a nod of approval from the production team. Albeit smugly due to the limited time span they were offered to jam pack disturbing material. Characters do make up for this considerably. 82/100 Perhaps the best thing about Narutaru is its virtually original cast. Shiina seems to be your typical teenage nitwit when in fact the great deal of dark thoughts she has leave us shuddering in our hearts for her. Akira too cannot be compared with any typical supporting character. Shes neither strong nor weak and while she has a tendency to panic and seclude herself she also demonstrates a serious affinity for violence as the series carries on and in the manga directly points out the horrifying cause for her suicidal personality. Takeo Norio and Hiroko all surprised me. I could not place a finger on any of them. It is easy to blab that Hirokos sudden change in episode 12 is a deus ex machina to fit the budgeted time limit but the shock factor keeps us guessing right when the series seems to get boring. Hiroko in fact might be the closest of all of them to a trending character though we cannot help but highly sympathetic to her after a certain bullying scene bares Narutaru of all of its childlike perceptions. I would go so far as to say that despite the short period of time the characters developed more quickly and more consistently than even other decade later produced dark series of this nature like Madoka or WIXOSS/. Each character reaches a boiling point and takes a serious risk to change their life some of them end up dismembered some of them end up prevailing and dismembering someone else. Either way the upfront and blatant disregard for innocence forces us to empathize with each of them and even more so when we see the creepier side to revenge. Low budget animation with unappreciable figures. 55/100 I will take this time to make another dig at Kitohs choice of drawing. Shiina is a stick drawn quite frail and lanky to put off any degree of sexual arousal. I do realize that there is more to life than sex but the lack of meat on her bones as well as the rest of the cast eliminates any desire to seek fanservice and limiting the audience only to the mentally depraved. oh. Me. Anyways while it doesnt really matter much that the characters are specifically made this way maybe Kitoh wants this sort of reaction. Witnessing them get crushed or ripped and half by their orifices raises the degree of carnage when demonstrated on feebler structures so I guess I can understand where that might come from. Still though what kind of bad trip did Kitoh have when he designed the dragons? Sure theyre cute but then just look at little closer. Then look a little closer than that. THEN CLOSER THAN THAT. The dragons probably contribute the most disturbing visuals in this series. Stuff gets impaled dismembered raped and bludgeoned by these things with those beady eyes 320http://i.ur.com/si12klD.jpg Did I mention that this will haunt you after you watch this series? I should add as a good point: much of the actual violence is unseen. Meaning? Whenever any violence occurs the gruesome stuff is usually done very subtly or without an actual presentation. This is typical of action in shoujo anime while great in Pretear or Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne it is mortifying in Narutaru as the subtlety doubles the creepiness. Aside from that there was some degree of laziness in the action parts of the series. It was gritty to begin with but repeated frames and patterned backgrounds only indicate that there was little desire to make the series more approachable on the action end. This is a critical mistake as Narutaru does feature some sort of competition among the kids. It would have benefited greatly with a degree more focus on the actual character movements. Freaky ass music. 90/100 If the beginning of episode one and the ghoulish wailing wind didnt make you look over your shoulder then Narutaru wont be much of a freakout festival for you. Even the song during the eye catch makes one feel like theyre being cursed by viewing the series. Its an allout frightening experience aurally and suits the mood perfectly despite the immature material. The opening and ending themes are nice little catchy songs. The OP is another proof of deception utilizing a harmonica to jam and a cute dance walk by all of the leads. Then you actually study and see what they are doing during the OP and witness yet againANOTHER WTF moment in particular watch and try to guess what Hoshimaru secretly eats when Shiina isnt looking during the opening and then all the other freaky stuff will start to come out of the background. Also the voice acting is superb. Akira and Hirokos seiyuu really had to put out a high degree of emotional fear through their voices and they succeeded. Akiras scream gave me a pretty serious chill as did Hirokos plea for help. I feel the best elements of this series came aurally and would be a great reference for future dark shoujo series of the same nature. Friends of depravity here is your alcoholic drink. Served neat with a dash of teenage homicide. 67/100 I dont recommend this series to anyone. Not even the most mentally fit Narutaru is an experience that requires a strong palate and prepared mind for disturbing ideas. I recommend it only to fans of Kitohs work or those who really got the weirdness of Madoka long before the actual dark elements settled into the story.