Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Twelve Kingdoms Complete Collection|
Actor: Aya Hisakawa
Director: Tsuneo Kobayashi
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
Upon being confronted by a mysterious stranger, Youko is told of her destiny and pulled away into another world. Thus begins Youko's perilous journey to the Kingdom of Kei on an epic road of espionage, terror, and betrayal... more »
Epic Fantasy anime with strong female lead!
C. Bender | Seattle, WA USA | 12/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I ALMOST passed on this spectacular anime series because I was initially put off by the main character at the beginning of the story. Boy am I glad I didn't and you shouldn't either!
At first, the set-up for Twelve Kingdoms is somewhat similar to Fushigi Yuugi: A rather annoying whiny schoolgirl and her friends get sucked into another world similar to ancient China. They can't get back home, they get separated, and undergo several harrowing encounters. But fortunately for us, the resemblance ends there.
The main protagonist Youko Nakajima develops from a very insecure and self conscious high school girl to a courageous and self-aware young monarch of the Kingdom of Kei. All the supporting characters including villains are complex and add to the multilayered storyline.
Twelve Kingdoms is a very detailed mythological fantasy that's like an Asian version of Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia without the religious undertones or allegory. The animation is gorgeous and the soundtrack specially the opening theme is epic in scope. It's just too bad the series is incomplete. Nevertheless this is one you should not to miss.
Mitzie | 08/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent anime. Awesome character development is involved. Story is fantastic! Its not your typical girl from another world anime. your on the edge of your seat the whole time! Its 45 eps long but its still not enough i wanted more. saying that though doesn't mean it ends on a cliffhanger. The show in the end wraps up very well and your left satisfied with the ending. Any anime fan would love this series and wont be left disappointed. Highly recommend it."
Addison Bond | Winter Park, FL United States | 07/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was some of the best story telling I have ever heard or seen in an Anime Series.
There are many small stories and a few larger ones but they are all connected.
The main story ends on the second to last disc of the second season. If you continue to the very last disc of the second season there is a flash back story that was great and not what you'd expect as a lead-out. This story had a good message and I felt wrapped up the collection nicely.
This collection is worth buying if you can follow and enjoy complex stories."
Settle into an Epic Story with Wonderful Characters
Lisa T. Davis | Elkton, MD USA | 06/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Twelve Kingdoms (TK) is an amazing epic fantasy, a favourite among my favourites, and for many anime enthusiasts, a defining experience. I've watched it four times now and recommend it to anyone who can be bothered to listen to me gush (and those who took up the recommendation loved it as well).
TK (Juunikokki) is based on a series of light novels - young adult fiction - by Ono Fuyumi. It has been compared to Fushigi Yugi and Saiunkoku Monogatari - based on its epic qualities, its fantasy element and its focus on a strong female lead - but it is truly in a class by itself. I'd give a lot to find another series as strong and satisfying as this one. The animation style is on the harder-edged side of the spectrum, not classically anime-cute, and colours are strong (think Moribito). At first, I found it a bit off-putting, but not long in, I couldn't imagine it any other way.
There are 45 episodes in the series, and they basically cover four of Ono's seven volumes. More were intended but to date have not seen - and are unlikely to see - production. This edition contains all 45 episodes on 10 discs.
Ono has created an internally-consistent, complex world with a unique geography, monarchies, an overseeing heaven and fantasy creatures. It's well-explained, and there's a fair bit of invented terminology to get under your belt, but I enjoyed becoming familiar with it.
The alternate world of TK exists parallel to our own, and temporary connections between the two can occur in violent, tornado-like storms (shoku). During a shoku, inhabitants of one realm can get sucked into the other; returning to your home world is problematic but not impossible. After some character-setting for the female protagonist, the story gets underway when the kirin for the kingdom of Kei (kirin are co-rulers of a kingdom and chose the king), goes to Japan in search of Kei's new king. The kirin appears before Youko, an ordinary high-school girl with some self-esteem issues, and returns with her. Unfortunately, they are separated.
Needless to say, she's upset. Her denial and weeping can get irritating, but hang through it. It does get better! About 6 episodes in, things start to change, and there's sufficient along the way to keep you engaged. Youko's is a journey to go home, and in the process, she discovers important things about herself that ultimately convince her to accept the rule of her kingdom alongside her kirin and aspire to strong, compassionate leadership. In her travels she faces adversity (duh) and meets interesting characters, among them, the rat-human creature Rakushun, who is one of my favourites in the series (though it's very hard to pick).
The second arc tells the story of Taiki, the kirin of the kingdom of Tai (this is a story told to Youko). The third arc tells of three girls (one is Youko) who follow their individual paths to become friends. The fourth arc is a shorter story (also told to Youko) about an experience in the king of En's past. Youko links these stories, as do several other secondary characters.
The anime has taken liberties with the novels, not just in making Youko more prominent, but also in adding several characters and plot elements that, in my opinion, improve the story. Even though the arcs are separate tales, everything still feels interdependent and satisfying.
What is absolutely delightful about TK are the characters. Anime in general has a way of creating characters you tend to bond with; TK does this in spades! That's not to say all characters are necessarily likable, but all are complex. Even most of the bad guys have dimension. Characters change in believable ways; you may start out not liking a character and yet come to feel very differently about him or her as the story progresses, and that shift in your perception feels natural. Other characters you will gravitate to immediately and cherish throughout. The plot elements are interesting. The questions TK raises about governance are relevant and make you think. The emotional subtexts are credible, rarely feel contrived and are thought-provoking. The whole is treated with considerable intelligence (and you gotta love a story that doesn't talk down to you). These are engaging tales extremely well told!
The biggest drawback to the series is that it's not complete, and not just because some of Ono's arcs are missing. Taiki's story is left hanging in a sad, disturbing way (and what love you develop for Taiki and the king he chooses). Part of the problem lies in the original light novels - Ono never concluded Taiki's story (though that circumstance hasn't stopped other series from making up their own endings). Ono has subsequently revealed more of what happens to Taiki, but the ailing kingdom of Tai's fate is still unknown. It will probably remain that way. And that's a bit of an ache. However, it shouldn't deter you from watching this series ... just be prepared for the lack of closure.
I can't speak to the quality of the English dub; I don't listen to dubs. The seiyu are good character matches. The subtitles are very well done. I find the score appealing, subtle enough not to overpower the entire effect, strong enough to enhance the ambiance. The opening theme starts lightly and develops a sort of Pirates of the Caribbean feel - it's epic, stirring and appropriate.
All volumes of Ono's light novels have been translated into French and German; TokyoPop is only now (and slowly) issuing the volumes in English translation. At this time, four have been released.
The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 1: Sea of Shadow
Twelve Kingdoms - Paperback Edition Volume 2: Sea of Wind (v. 2)
Twelve Kingdoms - Paperback Edition Volume 3: The Vast Spread of the Seas (Twelve Kingdoms (Quality))
Twelve Kingdoms, The - Hardcover Edition Volume 4: Skies of Dawn"