Romeo x Juliet is a colorful and refreshing anime series that blends fantasy and supernatural elements into the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet. The anime series was produced by Gonzo and consists of a total of 24 episodes that originally aired in Japan from early April to late September of 2007. The series later received an English dub in 2009 that was licensed to North America by Funimation Entertainment. The series was released on DVD in two parts, the first part titled the “Romeo Collection” was released late June of 2009 and the second part the “Juliet Collection” was released early August of 2009. The Romeo Collection features art of Romeo in blue and the Juliet Collection features art of Juliet in pink. There is also a complete DVD set titled Romeo x Juliet: The Complete Tragedy which was released in 2010. The series is available to watch in digital format on Crunchy Roll for those who have a membership.
The story takes place in the floating city Neo Verona where the cruel prince Montague reigns in tyranny after murdering the Capulet family 14 years prior, only one member of the royal Capulet family survived. Juliet being the sole survivor and heir to the Capulet legacy is forced to disguise as a boy for 14 years, under her new identity as Odin she also rescues the oppressed citizens of Neo Verona in yet another disguise as a vigilante known as The Red Whirlwind. Still unaware of her identity as daughter of Capulet she meets Romeo, the son of the very man who murdered her family. Romeo and Juliet are fated to meet one another time and time again with Juliet switching between her three identities, the two grow closer together despite the tragic history between their two bloodlines and Juliet’s role as The Red Whirlwind. A revolution begins in the name of the Capulet family to restore the throne to its rightful heir and end the tyranny of Prince Montague, Juliet is forced to decide whether she will take up the blade of her father in order to kill the father of the man she loves so dearly while Romeo starts on his path to creating a brighter future while learning all he can about the hopes and dream of the people. Behind the scenes a supernatural force is at work, an ancient tree know as Escalus is the very thing that keeps their beloved city afloat but as the conflict rages on the tree continues to wither and the land which the city stands upon begins to crumble and quake. The revolution against Prince Montague is only half the fight as Romeo and Juliet battle for the peace and prosperity of their beloved home. While incredibly inaccurate to the origin story this is by far one of the best re-imaginings of the classic tale of love yet.
The anime series has no shortage of lovable and unique characters in a cast of more than twenty that take the stage as assets to the story. The heroine Juliet takes on three unique personalities of her own. Juliet is naturally delicate yet willful but can be even more tomboyish and stubborn as Odin and very stern in tone as The Red Whirlwind. Romeo is a gentle young man full of hope for the future of Neo Verona making him drastically different from his father and many others of noble status. Juliet’s friend Cordelia is a stern woman who is very skilled at house work and has acted much like an older sister to Juliet, she often gives Juliet advice and tends to be protective of her. Antonio is something of a sidekick and little brother to Juliet when she goes out as Odin or The Red Whirlwind, he often keeps her informed of anything happening in the city and will sometimes assist from behind the scenes. Benvolio is an air headed and gentle noble boy who is great friends with Romeo, he is later rescued by Juliet and her friends who end up taking him in and teaching him life skills. Curio is a tough skinned man who rarely speaks what is on his heart, he took up the sword in order to protect Juliet in hopes that she would one day restore peace to Neo Verona. Francisco is a complete contrast to his comrade Curio as he tends to be more open hearted and often goofs off and spends much of his free time in the presence of young women who shower him with adoration, while he is a complete flirt there is one woman in particular he is truly interested in. While I would like to detail all of the characters there are so many, the cast is a strong point of the anime and makes the story even more enjoyable.
The graphics have become outdated as expected of anime that is over ten years old however they add a certain charm to the story making it feel like more of a classic. While the anime lacks the detail and vibrancy of modern anime it does not present as a weakness but rather as a strength since the style and color adds a gentleness not seen in most current anime, this also adds greatly to the fairy tale tone of the story. The colors chosen for the hair, eyes, and outfits of Romeo and Juliet contrast strategically matching the colors of their family banners and displaying a natural opposition between the bloodlines. The design of the banners and the chosen flower for the two families is also very strategic, the crests together complete a set of a sword and shield as well as a set of two wings from a single opposite facing wing at the top of each crest while a pure white iris for the Capulets is a contrast to the blood red rose of the Montagues. The entire series is full of symbolism most of which may be missed to the untrained eye, it feels like a lot of though was put into the designs.
There is only a small hand full of music tracks used through the entire series, though it feels a bit repetitive the tracks are quite enjoyable and the use of the song “You Raise Me Up” adds a great deal of emotion to the scenes in which it is used while it also strengthens the religious undertones present throughout the series. The Inori version of the song “You Raised Me Up” does a fantastic job of setting the tragic tone of the series, it is not very common at all for a studio to use a classic pre-existing song as an opening theme or really in an anime at all but I can see why they chose to use this song in particular. The first ending them unfortunately doesn’t have the same effect and feels very out of place, it isn’t a bad song per say but it just doesn’t fit in with the tragic tone of the anime. The second ending titled “Good bye, Yesterday” feels like it portrays the conflicting emotions that Juliet feels throughout the series making it a far better fit as an ending theme. At its core the soundtrack does a great job of strengthening the series with very little weakness.
This is a great anime for anyone who enjoys anime that is based on classic literature, has historic tones, or has religious undertones. I don’t recommend it to anyone who is strict about accuracy to the original or anyone who is strict about historical accuracy, as previously mentioned the anime is not very accurate to the original Romeo and Juliet and even throws in fantasy and supernatural elements. If you enjoy enjoy both anime and Shakespeare’s works you might find the references to other plays written by Shakespeare entertaining as well as the appearance of Shakespeare as a key character in the anime. This is an amazing anime series with a wonderful and extensive cast of important characters, a tragic story based of a timeless classic with supernatural fantasy twists, and a beautiful soundtrack.
PROS (+): Tragic Story Based on a Timeless Classic, Extensive Cast of Characters, Emotional Soundtrack, Dramatic Conclusion.
CONS (-): Would Have Liked More Background on Some Characters, Smoother Transition Needed Between Antagonists.