After watching Star Driver, I didn’t think that Bones could surprise me like this again. I like to think that the studio couldn’t have had any more hidden gems to uncover, partly cause I don’t want to be known as “the blogger who never shuts the fuck up about Bones.” But a short series of films?… How the actual fuck?
Towa no Quon, a six-part series of short films, was previously only known to me by an animation cut by Yutaka Nakamura in a MAD. So obviously I looked into it and, after much delay, am finally giving it a look, since not a ton of people talk about it. Perhaps an omen, as the back of the box claims it has the potential to be remembered as “a classic” and after watching the first two films… I don’t see it.
It starts off interestingly enough. A young boy undergoing a transformation of some sort is being tracked through a park by a clandestine government organization. A control room full of operators coordinates the manhunt, and a unit of cyborgs is deployed to finish the hunt.
I wish I could credit a mechanical designer because this entire opening is machine porn and tactical porn mixed together. They’ve got these awesome monocycles and all the soldiers in the field remind me of the soldiers in Genocidal Organ. They corner this terrified child, before a mysterious stranger appears in the open field, lit up by a helicopter searchlight. His name is Quon.
Nakamura puts forward some great choreography reminiscent of his work on Cowboy Bebop, but with a supernatural flair to how Quon knocks these fools around. We also see Shinya Takahashi and some work by Masahiro Sato, the latter of which I raved about during my Sirius the Jaeger review. As this opening battle comes to a close, we begin what feels less like a film and more like an extended TV premiere, clocking in at 48 minutes.
Towa no Quon is the anime equivalent of the X-men. The superhumans of the world are known as “Attractors” and an organization known as Custos hunts them down. Led by Genji Kamishiro, Custos sees Attractors as a disturbance in societal order, and therefore, evil.
But unlike the X-men, rather than living in a boring old school, the attractors all seek refuge in a bitchin’ amusement park. It’s a clever framing device since so many of the Attractors are children and teens. Combined with the films vibrant colors, it paints the characters as an eccentric family.
This first film- The Ephemeral Petala – follows two kids, a boy, and a girl, who both begin developing supernatural powers and thus become targets of Custos. The boy, Yuma, feels afraid of his destructive power. Kiri is a mute girl looking after her grandmother before her ability’s activation lets her speak again but unknowingly makes her a target.
When I compared this film to a TV premiere, I meant that the story is intriguing enough to get you interested, but it only scrapes the surface. The main characters don’t leave a huge impact, and the real focus is on the two kids’ individual arcs. We are being introduced to this world alongside them, a common trope I see in a lot of Anime premieres.
The titular Quon is at this point just a handsome and charming mystery of a character who wishes to save all Attractors, even in the face of criticism from his friends. He is a transforming hero, similar to Guyver and his transformed look is awesome. You can see it prominently in all the footage I have placed throughout this review.
Quon is persistent in his quest to save both Yuma and Kiri, even when its unlikely he can save both. Quon’s arc in this film is him confronting the dangers of such a pursuit, but finding a way to make it work. Nothing terribly original, but like I said, this isn’t a film with a self-contained narrative, but a taste of what’s to come.
The superpowers remind me of Darker Than Black primarily for the stigma against superhumans and the visual similarities. However, whereas in DTB, using powers came at the cost of an obsessive-compulsive payment, the danger comes from a lack of control in Towa no Quon.
Most characters have a clearly defined power to them, except for Quon. In the opening scene he’s got water powers, and at the end of the film, he’s manipulating metal. It’s another question to be answered in a later film.
Speaking of powers, the second film – Dancing Orchid in Chaos– explores the dangers of the Attractor’s abilities. Kiri takes center stage as she struggles to control her voice’s sonic abilities. At the same time, she tries to reach out to a troubled young Attractor just as the heroes did for her.
The troubled youth in question is voiced by the ever-talented Josh Grelle (Armin Arlert, Yuri Katsuki). To tell you the truth, I was misled into believing that Grele was voicing Quon and I may have bought the series specifically for that. Discovering I was wrong was honestly heartbreaking… but Corey Hartzog does a fine job as Quon.
Back to the story, Grelle voices Kaoru, a young boy whose ability allows him to communicate with plant life. His story shows us the prejudice that exists even among the children who are Attractors. Between the prejudice and the danger of abilities, the parallels to X-men are more apparent than ever.
In addition to some good character arcs, we get another subplot involving the cyborg Epsilon and his partner Delta. The two are put through simulated recreations of crime scenes, in which they have to try and piece together clues to find a killer. David Matranga (Tomoya Okazaki, Shoto Todoroki) doesn’t have a lot of range, but his voice just pulls me in.
In the first film, Epsilon is introduced as one of the newest members of Custos’ cyborg unit. Kamishiro’s disappointment towards his performance hinted at a conflict involving Epsilon’s consciousness getting in the way of his job.
Here, his and Delta’s investigation leads them to think more like detectives than machines, much to the dismay of Kamishiro, who views the human traits as a weakness. If there is anything I am very excited about in the next films, it is seeing how Epsilon develops.
The second film was far more narratively rewarding for how it expanded Quon’s character. We learn a lot about his morals and his faith in people to the point that he tries so hard to save even the antagonist. This film was less satisfying in regards to action though.
Bones knew exactly who they were targeting with this. The opening was highlighted by some incredible cuts by Yutaka Nakamura, and enough good action at the end to be passable. I’d be lying if I was saying the scarce number of cuts on Sakugabooru for this show wasn’t worrying me, though. All the cuts I’ve posted are from the first scene of the first film.
Having only 22 cuts listed for a series of six short films- the first two of which were not that long- tells me the series didn’t have a lot of great talent attached or a smaller budget. I’m not saying there aren’t good cuts that didn’t get added to the page, but I’m not anticipating a lot from this show’s animation until the last film.
I’m also sad to say that I’m not really wowed by the music, despite it being produced by Ghost in the Shell composer Kenji Kawai. I’ll admit I’m not quite familiar with his work outside of Ghost in the Shell, but the music here just doesn’t have that same magic that I think of when I hear “Kenji Kawai.”
One staff member who did meet my expectations was Toshihiro Kawamoto, the legendary character designer behind Cowboy Bebop, Kekkai Sensen, and more. If there is anything that drew me to this series, it was that it had the “Bones look” (funny considering their wide range of styles). The clean, colorful, and appealing style is a major draw for the final product.
As if the VA name drops were not obvious, I’m watching the English Dub by Sentai Filmworks, and it’s pretty good. Sentai is always dodgy to me, because their female voices are consistently impressive to me, while male actors are dodgier. The Kyoukai no Kanata dub is a victim of this for sure. Thankfully, the dub has been overall great so far.
MyAnimeList lists Iida Umanosuke as the director of the first film. He is responsible for the original Devilman OVA’s and the original Hellsing series. This might be why I get an 80’s sci-fi anime feel from this series (that’s actually a credit to the music, now that I think about it).
However, there aren’t listings for director on any of the other films. As they all came out between July and November of 2011, it stands to reason that Umanosuke directed all of them. I’m not certain, especially seeing as Umanosuke died in November of 2010. He likely only had time to direct the first one.
With only two of the six films completed, I am both uncertain of the quality awaiting me and baffled by how little this series gets talked about. Perhaps those two sentiments are related, but I’m excited to review the rest of these and see if we’ve got another forgotten gem on our hands.
Towa no Quon is available for legal streaming on HIDIVE. It is also available on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks.
Leave a comment below telling me what you think about Towa no Quon? Ever heard of it before this review? Have you seen it? Let me know and tell me what show’s I should be watching this season.
If all went according to plan, this review went out on the 22nd of January, meaning I posted two weeks in a row. I’m gonna be out of the country this Spring going to Japan and I figured I should post more since I don’t know how much time I’ll have to write while I’m there.
So, for the time being, I’m gonna write as much as I can until whenever it is that I leave. Thanks for reading!!!