Overlooked & Underrated: Fantastic Children

I finally burnt out after posting for eleven days in a row, a shame as I’d hoped to catch up with Shining Bread before the third episode came out. 😛 With this post, I break the posting record I set during my first full month blogging (February 2010), back when it didn’t even focus on anime!

Time to dig up another series that I believe more people should see! This time, it’s Fantastic Children.

Plot summary: A group of white haired children appearing and disappearing throughout history. The discovery of X-Rays. An artist who died in a sanatorium over a century ago. Two orphans, a girl who paints the same picture over and over again, and her close friend. A middle-aged scientist, conducting experiments which result in young adults aging at an alarming rate. A police detective investigating the disappearance of a young girl, and a woman sent by the main department to check on his performance. And a young boy who lives on an island, whose father is a martial artist, mother is a fortune teller, and whose grandfather was killed by killer bees.

These are all things that feature in the first few episodes of Fantastic Children, and I’ve no doubt that anyone who hasn’t seen the series will struggle to imagine how they could possibly all be linked. I was still struggling to piece it all together myself for the first half of the series.  But the truly Fantastic thing about this series is that it does all link together so well in the end; if there’s anything you can’t quite work out while watching it, it’s only because you aren’t meant to know yet.  All is revealed when it needs to be, at the perfect point in the series. And if there’s anything you still don’t understand after the show has ended, you clearly haven’t been paying enough attention. 😛

What makes it worth watching? Honestly, I’ve not seen a story so well told in a long time. Lesser series have taken fewer plot threads and still managed to end up in a tangled mess, but there is no faulting Fantastic Children in this regard whatsoever. I think what got me the most was that, while the plot itself is so grand and so complex, the root cause of everything that happens (which I won’t go into for fear of spoilers) is so simple and so petty that it’s shocking!

My glimmering praise for the plot doesn’t quite extend to all of the characters, however. Tohma, the male protagonist for the majority of the series, is difficult to fault. He starts off as a typical shonen-style character; well meaning, full of energy and trained in the martial arts style handed down from his father, though not always the sharpest tool in the shed.  However, he grows considerably as the series progresses.  The major female character, Helga, was pretty emotionless for most of the series, but not without good reason. Her companion Chitto was another bright and energetic boy, but didn’t really develop beyond that.

The real surprise is the lack of development of most of the Befort Children, the five white haired and blue eyed ‘fantastic’ children who are at the centre of everything. At first their mysterious nature helped make the series more intriguing, but as it progressed and we learn more and more about the events and the rest of the cast, they seem to get increasingly sidelined.

The music was truly EPIC. It isn’t often that an ED outshines the OP, but in this case I’d say it did, and the OP is far from bad itself! The BGM was also Fantastic.

The animation is… different. Simple, with not much distinguishing most of the characters other than a slightly different hairstyle, height or nose length. But it works, is of a consistently high quality throughout, and the backgrounds are also superb.

Possible reasons for it’s obscurity: Obscure despite being licensed both in the USA and here in the UK! If I had to guess, it would be the character designs putting people off. Their simplicity and similarity, combined with a title like ‘Fantastic Children’ makes this look like a young kids show, despite its complex plot. Another issue could be the fact that the plot is quite slow and confusing at first – most of your questions WILL remain unanswered until at least half way through the series, if not longer.

Overall thoughts: I think my love for this series is obvious enough by this point. 😛 My only, slight issue with Fantastic Children was the lack of development of a group of characters who, by the end of the series, weren’t actually as important as the characters who WERE developed. So that hardly counts as an issue.

Anime-Planet average rating: 3.3/5

My personal rating: 5/5

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