0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Supernatural: The Anime Series

Thursday 25th April 2013

Jayne Nelson on the anime version of the cult TV show Supernatural


Supernatural: The Anime SeriesIf there’s one thing Japan and the USA have in common, it’s a burning love for scary monsters. Both countries have more than their fair share of urban legends, myths and folklore, from America’s infamous Bloody Mary (say her name three times in front of a mirror and she’ll pop up to kill you) to Japan’s kappa (live in waterways; can bring good luck or bad; love to eat sweet things). So it isn’t really a surprise that an American television show about two guys who hunt such creatures should wind up spawning its own animated Japanese version. The result is the enjoyable, gory and ever-so-slightly twisted Supernatural: The Anime Series.

For those who aren’t familiar with the original, it was created in 2005 by Eric Kripke (best-known back then for the Boogeyman films; these days he’s co-producing the show Revolution, alongside JJ Abrams). Now in its eighth season – with a ninth already commissioned – the series airs on The CW and stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who lost their mother to a demon in childhood. They were then raised as monster hunters by their revenge-obsessed father, travelling the country wiping out all supernatural creatures and protecting an unsuspecting public. It’s a cool job (as Dean puts it: “Saving people, hunting things... the family business!”) but it’s a dangerous one, too: over the years, the Winchesters have tangled with everything from common-or-garden vampires to Lucifer. Yes, really: the Devil himself tried to bring about the Apocalypse on the same channel that airs Gossip Girl. You have to love this show’s balls.

Supernatural: The Anime Series

Right from the get-go, Supernatural has boasted a killer style all of its own, evoking nostalgic, Americana-seeped dreams of travelling Route 66 as free spirits, but with the twist that these guys drive Route 666 instead, wisecracking and bickering in their vintage 1967 Chevy Impala while listening to classic rock songs. Never has AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” been interpreted so literally. The show has never been a huge ratings-grabber in its home country but the stars regularly appear to screaming crowds of thousands in places like Brazil, Germany, Italy and even here in the UK. And it’s well-known enough in Japan to have attracted the attention of animators Madhouse, who made and aired their own version in 2011 under the tutelage of creator Kripke, Atsuko Ishizuka and Masao Maruyama.

The 22 episodes that resulted are a fascinating mixture of American and Japanese styles, with the original show’s roster of monsters supplemented by some uniquely Japanese creations. We’re fortunate to get Jared Padalecki voicing Sam throughout, while Jensen Ackles pops up as Dean for the final two episodes – scheduling commitments prevented him voicing the whole thing. His replacement, Andrew Farrar, isn’t too bad; a little husky, perhaps, but just occasionally he nails Dean so well you forget it’s not Ackles. For added verisimilitude for Japanese viewers, the actors who dub the live-action TV show in Japan (Yuya Uchida and Hiroki Touchi) also lend their voices to the anime version.

Supernatural: The Anime SeriesThe Supernatural anime compresses the original show’s first two seasons into one, padding out the backstories of many characters (we get to see more of Sam’s relationship with his unlucky girlfriend Jess, for instance) and making more use of the Winchesters’ grumpy yet kick-ass father, John. Eleven episodes are more or less the same as the US versions, although some have different names, but even if you’re familiar with these stories they’re given extra twists and turns as they’re squeezed into 22 minutes. Other episodes pick up on themes or suggestions from the live-action show and adapt them into full-length tales: examples include a season two character named Jake earning a backstory, as does one named Lily. There are even flashbacks to the Winchesters’ childhoods sprinkled throughout the season, and due to the wonders of animation you don’t have to ponder whether old, bald John Winchester is wearing a wig in the past. Best of all, the ongoing plot arc (where is the yellow-eyed demon who killed Ma Winchester?) is meaty enough to keep you coming back for more, with some episodes self-contained standalones and others ending on cliffhangers (be warned: these usually happen after the end credits).

Design-wise, the animated series has just as much of a distinctive look as its earth-toned and bleached-out counterpart, but in a completely different way. Colours are ramped up until much of the action looks like it was filmed inside a neon-lit motel room (fitting, given how much time the two leads spend in cheap motels). Sam’s hair regularly turns purple; eyes change colour from scene to scene and the only thing that remains a constant is the Chevy Impala’s glossy chrome-and-black body. It’s a stylish, slick look that works perfectly for this nightmarish realm of supernatural beasties, and it means that whenever blood is spilled the reds are bright enough to dazzle. Supernatural has always been a violent show – though some of the gore is brilliantly tongue-in-cheek – but without the constraints of live-action effects, the anime can go deliciously crazy. The shapeshifting creature in the first episode, “Alter Ego” (a remake of “Skin”), becomes a mass of bubbling flesh and tentacles when it switches bodies, while demon eyes that are simply black in the original series become horrible, glowing voids too large for a human face. One of Supernatural’s original taglines was “Scary just got sexy” (thanks to the good looks of its stars); here it could easily be “Scary just got... holy cow, what is that thing?”

Supernatural: The Anime Series is a fascinating companion piece to the original, fleshing out its first two seasons and mixing in some uniquely Japanese elements to spice up its familiar taste. Best of all, you don’t even have to worry that it’s only one season long: if you want to continue down that highway to Hell with the Winchesters, you can switch to the original series once you’re done. Not many anime shows can claim to have live-action sequels.

Supernatural: The Anime Series is out on DVD on 27 May in the UK.

Buy it now

Supernatural: The Anime Series

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Robotics Notes Part 1 (episodes 1-11)

£18.75
sale_tag
was £24.99
Kai and Aki dream of building a giant fighting robot based on a super-popular anime, but that's going to be impossible if they don't get more members into their school's Robot Research Club. They'll take anyone they can talk - or force - into joining them, including an eccentric robotics champion with a secret identity and a l33t video-game designer who's spent one too many late nights online. Finally, their goal looks like it's within reach.
But when a sentient AI program tells Kai about mysterious documents hidden on the internet, things start to get strange for everyone. As the club members track down the secret messages, they realize that the information might be far bigger - and more dangerous - than they expected.
Contains episodes 1-11
Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.

FEATURED RELEASE

Robotics Notes

Andrew Osmond tries to build his own robot…
Robotics;Notes could be called You Can Build Your Own Giant Robot! It’s about geeks engaged in a preposterous project; building the mecha they’ve seen in anime for real. The show’s aimed at viewers who might think they really could. After all, they’d probably heard of otaku who have built oversized robots for real.

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

Sword Art Online Music: Eir Aoi

Tom Smith on a singer’s internet fame
INNOCENCE, at the time of writing, has been Eir Aoi’s biggest selling, awarding her a peak position of six in the weekly Oricon chart.

London Ghibli Season

BFI announce a festival of Miyazaki, Takahata, et al...
The BFI South Bank cinema in London will be screening a Studio Ghibli season throughout April and May. Curator Justin Johnson will be giving an introduction to Ghibli on the 2nd April, followed by screenings of all the major Ghibli works and a number of relative obscurities

Last Exile versus Fam, the Silver Wing

A Versus feature with a difference: Last Exile against Last Exile!
With the first part of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing now available in the U.K., we can finally compare it with its predecessor, Gonzo’s 10th and 20th anniversary specials pitted against each other. What do they tell us about the industry then and now?

Psycho Pass Release Change

An important change to the Psycho-Pass DVD/Blu-ray release
For all of you looking forward to the release of Psycho-Pass we have some news for you. Today we can confirm that due to high demand we will be combining the upcoming Part 1 and Part 2 releases of Psycho-Pass into one Complete Series Collection!

Soccer heroes in anime

Helen McCarthy on anime's football crazies
Sports have been around in anime from very early in its history, but the first identifiable sports anime, Yasuji Murata's Animal Olympics in 1928, didn't feature soccer. In fact, the beautiful game was a latecomer to the anime sports world. Compared with baseball, soccer had few fans.

Jimmy Murakami 1933-2014

Andrew Osmond remembers the man who did it all
By way of an obituary, we re-run Andrew Osmond's interview with the late Jimmy Murakami, originally published in March 2012.

Blue Exorcist: the Movie

Melissa Francis on the hell-spawn creature-feature
If we look back at the 25 episodes of the TV series, Blue Exorcist: The Movie seemed more cohesive in comparison – there were certainly less of those ‘for the hell of it’ moments (no pun intended) and more well-connected, relevant events.

Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust

The grand finale of the SF eggstravaganza
It is a real testament to how far things have progressed in the U.K. that this trilogy has been released uncut; in the 1990s the BBFC would never have allowed it. In that sense, the ten years it has taken Ubukata to get his books on-screen may, despite the frustrations caused him personally, have ended up benefiting U.K. audiences.

Psycho-Pass music: Ling Tosite Sigure

Tom Smith finds another band with an unspellable name
Meet Ling tosite sigure. Their name may be confusing to pronounce (for anyone interested, it’s more like ‘rin tosh-teh shi-goo-reh’), but that didn’t holdback Japan’s music-loving community from rushing to their local CD-shops and grabbing a copy of the band’s latest album i’mperfect, out now also in the UK thanks to JPU Records.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Supernatural: The Anime Series from the UK's best Anime Blog.