Romeo X Juliet
2009 TV Series (episodes 1-12). Director: Fumitoshi Oizaki. 290 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $59.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Nestled in the clouds above northern Italy, or perhaps even the Thames itself, hangs Neo-Verona. Yes, lovesick Verona. Our star-crossed lovers are back! This time, however, Shakespeare’s parchment is stained not with the quill, but anime ink.
On the cobblestone of this Verona the Montague family reigns oppressively. The Capulets have been driven underground and thought to be extinct. Juliet, forced to conceal her identity, now dons the mask of the Red Whirlwind, a sword-wielding champion of the people. Different? Indeed. But fret not, for this Juliet will still meet her Romeo. And family, love, and duty will unhinge their newly found, heroic lives.
Whether it is a Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York or the bullet riddled streets of Mexico City and Veracruz, Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most recycled play in modern film and television. And success is always bound to the vision behind the adaptation; we already know the fundamental plot structure. Gonzo’s Rome X Juliet get’s it right. This is a visionary reinvention of an old tale for an entirely new audience. It not only rebuilds Shakespeare’s engine, but will also help these seminal lovers of Western culture drive into a literary landscape that is rapidly shedding its bound paper for a more cybernetic and visual interface.
Swordplay, romance, winged steeds, and even Shakespeare himself mount this anime-charged, revitalized stage. In fact, the delicately drawn love of Rome X Juliet is matched only by the elegance of its action. This is drama anime style. And you’ll be calling out for an encore!