Genres – Action, Thriller
The story is set in Shanghai in 1931, when the Imperial Japanese Army has been dispatched to mainland China due to the relatively recent First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. In this cosmopolitan city of intrigue, there is a special military spy organization called “Sakurai Kikan” that has since been buried in history. Each of its members possess a hidden talent that enables them to go places no other spy could go
That just might uncover one of the biggest scares the world has yet to know…
Story – 4.2
Night Raid 1931 is a peculiar show set just before World War II. The introduction of the heroes, each possessing a power that has its own set limitations was pretty cool. And that they fit the characters personality was also a brilliant stroke of writing.
At first, though, your not sure where this alternate universe is going. But as the show progresses past its initial episodes, you begin to see a definite story-line that’s rather neatly done: The Pan-Asia theory of the Japanese is essentially the topic of the show, with the writers presenting alternate solutions to a Nation that is quietly trying to avoid war. The further discussion of why the Pan-Asia became necessary is really legit.
If by now your saying “History!?! I don’t wanna learn no stinkin’ history!'”, then you probably don’t understand how good stories work. Including History can make a proper audience become more involved because they are learning as well as being entertained about the period. And that can make a good story great, as Night Raid does.
Each of the Heroes you follow along in Night Raid have their own back stories that are important, something that really helps to catch interest. I particularly like where Aoi and Yukina take us: one having to deal with her brother being apparently evil and the other searching for the one he loves who is avoiding him from her sense of duty. Those themes were done very well throughout the show, and help to make up for any lapse in acting that occurred in the English Dub.
I know some people might not like the romanticizing of the Japanese nation prior to the War, (and forgiving their sad error too), but Night Raid does a good job reminding us that not only was the Japan NOT full of evil people, but in fact many of the military branch itself had noble goals they sought to upheld.
At the same time, Night Raid 1931 doesn’t try to hide the the ugliness of war or the Japanese involvement in what is now known as World War II. Instead, it teaches us that no man inherently wishes to kill and that often much sadness comes from those who desire power and national pride over real justice.
It is this difficult question as to how to prevent this sadness, that often you can find the best of people. And again, Night Raid pulls through.
One particularly awesome move was the last episode, as it refers to an actual uprising among the Japanese military. The honor and courage with which those men fought for a real justice was moving, and seeing our friends in the mix with finishing notes of it was pretty cool.
And for those who like happy endings, Night Raid doesn’t particularly offer that as much as it gives you enough dialogue and conclusions to some of the characters that makes it satisfying enough, in contrast to the sadness that is yet to come. I think the serious themes of Night Raid make it a gem that is worth getting into.
Emotional Draw – 4.0
The whole setting of Night Raid is rather melodramatic and comes across seriously. Since the goal of our heroes is preventing what will only happen in another country anyways, what it does do is give the whole show a kind of sad majestic feel throughout it.
As you progress with the characters, you begin to really like them, and when they reveal parts of their past, i felt much of it was done well. Also, that episode with the Violinist is perhaps a staple example of how the show went. A violinist who also a spy playing for an audience despite knowing the game is up, was glorious and something not ordinarily seen in your typical show.
I think you can find a lot to like with Night Raid. I particularly love the interaction that the show gives to Aoi and his fiance, or the sadness that comes upon Yukina as she is ripped away from her family forever. Or how about at the very end when the show hints at something between Yukina and Kazura Those things truly make the show satisfying and perhaps covers a lot in terms of disappointments. At least, that’s how it was for me. Yeah, Aoi’s disappearance near the end was rushed and cheapened such an important point in the show, but I believe overall the show did a pretty decent job with the emotions, and this can be forgiven for the most part.
Characters – 4.2
Cool guy with the ability to stop things for a short while, Aoi is rash but likable. Yeah, some of the story-line for him seems a bit disjointed at the beginning, but you will really like the youthfulness he portrays with all the characters. Plus, he comes across as rather mature and someone you really root for as the season progresses. His search for his fiancé was sweetly done and I think overall
Kazura has the ability to flash to a point of light and is in fact very serious. However, his trouble with falling for everyone’s noble “revolution” gets him into a lot of trouble. This frustrating aspect of Kazura, whose character grabs your empathy to his tough background, makes things lively for our friend, I also like his interaction with his best friend Aoi, and The material presented with them was accurately done for the most part, and makes him a solid character.
Here is a quiet hero who can see through walls. A cool abilty but not enough to make him really cool. Yes, he doesn’t talk much, but I feel his performance when he does, didn’t really hit the mark much of the time. It’s really not until his final scenes that Natsume comes across very well.
Two scenes that help salvage this dry character are at the end of the show: the last words his character says to Yukina and when he meets the old man hacking away at the dead stump apparently in vain. Those were touching scenes…so why not do that elsewhere?
Yukina Sonogi – 4.7
Yukina is a soft spoken, well mannered lady of a rich family. her telepathic abilities in the mind are very useful to the group and her well-rounded character. Yukina’s initial exposure to her lost brother being an adversary felt shocking and hitting some nice notes. She comes across as thoughtful and sad throughout the show, and I feel this correctly accents what her abilities are (usually a good sign of a well-done story).
The friendship she has with the gang is nice enough too, but it’s with Natsume that she really shines, even if he doesn’t. Especially towards the end, her scene with Natsume was very good and her character was so consistent with the serious points of the show.
All in all, a very good character.
Shin’ichirou Sakurai – 4.1
Shin’ichirou Sakurai is a mastermind of the Sakurai agency and he certainly comes across that way. He’s a solid character who appropriately makes you start to dislike something about him come mid story. I feel the twist he adds at the end just made the show that much more, and really hits with the Pan-Asia belief of the Japanese government he represents.
Feng Lan – 4.8
Feng Lan is a wonderful addition to Night Raid and hits her spot very well. Used partly as comedy relief from the dull reality the show sits in, her bubbly personality in her cooking schemes come across as very real and help relieve the tense feeling the show’s time period leaves you in. I also like the way Feng interacts with the gang, particularly when she requests Aoi’s and Kazura’s help in taking photos.
Her cooking schemes were funny and the episodes where the pesky cat came off as very cute and very real for a struggling Chinese cook.
Creativity – 4.0
The setting of Night Raid definitely makes you feel your in an old part of Shanghai you haven’t been to in a long while. The artistry was pretty good after the first couple of episodes, and things definitely felt real. As I just mentioned, the beginning seemed cheapened compared to the later half of the show. Some of the faces of the characters were not very convincing, which is a shame even if their acting was pretty good.
I like the idea of the powers, and once you get into the swing of things, you can’t help but appreciate a lot of the drawings that the show puts up to make their world seem romantic and idealistic. I particularly love the ending episodes, as they kept to a lot of the original intent of the actual facts they are “based” upon. Seeing those old pictures of the uprising was rather moving, and really hit nicely.
Music in the show was also pretty decent. Most notably was the ending music, as it hits off exactly the impression you should be getting from watching Night Raid.
Final Score – 4.1
(Overall, the romantic outlook of Japan in light of the grave themes of the show make it for an older audience to really appreciate. One of those shows that’s a gem and worth watching at least once.)