Fantastic Children Vol. 1
Written by A. H. on 23 Oct 2006
Distributor Beez • Certificate PG • Price £19.99
The first volume of Fantastic Children is, in all honesty, a tough one to review. Despite holding five episodes on the DVD, you can’t help but feel that it’s nigh-on impossible to draw any conclusions about where the story or quality of the show is headed.
The main focus of the series is the mysterious (and, I suppose we should assume, fantastic) Children of Befort, a strange assortment of white-haired kids who seem to have a mark on the world spanning hundreds of years, to the point where they have taken on an almost mythical status. It seems that these special children are capable of reincarnation, and for reasons yet to be explained (in the series itself anyway, the blurb on the DVD case gives rather a lot away) are searching for someone, referred to by the children only as Tina.
Despite the Children of Befort being the ‘stars’ of the show, much of the series’ opening episodes are taken up by a different bunch of children, with the primary focus on ten year-old Thoma, a young apprentice living on some sort of tropical island with his parents. On his everyday travels, he meets a couple of orphans – Chitto, a cheeky little scoundrel, and his far more quiet, reserved and mysterious friend Helga. It turns out that the duo is constantly trying to escape their orphanage, at Helga’s behest, for reasons that she can only explain via her drawing. Drawings which, incidentally, tie her inextricably to the Children of Befort.
Although I’ve managed to sum up this volume of the show in a couple of paragraphs, this is more or less the entire contents of the opening five episodes, give or take a couple of other storylines which seem to be running concurrently with these, slowly merging together to make up the body of the plot. Although I have to concede that this series seems like it needs a lot of careful preparation and setup before the real story begins to unfold, the storytelling does at times feel ponderous. This isn’t particularly helped by the poor animation quality, as at least some spectacular scenes to look at might make things feel a little less like they were dragging on.
Having said all that, I can’t help but feel that there is an interesting and intriguing story building, so it could be that volume two kicks things up a notch and allows the show to live up to its promise. As it stands, the series hangs in the balance between dull and fascinating, so the next few episodes seem likely to decide which way the scale tips.
Overall then, all I can say about Fantastic Children is – Wait and see, volume two will probably tell us all we need to know about this series. My only closing remark has to be – Beez, what were you thinking with the front cover artwork for this DVD case? It’s appalling. I can guarantee nobody is going to be tempted to buy this from looking at the cover.
The DVD is pretty standard fare with regard to extras – As well as featuring English, French and Japanese language tracks (with the English dub gaining a rating of “Well, it could be worse” from me), alongside a choice of English or French subtitles, also on offer are a number of production sketches and watercolours, text-free opening and closing credits, and trailers to a handful of Beez’s other series available on DVD.
A ponderous start to a series that will either turn out to be as dull as dishwater or as sparkling as the cutlery that comes out of it.
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