Romeo X Juliet volume 1

UK Distributor:  MVM

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £15.99

Episodes:  1 - 6 (of 24)

Audio Options:  English 5.1, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)


Every since Shakespeare penned it in the late 16th century, the play Romeo & Juliet has inspired and lifted the hearts of millions.  Centuries on it remains the pinnacle of romantic storytelling and played host to several adaptations each with their own unique take on it.  So comes Romeo X Juliet, an anime adaptation which puts an action fantasy spin on the most popular of the works of the Bard. 

For those unfamiliar with the star crossed lovers, the basic plot is two teenagers fall in love but each come from rival families.  They keep the secret from said families but the family war continues resulting in a number of deaths.  The pair eventually commit suicide due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, but their deaths end the family feud and the love they shared is finally recognised.  Please note their suicides is spoken of in the opening sonnet of

the play so is not a plot spoiler.  There is no opening sonnet or spoilers at the beginning of the anime though. 

As soon as Romeo X Juliet begins, you know it is going to be a tad different to the play.  Set on the floating island of Neo Verona (inventive name that) it beings with the young Juliet Capulet fleeing from the murder of her father, by the Montagues, on a flying horse.  It is the fall of the Capulet clan.  It then jumps forward to a future where the Montague clan are seeking out any surviving Capulets.  They are about to execute a commoner thought to be Capulet, but she is saved by a vigilante name The Red Whirlwind in the nick of time.  After the rescue soldiers pursue the Whirlwind and a teenage Romeo spots the chase and joins in by riding his flying horse into the action.  He subsequently saves the Whirlwind from a fall, who is ungrateful for the rescue and accuses the noble Romeo of failing to act when the commoner's life was threatened.  The two then part ways. 

It is revealed soon after that The Red Whirlwind is obviously Juliet, but she is masquerading as a boy named Odin to avoid detection.  However she then dresses as a girl in order to attend the Montague's Rose Ball which causes her to have flashbacks to her past.  She meets Romeo soon after and it is clear that two fall in love at first sight but they part ways once again shortly after.  No doubt when they both find out the truth, that Romeo is in love with a cross-dressing vigilante which is also his mortal enemy, and Juliet similarly realises she is in love with the son of the man who murdered her father), well, things could get tricky. 

Unsurprisingly, the series does not follow the original dialogue but it does at times allude to it through the next episode previews and in various scenes.  It fails however as the script comes across a little skewered, with some modern phrases placed alongside older terms.  Interestingly though the English dub includes a larger number of Shakespearean quotes then the Japanese original and is much more fitting for the renaissance style setting.  Fans of the Bard may feel uneasy that the Capulets and Montagues are no longer on level pegging,

with the latter being more evil and the former more noble.  The vengeance the Capulets plan to take does hint at a potential violent nature though, so it is possible the series ending may not be too dissimilar to that of the original.

Shakespeare fans may be pleased to see other plays referenced throughout, but they may be less keen on the liberties taken with some characters.  For example Mercutio appears much more sinister here, Benvolio looks like someone out of Ouran Host Club and even the Bard himself appears as a camp, bungling playwright.  Although there nothing wrong with trying something new, Romeo X Juliet is anything but.  The whole renaissance romantic action drama has been seen many times before and has certainly been done better.  Mainstay features of rose petals, cross-dressing and awkward romantic moments appear throughout, a shame as these clichés could have been cast aside to make for something not only different to the original play, but also to other anime.  Instead Romeo X Juliet is very much a by-the-numbers series so far, although it does improve near the end of the volume when both star crossed lovers find out the truth about each other and the dramatic tension increases.  Up until this point the episodes drag and the plot unravels slowly, without enough humour or side-stories to help the main story along.  The potential of the floating island of Neo-Verona is not explored, with little explanation as to how it floats and why it has to.  It could just be set in a normal, non-floating city without flying horses and be no different.  No doubt this will be explained and more of the island shown in future volumes, but more hints would have been welcome in the opening episodes.  The people of the city is explored more in the fifth episode on the disc, captured people being used by the Montagues in a bid to lure out The Red Whirlwind.  It produces the most interesting scene of the entire volume, with both Juliet's failings and importance being shown.  It is the first scene which shows any real promise and also reveals more about Juliet's companions.  If only it could have reached this point sooner as it results in the main characters becoming wary of each other and actually questioning their relationship.  It also leads to showing more of the manner in which Neo Verona is ruled and suddenly the story expands.  The show finally starts making its own interpretations of the play and using them to shape the fate of the characters. 

The first volume of Romeo X Juliet was a definite disappointment for me.  Although it is difficult to put a new spin on the oft-adapted play, I would have expected more then what is just another romantic action anime.  Although I appreciated the animation, which suited the characters well and beautiful throughout, this is not a show where style can win over content.  I daresay that had the series been not given such a recognisable title it would have not been released in the UK.  There is potential for the series though, through a world not yet fully explored, but for now there are dozens of other adaptations out there, or you could watch the similar, but superior, Le Chevalier D'Eon.  The final episodes save this from being two starts, as they do show potential for the show when they dragged it out of the clichés and into a series finding its feet.  Volume 2 should certainly prove interesting. 


A making of is included but, save for the interview, it is basically an overlong promo with some childish dialogue.  In fact the dialogue in this documentary proves how much better the English dub really is. 

Other then that the standard extras of a textless opening & closing, art gallery and trailers are included. 


Feature:   Extras:

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