Yoru no Yatterman – 01 (First Impressions)

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Yoru no Yatterman is the grimmest ‘happy show’ I’ve ever seen. It’s a post-apocalyptic fighter with a fantastic sense of style, bleak colors, death and sadness, and a spunky nine-year-old protagonist.

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Leopard, who wee see grow in bursts from birth to her ninth birthday, lives in a bizarre world where a great towering wall seems to rise over the mountains in the distance and fog obscures the mythical Yatter Kingdom across the sea. It’s a cold, and eternally dark world, but her mother and two bonded servants fill her life with joy.

Her mother dies soon after her birthday.

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Like Zvezda, Kill La Kill and even this season’s Rolling Girls, Yoru no Yatterman does a great job of breaking out of the typical anime character design mold. Elephantus (the family’s giant) has a unusual body shape, and the wonderfully retro fighting costumes are hand made, planting them firmly in our understanding of time and space.

Also like those shows, YnY sports elastic gestures, grand explosions, and beautifully rendered vapor as it swooshes around in the air. Dull colors or not, it is a treat for the eyes to see.

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It will be interesting to watch this in tandem with Rolling Girls, since they both have a similar setting to them. However, I already like both shows for very different reasons. Where RG sports vibrant colors and a grand open world, YnY is bleak, timid, yet so confident in the strength of it’s characters as individuals that it only introduces five of them. (of which one is already dead and two are leering villains)

It’s worth nothing that, unlike RG, YnY’s premiere feels more rounded as a starting episode. The infodump is restrained and spread across the episode—and some of that info even twists as more is revealed. However, the biggest difference is in the shows’ endings: Where RG ends like any mid-season episode, YnY’s Leopard belts out her mission and then they depart on it, to spawn episodes afterwards.

Neither is yet superior. Just different.

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If you liked Gurren Laggen for it’s masterful blend of aesthetics and tones, this may be a show for you. It is unquestionably dark but Leopard brings so much hope to it, so much optimism that you may find it hard not to smile all the way through.

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You may not be interested in Yoru no Yatterman if…I’m not sure why, actually? It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but I’m finding it hard to identify any glaring faults.

Perhaps it will develop them in the future but for now, you have no reason not to watch it!

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My first impression was obviously a good one. Not only did I know little about this show before reviewing it, what I did know was categorically inaccurate. That surprise, added to YnY’s surprising level of restraint that keeps all of the over the top wacky elements in check, made for a wonderful viewing experience.

I’ve heard that this may have a distant relation to an old franchise but I know nothing about that. If you do, or have any thoughts, drop ’em in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Yoru no Yatterman – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Some spoiler-free trivia:

    Those unusual body types and retro costumes are actually signs of YnY’s heritage.

    Yatterman is a part of the Time Bokan franchise, a series that dates back to the 1970s. Time Bokan is kind of similar in structure to the Super Sentai shows, where each series is independent but similar plot elements are carried over. Yatterman, the second series of the franchise, was the most famous of the bunch. The original came out in the 70s and it was remade in 2008.

    This almost feels like a Dark Knight-style revival. This MIGHT be a distant sequel of the original or 2008 remake.

    Also, I’ve seen a lot of blogs compare this to Gurren Lagann. Since that series intentionally harkened back to anime of the 1970s, it’s kind of the other way around.

    One more bit of trivia: The most popular element of Yatterman was actually the villain trio.

    1. Cool! I can’t say retro-style is an automatic hook for me, but it made the show stand out. More than that, the hero/villain reversal, which was made clear by the characters, was a nice twist. I’m psychoed for this (especially since I don’t get to review Rolling Girls!)

  2. I do know of at least one show where the retro costumes alone could not save it for you: Samurai Flamenco!

    I finally got around to watching Yatterman and…I love it as much as you do, and believe there’s room for both Yatterman and Rolling Girls in our Winter Schedule, owing to their resonating similarities and differences.

    I’m also reminded of another show that both Yatterman and Rolling Girls remind me of, and that’s the excellent Kyousogiga. All three feature likable female protagonists, alternate worlds with unconventional families, and stylized physics.

    I think after we’ve seen two eps each of Yatterman and Rolling Girls, I’d like to compile some of our initial offline discussions for a future post.

    BTW: The nine-year-old female protagonist is voiced by the dynamic Kitamura Eri, who has been everything from Ami-chan in Toradora! to Salia in Cross Ange.

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