towano-quon

Towa no Quon Complete Collection (Cert 15)

2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 278 minutes approx.

In a futuristic Japan a secret war rages between a group of humans with awakened supernatural powers called Attractors and a powerful organisation called Custos who seek to eliminate them. Leading the defence of the Attractors is Quon, a young lad who has in fact existed for over a thousand years and has vowed to protect every single Attractor in his care.

There has been a trend of late in anime to eschew the traditional TV format in favour of mini movie series. Recent examples include Broken Blade, Rin: Daughter Of Mnemosyne and Kara no Kyoukai and now Studio Bones have thrown their hat into the ring with Towa no Quon / Towano Quon / Towanoquon (take your pick they are all apparently valid). Across the two discs in this set are the complete six forty five minute plus episodes – which equates to twelve “regular” TV episodes – and unlike Japanese audiences, the wait for the next episode is mere moments and not months, nor is a trip to the local multiplex required. Sadly, director Umanosuke Iida died a few months before the first film was released. Noted for such fan favourites as Hellsing and Vandread Iida leaves us a satisfying enough if often derivative final work in his wake.

Towa no Quon kicks off with one of the most exhilarating and intense opening sequences ever seen in anime, in which a young boy named Yuma is being pursued by Custos cyborgs, struggling to keep his body from transforming into a grotesque aberration. Fortunately he is rescued by two Attractors, whisking Yuma away to safety after a violent and tense battle. After setting the bar so high so early on, things slow down as we are introduced to the extensive cast and the foundation of the Attractors vs Custos conflict is laid down before kicking into high gear around episode four. From hereon in, each successive episode is chock full of intrigue, revelation, story twists and of course, breathtaking action scenes.

Lead protagonist Quon is an interesting character; belying his youthful appearance he is in fact thousands of years old, having been granted immortality by his brother Towa, who is the prime conceit of the story. Despite an evergreen existence, Quon isn’t completely indestructable, regularly suffering greatly during battles, even losing a limb in one scuffle. Quon is driven by the altruistic ideal of protecting every Attractor from Custos, something he is keen to remind us at every available moment, making him something of a Professor Xavier to the Attractors X-Men. The sanctuary he created to give young non-awakened Attractors a normal existence doubles as the Fantasium Gardens amusement park and is protected by a barrier to prevent Custos from tracking them down. Quon is aided by both Attractors – with a range of individual powers including speed, teleportation, telekinesis, fire, and the ability to communicate with animals in their own language – and non-Attractors alike in his endeavours.

Fronted by Genji Kamishiro, a cold and callous man with a dark past may hold the secret to his undoing, and controlled by an unknown higher power called The Order, Custos employs specially programmed cyborgs to execute their violent campaign against the Attractors without conscience. However, top ranked cyborg assassin Epsilon, formerly Shun Kazami, is the only cyborg who still in possession of residual humanity, a conflict which plays a pivotal role in the show’s climax while providing one of the more intriguing back stories in this tale. Unfortunately this also makes these two far more interesting characters than the cookie cutter protagonists who are either too moody or woefully underdeveloped for the audience to care about, despite possessing some fun bespoke powers.

There is no question that what this series does it does very well but the spectre of its influences loom heavily overhead. Aside from the aforementioned X-Men comparisons, Quon’s awakened form (which Custos refer to as Insania) is a very familiar combination of Casshern of Casshern Sins and Guyver. Meanwhile he and the other Attractors are forced to suffer for their powers much like the Contractors of Darker Than Black do flirty fan service provider Yuri is left with a broken rib from her lightening fast movements while stroppy teen Takao ends up with a broken leg every time he lands from teleportation. And Yuma’s post transformation appearance will remind viewers of the titular aliens from Xam’d: Lost Memories.

The film format means a higher budget and Studio Bones have at least put this to good use as evident in the top notch animation, cleanly rendered visuals and detailed artwork. The futuristic setting lends it self to some impressive vistas and the many scenes taking place at night are given an extra boost from the neon lit displays. The battle scenes are plentiful and often fast paced but none of the action is lost in the midst of half hearted animation, every strike and blow is recorded with clarity.

The only production gripe is with the DVD subtitles. For some reason the songs playing in the background have been transcribed in both English and Japanese, often while there is dialogue present; thus the screen in these instances is half full of text. Even if it WAS necessary to provide the song lyrics, one would have thought the top of the screen would be the more prudent placement.

Towa no Quon is not without its merits despite the paucity of original ideas and decidedly under developed characters. After a patchy start it gathers enough momentum to deliver a solidly entertaining and aesthetically pleasing sci-fi fantasy romp that hits more than it misses.

 

Extras:

English Language 5.1

Japanese Language 5.1 w/ English Subtitles

Disc 2 Only:

Episode 6 Commentary

Original Japanese Teaser

Original Japanese Trailer

Extended Previews

Textless Closing Songs

 

Ratings – *** ½

Man In Black