I've never really gotten into anime. To be fair, I really haven't given it a try. So what better time to test the waters than when the CW offers two free episodes of Supernatural: The Anime series on their website. The episodes posted are All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 and 2, two of my favorite episodes of Supernatural to date. So right off the bat I knew this anime version had big shoes to fill.
I do have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It helped that both episodes were voiced by Jared and Jensen. I understand that Jensen only voices a handful of episodes in this season. I really can't imagine anyone else as Dean so I think this was a huge plus. The episodes run 22 minutes as opposed to the regular series 42 minutes so things move quickly.
All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 starts with Sam disappearing into thin air. We later learn he was transported to Cold Oak (although I think they referred to it as Cold Creek at one point) a ghost town where Azazel has gathered all the special children. It is discovered that only one of them can leave Cold Oak alive and the killing ensues. Poor Sammy. Part 2 picks up with Dean talking to Sam's dead body; A scene that has always tugged at my heart strings. I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up but this abbreviated scene just didn't have near the emotional pull of the original series. Dean goes on to make the deal at the crossroads and bring Sam back to life. They reunite with a shell-shocked Bobby and begin to discover Azazel's plan to open the Devil's Gate.
The basic premise of these episodes follows the regular series closely. It's the details that are the big difference. For instance, Jake is a Sasquatch. Not a real one, of course. But he is huge. Bigger than Sam if that's possible. And they definitely cast him in a bad light from the beginning. There is no mistaking that Jake is a force to be reckoned with, something that I didn't necessarily get from Jake in the original series. It also comes up that Sam and Dean had saved Jake's mother and sister from some kind of Supernatural attack in the past, which I thought was an interesting twist from the original episode. Missouri, the psychic who appeared in a handful of original episodes also plays a significant role in these episodes, taking the place of Ellen. Dean and Bobby even go to Missouri's house to see if she can help them find Sam only to find it burned to the ground, much like The Roadhouse. I have always liked Missouri's character but I don't see her as a fair replacement for Ellen but maybe that's a personal preference. Anyone out there who has watched the whole season, is Ellen in any of the episodes of the anime series? I'd be interested to hear.
The anime series also relies heavily on effects; something they have the liberty to play around with much more than the regular series. When Jake uses his super strength he basically Hulks out, ripped shirt and everything. Even Sam seems to have heightened powers he doesn't normally possess. When Sam sleeps and Azazel talks to him, it is in a much more dream-like state in the anime episode. He watches Azazel feed him demon blood while perched on top of a giant, very veiny, yellow eyeball. (I'm really glad the regular series didn't go that route.) Things are also much more bloody in the animated series relying less on guns and more on brute force. I gotta say, I missed the guns a little. And when Jake sneaks up on Sam for the final blow, it's not a knife in his back. Instead, Jake shoves his entire fist through Sam's abdomen. Talk about bloody.
If I had to use one word to describe these two episodes I would probably call them stunted. That's not to say they were bad, just condensed. Some aspects of the series suffered more than others. For instance, the emotional moments between the brothers don't read quite as well in this format. Some of that may be because Jared and Jensen aren't really voice actors by trade (although I think they do a pretty good job). And some of it may be the lack of their pretty, pretty faces on my screen. Who knows? But lines like "I've got a year to hang out with you, Sam" certainly didn't help the depth of emotion any. I also found that the plot moved so fast that at times I actually got a little confused even though I know the general premise like the back of my hand. I wonder if there is anyone out there who has seen the anime without ever watching the original series. I'd be interested to see if they were able to follow the story easily. Although I think it's a safe bet to say that they aren't reading this.
So, I did it. I finally gave anime a try and I liked it. Did these episodes change my life? Not really. But I enjoyed them for what they were; more Supernatural. And that's never a bad thing.
I'd love to hear what you guys think of the anime series. Should I buy the whole season and give it a once over?