After diving for an ancient sword in the waters where the battle of Dan-no-ura was fought and the Heike clan fell, Tomona loses both his sight and his father. Left with few options other than learning to play the biwa, Tomona gains enough skill to join a prestigious troupe of storytelling performers and takes the name "Tomoichi."
Soon after, Tomoichi meets a strange person who finds joy in terrorizing others with his deformed appearance, but is surprised when the sightless storyteller treats him as an equal. The pair become fast friends and begin performing together after the stranger—who chooses the name "Inu-Ou"—discovers that he is able to hear spirits telling forgotten tales of the Heike clan.
Tomoichi changes his name again to Tomoari and uses his music to promote Inu-Ou's underground dance performances, achieving incredible popularity among the masses. However, the brazen and unconventional style they develop challenges traditions that the shogunate values deeply. As the pair's fame continues to increase, they must contend with the forces of tradition that control the society around them.
IN-DEPTH REVIEW: INU-OU
Among the list of wonderful creations in Tales of the Heike: Inu-ou, or simply Inu-ou, is a marvellously authentic masterpiece. The storyboard of this beautifully animated piece orbits around a medieval world weaved with an early Noh theater’s excitements, all the while narrating the sorrow-filled tale of friendship, music and the determination for success in spite of the unimaginable pain. With its ethereal arts and music that strikes the right chord, it is a must-watch in the anime universe.
To give you a flavour without the spoilers, let’s dive into the story synopsis. The anime is based on a novel by Hideo Furukawa retelling the life of a real historical figure, Inu-ou, a Sarugaku Noh performer in the 14th century. Born disfigured and deemed a demon, he covers his unusual face with a mask almost all the time. His life takes a twist when he befriends Tomona, a blind lute player. Their friendship deepens as they share each other’s sorrows and joys, all while dealing with the realities of their existence in a world that is often cruel and unkind.
PLOT AND STORYLINE
The storyline of Inu-Ou definitely stands out. A tale of friendship and ambition intertwined with the harsh realities of life, the anime masterfully depicts the innocence, brilliance, and sometimes even the ruthlessness that come with pursuing dreams. The narrative is straightforward and even linear, yet the way it deals with the themes of life, hardship, dreams, friendship, and tragedy is truly remarkable. It’s compelling and innovative without trading away its authenticity. Moreover, the deep levels of character development for both Inu-ou and Tomona make the anime even more immersive and touching.
VISUALS AND SOUNDTRACK
Right from the opening frames, the animation douses you into a completely different era, creating a perfect backdrop for the story to unfold. The blend of traditional and digital techniques gives the anime a painting-like quality, which works harmoniously with the music and the storyline.
As for the soundtracks, music plays an essential role parallel to the plot itself. The blend of traditional Japanese music with the bouts of ambient tones birth a melody that perfectly captures the emotional palette of every scene. Trust me, even after you finish watching, these enchanting melodies might linger in your heart.
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?
If you’re a fan of genuinely touching narratives, heart-rending music, and beautifully unique visuals, Inu-ou is an absolute yes! It tells a poignant tale of friendship and dreams through immensely detailed storytelling and beautifully crafted animation. And while it evokes a sense of melancholy, it also captures the indomitable spirit of pushing through the sadness. A must watch indeed! I hope this non-spoiler review convinces you that Inu-ou holds great promise to be an irreplaceable addition to your anime experience. Watch it, buy it, stream it, you won’t regret it!
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