Fun, pretty, artistic, and yuri. And those really, really, REALLY weird faces. Yami to Boushi to Hon to Tabibito is a quick and fun ride through some interesting worlds–via books!–and cute characters. And yes, just a little yuri. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Dr. Who with yuri. This one’s a little lesser-known than some anime, so if you like to get out of the mainline of popular anime, this one definitely does that.
The story focuses around two-plus characters. Why’s he say “two-plus?” What does it mean?? Because the story centers around two characters, and then this third person is involved all the time even though the story doesn’t really revolve around her at all!
Our best friend in this story is Hazuki Azuma. Keep her close in your travels, as her lightsaber-esque (at times) katana and superior sword skills are a life-saver on multiple occasions. Dark in more ways than one, this unhappy girl searches the book worlds for her sister a.k.a. not her sister a.k.a. her love interest. Yes, this is the yuri part. Hazuki is madly in love with the girl she knows as Hatsumi.
Hazuki has the gorgeous long black hair we’ve come to associate with warrior girls. She sports the stereotypical schoolgirl sailor outfit, pretty modest for an anime with plenty of fanservice. Her face is impassive, gorgeous deep blue eyes set beautifully on her face. Yes, she carries a sword. This is a fun aspect of her. The first time we see her, it’s in her homeworld, and she’s essentially carrying on schoolgirl life with her “adopted” sister. Everything about her is fairly normal until Hatsumi disappears and that inane yellow chicken of a parrot thing comes and they transition to the first book world we see. There she suddenly has the katana, and seems completely at ease in her situation. In fact, she’s the one thrown into a rather mundane but mysterious plot onboard a train. She doesn’t even seem fazed by the on-goings. Once people start involving her, she plays right along and slices her way to a satisfactory resolution. Really pretty legs.
Yes, Hazuki is in love with Hatsumi. Or Eve, as she is actually named. Eve is the curator of the library that houses all the book world books themselves. She’s apparently gotten it into her head, sometime in the last several millennia, to travel among the book worlds. Thus she encounters Hazuki, and Hazuki falls in love with her over the years. She leaves Hazuki’s world at the stroke of midnight on her sixteenth birthday. In fact, she leaves every world she visits when she reaches her sixteenth birthday.
The circumstances of her leaving are not consistent. When she leaves Hazuki, she simply evaporates into green mist. That evaporation is consistent. However, on another world, she is killed and leaves in that manner, again right at midnight on her sixteenth birthday. Whether that’s coincidental or not is left unanswered. I don’t know if this sixteenth birthday thing is just a convenient plot device for the writer, or if this is some kind of “never grow up/always a child” kind of theme. Also, it’s of course not clear that she’s actually turning sixteen. Sure, she’s going to look sixteen on whatever world she’s on, but we don’t know if she enters every world as a newborn or not. I’m heavily inclined to think she’s not, and therefore her time in a particular world is doubtlessly much less than sixteen years. If there’s any behavior her and her violet-eyed sister consistently display, it’s impatience, though Eve is the less impatient of the two.
Eve doesn’t speak when she’s living on any of the book worlds either. This aspect of her is a mystery to me. It could just be another curiosity in this tale, as most everything is. As much as I searched for clues in the show to indicate why this might be, I couldn’t find anything obvious. It’s kind of nice that the writer doesn’t try to explain it, but it definitely leaves you wondering.
Lilith is Eve’s real sister, also an inhabitant of the book world library. Eve’s decision to travel the worlds has left her in charge of the library, which she gets pouty about. Yes she’s slightly impatient. Loads of blonde hair, more coquettish than Eve, and certainly more emotive, Lilith is that third character who is involved between Eve and Hazuki. She is the means by which Hazuki is able to travel between the book worlds, and she accompanies her everywhere. She’s very sweet, and speaks in a really cutesy voice all the time. I think she only gets angry once, but she’s definitely prone to cutesy outbursts. She wears her feelings for everyone to see, even if it’s always through the cute exterior. She seems to be sexually attracted to Hazuki (obviously), just enough to remind you this is yuri and keep that part of you piqued. She’s pretty straightforward with Hazuki about his. Hazuki tolerates her cuddling and hanging on her as one would a child, never reciprocating in the slightest. Hazuki’s a powerful girl, if I hadn’t made that obvious.
Lilith wears the hat. It’s Eve’s hat, but we don’t find that out until the end. The hat is in that witch-style, big brim and pointy. It has a big eye on it where the cone attaches to the brim. The eye doesn’t really seem to do anything, but I think we’re supposed to think it has something to do with their ability to travel between the book worlds. Although obviously one doesn’t have to wear it to actually do the traveling, as Eve’s been doing it for years while the hat occupied the doll-like head of Lilith. Another unexplained curiosity, but I like it that way.
There aren’t too many characters overall, which I like. The troubled Gargantua (huh?), the confusing shaman girl Quill who constantly introduces herself, and the witchy Ritsuko and her sad story with Gargantua and Jill (Eve in their world) are the first to come to mind. There’s usually one or two “main” characters for each world they visit. We get another iteration of Tamamonomae in this series, kind of fun since we all know her so fondly from the Fate/ series. And Ken. Ken is the absurd birdy thing that follows Lilith and Hazuki in their travels. I don’t think he’s useful one time, but he provides a lot of comedy. He’s a little fuzzball punching bag for Lilith and Hazuki, whenever he starts to launch into lewd monologues. All the characters are fun and engaging in their own ways.
Okay, here goes: all the girls have those weird ass giant eyes and grotesquely misplaced, tiny mouths in this one. I don’t know where this style came from, or what bizarre world the person came from that created this style, but it bolls into you like a tsunami in this show. Of course Hazuki and Hatsumi (Eve) are the first people you see, and right away your eyes and brain start trying to make sense of this. Hazuki is rather mature in her appearance to be a highschooler (think Kan’u Unchou if you’ve seen that one, sailor suit and all), and her beauty is quite real and will make your heart skip a beat. Or it would much more, if her mouth didn’t start where her nose ended. Eve is the most odd in appearance, even to the point that I noticed the forehead before Lilith’s tirade calling Eve “foreheady” (or so our translator says). It takes a while to get used to this bizarre visage on the girls that have it.
Once you do adjust though, the artwork does appear quite beautiful. The colors are vibrant, the accents to highlight shiny spots in hair and objects and eyes are amazing. Their outfits are snappy, showing off just enough in all the right places without straying into Ikkitousen territory (second mention of that in this review…must be Hazuki doing this to me). The scenery, especially in the background, is usually just a little blurry, which adds nicely to the fantasy feeling.
The eyes are…big. Anime of course makes great use of such disproportion, and while it’s way too disproportionate in this show, the eyes are quite expressive and beautiful. The younger the character, the bigger the eyes are relative to the face. While this is correct physiologically, it creates the eyes-with-a-face feeling on the littlest characters (Miliko, absolutely will scare you half to death). That aside, the eyes are quite attractive overall. Hazuki’s dark blue eyes are oh so pretty, and Eve possesses the enviable red eyes. Lilith’s eyes you probably see the most prominently throughout the show, as she’s in so many scenes. Violet in color, they’re glassy and sassy and beautiful. Ristuko gets the award for green eyes in this show, and Seiren gets an alternate shade of blue, both remarkable enough to remember.
The most beautiful character in this show, other than Hazuki, is the girl who appears only while on the train at the beginning, Youko. Her age is unclear, though she is a student of some kind, but she’s clearly mature. As such, her eyes are not so alarmingly giant, and everything looks a little more normal on her. She’s astounding, and you wish she was in more episodes.
Is there really a story in this one? Basically, being in love, Hazuki pursues Hatsumi (Eve) through the book worlds, looking for clues or information. This is the basis for all the episodic encounters we experience in this show. That’s really sweet of her, but there isn’t much beyond that. You got the side stories with Gargantua and Ritsuko, but there isn’t really anything else that runs consistently through this show. But then again, it doesn’t need it. The curiosities we encounter throughout the show are enough to carry it forward.
And the curiosities are lots of fun. The mystery on the train sets the tone right away, not to mention Hazuki suddenly has her sword. It becomes clear pretty fast that the events on the train aren’t going to affect anything else for the rest of the show however. Then you have the tribal Quill incessantly introducing herself, and suddenly that ends with it seeming like she never was actually able to speak their language or communicate with them at all, leaving a giant mystery. Seiren is in all kinds of places she shouldn’t be; in fact, she seems to move between worlds and play minor roles in completely unrelated ways, with no obvious means of moving between the worlds. And why is Tamamanomae drowning herself in sake on a spaceship that looks like a massive traditional Japanese house, which is actually another way to move between worlds? All very curious, all very interesting. It’s a lot of fun all throughout the show.
Very pretty, very fun, I finished this in 24 hours. Only 13 episodes, and only one season as far as I can tell. If you like yuri, you’ll enjoy this. You don’t have anybody chewing each other’s face off in this one, but lots of cuddles from Lilith, lots of mild fanservice, a little implied finger play from Hazuki once, and yes, Hazuki does get to kiss Hatsumi once. So if you need grinding and juices, this one doesn’t have it. But it’s enough to make it stimulating for sure. All the prominent characters are girls, and if you count Ken as a guy then there’s only three males with much screen time at all.
I’m making it sound more intense than it is. It really is mild, and only appears occasionally. Mostly the show is adventure and fantasy, and it does very well with that. If you took the yuri out of this show my opinion wouldn’t change in the slightest, such is the fun-factor of the fantasy. The Alice in Wonderland comparison isn’t far off, except Alice doesn’t have a sword (all you SAO people calm down! yes I like SAO). Easy to watch, you could come in right in the middle of it and only be a little confused. As it’s yuri and therefore somewhat sexual, I recommend it cautiously, and to mature audiences, but beyond that I completely recommend this one when you want some light adventure that’s still very pretty in your watchlist.