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Is this a love that can never be?

Given how a large part of the industry lives off adapting manga and novels, it’s a surprise that Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, has never been adapted for anime. Well, it happened, and the result was Romeo X Juliet: An adaptation perhaps too loose for some, but one that retains all the flare and uncertainty that surrounded the relationship between the two teenagers in the original play.

Fourteen years ago, on the floating island of Neo Verona, Leontes Montague murdered all the members of House Capulet, save for the two-year old Juliet. Present-day, Prince Leontes Montague rules over Neo Verona with an iron fist and crushes anyone who opposes him. Juliet has lived in hiding  with Capulet loyalists and fights the oppression using her vigilante persona, the Red Whirlwind. While attending a ball hosted by the Montagues, Juliet meets Romeo, the prince’s son, and they both fall in love. Through the twenty-four episodes, we not only see this romance grow and brave through difficult trials, but we also get to see as Capulet loyalists organize a rebellion to overthrow Prince Montague.

The series was divided into two twelve-episode parts by Funimation, Montague as the first half and Capulet as the second, but that doesn’t seem right: the first half features Juliet and the Capulet house a bit more than Romeo and his side, while the second half evens it up for various reasons, all of which are spoilers. As this is an anime adaptation of a romance, developing the two characters that compose the romance is a given. The anime, however, goes the extra length and dedicates just the right amount of time to its side characters; from Benvolio to Cordelia to Tybalt, the supporting cast is varied, lovable, and engaging.

The plot is good, but nothing special. As mentioned before, this is a loose adaptation of the original work. A very loose adaptation; the names are all there and Romeo and Juliet fall in love, but the similarities mostly end there.   I’m not saying that people who are already fans of the work won’t enjoy this, but it would be best to think of this as a separate work. This might not be evident during the first few episodes, but past the halfway point, things get a lot different.

The show looks gorgeous. From the clothing to the backgrounds, the visuals really make one feel like they’re back in the Elizabethan time. Special recognition to the colors, which are vivid as they are varied. The voice work is also very good, but the dub can’t seem to make up its mind on how much Elizabethan dialect it wants to use; some episodes are relatively free of it, while others are filled to the brim with “wherefore” and other archaic expressions. Nothing major, but certainly noticeable.

People won’t watch this for the art and sound, though; they’ll come for the romance. And what a fine one it is! Poignant, compelling, and genuine, the love Romeo and Juliet share is sure to please even those who are only remotely interested in romances. It’s the central aspect of the show and it couldn’t have been better.

Although the fantasy elements of the plot might turn some heads, Romeo X Juliet is a great show for anyone looking for a romance that is decidedly different from the comedies that have all but taken over the genre.

Final Score: B+