Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin Review: A Story of Bonds and Brotherhood

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Last night I finished watching Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, and what an experience it was.  One of the most fantastic displays of brotherhood I’ve seen and just an awesome story all around.  It’s certainly the type of story I would love to see more of in anime.

In any case, Rainbow revolves around a group of 7 boys in a Japanese reform school in the 1950s.  Though there is hostility at first, they soon become very close due to the situations they go through and have a very strong brotherly bond.  Sakuragi Rokurouta, who the others refer to as Bro, serves as a figure to look up to and the boys work together through the struggles they encounter.  The reform school is in fact much more brutal than it sounds, as the inhabitants are often forced to take several beatings and the story reveals even darker secrets over time.  Rainbow is a story about how these boys survive their time there as well as what lies ahead for them beyond that.

Strangely enough, the series that I’m most reminded of when watching Rainbow is actually Gurren Lagann, which is my personal favorite anime.  The funny thing is that in setting, these two are nothing alike.  Gurren is an exaggerated, over the top series with glorious super robot battles, whereas Rainbow is a much more down to earth (also in a literal sense) series that is told in a very realistic way.  Yet both of these share common themes of brotherhood and the importance of bonds.  This brotherhood is indeed one of the most important themes of this series, as it is truly the foundation that holds the cast together in spite of the horrors they face.  Though Rainbow is a dark, intense, explicit series (the anime even warns of explicit scenes at the beginning of each episode), it’s interesting how the emphasis on brotherhood actually sounds closer to that of a Shounen in spite of Rainbow’s classification as a Seinen.  That said, however, this series is indeed much closer to a Seinen, as it displays human actions not only in an inspiring, brotherly manner, but also in a way that shows some of the most sick and brutal aspects of human behavior.

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The characters play a big role in making this series what it is, as one cannot expect to enjoy it without having an attachment to the characters.  All seven main characters get their share of development (sadly, some less than others) as the series follows their stories.  All of the characters face their own struggles and grow as a result of them, learning to adapt to the hostile world around them all the while remembering the importance of those close to them.  My favorite characters in the series were Sakuragi, Joe, and Turtle, all of which have very emotional backstories and play a major role in the story.  Of course, it’s important to note that I liked all of the main characters, and I did not feel that any of the seven were a weak link in the story.  The characters are all quite different (well, there is one exception I suppose, but that’s for those who have seen the series to know), adding variety to the story, and yet none of them feel out of place and are crucial to the story’s direction.  One thing I feel I should note is that I have seen some people who have criticized the story for being too black and white in terms of the good guys and the bad guys, and it’s certainly true that this is made obvious by the series.  However, I felt this was for the better, as (at least in the first part) it displays a sense of irony in that the criminals who “needed to be reformed” were in fact the good, likeable human beings, while those who were responsible for facilitating the reform of such individuals were the corrupt ones in reality, making one contemplate the legitimacy of one’s role within society.

As mentioned before, the realism is a very crucial component of the series.  Though themes of brotherhood and camaraderie aren’t new, what makes Rainbow interesting is that it displays these ideas in a very dark, realistic story.  Rainbow is a tale that certainly feels like it could have in fact happened in the real life, and none of the characters’ personalities seem artificial.  The realism is further enforced by Rainbow’s usage of historical events.  Though these do not dominate the story, as I’ve seen a few others where history plays a much more dominant role, they do add to the stories and the setting certainly explains much about society at the time and why Japan was the way it was during the story.

Rainbow was a fantastic anime, and it will certainly be difficult finding another anime quite like it.  It’s a funny thing how the closest series I can think of to it is in fact very different in style.  Rainbow is a truly moving series that shows both the best and the worst of humanity and is certainly thought provoking in this aspect.  Having finished Rainbow, I can say that I would rate it a 9/10.  Truth be told I actually felt it was possible for the series to be one of my few 10/10s at first, though it didn’t quite reach that for me.  That said, of course, Rainbow is still an amazing anime all the same and one I would most definitely recommend to anybody who is willing to follow a dark and tragic yet beautiful story.

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