Anime: Laughing Under The Clouds
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Retail Price: $64.98
For an anime series entitled Laughing under the Clouds, you would probably expect a somewhat jubilant series -- which would be half correct. In a not-so-funny history to the series, we begin at a “turn-of-the-century” Japan, where we are introduced to three brothers who were orphaned during the early days of their youth. The brothers are all a part of the Kumo family but are primarily taken care of by the oldest brother, known as Tenka. Tenka is an impressive fighter when it comes to swordsmanship and a good brother/ally to have for the younger siblings Soramaru and Chutaro. Tenka undoubtedly feels the pressures of watching over the remaining Kumo family members yet proves to be a happy-go-lucky man until that is challenged with a looming change that is sure to occur.
Dark clouds that promise a storm begin to hang over their shrine, indicating the comeback of the feared Orochi -- a deadly serpent. The possibility has the Japanese military forces (or Yamainu Squad) on a very detailed search for the potential human vessel who will play a part in the return of the Orochi. The military’s extreme searching methods in conjunction with the overbearing laws of the Meiji era begins to spark a grand rebellion across the country that doesn’t bode well for anyone involved. What really shakes things up for the Kumo’s life and their purpose for being the series protagonists is an actual connection between their family bloodline and the infamous Orochi -- which they become very aware of, bringing them into this ancient prophecy blindly.
Of the other brothers, Kumoh Soramaru is the middle child and probably the most serious driven character of Laughing Under the Clouds. He may not have had the responsibility his older brother had, but it doesn't detract from his personality that is certainly perceptive in comparison to the other two. Sure, Soramaru may not be as strong as his oldest brother, but the growth that he goes through (while also taking center stage) is a large part of his development in understanding the brother. Opposite of them is Chutaro, the youngest, most juvenile and innocent of the Kumo family from what we have come to expect. His age makes sense with his characteristics, but Chutaro isn’t quite as scorned as the others from their loss -- not entirely knowing the conflicts his family had been privy to.
When it came to the anime series plot, I assumed Laughing Under the Clouds would be fairly straightforward and casual, but the series begins to pile a lot of information on, without always providing us with answers we could want (such as what really occurred with their parents and ancestors). The ongoing plot itself isn’t all that entertaining, which is not to say it’s bad; it just could have used a little polishing from the central plot and mysteries that seem unplanned. With the plot holes also came a good amount of under-developed characters that didn’t offer more than what we saw on the surface level. The different personalities amongst the brothers wasn’t always flowing nicely and was sometimes a forced dynamic to establish them as separate beings in an insincere way -- and, although Soramaru is a big aspect, he still felt a little under-used.
The animation in Laughing Under the Clouds was definitely more of a hit-and-miss relationship with the characters of the anime series. While the middle brother and youngest brother had unique designs that were creatively enjoyable, I would suggest the eldest lacked subtlety to his design. There were characters who passed through that had strong artistic approaches and use of color, as did the world that Laughing Under the Clouds exists in. The English voice cast did a decent job at sticking to the intended energy of the anime, but, once again, Laughing Under the Clouds seemed to be missing that crucial piece to separate itself from being a typical period-piece anime with a prophecy influence.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- The brothers carried the weight of the series; however, it was certainly not distributed evenly.
- The prophecy conclusion wasn’t exactly what I would have wanted as the end result.
- Soramaru is the MVP of Laughing Under the Clouds.