Anime: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru (Uraboku) / Betrayal Knows My Name
Original Run: April 11, 2010 –September 19, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Action, Drama
Warning: Spoilers for the whole series.
Sakurai Yuki is a 16 year old orphan with a mysterious power that allows him to see into the darkest parts of people’s hearts. Plagued by anonymous death threats and his own doubts about the reason for his existence, Yuki goes through the motions of life while trying not to be a burden to anyone. A series of encounters with a man that feels oddly familiar and certain unnatural events surrounding his friend eventually draw Yuki into a centuries-old battle that he has been destined to be a part of since birth.
It was actually this anime’s name that caught my attention. Betrayal Knows My Name sounded like it would be an interesting watch and a brief look at the synopsis backed that up. Despite some drawbacks, it turned out to be a rather good show.
Plot-wise, Uraboku is pretty typical. There’s a dangerous necromancer who wants to destroy all of humanity and another necromancer who is trying to stop him. The end result is a battle between demonic beings called Duras and humans with special powers known as Zweilt Guardians. Although this is a very generic scenario, the anime’s execution of it is pretty decent. The element of reincarnation, of the Zweilts as well as the main villain Reiga, adds a lot of depth to the characters and develops the war on a more interpersonal level. The narrative is not shy about developing the characters or their relationships with each other; entire episodes are devoted to this purpose. As a result, we have a rich cast with a lot of shared history that shows in their interactions. The other characters’ love and protectiveness for Yuki does not seem strange or forced when we take into consideration the previous lives they’ve spent together.
Another thing I greatly appreciate about Uraboku is the subtlety of its romance. I usually – usually, not always – stay away from romance anime, regardless of the gender of the lovers, because I find stories focusing solely on love, lust and the like boring. That said, I do like romantic elements in a story. That’s why this anime’s way of showing many major characters loving and being in love with each other appeals so much to me. All of the Zweilt pairs are practically married and their bonds are evident in nearly all of their actions. These relationships form an integral part of the story, but they never feel forced nor as if they’re there just for the sake of plot. In other words, Uraboku manages to integrate the interpersonal relationships of its characters, romantic, platonic and familial, into the plot without compromising the flow of the story.
But as I said, Uraboku does have its drawbacks, particularly the ending. This is only my third review for this site and so far, the ending has been my major problem with all three. I hope this trend won’t continue. Uraboku was absolutely fine until the final episode. But towards the end of the first half of the finale, Yuki loses control of his powers in the most helpful way possible and all of the ongoing battles end abruptly. The rest of the episode shows the Zweilts living their lives normally and Reiga brooding again. The war is not over, just on hold for a while. Meanwhile, everyone can relax and have fun. Never mind the fact that none of the plot threads have been resolved and that the viewers are left with no answers to many pertinent questions. What’s the reason for Reiga’s original betrayal? Why can’t Yuki remember? Did Yuki’s light heal Takashiro for good? If Yuki helped Takashiro and Reiga learn their mistakes, what does that mean for the war? The questions are endless.
The happy Zweilt scenes were good and entertaining, and the episode would have worked as a season finale but as things stand, it is not at all satisfactory.
The characters are what I like best about this anime, to the point that I can almost forgive the ending. Uraboku offers a diverse cast, and most of the major characters are incredibly fleshed out. Unfortunately, many unanswered questions still remain concerning the main duo Yuki and Luka as well as the antagonist Reiga. Nevertheless, Uraboku is very dedicated to developing its characters. Each one is unique and even the minor characters about whom we don’t learn much stand out in their own ways. Most of them also have major issues and insecurities which are rarely addressed openly but are made obvious through their actions and words.
Giou Yuki, the girl-reincarnated-as-a-boy protagonist of the show, is sickeningly sweet, gentle and has a tendency to put everyone over himself. He also has abandonment issues and sees the great risks associated with being a Zweilt as a small price to pay for finally having a place to belong. Yuki is made up of an odd mix of characteristics; he’s a healer but very skilled in martial arts, he’s often protected by the Zweilts but never hesitates to act when his loved ones are in danger. He’s also refreshingly self-aware. It’s easy to like him and become invested in his story. His partner, Luka, is a high-level Duras who takes the idea of commitment to the extreme. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Luka’s entire existence revolves around Yuki. He would literally do anything for Yuki (he’s far less creepy about it than Gasai Yuno though). But unhealthy devotion aside, Luka is a surprisingly humane demon who has his moments of kindness as well as hilarity.
Other important characters are the quirky Zweilts who are pretty interesting as individuals and highly entertaining as pairs. Their ‘boss’ Takashiro is a somewhat grey character who is willing to lie and manipulate ostensibly for the sake of humanity. His crusade against the Duras and Reiga also has an element of personal vengeance. Reiga himself a rather complicated character who seems caught between two warring impulses but the lack of information about why he wants to kill all humans did hamper my enjoyment of him, especially when the anime ended without answering that question. Most of the other villains are a little one-dimensional but amusing nonetheless.
Art and Music:
Uraboku’s art is absolutely stunning. The entire show, from a strictly visual perspective, can be summed up as ‘pretty’. From the character designs to the backgrounds to the fight scenes, everything is beautifully animated. The humorous chibi sequences that are interspersed throughout the episodes form a nice contrast to the usually elegant style.
Rayflower handles this show’s music. I don’t understand a lick of Japanese and I couldn’t find subbed versions of the OPs and EDs so I can’t speak for the lyrics, but the music is nice. The OST by Shogo Kaida does a good job of livening up the narrative.
The ending leaves a lot of important questions unanswered and the main conflict unresolved but otherwise, it’s a good anime with great characters and an interesting story.