Fantastic Children–Anime Review

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2.5 Stars
For centuries there have been rumors about a mysterious group of white-haired children, sometimes called “The Children of Béfort.” At age 5 they leave their homes and find each other. They search the world for something or someone, pursued by shadowy enemies. At age 12 they die–only to reappear again shortly thereafter.

Someone had a really great idea for a story here. Unfortunately in this case a great story idea did not result in a great anime, due to flawed execution.

  • Original Title
  • Genres
    Science Fiction, Drama, Adventure, Romance
  • Contents
    26 Episodes on 6 DVDs
  • Languages
    English, Japanese with subtitles
  • Director
    Takashi Nakamura
  • Script
    Hideki Mitsui,Takashi Nakamura
  • Character Design
    Takashi Nakamura
  • Chief Animation Director
    Miyuki Nakamura
  • Animation Studio
    Nippon Animation
  • Broadcast
    TV Tokyo, 2004-2005
  • Region 1 Publisher
    Bandai Entertainment

The main problem with this frustrating series is that the writers are not up to the challenge. Their notion of dramatic exposition is mostly to have the characters stare at something off-screen and gasp in horror. That sort of thing is acceptable in small doses, but here it happens every five minutes and quickly becomes tiresome. (I’m tempted to call this “bad acting”, but it’s not the fault of the voice actors who presumably are doing the best they can with what they have been given.)

The Children of Béfort never really come to life as distinct characters. Some characters seem to exist only to spoon-feed us background information and never actually do anything that contributes to the plot. And the setup phase drags on endlessly; we have to endure about 15 episodes of gasp-and-stare before the real story actually gets started.

The character designs don’t help at all. They are rather cheap-looking and cartoony, and seem to allow a very limited range of facial expressions. For a different kind of story they might have been fine, but for this story, a dramatic tale of passion and obsession, something different is needed; perhaps a more realistic style, or at least one that allows more emotional expression.

Still the story, once it finally gets started, is powerful and affecting (though not as powerful and affecting as it might have been in the hands of better writers and artists.) The effect is enhanced by the haunting music, especially the opening theme song “Voyage” by Masumi Yamazaki and Mikio Sakai. It is easy to understand why this series has some devoted fans.

Parental Advisory

This series is too dark and violent for young children. (In fact I found some of the scenes surprisingly bloody given the style of the artwork.) Due to the limitations of the writing and artwork, older viewers are not likely to find it particularly frightening or upsetting, but young children are another matter.

Probably anyone over age 10 will be able to watch it without being unduly disturbed.

DVD Notes

The last DVD includes a “Special Ending” which some fans love. I find it harmless but superfluous; something that we should be able to figure out from the regular ending.


The Children of Béfort

AghiAghi appears to be the leader of the group.
Soreto and AghiSoreto is a strong and determined girl, perhaps a co-leader.
HesmaHesma often seems angry and resentful.
HasmodyeHasmodye is emotional and easily distracted.
TarlantTarlant is a talented inventor.
PalzaPalza loses faith in the mission at the beginning of the story, and quits the group.
MelMel is in love with Palza and is demoralized by his defection.

Other Characters, Ordered Approximately by Date of Birth

DumasDumas looks like one of the Children of Béfort, but is actually working against them.
ChristinaIn the early Eighteenth Century Christina embroidered strange scenes of an alien landscape with a strange tower and two moons.
Conran RugenConran Rugen was the discoverer of X-rays [1] .
SerafineSerafine was an obscure Nineteenth Century artist who painted pictures of a strange alien landscape with a tower and two moons.
RadcliffeDr Radcliffe was a respected scientist who became obsessed with solving the mystery of the Children of Bèfort. His quest finally drove him mad.
WonderWonder is a helpful mecha, created by Tarlant.
GhertaGherta Hawksbee is a brilliant physicist who reveres the memory of Conrad Rugen. Her desire to carry on his legacy leads her to accept the directorship of a very ill-advised research project.
CooksDetective Cooks has inherited Radcliffe’s journal and is also obsessed with the Children of Bèfort.
AliceAlice Holingworth is a detective sent by Headquarters to check of on Cooks, whose behavior is causing concern.
ThomaThoma, the main character of the story, is a young boy growing up on Papen Island [2]. His father, who seems to be some sort of Buddhist priest, has trained him in an obscure style of martial arts.
HelgaHelga is an orphan girl who draws strange pictures of an alien landscape with a tower and two moons.
ChittoChitto is a little orphan boy who acts as Helga’s friend and protector.


Wikipedia entry (spoilers.)
Anime News Network Encyclopedia entry.


[1] “Rugen” is presumably a Japanese attempt to pronounce “Röntgen”.

[2] The story appears to be set in an alternate history universe in an unnamed Southeast Asian country which has a substantial European population and is ruled by a royal family of Dutch descent. None of this is ever really explained, so I may be interpreting it incorrectly.

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