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Hi no Tori

Hi no Tori
Episodes: 13 Start date: End date:


Hi no Tori is a collection of stories that all have something in common. The Phoenix, whose blood is believed to give an eternal life to one who drinks it. Therefore many seek to kill it, but as the Phoenix of the tale, it`s reborn from the ashes. Stories take place in future and the past, where humans fight with each other as always, and everyone is afraid to die. But still, every story teaches a lesson: Life is beginning of an eternity, an never-ending cycle.

Source: ANN

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Secondary Characters

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Hi no Tori, or in English, Phoenix is an adaptation of famed mangaka Osamu Tezuka's unfinished work. The series is a collection of 5 short story arcs who are united by brief appearances by the titular Phoenix, and a focus on humanity's progress through difficult transitions. Each arc is 1 - 4 episodes in length, and it is better to watch and absorb a single arc at a time than binge the entire series. The art style and narrative elements can feel a bit dated to the contemporary anime fan, but its one I recommend if you can look past those things.


The series draws a lot of its inspiration from Shinto, Buddhism and early Japanese history. Frustratingly, the short nature of each arc prevents these sources from being explored in any depth: their elements only serve as the premises to set up Tezuka's stories. Despite this shortcoming, it is clear that the most prominent influence upon the show is Buddhist philosophy. Underneath the rushed characters, settings and plots of different arcs is a unifying discussion of the cyclical relationship between life and death. The Phoenix appears as both a guide to individual's transitions between these two states, and an observer of humanity's struggle against this cycle.

But the Phoenix, despite being the "main character" is perhaps the least interesting one of the series. Each arc has their own main character and a unique group of supporting characters, which frankly, is a lot to keep track of. I found it difficult to recall everybody's name while watching this series. However, their designs are fairly distinct from one another, which makes it easier to visually remember who everybody is. The characters and their design is true to Tezuka's original manga, but because of this, the art style definitely gives off an aura of "old anime". As someone who grew up with newer anime aesthetics, it took some time getting used to this older style, but by the 2nd arc, I was beginning to appreciate the art for what it was.

There is not much I can say about sound. Music by the Czech Philharmonic was an interesting choice. The opening theme was slow and without words, but still managed to be an incredibly memorable piece. It helped characterize the show's contemplative nature, but also emphasized the hope the Phoenix has for humanity to triumph over hardship. Other soundtracks for the series didn't particularly stand out, but still appropriately set the tone of the scenes they were used in.   
Hi no Tori has excellent source material, but is ultimately held back by trying to adapt into a series of a mere 13 episodes. Despite this, it still makes its mark as an underappreciated show from the early 2000's. It is probably not for those who just like a quick binge; the philosophical bent of the show and the frequent changes in characters make it one that is best absorbed slowly. It is recommended for those who have a prior interest in Tezuka and/or early anime.

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