I’m sure many can think of historical examples in which a great idea turned into a massive catastrophe with terrible results. And, I’m also sure that many would agree that No. 6 is one prime example of such a catastrophe. What started out as a surprisingly dark tale of an oppressive, Orwellian-like state turned into a frank display of distasteful yaoi and horrid planning.
The only reason I picked up the series during the summer was due to a season preview from The Cart Driver which seemed to show positivity. And, indeed, the first five or so episodes were fine. The basic plot of No. 6 follows Shion, a typical shounen character with high intelligence. One day, another boy called Nezumi enters his house and, even though Shion realizes that he is an escaped convict, the uninvited guest is not turned over to the police.
Then the story jumps five or so years later, where Shion has been demoted to the outer skirts of the city and works a mundane job where he witnesses a murder by a strange parasite. Apparently, the government doesn’t like the fact that Shion has seen this, and they try and pursue him until Nezumi appears and saves the day.
And this is about the point where No. 6 becomes weird. At first, the whole concept of a mysterious parasite that the government might use against its own populous seems intriguing. But the series never explains how the parasite came to be. I know I hate being spoon-fed information like a child, and maybe the staff was trying to invoke a sense of wonder within the viewer, but then comes the question: why put the parasite in the anime at all?
Why couldn’t they have just killed off the unwanted civilians with conventional means? Oh, wait, there is some explanation in the very end as to what the parasite really is, but it’s so haphazard and last minute that they might as well have not included it at all.
When I discovered that No. 6 was actually based off an eight volume manga, everything started to make sense. The staff had clearly try and condense a considerably large series into eleven episodes, and failed horribly. Honestly, with more time it would have probably been a good show, but almost every plot element introduced is ignored until the very end.
As for characters, they actually didn’t do half bad. The relationship between Nezumi and Shion is something that I would have liked to seen develop to a larger extent, and is ruined again in the last episode by their parting scene in which they kiss each other. Aside from that, I found the homoerotic undertones in the anime to be tasteful and refreshing.
The character that I enjoyed the most was probably Inukashi. Even though she doesn’t get nearly as many scenes as Shion and Nezumi, she provides as a bridge between the two quite nicely. I would have liked to seen her development a little more, and it’s entirely possible that this happens in the manga. Karan is another that really deserved some background knowledge. Unfortunately, because there wasn’t enough time to explore her character, I probably hated her the most.
And then there’s Safu. Again, a fairly uninteresting person even though she’s a major element in the plot and Shion’s guarantee of a wet dream. Despite all of my hatred for her, I would have enjoyed to see things work between her and Shion, especially after all the shit he goes through to save her.
All the other elements are decent enough. The art is fine—nothing special and somewhat generic—and the soundtrack is unnoticeable except for the slightly catchy ending.
Overall, No. 6 suffers from the staffs’ decision to compress it into such a short time frame. Even if it had been 24 episodes instead of 11, it might have had enough time to explain character and plot. But, nope, No. 6 will always be a No Watch.
Overall Enjoyment: 6