I remember when Animax came to DsTV. I was bored of the History Channel late one night – this was back in the days when they actually did documentaries, not Ice Road Truckloads or whatever – and decided to see what else was on. This channel showed up which I wasn’t familiar with, playing a show called Elfen Lied and I thought “seems legit” and tuned in.
It was not legit. Not even a little bit. In fact, my propensity to play an angry elf in every game that gives me the option may or may not be a direct result of what I saw in the five minutes before I switched back to the History Channel – but that’s where it all began for me. The next day I tuned back in (make of this what you will) and was treated to an entirely different and more palatable version of Japanese animation in the form of the show Solty Rei.
What’s funny here is that prior to writing this article I actually remembered Black Cat as my first anime, but my younger siblings took the liberty of reminding me that it was in fact Solty Rei with which I first became obsessed. They know this because I would take over the remote and make them watch it with me, thereby cementing the show in their young minds and possibly leading to my younger brother’s intense adoration of Astro Boy. So, without further delay, let’s get to it!
I recently re-watched this anime and I will confess that I almost stopped halfway through the first episode. Since the early 2000s my taste in entertainment has shifted and I’ve moved far away from coming of age stories. Interestingly enough, until I went back to this anime I had completely phased it out and convinced myself that I never actually enjoyed coming of age stories. I suppose I kind of considered myself to be a lot like Athena – springing forth fully formed in battle dress. So, to any older readers, I understand if you’re thinking oh wow this is such a childish thing to have watched, but I have to talk about it.
So, committed as I was to understanding my younger self, I persisted. And Solty Rei was worth it.
Solty Rei is the story of a young girl of the same name struggling to understand herself, the world which exists around her as one thing but may actually be another, and to reconcile her love for her father with her desire to forge her own path despite his looming disapproval. Also, Solty Rei is a low key, and later on high key, badass.
10/10 recommend this for young viewers who are searching out their place in the world. 7/10 recommend for older viewers wanting to reconnect with their younger, lost selves.
Honourable Mention: Black Cat
“You’re a naughty cat, and naughty cats have to wear bells.”
Believe it or not, that was an utterly innocent line delivered by an innocent young girl. And that pretty much sums up what Black Cat felt like – a whole lot of innuendo which ends up all just being in good fun. Well… not all of it, but far be it from me to ruin this hilarious show for you all.
Black Cat follows the exploits of assassin Train Heartnet as he embarks on a journey to rediscover his humanity. He is, of course, accompanied and aided on this journey by a beautiful woman, a silly older gentleman and a mysterious young girl. Standard procedure, really.
8/10 recommend if you’re looking for something a bit silly, but ultimately poignant. 10/10 recommend if you enjoy innuendo.