Aoi Bungaku was by far and away the best series of a pungent fall 2009 season, so of course it was subbed slowly and sporadically to the point where I didn’t finish it until the winter season. The same fate befell the show’s best story, “Run, Melos!”
Everything about this amazed me, and what makes it a truly memorable story is not simply the writing, but also how passionately it is directed. The story starts slowly like the train Takada rides to visit his ailing friend, Joshima, builds to a crescendo and releases its energy in a large burst as Melos running to save his friend, Serinentius, and Takada desperately pleading with the train to move faster are juxtaposed. And the moments when Melos apologizes to Serinentius for nearly abandoning him and Takada simultaneously lets out all his feelings and frustrations are intensely stirring, moving experiences.
Ryosuke Nakamura showed great promise in the equally excellent Mouryou no Hako in fall 2008; and “Run, Melos”, I think, is the work of a director who has just gotten better since then. With two episodes, “Run, Melos!” tells a story that blows away just about anything else from the same year. It’s a masterpiece of tight, subtle writing and confident direction, and what’s more, Nakamura and writer Sumino Kawashima actually take chances with the story. The “Run, Melos!” play is actually the only part of Osamu Dazai’s original short story; everything with Takada and Joshima is an invention of the series, but it adds a creative twist to the adaptation.
I’ve written before on how I wish more animation studios would take chances with their adaptations, and this is an example of Madhouse taking chances and succeeding.