Secret Santa 2016 – Fantastic Children

fantastic children 000

They have a “present” for you, but you might not like it.

Another year, another round of Anime Secret Santa! It’s a fun opportunity to recommend (and review) new series, and it’s all thanks to the lovely folks at Reverse Thieves. This year I was given Aria, Nodame Cantabile, and Fantastic Children. I decided to go for the most obscure one, as I had no idea what Fantastic Children was about. It was a bit of a risk going for the oldest one, and I’m not sure if it paid off.


Fantastic Children is essentially a sci-fi mystery about these children who keep appearing throughout history for over 500 years, as if they’re immortal. It’s not revealed how they do this, what they want, or how they’re related to the main characters until halfway through the series. It’s an intricate sci-fi set-up that involves a lot of new technology, terms, and concepts…none of which is explained in the beginning. In fact, the whole first half of the series pretty much keeps everything in the dark, to the point where it’s just a confusing mess.

fantastic children 001

I think it’s a show about albinos who really hate condoms??

The only reason I didn’t drop it two episodes in and try another option was that I genuinely wanted to know what was up with these kids. I could tell they had this grand story that they wanted to slowly reveal over a 26-episode span. It was supposed to be a slow burn with an epic return. While I understand the need to create intrigue, the lack of any explanation just makes the show seem unfriendly to the viewer, and ultimately confusing. I wish they had given us more information at the beginning to move forward – not necessarily spoiling everything all at once, but at least providing us with an underlying framework to work with for the rest of the series. It’s hard for me to care about the characters or the big picture when I have no earthly clue what’s going on.

The resulting confusion is even more frustrating because the whole mystery aspect of the show isn’t even natural. People just straight-up don’t explain shit. Characters will often ask a question that the viewer is dying to know, only to be met with silence or a prolonged gasp. I can’t tell you how many times Helga has responded to a question by just sputtering “ah” and gaping at the screen for 10 seconds. It gets irritating very quickly, especially when characters will ask the same question several times for clarity and still not get an answer.

fantastic children 005

Yikes, someone has been forgetting to moisturize

What keeps Fantastic Children from being an incomprehensible garbage dump of cool ideas at the start is the much more linear tale of Thoma, Helga and Chitto. The latter two are escaped orphans, whereas Thoma is just a nice guy trying to help them out. They go through all sorts of shenanigans together, helping the viewer actually become familiar with something in this show that’s so hellbent on keeping things in the dark. It grounds the whole show. The two stories do eventually intersect, thanks to Helga’s drawings and weird ability to see things the others can’t.

fantastic children 010

Yes, they literally sit them down and explain everything.

At the halfway point, these weird kids finally explain themselves to Thoma, Helga and Chitto. The actual reveal is somehow a lot less exciting that I had imagined. The show then realizes that it has a boatload of explanations to go through, and basically unloads a hell of a lot of flashbacks on us at once. Like, 10 episodes worth. It’s ridiculous. On the bright side, the show stops jumping around and adopts a completely linear storytelling approach as we learn about the origin story of these weird, non-aging children. The show actually picks up quite a bit here, but it’s not enough to gain my interest. The drama is dull, the characters still love to stare into the camera with slack jaws and dead fish eyes for as long as possible, and the villains are hopelessly cliche. But at least it makes sense.

Unfortunately, the culmination of everything (sorry, avoiding spoilers is hard) ends up being quite a boring affair. I’m just not sure where the director wanted to go with this show. There are also just so many plot points which never reach significance, and so many scenes that seem pointless. The detective side story could have been entirely removed and I wouldn’t have noticed anything. Chitto is only pertinent in the first half of the series, after which he becomes dead weight. When Thoma’s identity is revealed it’s kind of like a “ok…cool…now what?” kind of moment. In fact, Thoma wasn’t even an important character in the end as a whole…you could have taken him out too! Even some of the immortal kids failed to grab me, as I almost always mixed them up or forgot who had which personality since they always act the same unless they’re having an emotional breakdown. This is why I always refer to them as “those freakyass immortal kids” – because they all might as well be one person.

fantastic children 015

They literally abandoned the story and talked about an entirely different planet for like 10 episodes

I would have dropped Fantastic Children if I wasn’t obliged to watch it for Secret Santa. It wasn’t horrible, but it felt like it didn’t really have any message to deliver other than “hey, wouldn’t it be neat if…”. It dragged on far too long with a needlessly obfuscated plot that had no respect for the viewer, often offering us reused scenes or flashbacks in place of actual answers. Once they finally stop dripfeeding us only the most basic of facts (and most of the time they don’t even give us that) and learn the truth, it’s actually a little disappointing. They spend so much time hiding this story, and then so much time explaining it, that at the end, they actually never got to do anything with the characters. It’s like an entire show that revolves around a murder case, and they know who the culprit is, but they talk about nonsense for 12 episodes before telling us.

I feel bad because my secret santa clearly tried to go for shows I would like, but they were off the mark. I tried Aria, a popular iyashikei show, and I was bored to tears after 3 episodes of “ara ara” and an obese cat from hell. I also happened to see parts of Nodame Cantible in a restaurant and felt turned off by seeing even the faintest whiff of a romantic subplot in whatever episode and whatever season it was I saw.  Sorry, person who tried to pick a show I would like! Fantastic Children was certainly not fantastic, but I appreciate the attempt.

fantastic children 009

Who needs a sleigh when you’ve got a flying mech?


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

3 Responses to “Secret Santa 2016 – Fantastic Children”

  1. skylion says:

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience with this. From the first sentence it sounded great; timeless ghosts of history…but damn if you didn’t stamp the rest into gravel. Before now, I’ve never even heard of it! I guess it will remain obscure to me after this.

    Happy Christmas!

    • Overcooled says:

      It had such an amazing premise (I can’t even say set-up because episode 1 was so confusing) but it really just did not deliver. The second half is kinda ok? But I know why it’s an obscure show now lol

      Merry Christmas skylion!!!!

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Ouch! Seems like this series was a crash and burn. I was taking a quick peek, though no real intention of watching and would have at least said it sounded interesting. But, boy, does it not. If this series aired around these days, you can bet it would’ve been torn apart limb from limb. Knowing you, OC, you’re more into the psychological stuff. I’ve not seen the show myself but I’ve seen a lot of mentioning on a show named “Monster” centered around a character named Johann Liebert.

Leave a Reply