The plot of this anime is actually fairly close to the actual plot of Romeo and Juliet. There are some differences to liven things up, of course. The city is called Neo-Verona. Juliet hides her identity, pretending to be a boy called Odin, and occasionally is the Batman-like vigilante hero of the underclass called The Red Whirlwind. There are flying horses called Dragon Steeds. Shakespeare is a character rather than the author. Romeo and Juliet get married about halfway through the anime, although their families keep them apart despite this. And the city is supported by a giant tree called Esculas, which is dying and will bring the city down with it if it’s not revived. But in the end, it’s about a girl named Juliet, who falls in love with a boy named Romeo. They’re from feuding noble families, Capulet and Montague, respectively. They try to keep their love alive despite the feud and it all ends in tragedy.
The animation is quite pretty for when it aired back in late 2007. It holds up quite well in the present, but it’s also a good example of how much the quality of animation is constantly improving.
One of the more noticeable things in the dub is that the characters occasionally quote Shakespeare directly, which is both amusing and a little jarring. It’s totally appropriate given that it is a Romeo and Juliet adaptation, but the rest of the time they speak in modern English. So when they break out into Shakespearean soliloquies, it’s quite noticeable. They quote in Japanese also, but unless you speak Japanese with a fairly good degree of fluency, the anachronistic speaking isn’t noticeable. They do try to speak in a Shakespearian style at times, but the difference between that and the actual lines from Shakespeare is like the difference between store bought chocolate chip cookies and homemade cookies fresh from the oven. Aside from that (which isn’t exactly bad, just highly noticeable), the dub is pretty good. It matches pretty closely with the Japanese and all the voice actors do a credible job of sounding like what their characters should sound like in a given situation. Also, in a rare case of the dub being better than the original, many of Shakespeare’s original lines (from many of his plays, not just Romeo and Juliet), when paired with the beautiful animation and talented delivery, make the dub well worth watching.
Honestly, this is a fantastic anime. It’s well animated, with a time tested plot and interesting additions. The music is thematic without being intrusive, and the dialogue in both the sub and the dub is well delivered. I recommend it for any anime fan. I doubly recommend it if you’re either a) in high school and trying to learn Romeo and Juliet or b) a high school English teacher trying to get your students interested in Romeo and Juliet. This anime contains typical shonen anime violence as well as Shakespeare’s beautiful, but occasionally difficult to penetrate, prose. I’d keep it at ages 12 and up.