I quite like this series, but it's more than a little unusual. Not just in the setting, but also in the manner in which it operates. I'm never quite sure what it is aiming to be. Likewise I'm not sure if this flaunting of convention is a strength or a weakness.
The kingdom of man has fallen. Through the darkened ruins of Shinjuku beasts and demons prowl the street. What is slightly unusual is that at least some of these beasts are carrying a badge, the badge of a bounty hunter. And their main prey are those beasts who can't adopt to the present. A present in which mankind has proven to be much more useful as allies and friends than as prey, indeed to the extent that they're now a protected species. Likewise the many factions of beasts, having been a part of the destruction, must now consider their part in the growth of a new society.
More specifically we get to follow a group of bounty hunters, and a strange group they are. The cool, tough and experienced hunter Batanen, who happens to be a werewolf. The young pup Tommy, who works as Batanen's partner. The young, innocent but rather powerful cat-girl Natsuki with her uncertain relationship with Batanen. And the greedy and manipulative Kiyobe Fox who acts as her partner...although for her own reasons. They're weird enough, and interesting, on their own but there are a lot more character than this. And, looking over their shoulders, we get to see their growth as individuals and a team while exploring this rather novel world.
It really is a sort of cool plot. Effectively it looks at the `monster' animes and considers what happens after they win. Assuming that intelligence exists the more organised and sociable beast people would tend to gather together, form societies, and hunt down the dangers to their communities. The convenience, and safety, of a community being as comfortable for beast-men as it ever was for mankind. They may even come to realize that some of the humans are fairly competent and useful people themselves...despite, or perhaps because of, their lack of power.
There is, as I hinted, some odd tensions within the production. To begin with the crew look perfectly set for a light hearted action piece. The character designs, especially Natsuki, with their combination of human and beast seem almost playful. From Batanen wagging his tail to Natuski's cat-girl cute factor. Thus it comes as a real surprise to find that the tone is actually much more serious, and occasionally quite dark. The core essence of the show is much more like a cop show with strange looking characters, rather than a cute adventure series. And, in the manner of such drama, there is as much bad as good for the character to cope with. And many situations are a lot more complex than simply hunting down bad guys for fun and profit.
Another interesting element is that the positives and negatives of having a `beast' side are not hidden. There are both physical and psychological costs to this shared nature that are always in the background even if they are rarely a focus. And this is done even though it comes at a significant cost in `cute' and `friendly'. For example at one point Natsuki is really focused on an event about to occur when a phone interrupts. Her reaction is pure feral feline rage, slitted eyes and an angry physical response. It certainly amplifies the scene, but brings down the cute factor by a sizable amount. At other times this beast nature is used for comedy, such as tommy's submissive behaviour, which is as much unsettling as it is humorous.
And finally there's the story and design. The series gains depth in the fact that the story is not strictly episodic. Many events spread over multiple episodes and events have permanent effects. When a character must buy a new weapon, or a house burns down, echoes of this will continue through the series. And some of the stories are quite serious, putting the characters at risk and forcing them to confront the social realities of their actions. As I mentioned, think along the lines of a gritty police drama and you've got one of the elements of this series. There is also a fair number of romance sub-plots and the occasional lighter or comedy episode to balance things out. It's good, but perhaps not what most people will expect. The conclusion is quite ambiguous, being almost entirely concerned with offering Natsuki a choice rather than providing an ending or explanation. It does sort of make sense though, the focus really is on the characters.
There's also a great deal of attention to the world design. The feeling of there being many places, many forces and many individuals gives it a surprising degree of existence. You can almost imagine this place as a functioning world, despite how fantastically strange many of the components are. Such things as the characters discussing history, technology, or the many and varied powers and races are very well done. Even little touches like many demons finding themselves very well suited to working in government administration. And since many of these forces compete, and the world is still unsettled, they influence the development of the plot.
There is a very valid negative position on all this however. There are times when the direction and story seem a little loose. As if, rather than including many elements, it randomly alternates between them. There's a somewhat unsettling feel to the show. Likewise many of the components are a touch crude at times. Some of the humor and events just don't seem to merge very well. It can feel like the directors didn't always have the show under control.
Likewise the production has some problems. The character designs can be cute, but there is often something unsettling in how they are represented. There's a sort of rough and unfinished feel to the animation at times, and the visual `feel' of the series can vary widely. The action is the same, sometimes rather good and at other times highly abstracted. In all it's not too bad, though clearly not done on a huge budget, it's just a little unusual. The same is very true of the voice acting, while Batanen sounds cool and smooth, Natsuki often sounds like a confused young woman rather than a strong cute lead. Meanwhile Sakura (the fox's) voice has a sharp, mature and unpleasant edge to it. It certainly fits the character, but it is more than a little unusual. Quite possibly the result of a conscious decision to select strong, rather than comfortable, voice talent.