Recently, I have come to notice that fangirls are exactly the same as fanboys – they both like looking at pretty, albeit mindless, things. Usually, this comes with a generous measure of sexual undertone and a general lack of story development, but nothing drives this point home like Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshitan (SB:KJT). After suffering through thirteen episodes of animated bishounen fluff, even the most rabid shounen-ai fan will waver at the lack of consistent entertainment.
Taking a long time to warm up, the show left me depressed with the lack of flirting and playful interaction between the gorgeous onscreen hunks. Instead, SB: KJT sees a deluge of main characters with two emotions – angsty and not angsty. A competition to be saint beasts (the God Zeus’ special task force) sees the flimsy plot spiral downwards, as two competitors throw a tantrum and leave heaven whilst a third becomes an angelic emo. At this point, the specially selected six essentially become Zeus’s bitches, and do whatever he commands – something that made me question if the writers had an ultimate motive in setting the story in heaven. The inevitable underlying commentary on religion poses an interesting question: does blindly following an omnipotent being without asking “why” make you a devout follower or a fool? As brave as the writers are to pose this conundrum, they unfortunately bottle out of providing a satisfactory answer.
A glimmer of potential comes from a midpoint injection of action and storyline progression; the fallen angels Lucifer and Gabriel add an interesting twist as they try to show the saint beasts the true nature of their work. Unfortunately, the show is cut off in its prime and conspiracy is brought to an abrupt halt with a hasty rundown of the future of heaven and its occupants. Even the mildly entertaining arc with Kamui the wolf-man served no other purpose than to saturate a bishounen cast.
Sadly, SB: KJT is guilty of having numerous plot lines that become entangled and result in perplexing viewing. A poorly written script doesn’t help this matter, and there are often pointless scenes where an unfunny joke sees the angels stood around sharing some hearty laughter. As mentioned in the review opening, this is a prime example of the lights being on but no-one being home, as a vacant storyline finally drags itself to an unsatisfactory close, leaving the viewer hungry for real shounen-ai action.
I found myself frequently checking the monitor to make sure I hadn’t unwittingly adjusted the sharpenss setting as certain scenes in SB: KJT apply a liberal layer of Vaseline to the screen to give a blurred holy light effect. Apart from this, the artistic style is certainly nothing to write home about; the fight scenes are hampered by awkward movements (although, running without functioning joints is very amusing), and the flowing hair looks out of place on some impossibly proportioned guys. Yes, the boys are very pretty, with a diversity to appeal to a wide range of tastes, but their atrocious costumes leave them looking more like poorly animated drag queens rather than a host of stupendously sexy angels.
Rocking out with a saccharine sweet eighties power ballad, the opening track of the show sets the low tone for the incoming audio mishmash. As well as ambient music better suited to a Japanese dating sim, the cheese-fest presents a disagreeable closing rap track, which felt completely out of place in the angelic tale. Redeeming the audio, a multitude of acclaimed seiyuu vocalise the dazzling leads. From the hyper and animalistic Gai to the powerfully masculine Zeus, the sexual undertones are enhanced by their sensuous resonance.
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. If you have seen any boyish harem, you should know the roll-call by now: the intelligent one, the juvenile one, the strong-silent one – the list goes on. My tastes were impulsively drawn to the heroic hunk Judas – his protective nature and toned muscular body made me naturally weak at the knees. Unfortunately, this genre also means the introduction of personalities that grate, and the juvenile Maya was my main source of aggravation. Some people will find his childish antics endearing, but I prefer a world where men are fearlessly gallant heroes and children are seen, but not heard.
Although finishing on a low overall score due to the show’s major flaws, I want to reiterate to the fan-girls that the bishounen are lovely, salacious in fact. My advice? Stay away from this plain shounen-ai romp, and instead relish the adult fan-art that sees the saint beasts losing their halos during hedonistic boy-love.
Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshitan (2007) - Nanako Shimazaki, Tokyo Kids
This series was like a plateful of pizza rolls. When you first dive into such a plateful, life's pretty good and, even though you know pizza rolls aren’t the greatest food in the world, you think a bit of indulgence can‘t hurt anyone. Then by the end of the experience you’re left feeling greasy and bloated and wondering why in the name of god you did this to yourself. Such is my summary of Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshitan.
I suppose now's the time for me to admit that I am a shounen ai fangirl. You probably haven’t noticed because you don’t care, but I’ve watched a decent amount of the m/m ovas in existence (some of which went way beyond pizza rolls and are experiences I never want to talk about again.) I went into Saint Beast KJT hoping for shameless boyfluff and mind candy, because I am a firm believer in the guilty albeit undiminished value of such things. What I found was an even weaker than expected plot, iffy animation, and what would have been weak character development if the series had, in fact, featured characters instead of cheerful cardboard cutouts.
The story takes place in heaven, where the mandatory eternal bliss is in full swing. For the sake of boy love convenience all the angels are dudes, and a majority of those dudes look like chicks. Our Team Androgyny heroes are the Six Saint Beasts, a group of angels specially chosen to protect the mortal world from evil influences (and entrusted with looking longingly at one another from time to time to appease the goddesses of fangirl drool). The plot thickens, however, when the leader of the Saint Beasts, Judas (oooh, Biblical reference!), begins to unearth conspiracy surrounding the almighty god Zeus, and eventually questions the morality of his blind faith. It seems like the story should therefore be a complicated political epic interwoven with an evaluation of spirituality and the ever-burning question of belief’s validity in the face of undeniable doubt, right? But it isn’t (which I guess shouldn't be all that surprising considering the genre). Instead it’s a too-long, piddering creature that can’t muster the energy to do anything climactic.
In other words it’s BORING AS HELL. The pacing runs slower than a snail with a limp. Even the action scenes play out slowly and sometimes offscreen. Different plot elements show up routinely only to change their minds and slug away unresolved, and the ending tacks an utterly onto the word unsatisfying. I admire what the show was trying to be, but that admiration just makes the intense failure of what the show actually is all the more disappointing.
And then there’s the characters. Or, rather, the cardboard chickdudes. A lot of shonen ai series, along with a lot of harem series, feature a preset cast of characters that underpaid writers reuse over and over and over again. Saint Beast KJT tried to use those characters and FAILED AT IT. I don’t even know how that’s possible but Saint Beast managed. Shin is the typical sweet, lovably useless damsel in distress character, except a half-assed monotonous version that rarely says anything interesting. Gai is the typical hyper, mascot-like character, but somehow also manages to be boring despite having more energy than a post (an accomplishment nobody else in the cast can quite attest to). I don’t even know who Gou is supposed to be. He just stands there and looks pretty. The only character that undergoes any real development is Judas, and even his epic struggles with faith are disappointingly understated.
Then there's the shonen ai element… Normally, I would very much laud a shonen ai series where the fanservice takes a backseat to plot, but in the case of Saint Beast the plot was so boring that I only felt gyped when there wasn’t more man on man goodness. A lot of the fanservice was the teasing, we’re-never-going-to-make-out-onscreen kind, which might be praised as slow relationship development if the main couples hadn’t already been pre-established by the first episode. For the whole series I just kept waiting for something to happen plot-wise, and when I realized that it was a lost cause I kept with the show hoping that something would happen on the boy fluff/mindcandy front. But it didn’t. The entire show was one huge cocktease.
The romantic relationships were as uninteresting as they were uneventful. I had a vague fondness for Judas and Shin, but even they never did anything together that wasn’t a cliché. In my book a lot of super cliché shonen ai series can be saved by quirkiness, fun characters, or above all some crazy humor (I probably wouldn’t have gotten through reading Gravitation if it weren’t for Mr. K running around shooting people and the awesomeness of a giant robot panda destroying New York). But Saint Beast didn’t have any sense of humor whatsoever. On the rare occasion when the show would attempt a joke, the result would be wincingly unfunny and all of the characters would laugh in a disturbingly Brady Bunch-like way. It was just… There were so many ways this show could have saved itself, but it didn’t even try, you guys.
Add to this some stiff, awkward animation and an even more forgettable soundtrack and you’ve got yourself one helluva case of indigestion. Next time I’m eating a fricken salad.
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Disclaimer: I suppose I might be going hard on this series since it’s only a prequel and also based on a drama series (I think). I hope something was lost in adaptation, but even so I stand by the opinion that the anime version isn’t worth watching.
Disclaimer II: Unless you watch it muted and incorporate your own lusty dialogue, because I would totally do that.
Welcome to the unisex universe of bishies and almost-bishies. Saint Beast: 9 gorgeous men compete to be chosen to be on an elite team of 6 gorgeous men. Once this elite team is chosen, they do some gorgous men justice fighter stuff and eventually a war begins.
I was dumb. When I was watching this, I was at first unaware that it was stronlgy shounen-ai. Actually, what WAS going through my mind was "Bishie bishie bishie bishie....It's a Bishie Explosion!!!!!!". Nothing wrong with shounen-ai, but for me it makes it harder to fan-girl.
So much of the plot is taken up by talking about emotions that the story is lost on you. However, sometimes when the emotional turmoil is too much someone might just uproot a forest with their tears and flatten a mountain. And then talk about his emotions. While watching this I kept spinning in my chair, playing solitaire, dozing off...at one point I felt like a dumb audience member at Jerry Springer and shouted "Take your shirt off!" at my screen. And had they done that, I may have given this show a better rating ;)
The story is pretty generic. The whole plotline seemed to be nothing more than a yaoi fanservice, filled with abs, feelings, trust, bonding, and tights.
Shounen-ai isn't really my thing, so I can only blame myself for the shock I got when I realized that there would be no straight romance. I mean, in the very first episode they were having tea, looking at wedding pictures and explaining to one of the charachters what heterosexual was (he never heard of it).
However, putting personal taste aside, I will judge this objectively:
I'll give it a 6 because the plot was was just a bit better than average. It was bland, but angels at war is a very nice theme. Cheezy, yes. Unorigional, definetly.
However, I found it also very comical. Have you ever heard a man giggle? I have heard a manly group giggle several times. it's odd, yet a rare opportinity O.o?
And so many sexual innuendos! While discussing training, a typical man to man conversation would go
"angel 1: Go on, he did it with me just yesterday.
angel 2: Please be gentle with me. If your too rough, my body might not be able to handle it *blush*
everyone: *man giggles*"
Yes, that was pretty much taken from the text.
And the common theme, they never shut up about their emotions. So much that I, a hopeless romantic, got sick of it.
So it was nicely animated....Nice colors and designs were evident. But there was nothing that was actually very stunning (beyond the man caresses. And man blushes. More effective than a tazer, those are)
The scenery itself wasn't original, and though nice, nothing special. When you have heaven and a magical world to design, I say let the pen run WILD, man.
However, the character design is what pulled me into the anime in the first place. They were bishies, but when I got a close look at them in motion, they lost some of their appeal.
As for combat scenes, they didn't elaborate much. Mostly they strike a pose and magic beams shoot from their bodies, or you'll see a punch or kick. nothing very impressive.
Man giggles. I will never forget them.
Nearly all the characters had good voices, though some were tragically wrong. They seemed to utterly disregard gender (then again, according to the writers heaven is unisex) so I disagreed a bit with the voice casting.
As for the opening and closing songs.....
Its bad disco music. That's all it is. Sung by men with deep yet not instrumental voices.
A high rating because I just adore them bishies. I liked most of the characters, they were amusing and were nicely designed. They had rockin bods' and a couple did hair flips. Hehehe, fangirl at heart. It was fun to see how the characters interacted with eachother when NOT discussing their feelings.
I especially ejoyed the blode one and the one with brown hair. Now, this is where the problem comes in. There are six main characters sharing the glory. I could NEVER remember their names. Plus, i instantly stopped caring about one bishie as soon as the next one came on screen.
And while their clothes were...ehem....clothes with kinda nice design, some of the characters looked kinda off. Most of the men are wearing dresses, and one of them wears a sports bra type thing (probably to better show off his abs. Unfortunatly, they were not visible v_v). While on occasion I was yelling "take your shirt off!" at the screen, it wasn't so necessary because their clothes are so tight they might as well not wear shirts, you can SEE the dents in their chiseled chests.
The show was pretty much average. I don't feel any gain from having watched that show, so I know I won't be watching its related OVA and sequal series. However, maybe It's worth watching if you enjoy seeing 6 blushing emotional men with insane yet boring combat skills.
And to all Yaoi fans out there: enjoy!