- Animated by studio Xebec, which means it’s goind to have bad production values and unexploited potencial.
- Directed by Kato Takao, who has taken up lots of anime, most of which are way below average. The only ones I kind of liked amongst them are Buso Renkin, and Hen Semi.
- Based on the manga by Mochizuki Jun, which is also her own somewhat good work. She has only made one other short manga with a similar style called Crimson Shell. It was nothing special. And neither is this one.
So here I am watching an anime which has a big fanbase. From the comments I read in various forums, it’s supposed to be equal to the Iliad. From the main image on the main page, it’s supposed to be adventure with bijins. From past experience, bijins means lots of gay innuendos and piss poor story. Well, there is also FMA Brotherhood but what are the chances it will be this good? Anyway, I sat down with no real expectations and watched it in a couple of days. General impressions? It’s incomplete; yank it down to base score. Going to specifics…
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork & Backgrounds 4/4: Renaissance along with goth toys. Not bad at all; it did wonders for D.Grey Man and Soul Eater and it is eye captivating here as well. Medieval castles, nightmarish worlds, luxurious rooms where aristocrats are having a party and other dreamy (good and bad) type of sceneries that help you to emerge into the magic. In a few words, it has interesting artwork.
Character Figures 1/2: Bijins. Not bad by itself but usually that means there is too much focus on looks and not movements. Although not as terribly stiff as in 07 Ghost, the characters tend to have a lot of jerky movements, frozen panels and too many chibi scenes. Plus, their overall looks are not anything special either ; none is memorable because of them. A half-good work.
Animation & Visual Effects 2/4: The production company was never very good in handling action scenes and this is yet another example. All battles in this series are plain uninteresting. Short in duration, full of people talking before exchanging a few simple blows and that’s it. The cinematics are also not that great either for a type of story with such a high amount of dementia and mystery. The camera uses shading, zooming in and fish eye perspective, while the characters usually have some really crazy expressions. Although not bad in any way, other series such as Higurashi did a far better job in inflicting the viewer with fear or anxiety, thus it is again a half-good work.
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3: Good but not great. They all sound lively and the context of the dialogues is not retarded to the most part. They still talk too much though; especially during battles; and that kinda makes the whole deal silly. Not Naruto level silly but I’d rather have mystery exposition by someone who is not monologing while trying to kill me.
Music Themes 3/4: Quite good. Not something worth listening again and again but do aid in sucking you in the magic of the story.
Sound Effects 2/3: They do lose steam because of the poorly executed visual effects, but they are otherwise good in making the jokes funnier and the battles not-completely boring.
STORY SECTION: 3/10
General Scenario 1/2: A boy aristocrat named Oz is cursed for some reason and is chased around by supernatural assassins sent by enemy aristocrats. He is sent to the abyss where he is forced to make a contract with a supernatural girl there named Alice. After they escape, they decide to help one another. They now stroll around the kingdom looking for the reason Oz is cursed as well as clues to Alice’s lost memories (she has amnesia). Rather simple and vague in concept.
By using various concepts and names from famous fairy tales and ghost stories, the story is an interesting mix of fantasy, action, horror, mystery, dementia, and comedy. Sadly, the categories that are given more attention are fantasy and comedy; thus the story never manages to be too scary, or mysterious, or dramatic. With a few twists, it could even be seen as yet another romantic comedy around a tsundere girl and a spineless boy. So, it’s not really something too absorbing, or deep, or serious.
Pacing 1/2: Slow and becomes slower as it reaches the final episodes. It loses a lot of steam from its already almost-episodic nature.
Complexity 1/2: Practically no side stories exist in this story. Many characters have their own portfolios, but down to it the main couple is the epicenter of everything and the rest are just extras.
Plausibility & Conclusion 0/4: Heavy on magic and incomplete. The story stops without any form of closure. It hardly reveals any of its mysteries and leaves you hanging to dry. So, it is a completely unsatisfying ending. You can always read the continuation in the manga but the anime is plain open to everything.
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 0/2
Complete characters are interesting in personality, have good backdrops, and receive catharsis in the end. The cast here does have funny personalities and does somewhat develop but most are left as extras who don’t offer anything and the open ending leaves out any sense of exposure or catharsis. Thus, the cast overall gets the base score.
I could be more lenient if this was a storyless romantic comedy. But it’s not; it clearly has a plot that heads somewhere (and doesn’t really get anywhere). I would also give something extra if the main couple was original in any way but they were quite stereotypical to stand out from other similar couples. If you know of Fate/Stay Night, Shakugan no Shana, Spice and Wolf or even Katanagatari, it ain’t that hard to see that they are the tsundere girl and the dork male in love, an archetype most overused. Not only that, but Alice’s secondary features consist of having amnesia (dang if that’s not overused) and likes eating meat. Not much to go on, is there? As for Oz, he does grow some balls during the last part of the series but beyond that we get no explanation of what is going on in his past or nothing prevents a possible sequel to just reset him back to dork level by making him forget all his manliness (another piss poor yet overused method to prevent development).
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS: 4/10
Value Analysis: Historical Value 1/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4
Enjoyment Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 1/2, Story 1/3, Characters 1/4
Silly fandom has done it again. This anime is nothing special to give it more that a 6 at best. After all, if this gets a 10, then what vote does FMA Brotherhood get; a series so similar in genre and categories yet so much more complete and well made?
Maybe when they finish the manga and make a sequel it will retrospectively value more but as it stands it’s just a time killer with somewhat funny bijin archetypes.
Shakugan no Shana
Spice and Wolf