Guin Saga is not the sort of anime you would expect to see with modern storytelling. And this is no surprise as it is based on a story format of the 70’s epic fantasy way of showing things. This is why it has a retro appeal to it very reminiscent of old epic movies like Conan the Barbarian or Krull. If I could describe this series in game terms, I would say it’s like a standard 2nd edition D&D campaign, with rather stereotypical characters, kingdoms at war, armies of thousands clashing, random encounters with monsters and full of the cheesiest dialogues you can probably think of. Still, it can still be entertaining besides a nostalgic trip to times past as the artwork is good and the flow of the story feels compeling on a basic level.
ART SECTION: 7/10 [Conan the Barbarian pays a visit to the Twelve Kingdoms.]
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
Animated by studio Satelight, which has done many anime yet I personally only enjoyed Noein amongst them. It just doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard most of the time. Aside from that, the artwork is simply superb, detailed as many other well made fantasy series such as The Twelve Kingdoms and Serei no Moribito... but in western style. In fact, it has the best looking pseudo medieval western fantasy of all anime to date. The feeling of epicness is all over the place, fitting a marvelous (albeit generic) fantasy/adventure world. Most landscapes have a magnificent variety of colors and details and most outfits are as extravagant as armors in modern MMORPGs. The characters also look interestingly drawn, although they do feel dry on proper reactions to danger or fear… just like in retro movies, hehe.
- The animation is quite subpar for a 2009 production but still better than your average pathetic ecchi / harem series.
- The action and movement in general suffer, such as the mouth moving funny when Guin the leopard or any other monster talks, or the 3D images not fitting well with the 2D.
- Blood in this series seems to be invisible as… there is none shown despite the really brutal battles and numerous deaths of characters. Obviously censored in order to make the series accessible to a younger audience and make more money. Well, too bad because more money means less coolness. Give us Berserk violence you moneyhoarders!
- The battles look a bit more realistic than the average fantasy anime out there, in the sense there actually is swordsmanship and battle choreography, instead of random slashes and energy beams. They also never last more than a few minutes at the most and the fighters use close-combat techniques that have a semi-realistic regard to physics. Everything is straightforward and simple, yet feels better that what you would expect from a series with lots of battles. A character will not do a triple flip, pose, have his face covered in shadow while shouting “super dual slash rock breaking sword” and a huge aura coming out of his body. No magic missiles, impossible recoils and injuries miraculously vanishing in this series. Much better than a Naruto battle.
- But don’t imagine it’s so real it will jump out of your screen. The characters wear armors and hold huge weapons no man could ever hope to use properly. And they break walls with their fists. And when they run it feels like they are scrolling with no regards to the terrain. I culd also question the aesthetics on most uniforms. They look so gay with all the vivid colors and the short skirts FOR MALES.
SOUND SECTION: 7/10 [You will not get away with this evil count Goris!]
Analysis: Voice Acting 1/3, Music Themes 4/4, Sound Effects 2/3
- The music themes are great and fitting to the whole epicness of the series, being a blend of epic rock and Latin chorus.
- Voice acting is also good for everyone, full of emotion and… yes, epicness again. The twin kids sure sound too annoying, being too crybaby and butchy girl but that is a minor detail.
- What I didn’t like is many parts in the dialogues where the characters MUST mention the name of everyone they talk to every five minutes, even if they know him for decades. I understand that this is a language issue as the Japanese show politeness and compassion by stating the name instead of a “hey you” or “him” but it still feels lame in the eyaes of everybody else. Also, the way they talk sounds pretty much like comic book material as they keep using all-time favorite hero vs villain quotes. I mean, lol, how much cheese can you make out of all this? Ok, I again understand that the way of writing way far more woody back in the 70’s but the show was made today, so it feels bad to the ears.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [Now where did I put that 2nd edition Dungeon Master’s Guide?]
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 0/2
- As if straight out of a cheesy campaign book, it is the story of two kind hearted royal twins TM being hunted by an evil army TM and being saved by a man with a leopard head, who has memory loss TM. The story is not bad at all but it doesn’t feel much either. More mature than a fairy tale yet not close to be seen as realistic or serious.
- The first half is about the gang being chased by evil minions and Guin the leopard fighting them in order to protect the twins. He even gets to rally all the savage tribes of the wilderness in order to fight the Mongol (racism or what?) army. This part is actually ok to watch. The story is generic and the battles rather dull but everything is done with such passion and atmosphere that unless you expect Hellsing action every 5 minutes, you are not going to be bored.
- The second part is where things get rather dull as the action is almost zero and there is a lot of political intrigue and mystery going around. This part fleshed out the characters, introduced some romance amongst them and made the world to feel a lot more complicating than just “save the princess, kill the dragon”. Still, not many things happened, the pacing was slow, and the ending is way too open for a sequel as nothing is really resolved. Which makes sense as the series only adapted the first of a very long line of epic fantasy books written in the 70’s.
- The story had a dramatic change from Conan the Barbarian to Rose of Versailles and it seemed to never use the good parts of each kind. Too little story, no twists on the first part, too little plot, no action on the second. It is still an ok watch but seriously, it could be done better. And as I said, it is not even finished so tough luck.
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 [Hasta lavista… Guin]
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 2/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 0/2
- The cast is an interesting bunch. It begins very generic and rather boring but as the episodes go by, many get killed and many more develop through romance or some revelation about themselves. Heck, they even grow up physically, as there is a time skip between the two arcs. Thus they become a lot more than yet another generic cast.
- Still, they will feel weak for half of the show as there is nothing going on around themselves and it is mostly “get the twins / oh harsh world” type of plot where the story drives the characters and not the other way around. What I mean is that there was a lot of DM help (cough) Divine Intervention to help the plot move along and the characters were not masters of their own fates. Also, Guin seems to strike too much like “I can beat you all, I can outsmart you all, I am the destined one yet I know nothing about my past” type of lead (if not like a Tiger Mask or King look alike) that seems to have the scriptwriter in his animal skin boxer pocket. Adding a mascot fuzzy animal just for kicks did not help in taking them seriously. Also, we have yet again two dynamic women in the cast who take no shit from anyone until they are mocked for being born female, fall in love and turn to passive sheep thereafter. On the opposite hand, the two main boys begin as crybabies and grow up to be badass. Oh the cheesiness…
- Even the character development is quite messy, since because of the time skip you are not allowed to properly understand how their personalities changed so much, plus the whole thing is quite convenient.
- Beyond all that the cast is fine and it sure has a lot more meat than most counterparts in other shows. Still, leaving the story unfinished could only lead to their development being unfinished as well. That detracts a lot from the overall.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS: 5/10
Value Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 3/4
Enjoyment Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 1/2, Story 1/3, Characters 2/4
Some parts feels great and some are plain snoring, thus I half liked this series. It was thresholding too much between epic feeling and cheesy storytelling to really shine and is not even complete. I no longer like the simplistic plot of the 70’s plus I got too spoiled by A Game of Thrones. The scenario was way too simple to bother watching it again, and the battles were too short and usually “divine interventioned” to actually care scrolling through again. Thus, it was a so-so experience.
Serei no Moribito
What is it that comes to find when I say "fantasy". Perhaps Elder scrolls comes to mind maybe Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, or what that girl did at your friends bachelor party. Whatever comes to mind (except maybe the last one) Guin Saga ranks among one of the better fantasies around. From political intrigue, strange creatures, nobles warriors, and yes magic Guin Saga delivers in epic (although not quite perfect) fashion.
Guin Saga is based off the longest running single writers work in the world which, evidentially, is also called Guin Saga. The anime takes place in a fictional land divided up into three great kingdoms, one night the kingdom of Mongaul launches a surprise attack on the kingdom of Parros forcing the prince (Remus) and the princess (Rinda) to flee the country. By fate they end up in Mongaul territory where they meet a man with a Leopards head by the name of Guin. Guin has lost most of his memories and because of his chivalrous nature befriends Remus and Rinda. Now Remus and Rinda must return to and reclaim Parros along side Guin who struggles to understand who he is.
Now the anime seems to have two arcs to it and since I can't seem to find the official name for these arcs I will name them myself, the "remus is a whinny bitch" arc and the "remus is a cynical mastermind" arc. Now within the First arc there is plenty of action, as the trio cuts it's way through mongraul territory. They befriend a mercenary named Istavan and a sem named Suni who travel along side them. The first arc revolves predominately around characters background stories but the developing relationships between each of the characters. Other than that there isn't a lot to the first arc other than more fighting than Guin can swing a sword at. This makes the first ten episodes fairly forgettable however the character and relationship development provides an excellent base for the vastly superior second arc.
The second arc is, IMO, where the writing staff said "finally some action!". And after wading through the first ten episodes I was rewarded with a suspense filled dramatically fantasy, compound with political intrigue, betrayal and yes more violence. I was thoroughly pleased to see the story from another angle, as the main focus shifted slightly from Remus and Rinda's journey to Parros to Naris's reclaiming of Parros. Here the characters start to separate in order to fulfill there own individual goals and the different perspectives is a breath of fresh air from the monotony of the first arc. The mental chess game that Naris plays in reclaiming Parros along side Remus and Rinda's perilous journey back home is a mixture of flavors to satisfy any palette. Along with foreshadowing and epic feel of the show Guin Saga did well compensating for what the first arc lacked.
While in much of the anime is fluid and it's backgrounds beautifully drawn there where still many problems with Guin Saga's animation. First the good, this anime did a superb job with it's fight sequences. The animation was fluid and never got blurry or seemed rushed. The backgrounds in this anime as in many fantasy genres are grand and spectacularly drawn. The characters themselves while not orthodox where unique and well drawn (especially Guin). Now for the bad, much of the time especially when there was a conversation everything was stagnant except for the character talking. This was an obvious economization and while understandable still left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes characters where sloppily drawn especially minor characters ex. the wolf king. Lastly Guin's speech sometimes his mouth moved with the words other times he just opened his jaws and sounds spilled out. Overall not terrible but easily not what it could have been with a little extra effort.
If there is one word that can phrase the sound of this anime it's "Epic". It's obvious that a video game composer created the scores. The intro reminds me a lot of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion's theme, while the music is composed masterfully and really brings home the intensity of a battle or the treachery of a betrayal, once and awhile I found the music misplaced. Not only that but once and awhile the same music spilled onto two completely different scenes. The voice acting acting helps make up for this by being simply outstanding. Each of the characters voices match their personalities perfectly and only suni's voice terribly annoyed me (lucky she doesn't have many lines). All in all the sound came out smelling slightly sweeter than the average rose.
The characters are what make this anime truly stand out. Unlike the story which only starts rolling near the second arc the characters are deep and engaging straight from the get go. While some of the characters may seem like cliches for ex. Guin's unflappable chivalry and Naris who is almost a carbon copy of light from Death Note, it's their responses to the unique stimuli of this fantasy world that is engaging. From Rinda's subtle progression toward co dependence to Remus's not so subtle change from whinny bitch to cynical competence. As each character reaches toward their own goals they meet and react differently but not unrealistically based on not only their own shifts in personality but their fellow cast as well. And while not everyones changes are for the best you are still able to empathize and love each of the characters in their own way.
While this anime falls short of some of the greats out their it is still one of the better shows I have come across. While the story doesn't really kick off till the second arc, the first arc provides crucial backstory and development. While the sound and the animation leave something to be desired, the characters are deep, engaging and uniquely portrayed within the environment. The old Philosophical debate over wether or not we are controlled by fate or make it ourselves is a long running motif. Along with each individuals overzealous ambition toward their goals and how it shapes the world this anime worth taking a crack at. The ending Leaves of with many questions left unanswered but, while leaving room for a second season (which by doals beard better come to fruition) leaves you with some closure.
This anime can only be sumed up in 1 word... eh?
I found myself saying that repeatedly throughout this series from the very begining, literally from the first 2 minutes in I said it for the first time.
There was potential here, sadly poorly managed plot timing and shotty story telling really ruined it completely. If the show wasn't a overall failure I might have tried to finish it.
The running theme of the show was inconsistancy, the artwork ranged from very well done to nearly early 90's quality, aka very poor. I was both surprised and disappointed.
Nothing particularly bad other than when the drones started chanting a name they had a hard time moving on... like we're supposed to join in the chorus or something.
Again, spotty at best... from the perpetually annoying brother twin with no nuts, to the strangely manly sister twin... I couldn't decide if I wanted to praise the girl or kill the boy more.
As I said before, the show had lots of potential but there was just so little consistancy from one moment to the next. I couldn't count how many times they got captured just in the first 4 eps... I mean come on. Then all the different races just seemed to fall in line "Oh yes, you can be our king!" uuuh oookeay. Ya "eh?" was a common syllable that kept escaping my mouth. The show was hardly worth watching, so I eventually had to drop it... I'm amazed that they made it 26 eps without getting canceled. I'm not sure how anyone could follow let alone like this show. I highly recomend you find something else to watch.
Guin is the longest lasting Novel by 1 author. The series certainly shows this. Very consistant thinking throughout. They did a great job depicting Guin as somewhat of a Demi-God, fighting for what he believes to be right. Guin was also given a trait known as free-will, most heroic characters only help those around them without thinking about themselves. Which seems a bit unrealistic, in reality everyone always had some exterior motive. Guin's Motive is to find out how be became the way he did. Guin followed his task of helping the twins in the series get back to there home, and in the end he was blessed with a hint to who he really is.
All the places shown throughout the anime helps create the middle-ages atmosphere. People fighting and dying for their kings despite the knowledge that their kings decision may not be the right decision most certainly seems real as well.
I rate the story a 9
The Animation ranges from beatiful during the calm scenes and the opening credits, to sloppy during battle scenes. Other have argued the battle scenes didn't make sense, but this is simply due to budget constraints.
Animation I have to rate an 8 (don't rate down the story because battlescene animation)
Sound: The series had a great sound track which matches the epic feeling of the atmomosphere, what is there to say. What are you expecting, rock music? The Classical Music fits perfectly. I really felt like I should be praying to their god's due to the tone of the sound.
I rate the sound a 10.
All the characters were well developed as well. Some may argue that introducing KaruMoru half-way through the series then not doing anything else with him was a bad idea. I believe otherwise. It leaves the plot of the anime version open, to where you can either purchase the novels or wait for a sequel. There is obviously too much information in the Guin Saga franchise to fit into 26 episodes. The way the writers executed what they did into the series was about the best that could have been done with the time consraint.
I rate the characters a 10.
Ill do you a favor and just say, watch the first two episodes and drop the series. It falls apart after that point and goes no where. Spending all its time creating new plot points but never following any of them and then culminating on the final episode where everyone suddenly realises they were busy doing something important that they lost track of like a ADHD child mowing a lawn.