Let me start by saying that I read the manga before I watched the anime, so I went into watching it knowing the anime was unfinished. That said I still had some pretty major issues with the story. Spoilers lie ahead. Be warned.
Let me just start by saying that it is ENTIRELY possible for someone to live out their life and even fight a war as a cross-dressing badass. Sarasa/Tatara (who for convenience will henceforth be known as Tatas) failed at this. No bandana, no matter the snazzy Travolta-esque angle you wear it at, is an adequate disguise. Hell, even Batman and Superman grasped the need to alter their voice and appearance beyond the basics of adding pants and a bandana to their outfit. Tatas, however, just put on her dead brother's clothes and went forth.
And while we're on the subject of her dead brother, WTF!? The town mystic/shaman/elder basically admits that he lied about this poor boy's destiny so Tatas would be saved when the time came for someone to stand up to the Red King. So, rather than hiding the kids in the mountains or training the girl somewhere in secret you let the boy live his life thinking he'll save everyone and BAM! - no head. Hell, Souka fared better against Zuko in their first encounter and frankly Zuko was a more compelling antagonist than Bishie King.
The basic premise wasn't bad, and to be honest it was something I've seen before and keep coming back to. I love the idea of someone having to hide their identity to save the world. That's why I read comics. The problem here was the idea that a healer-in-training would suddenly be a badass with a sword because that was her destiny. Look, I wrote a quizilla story like that years ago (no, I will not give you the link) and even as I wrote it I had to admit that it was highly implausible. At least I used magic to explain it away. Tatas didn't even have that on her side!
The star-crossed/doomed romance was truly compelling and is honestly what kept me coming back. I wanted it to work out somehow for these two people and I even wanted the hottie bff of the King to be happy. His subplot had me weeping openly. There was some really good stuff here, but the implausibility of this tiny girl leading a revolution based solely on Elizabeth Swan skills left me cold. I kept waiting for a revelation on how the romance could be the peace and salvation her prophecy spoke of, but the story just never went there. Peace and understanding was never considered, though I must admit this was made unlikely by the fact that they never figure out who the other really is. Maybe that's the problem with watching rather than participating.
Why aren't there holodecks yet?!
The anime was made in the late nineties but feels much older. Some of the scenes, particularly the battle scenes, were truly breathtaking but on the whole it felt so dated that I had trouble finding much to enjoy in the overall animation. Some of the movement felt a little choppy and the costumes varied too much for me to get a solid feeling for any specific era or influence.
The soundtrack and incidental music was typical but fitting. I never felt jarred by the music; instead, it faded gently into the background, enhancing and punctuating the way good sound should.
The voice acting was a little hit or miss. Tatas didn't pull me in, but the actors for Red King and his bff, as well as the cross-dressing spy helping Tatas were all spot on. This however, leads directly into -
The characters really did carry the story. As ridiculous as I found the execution of the premise, I kept coming back for the characters and their stories (and not just because the men were pretty). You got the uncertainty and genuine desire to unite and protect his people from the king, although you knew he was going about it in the wrong way. You felt bff's devotion to his friend and king and his utter heartbreak when he discovered who Tatas was. Again, the only character I wasn't fully invested in was unfortunately the main character that I was supposed to identify with and root for. Partially this was because I found her irritatingly dense.
Overall, this is an anime totally worth watching for the few moments of stunning animation among the mediocre and the incredible story happening within the court. Perhaps you won't have such an issue with Tatas, and for that I commend you. And if you absolutely must know how the story ends, look up the manga. Bring tissues.