In the land of Kuruda, warriors with magical powers and incredible fighting skills battle for the ultimate prize: the title of Sevaar, the strongest warrior in the land. Elle Ragu, nicknamed Shadow Skill, is the newest Sevaar to emerge, but that doesn't make her life any easier. Teaching her "little brother," Gau, how to be a warrior, fending off assassins from other kingdoms and thwarting enemy invasions is hard enough, but her biggest challenge will be paying off her drinking debts!
StoryShadow Skill TV is a series which comes across as many things: the foremost being action, but also comedy. The basis, as mentioned above, is definitley fighting and action, with Elle and Gau wanting to fight to become stronger for various reasons. One thing should be noted that although this is indeed a retelling of the OVA, the tone is EXTREMELY different, and many plot points are told differently or in a different order. Character designs are also totally different in many ways. (Check the helpful info blurb for either for more information). So, if you planned on not watching this because you've seen the OVA, I'd suggest against it. Shadow Skill TV starts off in a comedic fashion, similar to Kenshin TV. Elle and Gau wander around with new friends, helping to save people or causing problems and having to work off the debt. And of course, lots of drinking is involved! During this time, many names and places are introduced that you don't understand. And for the most part, by the end of the series, there are still some things you don't understand. About halfway through, the tone becomes quite a bit darker, as two main arcs are introduced, with a bunch of new bad guys and harrowing situations. Honestly, I felt the two tones were not integrated well together. The series is so comedic and lighthearted, and then becomes so serious just as suddenly. But in general, the plot that you actually start to understand is decent, but buried by the confusion and great deal of plot holes. By the end of the story, a great deal of things aren't wrapped up or explained at all, which is fairly frustrating, considering you are likely to have been confused about a lot of things since near the beginning of the series. But even so, I didn't think the ending was that bad as others have complained about. Certain things ARE wrapped up nicely, just not most. AnimationAlthough fairly recent, the animation style is severely lacking. Character designs were quite weird, though not as strange as the OVA for sure. Faces were very animal-like with very simple shading. Non animal-like faces such as Kyou looked super girlie, but still extremely simple. Elle looked like a beast, a male beast at that, with extremely ugly hair (a sprayed mullet, almost, with a giant braid down the back.. ugh). Male characters wore giant ball earrings that were extremely tacky, etc. Colors used were equally as obnoxious, from Elle's bright orange hair with bright pink clothes, to Kyou's bright red hair with bright neon green clothes. Other characters had nicer colors used, like neutral black for Gau, and an enemy's dark red hair with black. But in general, very clashy colors used everywhere. The one part that was nice was the backgrounds, such as the sun setting or the forest at night. Cities were fairly interesting as well, looking very arabic in nature. One city reminded me of the arabic place in Kingdom Hearts, even! It was hard deciding between a 5 and a 6, but I went for a 6 because some things were decent. But in general, I wasn't happy with a lot of the elements of the animation style. SoundThe music tended to be very generic most of the time, or rock music intermixed with synths once the show became more serious. Appropriate, but still generic. One thing I wanted to note was the outro, and how it was handled. There were two outro pieces, chosen depending on the tone of the end of that episode. Both did not blend at ALL with how the outro picture was shown. You know how some series tend to show the outro pictures in time with the music, etc? Not in Shadow Skill TV. Also, the outro NEVER changed during the whole series. You saw one very boring picture, still, at the end of every episode. The dubbing was also frequently off with the animation. Voice actors were decent, but Kyou's voice definitely changed halfway through, like I mentioned. CharactersThe only character that I thought really advanced, in a believable way, was Gau. He definitely had a lot of crap happen to him, and it shows. He grows from a weakling to a strong guy, willing to protect those he loves. But everyone else was not so fortunate to have believable character development, or any character development at all. Kyou, I felt, was one of the most shallow characters I've seen. She starts off as a clutzy ditz, and then suddenly becomes very serious and introspective when the show becomes serious? How does that work? It was totally unbelievable to me. If you are going to portray someone to be air headed, clutzy, and immature, at least make a gradual change, don't make them suddenly serious and thoughtful. Elle just always seemed pissed off and aggressive, with not a lot of depth to her emotions. Other characters weren't really introduced at all, and you still had no idea who they were when the show ended. Too many characters were introduced, not enough were explained, and barely any made you feel empathetic towards them. OverallWhile Shadow Skill TV had its interesting moments and sometimes compelling plot points (hence the 6), I felt it lacked a great deal of things that made it an enjoyable series. First, the animation was hideous. Second, the characters (in my opinion) had no depth or range of emotions. The love aspect was weak, there were too many plot holes and things left unexplained, and the story just wasn't that interesting. The rewatchability level is extremely low, in my opinion. I had to force myself to finish this as it was, and I wouldn't watch it again. Unless you really liked this show, I can't see it being very rewatchable for most people. If you like fighting shows, you might enjoy this anyways. But in general, this was one of a few series I had to make myself finish. So I guess it's your call. If you have lots of time and love this genre, check it out and see if you don't like it, too. Else, don't bother.
Shadow Skill is quite interesting when it begins, quickly having its own distinctive identity as a fighting series and setting up a story which may turn out to be amazing if handled nicely. And that is practically its downfall; it does very little with its own potential.Shadow Skill is the name of a powerful fighting style, perfected along the years by slaves whose hands were always in chains. Thus all its power lies in somersaults and aerial foot attacks, while leaving the hands to be mainly for defense. In a way it shares the same origin as the funky Capoeira style, while adding some superpowers like sonic booms and bone cracking grabs. As far as the fighting goes, it is quite spectacular on a superficial level, as there is a lot of jumping in the air, using boomerangs, and binding chains, and smashing both terrain and skulls alike. Most of the songs are cool to listen and make the battles more exciting as well. The problem here is the production values, which are not allowing the fighting arts to look as smooth and spectacular as they could have been and mostly end up feeling stiff or crude most of the time. Reused frames and static caricatures are all over the place, while the faces distort a lot during choreographies, something akin to what they did in Naruto battles (hiring different people for the battle scenes). It’s just Studio DEEN doing its usual lazy work and trashing its premises for retarded action and fan service. Well, there isn’t a ton of nude in it but surely, all those tight clothes, bouncing boobs, macho men, and cute girl sidekick can’t be ignored. But it doesn’t overdo it as much as the lack of realism in fighting, which in turn takes a lot away from the gravity of the backdrop story. And yes, there is a backdrop story and I must say it is a decent one. The heroine Elle is the current practitioner of this style, and is also one of the four elite champions of her kingdom, thus her role is to protect the king from invading armies and other sort of internal issues such as raving monsters and powerful criminals. Along her travels an orphan boy she found in the battlefield, who is dead set on learning her style and fighting to protect all he loves. There are lots of scenes where the two of them share their worries and reveal their sad pasts, all part of a way of life where you need to fight for all sorts of reasons. And yes, typical to its genre all the fighters love to kick ass because it makes them be in control, gives them a sense of security, help them to find happiness through the thanking of the people they save, and so on. Elle is also not a peon of the king, as she constantly does things her own way, and usually acts very vulgar and undisciplined; thus she is a fine grey character. He adopted brother Gau also is interesting for slowly learning of how the world works and improving fast in the Shadow Skill. It has a very nice way of making you feel like there is more to the fighting; a serious aspect besides brainless action. And it is not just personal drama, as there is a sinister plan looming in the background, as evil fighters prepare to take over the kingdom by killing its elite protectors. Thus many of the seemingly stand-alone missions are in reality attempts to kill Elle and weaken the king’s defenses. But as I said, it does very little to properly present all its ideas. Half the episodes feel like stand alone missions where we get to know the characters through their tragic pasts. And when the second part begins and the conspiracy starts to reveal, lots of stuff feel random and poorly executed. There is a super powerful man called Scarface, and he acts all mysterious and stuff, saving the heroes when they are in trouble before disappearing. He ends up being nothing but a plot device for cheap thrills. There is also the elite warrior of the conspirators, and he acts all mysterious before his goals are revealed and are just pitiful megalomaniac stuff. There is this chain-summoning girl dressed in green joining them midway as some sort of emotional support as well as a possible romance, but she ends up being useless and even a bother, as she constantly stands in the way of the fighting. And there is this invading army nobody can possibly stop when they otherwise can level buildings with a punch. The ending is also very rushed and even leaves things unexplained. Damn you DEEN; will you ever care to do it right? And sadly, there are simply way too many shows out there that share Shadow Skill’s elements one way or another. When you think about Capoeira for example, you would easily prefer Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo over this. When you think about a practitioner of a deadly martial art, Hokuto no Ken is eons cooler. A woman with a tragic past roaming the land along with a boy and fighting monsters? Here comes Claymore. I could go on forever with these comparisons but down to it, this could have been a lot more than your usual half-baked DEEN travesty. And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 5/10 General Artwork 1/2 (generic) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 1/2 (basic) Animation 1/2 (crude during the battles) Visual Effects 1/2 (basic) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series) Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess) STORY SECTION: 5/10 Premise 2/2 (interesting) Pacing 1/2 (erratic) Complexity 1/2 (not much) Plausibility 0/2 (bad directing) Conclusion 1/2 (solid but messy) CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 Presence 2/2 (sexy/cool) Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there) Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) VALUE SECTION: 3/10 Historical Value 0/3 (none) Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the loose plot) Memorability 2/4 (the drama was interesting but all the rest are rather generic) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10 I would like it more if it wasn’t DEEN who animated it. VERDICT: 5/10
If you liked the OVA's you'll probably disappointed with this. Now while it does flesh out the story behind some of the characters and their personalities it manages to do so in a surprisingly dull and boring manner which takes alot of work with a fighting anime. The animation is subpar and the style is somewhat weak. The fights are typically quick and unfortunately the moves portrayed never look impressive. Long story short it was cheap. An anime that sells itself on fighting really needs only one thing to succeed well done fight scenes but this...just dropped the ball.
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