Keishuu, China. The history books say that in the era of the Three Kingdoms, this land was a place of never-ending war. A young high school boy, Sonshin, who hates his city's history, is troubled by a certain dream. When he wakes up from the dream, strange things begin to happen one after another, and without understanding what's going on, he suddenly finds himself facing Gien, one of the generals from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, who's trying to kill him! Just before Gien's blade strikes home, a mysterious beautiful woman appears in front of Sonshin. What trials await Sonshin?
I pulled this anime in the Anime Lottery Fall 2016. I wish I hadn't. There are many reasons why, and I'll go into detail below. Cliffnotes version is that between the strange art direction and the blatant scene stealing from Fate/Stay Night, the anime nosedived during the first episodes and never recovered. The anime was also hampered by poor dialogue and lackluster characters. But let's get into the full review. Story: From the synopsis, you already know a couple things. There are Romance of the Three Kingdoms generals in this, and battles are fought using cards. The main character, Sonshin, goes into a "mysterious realm" and receives the card of Shuuyu, a female general. He and Shuuyu then have to fight against a man with enormous shoulderpads and are joined by a classmate and her Three Kingdoms general... and this is kind of sounding familiar.... Oh right, this is almost verbatim the opening plot of Fate/ Stay Night. In fact, there are multiple instances where Soul Buster appears to rip direct scenes from FSN. While the plots thankfully diverge about midway through the season, it was a crippling blow out of the gate to see pretty blatant scene stealing. The rest of the plot is also pretty convoluted. Apparently, there's an ancient king and some super strong war generals in cardinal-direction palaces. But the anime ends on a non-ending and leaves itself open for sequels. Animation: Here is where the anime lost most of it's points. If I could give a negative score to the art direction team, i would. For one, the entire anime is rather darkly shaded. There are a couple instances where scenes have a lighter filter, but much of the scenes are animated against a very dark background. If that weren't bad enough, the art director seems to think that a black line filter needed to be added to the entire anime. It makes everything even darker, and doesn't hide the fact that the animations are slightly jarring in places. The final straw on how misdirected the art department was is the power-usage paint-splotches. Whenever one of the generals draws a weapon or someone uses a spell card, the screen is awash in paint drops of various colors. Why? I don't know, but it looks tacky. Seriously, this wasn't even necessary! Sound: Here is where the anime gets the 2 points I gave it. It's entirely for the opening song. It's upbeat, it's got a great score. It's not something I'm going to listen to over and over again, but it is stuck in my head right now. The rest of the sound quality wasn't so great though. The oice acting often felt like the VA's knew they were in a shit anime and couldn't be bothered with effort. That lack of enthusiasm, plus an overzealous sound department for action scenes made much of the meat of the anime impossible to enjoy. As for the ending song, I wanted each episode to end so badly that I never paid attention to it. Characters: The thing about fantasy anime, especially ones based in the real world, is that the characters are often essential to making the anime qatchable. Whether because of character development or relatable personalities. Soul Buster, with the lackluster voice acting, bizarre art direction, and poor plot development needed strong characters. It didn't get them. At best, we get Sonshin, who develops marginally from scared shitless to decent card-holder. I actually felt more for the generals and their struggles than the human cast. And the anime is entirely expectiong you to know the generals by name, as they get very little backstory. Also, half the human cast just has permanent bitch face and the personalities to match. Overall, is this anime worth watching? No. Stay way. Save yourself.
I am going to start out by saying that this anime is definitely NOT for everyone. From the multiple different sites that I visit to watch anime, as well as forums to see what animes are worth watching and how my opinion varies from others it is clear that this will either be a 100% hit or miss anime for people. Story: If you don't have any prior experience with the romance of the three kingdoms, any video game based off of the story, or know of the story itself; including their translated names, then a lot of the story will completely go over your head unless you want to try and look up some of it yourself. Overall it's an interesting way of using the romance of the three kingdoms with a modern day era involved. Definitely not the best way to go about it, though, but still enjoyable to watch. Animation: The main problem/uniqueness, is the type and style of animation they went with. They used a lot of filter effect to try and give the overal anime a more; and excuse my wordage because my English is currently failing me, Japanese art/script stylization to give it a uniqueness, since it is about the romance of the three kingdoms. I personally thought this was a good way to make the anime feel more in tune with the Japanese origins that were being used, but I can also see why a lot of people would find it annoying/unneeded. This is one of the main reasons why this would make the anime a hit or miss for most viewers. Characters: I personally found a lot of the characters close to how they were in the actual romance of the three kingdoms, but since a lot of them use the translated names; such as instead of Zhou Yu, male, they called him Shuuyu, and make him a her for the anime. The characters themselves have a lot of the basic anime tropes; such as the "useless" guy who tries his best with a heart of gold for friends and comrades, and the "loner" who doesn't want/need friends and even hates to use his general because he wants to rely on his own powers. Overall I enjoyed the anime and would like to see a second season. I know I am in the minority of viewers on this, but again, this is either something you enjoy watching, or absolutely hate and wish you hadn't.
Just so you know I didn't finish this anime. The premise seems okay but I wasn't too drawn in by the synopsis, I was very let down though by the over-editing(too much filter), I didn't manage to take in much of the story while watching as the horrendous graphic that is present in every shot was too distracting, I may be missing the purpose of this graphic but while watching this graphic lead me to believe that the characters were experiencing a strong emotion but the dialogue(that I took in) just didn't match seem to match up, please correct me if I am wrong. I am sad to say this as I can appreciate majority of anime but this was a let down.
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