Themes are there "you never leave war behind"; which is like, heck yeah, PTSD themes. The anwser to that? Murder everyone who can't leave war behind! Because they can't function in society anymore! and never will be able to!
Sure, it's saying that is because they were tested on and became super-human Beast-gods-mythical creatures.
But... yeah no. Characters are stale, rigid, and not... there. The action and animation of it is better than passable! Gunwork and the characters are just... boring, with no real motivation, dynamics, or drive.
And what motivation there is "yeah you are broken so you have to die... WE PROMISED SO DIE" and like, ew? fuck that?
Watch Fairy Gone instead, and be disappointed in similar ways, but at least it has characters and real motivation, and mild growth, and mild plot
I have a different opinion than other reviewers on here. This story feels like it was dedicated to veterans and what they go through on the battlefield and once they get home. The Sacred Beasts were heroes of war, but once the war was over, they were left to deal with their scars on their own. Once their scars overcame their sanity, they were hunted down and exterminated.
The plot isn't the greatest. It could have been done better. But it's a reminder about the reality of war, especially civil war. Every one of the Sacred Beasts was a gentle person before the military turned them into a science experiment. They went insane because they gave their lives for their country. You see their pain alongside the careless decisions of leadership. They were all used as pawns. Even the humans who are supposed to be defending the country from the Sacred Beasts who went mad get sacrificed.
The story is a testament to the evils of war and the greed of those at the top who lead their people to their deaths.
Preachy and Predictable
Story is pretty much a generic and water downed version of Tales of Rebirth for the PS2.
Hank is your standard brooding stoic beefcake with a dead love interest and don't do any much with him to standout. Other than to be Bara doujin fodder, hence why the show likes to have him shirtless whenever he's in bed or morph into Werewolf form.
Schaal was a naive damsel disguised as a Gunslinging Badass Normal who dosen't even live up to that part. As well as to be a Faux Love Interest to Hank for shipping bait purposes that don't go anywhere.
Liza just exists to be Fanservice, considering that her huge curves have more personality than Liza herself.
Cain Madhouse (Yes that's his name...) is basically a generic non flamboyant Vampiric version of Creed from Black Cat without the flamboyance that made Creed a fun and more memorable villain, with a basic wanting to rule the world motivation.
And Claude one notely hates and wants to kill all Incarnatus and his own brother Cain. And that's all there is to him.
Animation Quality is decent, but the Action Scenes are mediocrely choreographed and animated, which isn't a good thing for an action heavy show.
The only positive aspect I can genuinely give praise is that it got a Really Nice English Dub with Ray Chase in a lead role as Hank, along with Erika Harlacher, Cherami Leigh, Mick Wingert, and Billy Kametz. But since it's pretty clear most people on AP don't care or dislike English Dubs, there's very little to no appeal this show has going for.
Copied from my MAL account: link
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS; READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION***
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts, which I will be calling ‘Sacred Beasts’ for the sake of brevity, is much like a young aspiring student, bursting with ideas yet lacking a proper way of expressing them. This student also suffers from the faults of poor time management and a shoddy work ethic, treading through obstacles that hinder the reach of his or her full potential. Sacred Beasts can be thought of as a big project of said student with such great ideas presented, but a far cry from a professional effort, and one that mainly exists as a stepping stone for something greater in the future. If we put aside such a liberating outlook, this show is really an unfortunate result of what should have been much more. Enticing concepts are held within a product that lacks confidence in itself, with none of its concepts being properly fleshed out.
With its first episode, Sacred Beasts starts off with a bang, kicking off with the beloved Incarnates unleashing their might on their helpless adversaries, with a majestic and opulent soundtrack to applaud and accentuate their heroic endeavors. In terms of presentation, the first episode is a success in many ways. So much so, in fact, that you’ll likely manage to look past the numerous writing issues. Consistent storytelling is something that Sacred Beasts struggles with constantly, but it’s Mappa themselves who managed to compile so many of these problems into their own anime-exclusive introduction. The writing in this episode is so shot full of holes that it’s a shining example of why you should proofread your own draft well before your deadline.
It begins with a horde of soldiers, equipped with nothing more than a rifle, charging towards a gigantic stone wall that is the enemy base. Behind them is a squad of cannoneers firing at the wall seconds after. In real life, no squad in their right mind would even think of doing this, as it’s a fast ticket to a mass suicide of your pawns. If this episode cared at all about logical consistency, the least it would do is have the cannons fire first, and have the soldiers charge once a breach is made. Even then, breaching a major fortification in the Civil War would realistically take days with siege artillery and engineers, none of which are seen here. This scene was obviously a gateway to introducing the Incarnates, presenting the enemy base as a powerful force with normal soldiers being wiped away in its territory, contrast to the Incarnates who come to annihilate it like nothing. But there’s not much comparison to make with soldiers stupidly throwing their life away with no apparent plan.
The arrival of the Incarnates itself also begs the question of why they were never shot at despite being well into the territory of the base. This scene veers into the level of B-movie writing where any and all logic is disregarded to make something look cool. Plot armor this horribly blatant only degrades the weight that this sequence holds, and is not worth the epic arrival of these heroes trekking along the battlefield like it’s become a stage auditorium.
As if this isn’t enough, a third major issue presents itself in a scene where Abi, the Hydra Incarnate, talks to Elaine about his apprehension that he might be losing control of himself; foreshadowing his own role as the first apparent case of an Incarnate going berserk. So what lets this incident follow through? Abi says “just kidding” to Elaine, and thus this suspicion is left unattended. No researcher in her right mind would ignore a potential disaster like this, especially not the one and only researcher on these lethal experiments.
And this is within the first eight minutes, showing little or no concern with a logical setup and throwing us headfirst into the second act. This first episode excels in generating hype and selling the experience, but with the demand of a robust suspension of disbelief. These issues would be egregious in any story, and perhaps wouldn’t matter so much in a series with such an emphasis on spectacle. Yet it’s beyond this point where Sacred Beasts’ true ambitions are made clear.
Ostensibly, the story of Sacred Beasts mainly exists as a scaffolding for epic battles between the Incarnates. But Sacred Beasts wants to hold the honor of being more than this by posing as a character drama, enacting the monumental tragedy of bestial war heroes meeting their end at the hands of those who fear they have lost their humanity. This story-driven approach is something Sacred Beasts is confident in pushing mindless spectacle aside for, and to its credit, its narrative concepts could have really elevated the series to its aspired heights. For this reason it’s a shame to see these manifested in what’s ultimately a safe product; one that’s too simplistic and short-sighted with its storytelling to really leave an effect.
As we follow Hank Henriette and Nancy Schaal, their difference in characterization is clear: Schaal connects easily with others and surmises the supposedly soulless Incarnates to have some humanity. Hank on the other hand passively endures Schaal’s protests as he carries out what he believes to be the only solution with the Incarnates: death. This is the basis of their interplay, and Sacred Beasts sadly doesn’t make the most out of their chemistry. Most of their interactions are interchangeable from the outset to the turning point in episode 6. Hank and Liza locate their target, Schaal protests through conjecture, Liza intervenes in Hank’s defense, Hank reaches his destination, and the Incarnate is inevitably slain. A repetitive structure can work so long as the main leads are engaging enough to uphold it, and these characters sadly aren’t, as the story is far more focused on delivering that one emotional gut-punch with its Incarnate-of-the-week setup.
That said, these characters aren’t completely static, as there’s a significant point where Hank and Schaal get somewhat more comfortable with each other. It’s comforting to see Schaal act kinder to Hank than before by sewing his clothes and making good company with him, and Hank being friendlier with her and opening his nearly impenetrable shell. After two episodes of working together, this is the kind of development they needed, and it’s a valuable moment for this reason. However, valuable as it is, it’s a shame that the dialogue is just as flat as ever, written more like a description of these characters and their histories than a genuine human exchange.
Bland dialogue is something that Sacred Beasts is plagued with. A majority of exchanges between characters are woefully lacking in personality and wit, divulging information in such an inorganic manner that makes the events all the more distant. With how much time is spent on military negotiations, plans of action, and other things in place of spectacle, the least they could do is provide some engaging dialogue to spice up the experience. Instead it’s just a case of enduring our way through tedium to the next predetermined outcome, hoping that something meaningful will come of it in the end.
That ‘something’ is obviously the emotional or cathartic finality of an Incarnate. We insert into this story as Hank, who already has a strong attachment to the comrades he dispatches, but as viewers we have little reason to care. While Hank’s company with these people during the war comes to a tragic close, we don’t experience that company ourselves outside of a brief flashback. This is a major factor in why Hank’s turmoil feels so distant, and is also perhaps the biggest missed opportunity in Mappa’s anime-exclusive introduction.
It’s made all the worse when Sacred Beasts tries to compensate by dramatizing the Incarnates’ plight to a groan-inducing level. For a show that wears moral ambiguity on its sleeve, it’s quite hellbent on telling us how to feel, with the worst offender being the death of Daniel Price. If this scene only relied on the Robin Hood-esque motive and the mourning of his loved ones, that would be enough to sell the ordeal as morally ambiguous and heartbreaking, especially to an outsider like Schaal. The melodrama and shoehorned flashback intended to tug harder at the viewers’ heartstrings is doomed to backfire with a character having less than 3 minutes of screentime before death.
However, I’d be lying if I said I felt no connection to these Incarnates, although it’s hardly an emotional one; it’s more of a fascination. For instance, Theodore’s fear of death had manifested into the making of an entire fortress, and what’s interesting is that this is what he was taught by Hank. There’s also the revelation where Theo’s incoming death happens to wash away his fear at last, something that’s true to the character and separates him from other Incarnates. Additionally, the Behemoth’s want to see the ocean with Hank trying to lead him there is a pretty great end twist, with a merciful lack of hamfisted drama. And thirdly, Trice’s belief that she’ll never be human again is one many of us can connect with. Sacred Beasts is at its best when it draws on this aspect rather than nearly drowning itself in its liking for melodramatic sob-story deaths. It’s fortunate that every once in a while it comes up for a breath, notably with Topher the Gargoyle in episode 5. Sacred Beasts is determined to make each major Incarnate engaging, and to an extent, it was successful. It’s just a shame that formulaic plots and flat dialogue weigh their respective episodes down. These resolutions certainly shine on their own, with Behemoth’s arc being my personal favorite, but that hardly salvages the episodes that hinge so much on those conclusions to be worthwhile.
Distant characters is hardly the only major problem with the story, however. There’s a frustrating pattern with the writing in which it neglects to found a logical setup for the events that follow, which makes it harder to take the the events seriously. Much of this is apparent in the first episode alone, but the problems only begin there. The Incarnates perhaps wouldn’t be running amok to begin with if the military thought for a minute about how lethal they are. A competent authority would have these living weapons confined or at least under strict supervision to ensure that what could go wrong doesn't go wrong. Additionally, it’s quite uncharacteristic of Hank to let someone as defenseless as Schaal to come with him into Theodore’s trap-filled fortress. Considering his goals and his position, you’d think the last thing Hank would be fine with is to put an innocent life at risk. Sure, he asks Schaal if she’s sure about coming with him, to which Schaal promises that she won’t cause him trouble. But that shouldn’t be enough to sway anyone with a sense of responsibility, let alone someone as sentimental as Hank.
To be fair, there are moments where Sacred Beasts avoids these drawbacks. Episode 2 for example handles the villagers’ suspicions of William Bancroft rather competently. William is suspected to have killed livestock, yet the villagers acknowledge that they don’t have tangible evidence. Because of this, they take the safe measures of putting a cowbell on William and taking the children to a distant location. On one hand I applaud this scene for having characters behave realistically in this situation, yet on the other I lament that villagers are sadly more sensible than those in the military.
In fact, plenty of these other moments show how just a simple fix could make all the difference. Certain plot points disregard how stringent the military should be with their assets, and once you bring those moments to light, it can bring forth many ideas that probably seem obvious in retrospect. In episode 4, for example, Schaal makes her way to a confined Behemoth to converse with him, but we never see her actually getting permission to do so, when logically those in charge would be selective in who is allowed to get in close proximity to a large untamed beast. We don’t see the military having any issue whatsoever with letting Schaal, a civilian, walk up to a monster that the people were fearful of to the point of strapping down in place. For all we know she could’ve gotten permission off-camera, but it’s not a good practice of any writer to have viewers assume something improbable to fill plot holes themselves.
This particular oversight would have an easy fix. Just show a scene of Schaal getting permission to come close to the beast with a solid reason for them to let her in, and suspension of disbelief would largely remain in tact. A good step further would be having someone assist Schaal during her visit and perhaps even a prolonged exchange of the guards being convinced by Schaal or each other to let her pass.
Better yet, instead of seeing her get permission, we could have a scene where Schaal sneaks out at night, stealthily making her way past guards to get to her business with Behemoth. This would not only be a simple fix, but also one that could provide a tense and engaging situation where Schaal steps out from the back seat and acts without the help of Hank or Liza. It’s the perfect scenario where someone as inexperienced as Schaal could take action. There are plenty of ways to iron out these kinds of issues in your draft. You just have to get a little creative.
For some people, this sort of creativity would have really uplifted the 7th episode with the zombified William Bancroft, or Nidhogg. It’s a common opinion that simply bringing him back to life is an incredibly cheap way to develop Schaal. To an extent I agree with this, but it’s not something I’m personally bothered with. An “asspull” it might be, but we’re given an explanation on why this particular Incarnate has revived. Honestly, in a world where myths are made real through science, I’m willing to accept much of anything related to it, however outlandish as it may be. There are very few rules shared by each and every Incarnate, as they’re all unique in some way. So learning that William has some sort of regenerative ability isn’t going to weigh down the experience for me. Perhaps from a writing standpoint, it can be seen as lazy, and there are likely much better ways to enact Schaal’s change of heart in a similar manner, but it serves its purpose well enough to where I can let it slide.
However, in that same episode is something much, much harder for me to let slide, and that is Liza casually handing to Schaal the Godkiller bullets, ammunition that is very rare and isn’t supplied to the regular soldiers battling Nidhogg. This is something that myths-made-real cannot excuse. It’s clearly done by the writer to give Schaal the chance to face her father, yet Liza has no reason to value Schaal’s growth over her own duties as a lieutenant, and the preservation of these bullets. It’s yet another case of the writer’s hand being all too visible, taking contrived or illogical routes to construct a scaffolding of plot points rather than a fully realized narrative.
The resolution of this episode leads into one of the smallest yet significant changes I would make to Sacred Beasts that takes place right after Schaal kills her resurrected father for good. We’re to believe that this event will go on to affect Schaal’s character in the future, but as it is, she acts too similarly to her previous self to truly signify a change. She behaves as merrily as ever and shows practically no signs of distress after seeing her father die by her own hands. There’s more to character development than just the events they go through; a change in personality should be there to show that Schaal is not the same person she was two episodes ago. She can act perpetually glum over past events while still upholding her proactive attitude. This emotional state could be temporarily alleviated with her meeting Trice, making this anime-exclusive subplot all the more impactful, where she befriends the type of monster she had pledged to exterminate. These are elements that go a long way to improve viewer investment; depicting these characters as living, evolving people rather than vessels made to spout themes and exposition. It’s sad to see such potential in characters who, while not dimensionless, don’t have much more humanity to them than the brainless beasts the Incarnates are feared to have become.
Some might think these complaints to be petty, but Sacred Beasts’ emphasis on story is what makes these flaws so damaging. If Sacred Beasts was primarily about spectacle like that of Attack on Titan, Pacific Rim, or John Wick, I’d be more lenient on these sorts of drawbacks. But considering what Sacred Beasts chose to uphold itself as, it should be held at a higher standard in regards to its plot, and especially its characters.
It’s all the more unfortunate when even the spectacle loses its value as the animation quality drops considerably with each episode, to a level that’s pathetic even for what’s expected of a usual 12-episode anime at its midway point. In-between frames are seemingly forgotten about and inconsistent models are shockingly abundant. After the glamorous first episode, this is a huge slap in the face, and hardly excusable with 11 animation directors.
Apart from the awe-inspiring presentation from the first episode, the cinematography of Sacred Beasts is also quite lacking overall. There’s nothing truly unappealing or jarring, but nothing that really shows a passion beyond just pasting the content onto the big screen and calling it a day.
Liza herself is a sore spot on the tone with her character design alone, made worse with frequent jokes about her sex appeal, even in mildly tense situations. When a negotiation occurs between characters focused on warfare, tactics, or emotional hangovers, chances are that Liza will be there to shatter the tone with her massive knockers, doing things like teasing Schaal or flirting with Claude. It’s moments like these where the hand of Sacred Beasts’ male illustrator really shows, and invites wonder of how the Sacred Beasts’ female writer could ever be content with scenes like these muddling the tone.
Thankfully the visual quality gains better footing right around Hank’s confrontation with Roy, taking place at an arc that I consider one of the more fulfilling parts of the narrative. The showcase of Hank becoming softer and more sentimental while Schaal has grown tougher is a satisfying progression, bringing them on closer terms. This is certainly a highlight, but it’s a shame yet again that the show hasn’t done much to bring us close to their struggles.
Throughout all its attempts to make me weep for the fallen Incarnates, To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts made me feel most sorrowful for its wasted opportunities. With every chance to do something great, it instead takes the easy way out. As the novelty wears off, the numerous flaws make themselves more and more clear. With all this considered, it certainly serves as a passable viewing experience, but it's a tragedy all the same.
My God this is unrelentsadness in the finest form. You're watching because you're thinking: oh they'll come up with the solution oh maybe they'll find a cure........ and it's just sadness