This is a super new release and from what I can tell it's a Netflix original which is a different origin point than most shows we'll watch this month.
I had to look up the animation studio after seeing the opening battle sequence because WOW, they somehow managed to weave magic, mechs and samurai all in to one space and it felt, somehow, coherent? (at least for this brief battle but I have more in depth thoughts below)
The spell casting was vivid and colorful, the flickering embers rendered in were sparingly used to great effect buuuut I do have to say the mechs felt a little 3D in a 2D plane.
I'd love to know if that's the case, so today's question:
Are they created in 3D and then worked on in post to fit visually?
I quick search revealed MAPPA Co are the animation studio who've kicked out mammoths like Attack On Titan and Jujutsu Kaisen so this started to make a lot of sense as to why it felt so polished!
The art direction and aesthetic of this show is a nice pallet cleanser from the more heavily manga centric looks we've had in week one.
The closest comparison I can draw from my past viewing efforts would be Avatar The Last Airbender but with a splash more maturity. By that I mean the themes are more blunt / adult, there aren't stylistic changes for comedic effect like chibi art etc. and generally all the characters have more stoic faces throughout.
That stoic and worn look works for most characters BUT for Ichiro it felt a little off the mark, at least, in the Japanese audio it did, the voice actor sounded much younger. Maybe the dub sounds older? I'll have to check.
HOLD ON, LET ME GOOGLE IT
One of my only issues with the show so far is that it keeps throwing concepts, phrases or ranks at me but with little to no explanation. I have to work out what they mean through context or I'll literally be hitting pause to go and Google them. Any time you have to break that immersion, I feel you've miss-stepped with your storytelling.
You could argue it's them respecting the audience and not treating them life idiots but in this case, I think it's a missed teaching opportunity. I have a love for knowledge and a willingness to learn, I just need to be fed that information.
The show appears to have been written by four American writers but is centered around an South East African protagonist (which you only learn from the VERY brief mention of "Yao People") in a pre-modern Japan. I'd hoped there'd be more self awareness of how little the average westerner probably knows of these cultures, especially in an historical capacity.
For example, I'm familiar with the idea of Seppuku but I've never heard the phrase Kaishakunin (they're the one that lops the head off of somebody after they 'poke' themselves)
The same goes for Onna Bugeisha. That title and the surrounding conversation would imply it's a random military rank and that for a woman to acquire it is uncommon, when in fact, it seems to be that only women could be branded that and it was actually quite monumental!!
THE WELCOME PARTY
I won't know until I watch more but I'm already apprehensive about the magical and mechanical advancements in this world..
I worry those elements will sour the story quickly and be like every other anime that adds a convoluted power system later on for the sake of continued growth but they've blown their load straight out of the gate.
I can genuinely imagine it being mech beats man, magic beats mech. The end.
I'm happy to be wrong but after this kneejerk reaction I took to google and myanimelist where people who've watched the show in full felt the series weakend in its latter half and made mention of these themes. Uh oh!
The welcoming party as I'll call them for now, confront Yasuke twice through the 2 opening episodes utilizing a Spirit Conjurer, a bear shapeshifter and what I can only assume is an AI driven battle droid who in episode 2 malfunctions from a small amount of water on its hinges, yawn..
There's also the big blade wielder but she doesn't stand out to me much beyond making a DILF comment about Yasuke which is one of the few gags in the show so far.
After this, we get the ease in of hip hop instrumental music which is a nice pre-cursor to some kick ass fighting about to go down and I love that. Some shows can be overkill with their "hey it's this song, feel this way" but it sits well here. I'm not sure what genre it actually sits in, it's like a blend of 808 and not far from Lofi, I'm digging it.
Ghost gramps is lucky Yasuke's a lover not a fighter nowadays because that pole end of a Trident to the face was the merciful choice! It looked dope, the timing was right and then it KICKED, OFF!
Ichika getting her arm blown off was an unexpected turn of events buuuut then everything screams to a halt when one of my least favourite mechanics in anime storytelling happened. A child of prophecy cries, can't control their light and blam... Momentum killed off.
I'm sure there'll be more amazing fights like the opening scene but am I willing to sacrifice a few hours to get there? Not really.
The story isn't a strong enough vehicle so far to take me on that ride. It feels like the most interesting clash is already in the rear view mirror. I'm indifferent about Ichika's potential magical bloodline and that necklace, there's no clear overarching goal and the poor Yasuke just wants to be left alone and I might just do that.
Cheers for reading and I'll see ya tomorrow,
Full list for AniMAY can be found here: