The main 'title' male protagonist muahahaha.
Ixion Saga Dimension Transfer is one of the few anime titles I have that survived the great hard disk failure a couple of months ago, and its review here will mark the start of more reviews of anime titles that was aired no older than 2011. I’m still has no motivation really to restore my original anime queue, so for the next few blog entries at least, the titles reviewed will be relatively new for this blog’s standard. Ixion Saga is one of them, and it was aired just last year. It will not replace Another as the best 2012 anime title I have reviewed to date though, mainly because of its numerous failings.
This anime is comedy first, slice-of-life second and action a distant third.
A modern Japanese boy that is addicted to MMORPGs, is moping around after losing a boss battle, when suddenly a female avatar character (presumably controlled by a male loser just like him) appears out of nowhere and offered him something in exchange for his help. Agreeing to the offer without thinking, he was suddenly teleported to another dimension that will not look out of of place in World Destruction, a game-based anime title just like this anime. He inadvertently saved the princess of the land when arriving at the new dimension, and now he has to transport the said princess to her capital while avoiding Incognito, a comedy troupe that is intent on killing the princess once and for all.
As you may expect, I watched this anime partly expecting another World Destruction, but instead I got something entirely different; a title that somewhat resembles the more light-hearted The Sacred Blacksmith instead. This anime is comedy first, slice-of-life second and action a distant third. It is so unlike World Destruction which is an action title first while a comedy second. Therefore there are different ramifications for this, some are positive, others negative.
Some supposed comedy scenes can be lame, like the one above.
The comedy part of this anime is decent, but of course still considerably behind true comedy gems like Guu, and at its best, maybe on par with Daily Lives of High School Boys. Not all of the jokes hits home though, my estimate indicated that only two-thirds of the humor has the desired impact. And when the humor miss the mark, it can be painful, like the scene in the picture above indicates. The slice-of-life portion of this anime, composed mostly of flashback episodes, has a far higher success rate, at about 95% or so. It is because of the solid slice-of-life parts of this anime, I will not question some of the editorial decisions made by the director in some parts of the anime, especially episode 22. This is the first time since Saki, that I am not being annoyed by flashback episodes.
Being the two elements that made up the majority of the anime, the comedy and slice-of-life elements affects the presentation aspect of this anime‘s storyline. The pacing of this anime’s storyline for example, is even slower than World Destruction’s, and the latter’s pacing is already quite slow in the first place. This has to do with the various slice-of-life episodes and scenes peppered throughout the series, like the visit to the hot spring bath district, various flashback episodes et al. that hindered the progress of the main pilot far too often. If this anime has the pacing of Sword Art Online for example, the princess would have reached her empire’s capital in episode 8 or so, instead of episode 15 as is the case in this anime.
But those various slice-of-life episodes did not affect the flow of the main storyline, at least for me, and this is quite surprising really. This shows how well those episodes are integrated into the series. There are exceptions to this though, and they can be quite glaring when it happens, and this is the reason why the flow of the storyline cannot be a complete positive aspect for this anime. I will mention what are those exceptions below later.
While the flow of this anime’s storyline cannot help improve this anime’s standing in my eyes too much, the same cannot be said for this anime’s character developments. Character developments in this anime are outstanding overall, and encompass lots of characters. If this anime has done worse than World Destruction when it comes to presentation, the opposite is true for character developments. The comedy and slice-of-life elements of this anime are two of the reasons why this anime has done well in the aspect, relative to World Destruction. Plus, the higher number of episodes also contributes as one of the reasons why the character developments is good too.
As I mentioned above, character developments in this anime is really extensive and actually covers a lot of the characters, in a surprisingly balanced way. If you think the main male protagonist has the most character developments out there, then you are going to be in a surprise. The main male antagonist (the leader of the comedy troupe I mentioned in the first paragraph above) also has significant amount of developments, and the same thing can also be said for the members of the comedy troupe and main protagonist’s clique. Only the big guy that loves cats can be excluded from this list, and so is the main protagonist’s talking pet. Best characters in this anime is the main male protagonist, main antagonist, most of the latter’s subordinates except for the blonde one and also the green-haired maid. I do have a feeling that the way the storyline itself was written do artificially restrict the main protagonist’s character developments, relative to his counterparts in similar anime titles.
Now for the storyline itself, unfortunately the quality is considerably inferior when compared to World Destruction's. Ironically, you can partially blame the extensive amount of the comedy and slice-of-life elements in this anime for the bad quality of the plot. But still, even if those two elements are removed from this anime, the storyline itself will still need some work to be done on it just to bring it up to World Destruction’s level. And the World Destruction doesn’t exactly have an exciting and engrossing storyline to begin with. The video game itself better have a vastly better plot than its anime version , or else it will suffered the same fate as The Last Remnants.
A cookie will be given to those who can guess which IP is being parodied in this scene.
Unlike World Destruction or The Sacred Blacksmith, but just like Daily Lives of High School Boys, this anime makes a lot of references to other intellectual properties in forms of manga or anime or video games. The screenshot above is an example of it. Meanwhile, the ending is yet another blot on the reputation of this anime. There are two reasons for this which will be explained below.
The first reason for the bad ending is its predictability and also how bad it is written. The moment that Ixion girl teleported the main protagonist and main antagonist’s teams to her place and make everyone Hyperions is the moment I realized that the writer has dropped the ball on this one. Erecpyle Dukakis isn’t the only one complaining about this, because I do too. This is a total cop-out from the writer, and the game developer itself better doesn’t hire the writer of this anime’s plot to write the story for the game too. This ruined a potentially great plot conceived by the writer who apparently wants to make the main protagonist a pacifist (which partly explained his artificial character development I mentioned a few paragraphs ago).
The second reason for the bad ending is its presentation. Remember the teleportation event I mentioned in the paragraph above? That happens in episode 21. At that time, I gleefully anticipates a fully-drawn out ending arc all the way to episode 25 which is the final episode, but suddenly the director dropped 2 comedy+slice-of-life filler episodes right after that episode! If there’s only one of them I can tolerate it, but not two, because this affect the pacing in a negative way. If I were the director, I would move the episode 22 earlier into the series timeline while keeping the episode 23 where it is currently because it blended into the ending arc much better. These two filler episodes is the reason why the pacing of this anime’s storyline isn’t a complete positive for this anime.
This is a shame because episode 22 is a very good slice-of-life flashback episode. The ending teased a potential second season that takes place 10 years after the end of the first one, but I do not heard news about it. Or does that ‘preview’ foreshadows events in the game, the way .hack//ROOTS is the prequel of the .hack//G.U. PS2 game trilogy?
Meanwhile, the comedy in this scene actually works.
Character designs in this supposedly action anime title is just as ordinary as it can be. On par with Sacred Blacksmith and inferior to what seen in World Destruction. Black hairs are rare, if they ever existed in an anime title that takes place in another dimension. Even the character design of the princess ‘maid’ is nothing to crow about.
Unlike the ordinary character designs, voice acting gigs in this anime are excellent. And this is a very good thing for this dialogue-heavy title. Outstanding characters in this regard include the green-haired ‘maid’, the red-haired and blonde-haired members of the Incognito comedy troupe, and their boss, in that order. Other characters like the main protagonist and the talking pet has also done a very good job, with only the Ixion girl being the ordinary one in this aspect. A positive aspect for this anime.
The soundtrack of this anime is just average in quality to me, unlike the good one in World Destruction. The same can also be said for the OP theme. But the two ED themes this anime has that focused on the Incognito are really good. Makes me wonder why the OP theme cannot be like that because they have similar presentation schemes.
The blurry animation technique in action.
This anime employs the blurry animation technique that I decided to show in the example above. Therefore this means one point will be docked from the final evaluation of this anime. If that’s this anime only problem in this aspect, then prepare to experience sub-par character animations and also, sometimes, general animations too.
Choreography of action scenes is mainly average, which is acceptable perhaps in this comedy title. The directing can be hit and miss; the miss like the episode 22 and the placement of episode 23 and the hit like almost everything Incognito comedy troupe is doing. For those who likes comedy, Incognito alone makes this anime worth watching.
This comedy troupe is good reason alone to watch this anime for any comedy aficionados.
Despite the crappy story and the blurry animation technique used in action scenes, this anime still deserves 7 out of 10 score. Watch this for the comedy though, not for the action. And DON’T buy the game that inspired this anime, unless the story has been largely fixed.
The next review will mark the start of my annual ‘Anime of the Year’ audition for 2013, with a bigger candidate list than last year’s audition. The tentative candidate list will include Karneval, the first part of Valvrave the Liberator (would have waited on this one if there are no summer break between the first and second part), Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo, AMNESIA, Hataraku Maou-sama, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru, Red Data Girl, Aku no Hana, Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai season 2 (no more that bullshit BD-only alternate ending this time that caused me to not watch the first season earlier) and finally, and maybe, this anime’s kindred spirit Arata Kangatari. In other words, the biggest audition this blog has ever made.