The main male protagonist, and also one of the best characters in this anime.
After being preempted by me watching The World God Only Knows, my plan to watch both Katanagatari and The Legend of Legendary Heroes will now proceed as planned. I will start with the latter first, and that title will compete with K-On!! for the ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ title. But let me just tell you one thing first; this anime won’t be able to wrest the title from K-On!! for a couple of reasons that will be mentioned below.
Set up in a fantasy world, the main male protagonist has been ordered by his white-haired
man-lover country king to find the ancient relics from the ancient era where the legendary heroes slayed the demons + monsters and rescued the world from devastation. Alas, the history is not exactly straightforward even in the fairy-tale world the anime is set up in, therefore the story quickly veered into Tytania’s territory, full with drama but without the war mind games though.
I actually expect a bog-standard fantasy storyline not unlike The Sacred Blacksmith but instead what you can get here is a storyline that is borderline seinen, and definitely can be dubbed as the lite version of Legend of Galactic Heroes. The only thing this anime lacks when compared to Legend of Galactic Heroes is the highly-sophisticated space warfare, but the background drama plots is made of solid writing as magical techniques and swordsmanship skills replaced the lasers and missiles from that venerable space opera. Too bad that the story haven’t concluded though, and there is no news about a new second season as of writing. The ending is written exactly to accommodate one, and many loose ends in the story are still not tied up yet.
The first reason why this anime failed to dethrone K-On!! from the ‘Anime of the Year 2011’ throne is the presentation. Here, I’m referring to the two (or is it three?) flashback prologue episodes that happened early in the series. Flashback episodes by itself is not a bad thing (see Saki) but what I don’t like in this anime’s flashback episodes is the fact that they doesn’t do their intended purposes well. They advanced the main story, but did not clarify gaps in the timeline fully. Some events are not shown at all, and only the end results are shown. This is probably the first time ever I have seen the flashback plot device being used on a plot that is better explained with a more conventional storytelling technique. IMO flashbacks are better used to clarify things, like telling the audience about the background of a character or chronicling a historical event. The flashback episodes in this anime does the latter very poorly, with the gaps and all that.
Nevertheless, if we were to ignore the fact that the flashback plot device is being used to portray the early parts of the anime, the storyline flow smoothly although the pacing is a bit slower than expected (slower for sure than the one in The Sacred Blacksmith). This may have to do with all of those political dramas that sometimes threatened to overwhelm the action part in this anime. While not as good and intense as the dramas in Legend of Galactic Heroes, they are still enjoyable as the proverb ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ slowly comes to fruition. This anime has a pressing need for a second season, just like Tytania is, because there are many loose ends that still have a long way to go.
Character development is also where this anime has done very well. The character roster in this anime is large, but yet almost everyone has appropriate character developments related to their respective roles. The best characters in this anime are definitely the two main male protagonists, whose friendship that is borderline romantic, and are the cornerstones of this anime. One of the mysteries I hoped will be answered in a potential second season is definitely whether they will be together forever at the end. Sorry I have to say to the blond swordswoman and the captain of the Taboo Breaker Squad; both of you won’t get him. He will definitely become the queen of the country.
The character design in this anime is no different than the ones seen in The Sacred Blacksmith and Tytania, amongst others. Black hairs are ultra-rare in this anime, understandably so. But the main male protagonist was called ‘Black-haired demon’ or something like that even when his hair color is brown. A positive aspect for this anime.
Overall, voice acting in this anime is good, with the two main protagonist being the best from all the large characters’ cast in this title. But to see a flawless voice acting gigs from everyone in this anime is a miracle by itself, considering the large size of the cast that increase the probability of bad gigs. A positive aspect for this anime.
The only good thing musically in this anime is the 2nd OP theme. The OST and the rest of the OP/ED themes are either non-existent (the former) or simply not good enough.
The fake rain effect found in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood can also be seen here.
The second reason why this anime won’t dethrone K-On!! from the ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ throne is because this anime uses the blurry animation technique I have mentioned before in this blog, usually in action scenes. See my reviews of past anime titles in this link to see what I am talking about. Using that animation technique results on an automatic one-point deduction from me.
Apart from that, the animation quality in this anime is decent, all around, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography is just average though, with too much dependence on visual special effects than on actual good action. The directing is good with the exception of choosing the flashback method at the start of the anime.
7 out of 10. Could have been better, but a sequel for this series is fully deserved. The next title that will be reviewed here is Katanagatari; I heard good things from it. Maybe a new ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ will be born?
And just like in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the main male protagonist will be opening 'doors' in this anime.