Märchen Awakens Romance (メルヘヴン)

All posts tagged Märchen Awakens Romance (メルヘヴン)

The main male protagonist…

Märchen Awakens Romance is just the third anime series I reviewed here that contained 100 or more episodes, and that’s why it took me a little bit more than a month to watch the whole goddamn thing. This review would have come much earlier though if I don’t waste a week or so playing The Last Remnants, and probably even earlier if the War Game arc doesn’t suck. This is an anime released 5 years ago in 2005, therefore none of the ‘Anime of the Year’ title holders will be challenged for today.

…and this is his talking weapon who is also the best character in this anime.

The fantasy world of MAR Heaven descends into chaos with the return of the mysterious and evil organization called Chess Piece, after 6 years of hiatus. Not knowing what to do themselves, one of the side characters summoned the unsuspecting main male protagonist from the present-day Japan so that he can help get rid of the aforementioned evil group that is hell-bent to destroy the world.

A hero must have a sidekick too…

The typical shounen-genre storyline is not that bad, but oh boy this anime is way too predictable, even when compared to its peers in the same genre. It doesn’t really help either that the storyline contained some plotholes, plus there are some unexplained issues that still remains after the last episode finished playing. The writer could have spiced up the story if he/she wasn’t too conservative in his/her writing, which makes the story conforms too much with the norms of a shounen-genre storywriting. This anime could have benefited from more usage of some common storytelling techniques such as plot twists etc.

…and some much-needed comic-relief also has to be there, or else the team will be dull. Surprisingly, she is also the main protagonist love-interest.

The presentation of this anime is mixed bag at best, and this mainly have to do with the humongous War Game arc that takes at least two-thirds of this anime’s (very long) airtime. Prior to the start of the War Game tournament, the anime has one of the best pacing and story development I have seen in an anime for quite some time, where the story simply develops nicely without any distraction whatsoever. The pacing is excellent too during that period. Then come the War Game arc, where the great start this anime has started to unravel.

The Dragonball-esque War Game tournament. The tournaments in DragonBall are much better though.

The first casualty of the War Game arc is that the story development slowed down heavily right when the tournament started. But this is still acceptable because real character developments also start happening at the same period. The pacing is still good up until the fifth round of the said tournament where filler episodes started appearing between the fifth and sixth round and also between the sixth and seventh round (the last one). These filler episodes, nearly 20 episodes of them all combined, are the primary main reason the War Game arc sinks at the end. As usual, these filler episodes are completely useless; they doesn’t advance the main storyline, actually harm characters’ developments as the main protagonist and his team prepare for the final battle, and completely destroy the great pacing that the anime has at that point. These episodes doesn’t exist at all between the earlier rounds, making them far more palatable even when very nature of the War Game itself is plagued by a couple of problems.

Quoted For Truth, uttered by the best character in this anime.

The first problem is that the War Game tournament has a very strange rule in place, where if the captain of a team loses in a match, the said team will automatically loses the round, and subsequently the tournament, even if the losing captain’s team is leading in the match count for the said round. The writer apparently doesn’t realize that by applying this kind of rule, this anime viewers will be able to easily predict the result of the tournament (hint: Team Ginta never lose a single round). Couple that with the fact that the writer only allows the main protagonist’s team to not use the captain only once (the rule allows unlimited non-usage of team captain in any given round), the only thing that viewers can anticipate is how the main protagonist’s team will won, not if they will won or not.

Proof that the writer has run out of ideas when choreographing the latter battles in the War Game tournament.

The second problem is there are a lot of fighting/battles in this arc, which, by the end of the tournament, the writer has simply runs out of ideas on how to choreograph them, especially in the latter rounds. The battles in earlier round in this tournament are excellent, helped by the fact that this anime actually has very good action choreography. But the quality of the battles in latter rounds deteriorates rapidly, and the writer has to resort to improper usage of plot devices (very obvious after the first visit to Caldea) and even a couple of deux ex machina moments. Couple that with the fact that the main protagonist’s team always win in the tournament, and we have a flawed (very big) story arc in the first place.

One of the most annoying emo character in anime history, even worse that the main protagonist of La Corda D’Oro ~primo passo~. She died at the end of this anime and WASN'T REVIVED. For that, I give this anime one extra point for the final evaluation of this anime.

Character development are done well in general, except during the portion in the War Game tournament mentioned above. The filler episodes harmed character developments in this anime during that time by obscuring any visible power-ups that the characters in the main protagonist’s team may have, especially between the penultimate sixth round and the last seventh round. It is obvious that the team has improved during the gap between sixth and seventh round, but the multiple side-stories (which is not even remotely connected to the main storyline) doesn’t indicate that any improvement has happened. There is another interesting fact that you can see from the main protagonist’s development; he should have been able to use 8 forms of his talking weapon, but at the end of the series, he only use 7 of them (running out of ideas huh). And BTW, the talking weapon of his is definitely the best character in the anime, comparable to his counterpart in Bokurano.

And here she is, being told of her proper place by the macho men in this anime.

The ending is actually very decent, a much-needed respite from the woeful War Game arc. Still very predictable though, at that point, I have abandoned any hope of the ending springing any surprises on me. Even that, there are some unanswered questions this anime left hanging, such as the true origins of Nanashi, and the relationship between the main protagonist’s mom and Queen Diana.

All those abuse took a heavy toll on her, psychologically.

Character Design:-
This shounen-genre anime has your common shounen-genre character design, with small occurrence of black hairs. Even the main protagonist, the native of present-day Japan, is a shiny blonde character. No one stands out here. Guardian designs are mixed bag, some of them are good (especially hand-drawn ones) but many others are bad (usually CGI models).

Another annoying character in this anime. She doesn't die though, which is a pity. If she died, this anime would have gotten 10 out of 10 score no matter how bad this anime is in other sections.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is just so-so in general, below average even. Still, there are some outstanding characters in this anime for this aspect. The talking weapon (a.k.a. the best character in this anime), the main antagonist (who used to wield him) and the annoying fairy are the three of them.

Another technique ripped straight from DragonBall and used by the main protagonist in the final battle.

The OST in this anime is excellent, verily so. But from the many OP/ED themes this anime has, only the 2nd OP theme and 2nd ED theme is any good.

His left-hand was supposed to be chained in this scene, but a screw-up by the director ensured that this doesn't happen.

The animation in this anime is good, but can be jerky in fast-paced scenes. Integration between 2D animation and CGI videos are not seamless most of the time. The choreography is good as mentioned in the story section. The director has not done his/her job properly, with all those frayed ends and plotholes, and the filler episodes etc.

Epiphany – yet another literary technique that the writer misuse a lot.

7 out of 10.
I’m somewhat proud that I can actually finish watching this anime, lesser mortals out there will definitely drop this anime somewhere during the War Game arc. Coming next: the new Evangelion movie!

Plot device – Also misused a lot in this anime.

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