Posted by psgels on 26 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


Hiroshi Watanabe intrigues me. No matter what kind of utter crap he produces, he intrigues me like no other. The guy is a brilliant writer, he has a bizarre sense of humour, and at the same time he can come up with the most terrible and cheesy storylines ever. The guy has also been around for a decade now, and made a wide variety of series, so there has to be someone who sees something in the guy. Call it a guilty pleasure, but there has to be something wrong when I have no problems remembering his name, and yet I can’t recall the name of the director of Noein and Escaflowne at all. As much as I hate to admit it, the big “twists” in Suteki Tantei Labyrinth and Shining Tears x Wind have made a lasting impression on me.

In any case, King of Bandits Jing is typical Hiroshi Watanabe: incredibly cheesy and incredibly creative. You can see it as a canvas for creative ideas, in the sense of “I have an idea and I don’t care how stupid it sounds”. Seriously, you’ll have trouble to find a series with more creativity and originality than this one. Swords that turn out to be keys? Musical train tracks? Grapes of time? Delicious! On top of that, this series can also boast one of the best character-designers out there: Mariko Oka, who also did the character-designs on Jigoku Shoujo and Ghost Hound. The result is a bunch of absolutely beautiful female character-designs.

But yeah, Hiroshi Watanabe’s series have always been a very strange combination of awesomeness and utter crap, and King of Bandits Jing is no exception. The amount of Deus ex Machina that bombard the screen is only surpassed by the second half of Star Ocean Ex (which, you guessed it, was also directed by Hiroshi Watanabe). The series is incredibly formulaic: King of Bandits Jing and his partner Kir (a horny crow) enter a city in order to steal something, meet a cute girl whose name is a reference to heavy liquor, Gir flirts with her, and at the end of the story Jing has saved the day and defeated the villain in the form of an ugly man. In the final arc, Jing and Kir still enter a city in order to steal something, meet a cute girl whose name is a reference to liquor, flirt with her and end up saving the day by defeating the villain in the form of an ugly man (okay, one of these villains is an ugly woman, but she doesn’t count as she looks way too much like a man!!). Gir gets one episode of development, but this development is never used, and Jing never develops at all. No background whatsoever!

The different stories have a huge difference in overall quality. Some are utter crap, others are average, others are entertaining and one or two episodes are utterly amazing. The one thing I love about Hiroshi Watanabe’s works is that you’ll never know when he shows his best side, and King of Bandits Jing is no different. I want to give especially credit to the artist-episode. It stands miles above the other shorts in terms of storytelling, and it was without a doubt the highlight of this series. The ending of the series shows why Hiroshi Watanabe is the absolute king of cheesy plot-twists, but I don’t care, I love this guy’s works, despite the very obvious flaws.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 6/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

3 Responses

  1. senerikfred says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I have to track down this manga at some point. I tried to watch the anime, but it annoyed the hell out of me within the first ten minutes. The note I must make on this is that the anime doesn’t seem to have taken any of its stories from the manga, my investigation of such per wikipedia. And in the one chapter I’ve managed to find of the manga, Jing does get development(and was considerably less annoying than he managed to be in ten minutes of animation), and though there is a girl, neither of them flirt with her.
    I find your fascination with this Watanabe guy beyond me, but the vast differences between your taste and mine make coming here interesting. Always nice to see other people who’ve actually heard of this series, though.

  2. Lika says:

    I remembered loving this manga a long time back and being scandalized by how “toned down” the anime was. Nothing quite brings on the weird like the Jing manga…

  3. Protodude says:

    There’s a two episode ova after this, one of which shows how Jing met Kir.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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