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.