Posted on 17 December 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Denyuuden… was definitely an interesting series. It’s the kind of anime that you normally wouldn’t expect anything great of at first sight (or at least I didn’t), and yet delivers some episodes that completely exceed expectations. The first thing I want to say to people who are planning to give this one a chance: wait until episode three.

This series is a typical example of a series with its ups and downs. About half of it is a bit of a boring fantasy, the other half is an excellent character study. The boring half resides unfortunately around the middle of the series, starting at episode five and lasting for around twelve episodes. They’re basically a long string of building up, filled with uninteresting side-characters and scenarios that have potential, but never really get interesting to warrant the amount of time this show devotes on it.

The final third is where the things get interesting, though: those with patience will be rewarded with some excellent character development: just about every character, even the most annoying ones, gets better, the plot finally spices up and develops as well, abandoning most of its generic fantasy tropes in favour of a much more character-based progression. It ends with a strong conclusion, albeit a very open ended one (and unfortunately the chances for a second season are looking slim).

In terms of graphics, this is a Zexcs production, meaning that a lot of the series looks rather generic. They did surpass themselves in this series at several areas, though. For once, some of the background art is just gorgeous, but there are also these select few episodes that finally ditch the generic looking characters that have been plaguing Zexcs for ages now and deliver some really good animation here.

Denyuuden is definitely unbalanced. For a 26 episode series, it spends too much of its time on building up that’s rather boring. It both makes it very hard for people to get through it, and takes time away from the parts in which this series gets really good. It definitely annoyed me for a couple of months when I was blogging it. And yet, I just can’t say that it left a bad taste. While not quite of Kobato-levels, the final third did make up for the boring parts. It’s a recommendation for people with patience who are looking for an interesting fantasy title.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Pacing could be better, but can really pack a punch when it wants to.
Characters: 9/10 – All characters have their moments of annoyance, especially side-characters like Milk will get on your nerves. Yet, the character development here is really good, especially for the three main characters.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Mostly nothing special, with some very notable exceptions.
Setting: 8/10 – Is at its best when it takes a back-seat and lets the plot and characters guide it. Standalone it’s pretty much your average fantasy setting.

Senkou no Night Raid
Pandora Hearts

Posted on with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

You know what? If this wasn’t the final episode, it would really have been a great halfway climax. And in fact, I still consider this to be an excellent episode. And as an ending: things could have been much, much worse.

This episode was in no way rushed: it really knew what it wanted to do. The main problem with this ending is that expectedly, it leaves a ton of plot threads unresolved. At the end of this episode, the war is still going on, people are still fighting and people still have plenty of things to do that unfortunately will probably never be animated due to the low DVD sales.

And yet, for a show that just cuts off in the middle, it actually had a very good ending: the things that it wanted to close off were closed off well, and this final episode really feels like a conclusion: it both wraps up Ryner, Shion and Ferris, AND it actually develops them some more. With this episode, it feels like we’ve gotten the final pieces of the development in these three.

Compare that to Koukaku no Regios: that one was put under similar conditions, and what did it do? It pulled a huge amount of desperate plot twists that made no sense whatsoever and didn’t really resolve anything. I’m really impressed at how the creators (both the director and Zexcs as well (because yes, this episode looked really good)).

Oh, and yes. Ferris finally being genuine was awesome as well. Kiefer’s appearance on the other hand was a bit coincidental, but I guess it was a necessary evil to also close off her story a bit.

Overall, Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu had its downs, most notably after episode four followed a huge stream of uninteresting episodes. But here’s the thing: Ferris, Ryner and Shion are both well rounded and excellent characters in the end. As for the side-characters, though… they got better. Let’s just keep it at that. ^^;
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 10 December 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

What the hell was that?!

I mean, words can’t describe this episode. Just… watch it. These past twenty minutes were at the same time brilliant and stupid. We’ve only got one episode left, and here this show comes and decides to completely ignore any kind of plot and focus most of its time on silly character antics. No really, 90% of this episode is just random banter between the different lead characters. No Tiaa, no Gastark, no Ryner’s father. We were in the middle of such a dramatic arc: that atmosphere is completely gone for 90% of this episode.

Yet, I have to admit the guts of the creators to go with such an episode. It’s brilliant to come with such a change of mood when just about every normal urge of common sense would say otherwise. I’ve seen a ton of series by now that had to deal with ending way before their source material does that would leave a ton of unresolved plotholes behind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a ballsy way to do it: this episode completely ignored the politics that it knew had no way of wrapping up and instead focused on the characters.

A lot of the dialogue of this episode was just plain silly, yet make no mistake: this episode was really trying to develop its characters. I think that the revelation at the end of this episode was actually quite powerful: this entire episode was simply meant as a farewell party for either Ryner or Shion. Shion made his decision in the previous episodes: he’d kill Ryner. This entire episode was simply trying to give the both of them the time to relax and just be themselves. Oh, and I also loved that scene in which Ferris revealed that she wanted to start a dango shop.

But yeah: the plot. there is no way in which the final episode is going to be able to close off this show properly. Still, this episode showed that the creators are going to try something here. And I admit: if I had to chose between a simple adaptation of the next bunch of chapters, or coming with a twist like this, I’d prefer the latter. Let’s see whether the creators can actually make something out of this.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 3 December 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Another very strong episode for Denyuuden, full of introspection.The arrival of the guy who looks to be Ryner’s father came a bit out of left field, but it definitely gave a whole new spin to this series. I mean, at the start of this series Ryner really looked like this typical hero: huge powers, sad past and fated to save the world or something. He’s more and more turning into the role of a victim here: everyone wants to be able to manipulate his powers and half the country wants him dead. I’m really glad that this didn’t turn out to be the spiritual successor to Koukaku no Regios.

Ferris on the other hand is also miles away from your usual romantic side-kick. I mean has she even once been kidnapped in the series? Instead, she really feels like Ryner’s companion here, and is struggling along with him in order to get away from all of these superpowers that are after him. It’s here where the politics finally get interesting, because without them, Ryner’s situation would not have been able to get this complex.

The scene with Milk and that human experiment was a bit sudden, though. I get what the creators were trying to do there, but it felt a bit out of place, especially when that guy suddenly started talking with the voice of a girl… that was a bit out of place. Apart from that though, I loved Shion’s little introspection, as well as that strange dream in which Ryner ended up meeting what looks like his mother. Also, what is that significance of that strange symbol on Ryner’s chest that prevented him from dying? Is he a bit of the equivalent of a zombie now?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 November 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Whoa, this episode again had some very good animation. While it was nowhere as good as episode 18, it still impressed me in the way it was so “subtly exaggerated”. The downside to this was that the boobs of the females suddenly grew two sizes, but the upside was some very expressive animation, surprisingly smooth inbetween frames and some great camera work. ZEXCS is really getting better here and I hope that they can keep this up. Not of course for the upcoming winter, they’re pretty much hopeless in that regard, but I do hope that after that they’ll be able to more and more let go of their usual generic graphics.

The rest of this episode was also very good: just about every character in it got pushed forward. I especially have to give credit to Milk, who as the once most annoying character of the show was actually very good now, showing that annoying characters have very much the ability to develop into likable ones. I’m still going to continue to rant on them though, because the fact remains that they once were very obnoxious and there are plenty of annoying characters who don’t develop…

The scene between Miran and Shion was probably the only point where the animation got a bit too cheesy, but aside from that it was a very good scene, finally showing Shion putting Miran in his place. It probably was the first point at which Miran really didn’t like the instructions Shion gave him because they stood against the ideals that he saw in him, and at the same time it showed that Shion hasn’t entirely lost his humanity for his dreams of changing Roland.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 November 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Again: a really good episode. I mean, it really took a while for this series to get going, but it’s quite excellent at this point with very few weaknesses left. Ryner’s angst ten episodes ago was still rather annoying. Right now though, with an entire episode dedicated to it, it really shined again: this was such a bittersweet episode for such a seemingly jolly fantasy series.

There is no real good and evil in this series, but the biggest asshole is without a doubt that short-haired Gastark guy. The things that he does in this episode were just… depressing beyond belief, especially after how often this series has reminded us how much the people with the Alpha Stigma have been suffering in the past.

The parts that really made this episode for me was when Ferris got in the picture, though. After 20 episodes, she finally got the chance to yell something other at Ryner than her usual random insults. It’s about time that the relationship between these two developed, and the past episode did a wonderful job there.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 November 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Well, I guess it was to be expected, but this episode reverted back to Denyuuden’s original art style, and it really seems like the previous arc was the work of one particular animator who was in charge of it. Really, people like those need to be in charge of the animation of a whole series: that would really make for some eye candy. A great example of that was Shion no Ou: its budget was small, but its graphics were non-stop powerful.

Anyway, this episode still was really good in the way that it kept juggling its moral scale: Tiia suddenly turns out to have a very noble goal, and the people of Gastark are horrible bastards who murder innocent children on one side, yet compassionate towards each other on the other. I have to admit, nobody in this series is pure good or pure evil, and I appreciate that a lot in this kind of a fantasy series.

On top of that, the drama also really worked. Ryner is suddenly thrust into an environment completely different from the one he grew up in: a warm and inviting one. Half of the episode also was a bit of an aftermath, but I especially loved how Shion reflected upon what happened in the previous episode.

I’m really glad to see that this series is like Kobato, in the way that it’s finally getting really good here. However, Kobato managed to close itself off perfectly, and it was really well planned out. Is the same the case for Denyuuden? I definitely hope so, and this episode definitely gave me hope.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 November 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

This may very well have been the first episode of a ZEXCS series whose visuals genuinely impressed me. I know that the first episode had a big budget and that this episode had a lot of off models and all, but that’s not the point. ZEXCS-series always have this look of genericness, with perhaps the only exception to this point being Umi Monogatari. This episode completely blew my mind, though. The animation completely threw this genericness aside and went all out, and it looked awesome. I know that they just probably got one particularly awesome animation director on this episode, but I’d really love more episodes like this.

And seriously, this pretty much was the best Denyuuden episode since episode three. Perhaps even better. It’s episodes like this that I’ve been waiting for, and I’m really glad that this series is finally picking up, and at least the creators realize it. Now if only the producers who are responsible for the number of episodes would realize this too!

I admit: this Tiia-guy is good. The previous episode introduced him a bit generically, but this episode used that introduction really well when it suddenly turns out that he was genuinely trying to make Ryner into one of his comrades. I really love the bits of character-development here between Ryner and Ferris, and how they’ve actually been separated here.

I think the scene that impressed me the most here was the part in which we saw Shion’s army fire all of those arrows at Tiia. Animating huge armies is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and this show obviously didn’t have the budget to properly animate such an army: most of the time they were just still frames. And yet the way they were drawn, and their arrows flew, it really managed to bring life to them, and make them feel like a real army, rather than just the same guy copied and pasted over and over again like some bizarre house of mirrors.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 29 October 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

So. this episode introduced the guy named “Tiia”, and yet strangely I found myself interested in just about every part of this episode except for him. That’s really meant as a praise, though, because this show is getting better here: the characters are moving away from their stereotypes, there is a ton of change in them, and the overall plot is also getting more and more interesting with every episode. But if the creators want to use such a stereotypical villain like Tiia, they really need to make him into much more of a character than what he showed here.

Of course, I love that Claugh ended up losing his arm: that was just the development he needed. But having him lose that arm by for example wrestling with an angry bear would not really have been that different. That Tiia guy is too much of the “muaha, look at me, I’m evil!”-type of villains. Writing a good villain is difficult, because they often have much less aitrime than the good guys and they’re so easily overdone, and Tiia is currently standing with one leg in that trap.

But really, I loved that the creators ended up splitting the main couple away. Ryner really did get a good scare from Ferris’ brother in the last episode, and you could really see that in this episode. On top of that, Milk really did get kidnapped for a reason, and it’s great to see that for once Miran is meeting his match. Those are some twists I definitely didn’t see coming.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 22 October 2010 with categories: Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu

Yes! This episode headed into the right direction! These are the episodes I want to see! Screw the politics of this series, the finale of this show needs to be about its characters. This episode really added a lot of depth to them, especially to Ferris and her brother. With this episode, I at least got a glimpse of why the second half of this show is supposed to be awesome.

This episode pretty much didn’t touch the story of the warring nations, and instead it showed some of Ferris’ background, her relationship with her brother, and it developed Ryner’s relationship with her as he found out more about her. This is the kind of character development that I’ve been waiting for for what feels like ages now. I also really liked how this episode cemented Ferris’ brother as one heck of a sunovabitch here. And to make matters even better, the creators are also really making Milk more bearable. She was just as annoying in this episode, but the few bits of drama around her felt much more genuine than in those earlier episodes.

Still, this episode in no way fixes all of the problems of this series: its politics still are uninteresting, and the reason why this episode was so good was because it didn’t put any attention to it. Now that I mention it, the reason the first four episodes were so good was because they also didn’t have much of a focus on the politics. It’s usually a genre I really like, because of the many different directions you can go in, and how it can provide pretty deep insights on its setting, though Denyuuden never really felt like that. I’m also missing creativity.

On top of that, I still don’t trust the anime creators, and whether they’re going to be able to stuff the good parts in the nine remaining episodes. They did take an awful lot of time for the boring stuff and the introductions, not to mention that I have seen the previous works of the director, which were all badly planned out. And I know that directors are accompanied by writers who do the series composition and all, but that doesn’t make me less worried here when we’re talking about the guy who wrote the anime adaptation of Kurogane no Linebarrels…
Rating: ** (Excellent)


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.

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