Posted on 28 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Guin Saga



Guin Saga: epic fantasy done absolutely right. It’s based on a series of light novels, counting in at a whopping 130 volumes, and these 26 episodes animate the first 19 volumes of the story. It’s a terrific combination between classic fantasy and politics, Satelight did a great job in bringing the whole story to life.

There’s a lot of things at which this series stands out, among which is its absolutely HUGE cast of characters. Despite this size, a lot of them still manage to stand out as individuals, with their own roles, motives and purposes. it’s also no wonder that the story in this series is incredibly complex, successfully combining king-level politics together with small-scale battles and fights. A lot of the major characters go through quite a bit of development throughout the series, and especially the developments of Remus and Amnelis, who both start out as the most useless characters of the entire cast, is memorable.

As for the graphics, the story Guin Saga is so epic that you’d need the budget of a Hollywood movie in order to fully do it credit. Satelight obviously didn’t have this, but they definitely tried. Despite the limited budget, this series is full of eye-candy. The graphical designs in this series are absolutely amazing. The architecture and landscapes are incredibly imaginative, the character-designs make every single character unique, even the most insignificant ones that don’t have any dialogue (with the only exception those soldiers that always have their helmets on). On top of that it also has an amazing soundtrack to complement the epic atmosphere, with an OP and ED that I would rank among the best of the past half year.

But yeah, in order to make these amazing graphics possible, sacrifices had to be made. The animation is often jerky and rushed, but this series especially shows its weakest side during the battles between huge armies, which end up just as an onslaught of repeated frames and bad animation that fail to capture the grandeur of such large-scale battles. Thankfully, the creators realize this and as the show goes on they focus more and more on what they’re good at: short and sweet action-scenes, politics and character-development. And they do this really well.

I wouldn’t exactly recommend Guin Saga for those who are looking for just action. There’s Shin Mazinger for those people. Instead, the Guin Saga has a bit of everything: politics, action and character-development. If that sounds interesting to you, then by all means give this series a chance, because it’s one of the most epic shows to have come out in the past year along with the new Mazinger.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on with categories: Guin Saga



What an ending. Out of all of the shows that ended in the past weeks that still need a second season (which really are a lot), Guin Saga deserves it the most. This episode only made this series even more intriguing, but at the same time it’s also a bit disheartening that out of all those shows, no second season has been announced at all, apart from a small OVA for GA. I have this fear that in these times of economic crisis, only the series that sell really well end up getting their second season, and that really puts the Guin Saga at a disadvantage.

But yeah, in this episode we get the first real hint that the thing that possessed Remus isn’t going to be an entirely good thing for him. Sure, it made his testicles drop and gave him the much-needed courage, but there has to be a reason for the thing to have done this, and I doubt that it did this for Remus’ sake.

The fight between Istvan and Guin was also very intense. When this series animates one-on-one fights, they really kick ass, and the creators really manage to portray the sheer force of Guin’s strength. I was a bit afraid that Guin was going to remain in Parro after he saved Remus and Linda, but at this point it really looks like the second season, if it’s ever going to show up, is going to focus on him on his own, rather than as Remus and Linda’s bodyguard.

Overall, my top 3 of series that aired during the past spring season is at this point pretty much 1) Phantom 2) Shangri-La 3) Guin Saga, although there are still three strong series that still haven’t finished yet (Konnichiwa Anne, Full Metal Alchemist and Cross Game), and there is a chance that one of these is going to take over one of these places if they manage to finish with a really strong final part, but for now Guin Saga really stands among my favourites of the past half year. It really was nearly everything that epic fantasy should be, save from the large-scale battles.

The ED, which was played in its entirety in this episode, really deserves to stand among the greatest EDs that aired this past half year. The singer really has an amazing voice, and the whole song really complements the epic nature of this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 September 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



Strange use of budget this episode: a lot of still shots, far-away shots, distorted faces, and yet absolutely stunning backgrounds, and a really great fight between Guin and that strange kid, who turns out to be some sort of strange monster. With this however, I’m certain of my Top 3 of the past spring season: Phantom, Shangri-La and the Guin Saga comes in third. Sure, there are still a bunch of shows that aren’t finished yet, but technically the same also goes for this series.

The strange thing is that this episode pretty much wraps up the current arc… and there’s still one episode left. Heck, it has already started to introduce the upcoming arc in which Scar heads off to Nosferas, Amnelis gains the favour of the kingdom that captured her and Istvan returns back to Guin, Remus and Linda. The next episode should probably continue these introductions.

And with that, Guin Saga joins the long list of series that still need another adaptation. I think the most annoying thing is that at this point, there is no way to know whether it’ll actually get one. With the announcements of new seasons of series as Inu Yasha and Harukanaru no Toki no Naka de suddenly appearing from out of nowhere, it could even take years for the next season to be announced.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 14 September 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



Oh my, the creators actually found a solution to the badly animated wars: skip them, and just show the aftermath. Oh boy, I never saw that one coming. While at first sight cheap, I believe that this was the best choice that they could have made. Imagine what would have happened if they did animate those fights: it would have overrun the screen with fake CG, unbelievable animation and stock footage that probably would have been used over and over again. It would have ruined the suspension just like what it did in the Nosferas Arc.

They also give an interesting anticlimactic air to the battles, which in turn works SO well with Amnelis’ development: here she is, ready to kick Naris’ butt for betraying her, and then her father collapses, she’s forced to retreat, gets cornered and charges anyway, only to be mercilessly slaughtered. It spells pathetic all over her, and yet that only solidifies her growth as a character, and develops her even more. We probably have to wait for the second season (SECOND SEASON WHERE!?) to see what it exactly paid off for, but I really loved Amnelis throughout this episode, even though just about everything went wrong for her.

If anything, the deletion of the battles show that the creators more than anything know what they’re good at, and focus on those things while leaving the large-scale battles for what they are, because they simply don’t have the budget to make them work. I must congratulate Satelight for making this decision, because despite these battles, this episode rocked beyond belief.

Also, it’s interesting that Guin’s side-story has been anime-original, but I can somewhat understand why the creators chose to do it. After all, this series is called “Guin Saga”, but his role has been that of a mere side-character for the past arc. Instead, the series could just as sell have been called the “Naris Saga”, “Amnelis Saga”, or perhaps even the “Remus Saga”. So yeah, after all that he does deserve his own place in the spotlights in the end, saving Remus and Linda from that blond guy. it forms a nice conclusion and yet at the same time isn’t going to get in the way of that second season (SECOND SEASON WHERE?!).
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 7 September 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



At the end of this episode, there’s an insert song. I suspect the lyrics to be gibberish or some other obscure language, and I don’t exactly know who sung it, but whoever she was, she really has an amazing voice. Thumbs up to whoever she was.

Anyway, yet another episode of excellent buildup, and a surprising scene from Sumni who proves once and for all that she’s able to kick ass. Probably the most important part in this episode was Guin (ZOMG) leaving Remus and Linda: for one, he did it because he’s targeted and Remus nearly got killed if it wasn’t for Sumni, and this also allows him to pursue his own goals, now that Remus and Linda have found their place back where they belong. At the same time, Istvan also learns that Naris is planning to marry Linda for his own goals, and quickly ends the alliance he made with him.

Looking back, the weakest part of the Guin Saga was definitely the CG of the Mongol army in the Nosferas arc: while a nice try, the creators just weren’t able to simulate grand grand-scale battles with the limited budget they had. That does sort-of worry me for the finale for this series, as it promises to end with an all-out battle between the armies of Naris, Amnelis, Remus and Scar. Did the creators save up enough budget to make it work, or does the plot have a few more surprises to make up for the flawed battles?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 31 August 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



It’s episodes like these that really show how good this series has been at building up. Amnelis in this episode was definitely one of the highlights of the entire series for me. And that’s the thing with incredibly flawed characters in a good series: they start out rather annoying, but when they do develop properly, they make much more impact than any Mary Sue could have done.

Remus’ change from wimp to evil overlord happened very sudden, but with Amnelis, her transition from an incompetent princess to a hate-filled warlord has taken up much more time, and this episode really was the key in her development. Not only did he deceive her, but because he has become unreachable for her to even carry out her revenge, it completely changes the way Amnelis used to be. The question is: is her moment to redeem herself going to happen in the next four episodes? If not, then I’ll repeat the same words again: SECOND SEASON WHERE!?

Last episode’s climax was pretty interesting: it suggested an epic fight between Guin and some mysterious orc-like people… and yet the fight was over within a minute, and it just turned out to be a build-up for the Yellow-haired guy’s plans to bring him down. Again: do we get to see whatever he’s building up to within the next four episodes? I have no bloody clue.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 24 August 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



Haha! This series is getting closer and closer to the big climax. Or at least… the big climax that’s going to close off the first of hopefully many Guin Saga seasons. To be honest, out of all the shows I’m watching right now that are about to end, this is the series that I’m rooting for a sequel the most. With a show focused so heavily on politics, you really NEED lots and lots of episodes to get the best out of it. The same goes with Tytania. Looking back, it just isn’t worth watching if the producers had no intentions to animate the second half of the story.

In any case, this is one of those typical episodes in which the plot thickens, mostly around the Parro revolution. It becomes clear that a lot of the former citizens of Parro have grown rather tired by the Mongol occupation, and while on their own they don’t stand much of a chance (their strategy of rolling inside barrels may have worked for a few soldiers, but they were quickly outdone by the Mongol soldiers), however Naris managed to get them under his control in time, and so they’ll prove to be of a much better use rather than simply Mongol Target Practice.

Speaking of which… I’m surprised that Naris so easily gave up the cover that he was dead. I’m still not exactly sure why he bothered to try and marry Amnelis, though it might have been a move to confuse the enemy and humiliate them. In any case, it’s going to be interesting to see how Amnelis is going to react when she learns of this.

Cuthron (or however you spell that in English), unfortunately ended up dying in this episode, because he was being out-witted by the very same Mongol officer that he was trying to kill. It turns out that he was a traitor in the Mongol army; my memory isn’t exactly clear on this matter, but if I recall correctly he was converted by Rikia when she was taking care of Naris’ fake assassination.

Speaking of which, only when I went to the official site to look up Cuthron’s name I realized the incredible size of the cast of this series. Seriously, it’s a enormous washing-list that just keeps on and on. It’s amazing that so many characters have already passed the screen. Especially considering how we’re only at what? Novel fifteen out of 130? At this rate this show has a good chance of surpassing even Baccano and Saiunkoku Monogatari in terms of its amount of characters… Especially Mister Question Mark intrigues me. Why did the creators bother to put him (or her) up when there’s absolutely nothing known about him (or her).
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 17 August 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



This episode was a bit hard for me to understand, simply because so many things happened in it and a lot of characters I hardly even knew played a big role in it. It’s a build-up episode in which a lot of different stuff happens. While Remus prepares to take Parro back from the Mongols, a lot of other players are also putting their pieces in the right positions.

I suspect that a lot will become more clear in the next few episodes, but things are definitely looking exciting with that many players around. Istvan happens to intercept a secret message from the Mongols which makes him regret deceiving and killing the general, back in Nosferas, since his family is now looking for the one who did it.

With six episodes left after this, I wonder how the creators are planning to end this series. Are they going to rush through the current arc in order to get to the point of some big climax at episode 26, or are they simply going to keep up the same pace and just stop adapting once episode 26 has passed. If there is going to be a sequel, I’d obviously prefer the latter, but if the creators aren’t going to make a sequel then I’d at least see some sort of satisfying conclusion that at least wraps up the biggest plot threads.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 10 August 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



And this episode starts what’s probably going to be the final arc of the first (and really hopefully not last!) season of Guin Saga. It turns out that we’re going to go to large scale warfare again, since the main focus is going to be Remus, getting Parro back from the Mongols. And damn, I really have to say that after the change of clothes he and Linda got they look a lot more mature than when they walked around in those silly robes and pirate clothes.

I wonder what Guin is going to do in this arc. While he was the main character of the first half of this series, his role got much smaller in the second half in which the focus fell more on Ardnaris and Remus. The end of this episode shows a bunch of people who seem to be after him, but I still don’t see him picking up the lead role in this arc any time soon.

The romance also got developed in this episode. Remus turned into a huge chick magnet and landed himself a future wife, and in the meantime Istvan temporarily says goodbye to Linda as he attempts to become a worthy man to become her husband.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 3 August 2009 with categories: Guin Saga



And here we have the big climax for the Naris Amnelis Marriage. Again, there’s no Guin, Remus, Linda or Istvan whatsoever and instead we’ve got an entire episode of political intrigue. I must say that after watching this arc in Guin Saga, Tytania is looking less and less impressive right now, because Guin Saga has done a much better job at it when it comes to the political intrigue part. If only a second season got announced. But yeah, Guin Saga has the same problem.

I’m really not sure whether Satelight is going to go for a second season of Guin Saga. Looking at their past series, they are the type of studio that milks their franchises as soon as they get popular (like with Macross and especially Shugo Chara shows that they do have the guts to carry a series for a hundred episodes, which is just what this series needs), but the thing is: Guin Saga isn’t popular at all. I have no idea whether or not the Satelight Executives feel something for doing this story justice and animating all of the volumes.

In any case, this episode provided a very interesting conclusion which went totally against my expectations. The Naris that attended the wedding turns out to have been a dummy. So when Astrias comes and kills the dummy off with a poisoned sword, everyone believes that Naris had died, which turns out to have exactly been what Naris intended. And to think that this is going to mean even more character-development for Amnelis, who not only lost her future husband, but also her little brother got killed off by Marius’ boss who didn’t see much money in Marius controlling and influencing him.

What also intrigues me is how there still seems to be a role for Astrias… he didn’t die, but he just got taken away by someone I suspect to be Ardnaris. What kind of use can still be there for him?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 01:14 PM)
    Additionally Hammill’s joker got both sides of the character down perfectly.
    My favourite depiction of the joker though is definately in Grant Morrison’s arkham asylum graphic novel.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:56 PM)
    @bam, Ledger was the best possible live action joker. But Hamell is the real joker to me. When you read jokers lines in the comics, you hear Hammill. Still that fellow in batman arkham origins didn’t do too bad a job.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:19 PM)
    @Bam: I remember loving the hell out of that old animated Batman movie from the 90s, mask of Phantasm, that mystery of Batwoman one was worthwhile also.
    Here is the new Jared Leto joker: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b3dc8ee4b051b96ceb10de/t/54870f57e4b074be5ade38ad/1418137431644/jared-leto-as-the-joker-in-suicide-squad-fan-art
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:06 PM)
    Also it was neat for FF9 to include summons as a plot element. They always existed outside of the story, as most of that series’ battle mechanics seem to happen in a bubble separate from the actual stories.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    *@Emma lol
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    @Joker: he definitely had the quintessential Joker laugh. Ledger was good, but also a lot grirrier due to the film’s tone. That whole animated series is one of main reasons why Batman is still so popular even with the 90s kids who cared very little about comics at that point.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 11:02 AM)
    @Bam: I feel the same way about Mark Hammill voicing the joker.
    As for FF9, I really liked that games take on the Alexander summon.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 09:45 AM)
    @K-off: That’s pretty cool. Conroy is easily the best portrayal of the Dark Knight- as somebody who got the Batman/Bruce Wayne dichotomy down like no other. The trick to get their attention is to be real with them, since they’ve heard every possibly fan praise a million times. I still remember how Maynard’s eyes lit up when my friend screamed “Hey Maynard! You’re a Tool!” at a Napa wine-tasting function he was hosting. You can always bank on weird.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 07:17 AM)
    Very exciting, got to chat with Kevin Conroy in Vegas. I dropped 40$ to get a signature, but I met him afterwards outside the convention hall and talked some generic “fan-to-celebrity” talk, telling him how much I respected his work. I ain’t complaining though.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:43 AM)
    I enjoyed Vivi’s storyline tho. I think even tho he was bland and quiet he still had the most emotional developments as a character, which tied in to identity and what it means to be alive. I also liked the “I want to be your Canary” play within the game, it was like a fleshed-out version of the Opera House scene from FF6.

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