Welcome to our 2017 Fall Anime Reviews. We’ll be tackling a few of the new shows airing this season in fairly brief reviews. The reviews will only cover the first episode of each series unless one catches our eye.
Juni Taisen, which I will henceforth refer to simply as Zodiac War, is a series I’ve had my eye on for a little while now. The art for the book caught my interest, and since I’m a big fan of almost anything dealing with Zodiac lore (Fruits Basket notwithstanding), I was pretty excited for this.
All in all, Zodiac War delivered a pretty solid premier. Representatives of the Zodiac animal families have gathered to participate in a battle to the death, where the winner will receive one wish. Pretty straightforward. It’s a simple plot that makes it attractive to a wider audience. Though I suspect the wider audience will quickly dwindle, as the show is rife with depravity and violence. Still, its characters seem fairly well-defined right out of the gate, and the animation is engaging and fluid, making the show engrossing despite its simple concept.
The more enlightened among you might notice it’s basically Battle Royale with a tighter focus and the Chinese Zodiac animals slapped on top. Is that a bad thing? Not really. It’s all going to come down to execution. And if this first episode is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat. It seems as if each episode will focus on one of the fighters and their motives/backstory, which is actually wise given that there will only be about twelve episodes – the number of fighters, assuming both the brothers (Dragon and Snake, I believe) will receive their own focus. I’m not sure whether that’s intentional, but the episode count seems like it will actually provide a solid foundation for the story, something I don’t think many shows take advantage of enough.
Despite its positive aspects, not everything goes smoothly for the show. Zodiac War mandates that viewers suspend their disbelief to an extent for several reasons, including but not limited to:
- The Juni Taisen battle seemingly taking place for no discernible reason other than wish fulfillment
- The fact that these families persist despite killing off their members every 12 years
- Why everyone would simply just swallow something without knowing what it is. Spoiler alert: It’s poison.
- The fact that no one seems to care about said poison
- The disconnect between the characters and their Zodiac animals – some have physical features such as tails, while others seem to just bear the animal spirit in name only
The show clearly isn’t perfect, but if one can ignore the details and simply focus on the plot at hand, I think the show will prove itself worthwhile.
Last, the show does have one very predictable moment that I won’t completely spoil. But I’ll just say if you watch enough card game anime, you know what’s going to happen when a person internally monologues and visualizes their strategy. It’s one of anime’s tried and true facts.
For anyone a fan of gory action and survival stories, this is definitely a show to check out. I’m excited to see how the show shapes up through the rest of the season, as I’m always on the lookout for a all-out survival story. Now if they could just find a way to incorporate the Cat zodiac sign…