This episode feels like one cruel joke to anyone watching this show subbed. The amount of time where there are multiple characters speaking at once makes it a real challenge to follow the flow of dialogue. It’s not an issue, really, for anyone watching the raw version, but for me it was a bit of a struggle.
Zodiac War (I changed my mind, actually. I’m going to keep calling the show Juni Taisen from now on.) continues this week following multiple combatants. I’m a little disappointed it’s not going to follow the structure implemented last episode – with one character receiving focus and getting backstory. I suppose that would ultimately prove too predictable in terms of who would die, though I will say this episode was still fairly predictable nonetheless.
The writing isn’t bad; there’s just nothing yet to really cause it to stand out. The same “card game anime logic” as last week rears its head this week. Just don’t internally monologue your plans and you’ll be fine. Come on. Not that hard. I digress. Really, it’s mostly just a certain character being incredibly stupid, powering up a temporary ally without first taking time to understand that ally’s own capabilities. This person worked purely on assumptions, and in a life or death situation, that’s not nearly enough.
Predictability and idiocy aside, watching the team dynamics form is still worthwhile. This episode Monkey and Rat solidify their pact, Horse seeks an alliance with Ox, and Rooster looks for an ally to work with against Rabbit, Boar, and the twin (I’m still not sure which one bit the dust). That still leaves several characters going it solo, and I highly doubt so many alliances would last very long in a battle royal. People will only work together so long as it suits their purpose, and there’s bound to be plenty of complications throughout this elimination game. Though we don’t know much about his character yet, if these warriors are supposed to carry traits of their animals, I’m especially expecting the Rat to be more shrewd. The Rat did betray the Cat and Ox in the folktale after all. Simply put, I’ll be impressed if any of the traits from the tale carry over.
The series is still in its early stages, so it has plenty of room to flex its storytelling muscles. Characters such as Monkey, Rat, Rooster, Ox, and Horse all provide some interesting dynamics that could help shake things up down the road. (It’s just easier to call them their animal signs instead of their actual names.) In fact, all the characters are interesting, and the show is doing a decent job illustrating their base personalities and motivations in such a quick span of time. The script is tight, and while it may lean a little on the mundane side for now, the simple thrill of a survival game is still enough to keep the series afloat. In due time, I think this show will really show us what it can bring to the table through more involved action and psychological scenes.
Speaking of, I’m a little miffed that we got so little action this episode. There’s an encounter between Rooster and Dog that could have benefited from even the slightest incorporation of action. The rough-lined animation really lends itself to fluid fight scenes, so it seems a little underwhelming for there to be such little action. The show looks great. I personally just want it to reach a little higher and show off some really “Wow!” scenes, which I’m sure will come around in due time.
Juni Taisen continues to prove that its worth watching, if only because it’s far from bad. There’s nothing spectacular about it yet, but it has the necessary components to change that at the drop of a hat.
Side note, the ending theme visuals are quite nice, as they reveal the regular lives of the warriors. While not nearly as poignant as Deadman Wonderland‘s rendition of this idea, it’s still a nice touch to show off what an average day for each warrior looked like before the tournament.