Arc the Lad Anime Impressions, part 1
(This great picture is “Silver Noah” by guntama, click for their Deviantart page)
Unlike the other anime I’ve been watching (that is, Wild Arms: Twilight Venom), I’ve been a bit more focused on this anime. I first started watching this last year (I attempted to marathon the show before going overseas a while back, and that proved to be a terrible idea; I only got halfway through before calling it quits). I’ve finally gotten around to watching the show and to put it simply, this was a surprisingly good, but different, adaptation of the game/s (it’s more an adaptation of the second game than the first game).
The anime is mostly an adaptation of Arc the Lad 2, with Elc and Lieza as the main characters (though Elc is the undisputed protagonist). While, unsurprisingly, the cast of the first game does show up, and references are made to events from the first game, the show is never about Arc and co. as much as it is about Elc and Lieza. This change is fairly straightforward and self-explanatory. And because of this change, the story is a lot better compared to the games. While I still love the first two games, they are “low concept” in regards to story; it’s mostly about the characters, their development and their actions, as opposed to having an extremely unique story progression (though the games do have a unique, if strange, setting and there are interesting deconstructions of fantasy tropes too)
1. The music is surprisingly good for this adaptation
2. Certain characters are very well voiced and fitting.
3. The show does a great job of refitting and rearranging plot points from the game
and putting it into a cohesive and more focused story
4. There’s surprisingly good use of minor characters from the games
5. The pacing for the first half of the show is pretty good
6. The show does an absolutely fantastic job of executing the concept of chimeras
7. The English dub is fairly solid
-1: This was the most surprising element; the music was actually very, very good in places. Generally, I don’t notice music in anime unless it’s really good, so the fact I noticed at all is notable for me. The music was composed by Michiru Oshima, a composer that seems to be mostly known for composing for anime’s, though she has also composed for a number of PlayStation owned IP’s such as the Legaia series (both games) and Ico. Other games in the ATL series she has composed for are Arc the Lad III and Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (though she mostly worked on arrangements).
-2: Certain characters are portrayed very well. While I don’t agree with all of the portrayals, or the voice actors chosen for this dub, they absolutely nailed certain characters. Poco’s voice was on-point, even if his personality wasn’t, and Arc and Kukuru had rather cheesy but fitting voices too.Elc was rather good too (except for the moments where the VA had to shout) and I rather liked Tosh and Shu, even if I didn’t like their portrayals. I think the best character by far had to be Andel.
Andel’s voice actor should be given a raise, because he absolutely nailed the role. While Andel was an excellent villain in the games, his portrayal was fantastic and really made me appreciate the original character so much more. It’s just a complete shame that aside from that one moment, nothing ever substantial is done with him afterwards.
-3: This was probably my favorite aspect. The story for Arc the Lad 2 is rather long and I think they did a good job of fitting most of the important parts into one focused story. Not everything was covered, and some parts were certainly glossed over, but they did well considering the number of episodes in the show. They also did good by the fact that not a single moment brought over from the games ever felt like filler; there was a purpose to these moments and it fit well into the story.
-4: This was a surprise. The show makes surprising use of several minor characters from the games. Like above, the use of the characters didn’t feel like out of place, obvious cameos, they were all well integrated into the story and served a purpose (e.g. the episode with Diek first introduced the mythological elements, the episode with Iris is good at dialing the scale of the show back etc.). Not every minor character is expanded on, and some minor characters (as well as major ones) actually get smaller roles from the original games. But these appearances were a nice surprise and were executed in good, natural way, so the show gets points from me for this.
-5: The show’s first half is very, very good at keeping you hooked. It did still feel a little bit slow to me, but that was because I was already familiar with the story. The show does a good job of giving information, but not too much, and the pacing of the show is very, very good.
-6: The concept of chimera’s in the games always felt rather cheap in its execution. I thought the anime did an absolutely excellent job of showing the sheer horror of the concept. They also do a good job of balancing out chimera and human threats (compared to the games where every single human enemy was revealed to really just be chimeras)
-7: The dub is pretty solid. There are weak areas (and I will be getting to them in the negative part of this pseudo-review) but it was much more solid than I was expecting it to be.
The next part of these impressions will come out in a few more days.