EDIT: Oops, this went out a bit too early.
Arc the Lad anime impressions, part 2
-There were no battle cries from most of the characters
-This is partially subjective, depending on your favorite characters, but basically, some characters are just not portrayed all that well
-Clive, as a villain, is rather underwhelming
-The art style is serviceable but never amazing; the show also has many, many off-model moments as it goes on
-The show starts to drag around the time Seirya gets introduced
-The really weird setting for Arc the Lad is really highlighted by the anime
1. This is really just a nitpick, but I would have really liked to have the characters just shout out their attacks. Elc does this already, and in an unintentional manner as well (COME TO ME FIYAH) but I’m pretty disappointed we didn’t get a “BURN GROUND” or “TOTAL HEALING” from Arc.
2. As mentioned before, this is a bit subjective. I suppose if you were a Iga fan (or a Sania fan like me), you’re not going to appreciate what they do with these characters. Iga basically does nothing and is just a bodyguard for Kukuru, while Sania is completely absent. I am only bothered by one of these (Sania), as I’ve always felt Iga was tacked on in the original game anyway; make no mistake, Iga does get cool bits in II, but I never felt like he should have been one of Arc’s group, so I was less bothered by his use. I also greatly disliked Tosh here because he’s forced to be the straight man to Elc all the time (and a Tosh whose not hot-headed isn’t really Tosh to me)
However, I think the way the villains were handled is a bit less subjective. Due to the introduction of Clive, almost all of the Four Generals suffer. Galluano probably had the worst change, as despite the show informing us of his competency, he ends up clinging/relying on Clive so much that it takes away from Galluano as a threat. The other three Generals weren’t neutered so much (the prominence of the other Generals is exactly as it is in the games), but they were still dealt with in unsatisfying manners (Yagun doesn’t have his twist from the games, the Romanov commander gets killed off-screen and Andel is just forgotten about at the end).
I think the biggest problem is not portraying the Dark One well. He is shown interacting with the Four Generals, but we never get to see him interact with Arc and Elc at the climax of the story. Instead we get Clive, an original villain, who the Generals don’t seem to even care about, who is able to wound Arc and is the one that almost manages to free the Dark One. It’s greatly disappointing because, while the story of the games isn’t unique, the way it plays out, and the villains in particular, are the best aspect. Other people may feel differently, but since I liked that aspect the most, I do have to mark the show down for it.
3. As mentioned before, I greatly disliked Clive as an addition. He just takes away so much from the main villains. This is going to be a mini-rant, but I dislike that he makes Galluano feel less equal to the other Four Generals. Galluano is supposed to be a real bastard, but he comes off as so incompetent with the way he relies on Clive for EVERYTHING. Instead of a General, we get the feeling he’s just some pawn being used for Clive, and that wouldn’t be a problem if the show wasn’t trying to build up Galluano as a threat on the level of Andel or Yagun. The dynamic is just at odds with itself. Anyway, getting back to Clive, in the first half of the show, Clive’s shown “failing” all the time in the tasks given to him by Galluano. This would have been interesting as self-sabotage but somehow, Clive is actually genuinely making these mistakes, which is flat out weird.
Clive gets far more interesting in the second half at least; his interactions outside of the Four Generals (like with the Seiyra Commander or Lieza) are generally interesting, he’s shown with actual weakness (and not “I failed in my task”, but we actually see that he’s physically sick) and we even get his motivations (I won’t spoil this, but it’s a decent, unique origin). He works very well for the story (which is about Arc) but this is the big problem; he’s used as the quint-essential final villain when in reality, he should have just been a super-competent mook. His relationship and interactions to the Four Generals are what don’t convince me.
Clive is never treated as anything other than a competent mook by Andel. Andel doesn’t care what he does as long as it gets results, and while this isn’t a bad idea, it’s executed poorly as that dynamic never changes in the story. He’s always treated like that, even though he manages to wound Arc and speed up the process for the Apocalypse. You don’t have Andel threatening him for looking better than him, you don’t get the Dark One praising him, you don’t get any interactions whatsoever. He keeps doing his own thing alongside the Four Generals, the dynamic between them never changing, and then suddenly Clive is the final villain. This doesn’t make any sense at all, and it feels weird and forced. This could be extreme bias on my part, but I just felt Clive is the one big misstep of the anime.
4. There are some good looking moments early on, but on the whole, there are way too many off-model moments in the show, and the 90’s artystyle makes these stick out so much more than in other anime. The animation and action choreography also never gets particularly interesting, which is what bummed me out. I will say that the intro animation is very well done, and that Arc’s portrayal in the show (as somebody with the power of the four spirtis) is great, if rather cheap to animate. However the action in the show is rather bland besides that. Tosh in particular gets way too many “cool sword poses” after running past an enemy and slashing them. Also Shu doesn’t use a machine gun (though they get points for letting him use ninja wires instead)
5. This is probably my biggest concern for people watching. The pacing for the show is great up until Elc and Lieza meet up with the Arc and crew and get to Seirya. The show becomes such a slog at that point. There’s too much time spent there. I understand the intent there, as the idea is to let the viewer wonder, “is Arc really a villain here?” But even with my pre-knowledge before watching, I feel they make it far too obvious so it instead becomes a drag. The show does pick up eventually, but I feel like the show could have sped things up here. Then there could have been more episodes for the endgame of the show.
6. As well as the chimera aspect is portrayed, I have to note that seeing Arc the Lad’s universe animated just really highlights how weird the universe is. I think this may have been caused by certain changes (e.g. Shu being a traditional ninja, as opposed to using a gun; Tosh not being portrayed as anything other than a super competent swordsman) but yeah it’s just weird to see.
The last part should go up by Saturday