Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): Adventure, drama, fantasy, historical
Initial Interest: Medium
Favorite Character: Balsa
Likely to Finish: Possibly
Balsa the spearwoman is a wandering warrior, who takes on the task of saving lives, in atonement for a past sin. On her journey, she happens to save a prince, and is tasked with becoming his bodyguard. And he is going to need one, for his own father, the emperor, wants him dead. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)
So this is one of the many series that are now available through Netflix streaming that I was mildly curious about based on the artwork but hadn’t even attempted to watch because Netflix hasn’t officially added subtitles as an option for viewing. I haven’t checked yet to see if it is subtitled anyway as some of the titles are. It doesn’t seem to be Funimation so there’s a chance anyway. It’s on Hulu also, I think, so I shouldn’t have too much trouble.
The thing is I was only mildly curious, as I said, based on the artwork. I had no idea what it was about. So at the suggestion of a friend I am going to be watching and reviewing 5 episodes for this blog but, having read the synopsis, I’m not really all that psyched. It could be interesting, or boring, or cliché. We’ll just have to find out.
This is another one of those limited choices picks. There are a good sized handful of people in the first few episodes but most of them are support character with very little characterization or relevance for the time being. While I’m fairly certain that Tanda will eventually develop into an actual person, and one I think I could really like, he hasn’t yet. So the default choice is Balsa… and really even she hasn’t been developed much yet. She’s strong and independent, but with a good heart. And I’m sure she’s much more likeable in Japanese. Sadly her English voice actress seems to lack much emotion.
What they did well: They’re building a solid story. I can see that there are some pretty big plot points that viewers may want to discover which will draw them into watching it. For my money I don’t believe the water spirit can be as inherently bad news as they’ve thus far implied and would like to see if my suspicions are correct. Additionally I would very much like to understand Balsa’s backstory and wouldn’t be at all averse to watching her grow enough as a character to rely more on those around her. They have also done a pretty good job so far of making a cast entirely of gray characters. Even the Mikado, who is at first attempting to have his son assassinated and later intending to kill him himself, can be seen in a sympathetic light – after all he believes it’s a water demon that will cause a bad drought, should he really choose his son over his people?
What they didn’t do well: The pacing on this is extremely slow, and while I can see that this is a story that flows best with this kind of pacing I know that many people cannot watch a slow series. I myself sometimes find it difficult and was more than a little bored through a good portion of these five episodes. Also, I personally believe the dubbing sucks. Granted I’m a bit biased, I enjoy subtitled anime more nine times out of ten, but there’s a difference between ‘I don’t like dubs’ and ‘Within the overall context of dubs, this one sucks’ and this one sucks. As I said above the woman voicing Balsa is not at all emotive and she isn’t the only one. Most of the cast sounded pretty deadpan to me and the person who seemed to do the best acting was Touya – a minor character that I don’t have much expectation of becoming particularly important. They’re also introducing a pretty wide cast, it’s becoming tricky to follow what names are whose and if they’re important or not… I had to look up Touya’s name just now, and I rather like him this far if only because he has personality.
This is one of those shows that I’m uncertain about. I can certainly see the appeal and I may yet finish it, but it has some problems that will drive the wider audience away.
Next official review: Dream Eater Merry – though as my brother is getting married next weekend it may be a bit delayed.