Wednesday, November 5, 2014

[New][October 2014] Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Last Seen: Episode 5

Summary: Set in a pseudo Western European medieval era during times of war. Eleanor Vertalia(?), one of the Vanadis of Zhcted, leads the battle into Brune. There are seven Vanadis, each having received a powerful weapon from the Black Dragon to reign over one of Zhcted's seven territories. The power of the Vanadis invokes dread and fear in their enemies.
An earl in the service of the country of Brune, a young archer by the name of Tigrevurmud Vorn, experiences the Vanadis's power firsthand after being defeated on the battlefield by Eleanor. However, she chooses to spare his life after witnessing his skills, but in exchange, he is asked to serve her...and then to cede his lands.

First Impression: This was a mixed bag right out of the gate. To start the ball rolling, I found this anime from, of all places, Imgur, one of its scenes being used in a .gif that made it to the front page.
[Aside] Reference [Aside end]
The poster was kind enough to cite the anime used for the gif, and I was interested by the scene so I went looking for it. Things got more interesting from there out. See, I was under the impression this was an old anime that had already completed. So I briefly checked Crunchyroll for it, (not expecting much, Crunchyroll basically purged their entire archive when they went Legal), and then started hunting the less official anime streaming websites for it. Short story? I didn't find it as easily as I was expecting. Finally, I just googled it, and of all places, it shows up on HULU. Hulu, the next thing to be TV, since TV. Then comes the next shock, when the first thing Hulu does is slap a big ole RATED M FOR MATURE in my face. That got a kind of 'Ehhh..?' from me. Hulu being very "TV'ish" their moral standards bar is set a lot higher than most things since they use the standardized maturity rating system TV and movies do(as far as I can tell). Never-the-less, that colored my opinion pretty darkly right away. As a point of reference, Hulu's summary is GARBAGE. It painted this in a very.. well. Hulu's summary + the other summary I read made this sound like a very clean fit for the Harem genre.
It's not
That is the standing I went into this anime with. Be aware, this is never the kind of opinion any anime wants me to start watching it in, it's a good way to get dropped within two episodes. Here I am however, having watched five episodes(the last of which was a pain in the arse to find, by the way).
It should go without saying that it impressed me, so far.

Personal Opinion: Two thumbs, WAY-way up. Is it mature? Yeah, I'll say it's mature. Except that it's mature as such that I wouldn't want children to watch it until they were older, not because I didn't want them to be poorly influenced by its content, but because I wanted to be sure they were mature enough to understand all of its content and appreciate it. I'm just going to put my best card on the table right away, and say that this anime had a bath scene within the first episode, and it impressed me. That sentence would have been a contradiction anywhere else in my life. The show got the ball rolling pretty fast out of the gate with how...human all of the characters were acting.
I'd use the word mature, but it has a similar connotation baggage the way 'Hard-boiled' used to. A specific check-list of things a trope tics off to fit into that description. The same kind of baggage that comes with the word 'Realism' in games lately meaning making it more Gritty and Edgy(and typically brown and grey, sometimes red).
In short, this show is mature in the way that Maturity should have always been. Intelligent self-controlled adult mature, not this puerile teenage 'mature' that seems to be the norm and expectation in anime lately.
[Aside end]

Then as things are picking up nicely, I see them rolling towards what I presumed to be a gaping chasm of a plot trope, a bath scene. Right as it's rolling up to it, my joy is slowly bleeding out of me, and I'm thinking, "ah great. Here comes the check box tic in 'generic bath-scene #264, complete with scream and slap' so the show is officially anime'ish."
He walks around the corner, there's the lady, my face is going for my palm....and then my jaw hits my palm instead. I'm gently pushing my jaw back up as the show soars over the chasm.
Four episodes later, and the show is rather keeping pace with that kind of scenario. After a scene with more of the Vanadis together interacting, and later when they introduce our main male lead to his second Vanadis, the show had the potential to be spinning a very strong Harem chord through everything...but it hasn't so far. Hell, there was even a second bath scene, as similarly impressive in maturity as the first. I still feel like that chord is looming somewhere in the atmosphere over the show, but I'm honestly not worried about it for once. Why? Because I trust the main characters so far to handle it in a mature manner.
God, that sounded really weird, but it's true. For the first time in a long time, I trust in the main characters to not suddenly have their brains short circuit and go full derp to appeal to some expectation of 'what the fans want'.

To wrap this overly long post up in summary, I found out this is an actively airing anime after the major pain in the arse it was to find the fifth episode since Hulu didn't have it. I only found out after watching the fifth episode and the auxiliary site I was using telling me episode 6 was not yet out that it was still being aired. So now this is on the list in a nice happy throne made of maturity, parked somewhere behind Parasyte the maxim, as the rest of the line up squabbles for the comedy seat, or lounges in their 'Second season pass' seats.

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