What’s it about? Travel back in time to the era of the Three Kingdoms, only in this version of the world, the lands are ravaged by demons and monsters. Now, it’s time for four heroes to unite and protect the realms against the most vicious enemies… before all falls to darkness.
Episode 1, “The Hunters”, starts off, like all epic tales, with a good deal of CGI and betrayal: demonic betrayal, which is the worst of all. It is, in a way, solid table-setting for this version of The Three Kingdoms, which is a land plagued with ills around every corner.
Post-instrumental interlude, the show dives a bit deeper: this is a realm of demons born from the regrets and fears of death. They morph that energy into a tangible form, producing wangliang, beasts that add to the dwindling human population. Thankfully, there’s the Tianyuan, a group of immortal deities who preserve the world’s order and stand as a barrier between humanity’s downfall and the demons nipping at their heels. It’s definitely a fascinating bit of “lorecology”—that is, a really neat bit of worldbuilding that informs us just what Fantasia Sango is all about.
And yet, and yet, and… yet, despite some really interesting costume and character designs (outside of the wellspring of way too many unsupported sizable busts), I found this premiere to be a straightforward, boring show that finally made me want to watch Demon Slayer because maybe that’s got some excitement to its demons.
It’s a shame, because on the surface, this is a series with a lot of promise. I like the lore and cultural mythos it draws on, and love to see Chinese mythology and storytelling get its time to shine, but also… Fantasia Sango is an anime promoting a Taiwanese video game, and it feels like it. It’s as exciting as white rice that’s been cooked to an inedible mush, and as tepid as a glass of water left in the afternoon sun. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just… incredibly boring, which is really a feat because this show was giving Moribito vibes. Actually, I kind of wish I was either watching Moribito or re-reading the novels right now. But finish this review I must.
Also, complete transparency: I don’t remember a single character name from this show, and I think that says a lot.
I can’t even really think of anything to say about the sound design other than that it exists. The music fades into the background enough not to stand out, which is both good and bad. The voice acting is fine, but also it’s nothing to write home about. Honestly, that’s the entire vibe of Fantasia Sango’s premiere: it’s just kind of Discount Inuyasha, but make it Three Kingdoms and not nearly as charming.
I really hate that too, because there’s a lot of room for dynamic Chinese and Taiwanese narratives in anime. In fact, I think it’d be incredibly great to see more collaborative efforts that include those narratives in seasonal series. This is not that, though, even with the action sequences that are supposed to make my cold heart feel something. Guess you should check out Thunderbolt Fantasy if you want some Chinese and Taiwanese mythos that actually slaps.
I really don’t know what else to say because I remember so little of this premiere. I’m glad it exists because I’m sure there’s fans, but… is this what they wanted? This lifeless, soulless adaptation? I certainly hope not, because it feels like fan disservice versus… anything else. If this is what fans of the franchise wanted, I’d love to know what drew them in, because this feels like the most uninteresting franchise outside of Spring 2021’s Seven Knights, which gave me similarly unfortunate vibes.
No one’s going to remember this series outside of “Wow, so many historic breasts” because unfortunately, that’s the main thing that stuck out to me because it’s just so out-of-place in an already tepid premiere. Other than that… well, I guess there’s really nothing else to say. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not good. This is the digital equivalent of unseasoned soup. It’ll fill up half an hour, but also, it’s the least satisfying thing to spend your limited time on earth consuming.