What’s it about? In the age of heroes and monsters, a paladin named Jiro is haunted by the loss of his former teammate, Toka, and spends most of his time drinking his problems away. He meets a strange girl named Kuumi (formerly “Number 22”) being chased by soldiers and together they decide to stop the monsters attacking their town.
You know, I’m actually disappointed with this one. There really wasn’t much I was looking forward to since the winter season tends to be a bit dry, but the trailer for this series actually got me interested and the action sequences looked cool. It’s also worth noting that the series composer, Kaihou Norimitsu helped write Akudama Drive and even though I haven’t seen that series yet, I trust my fellow AniFem crew when they say it’s good.
Overall, I expected a decent premiere rather than coming out of it feeling it was a resounding “meh.” I know in the past I have criticized shows for expecting us to suddenly care about the characters and the plot during chaotic events, but the thing is, it can be executed really well if the writing is solid. The best series that comes to mind is Baccano! Everything about that first episode was fun mayhem and the characters were interesting enough that it made viewers want to watch the story that led up to that lively conclusion.
Unfortunately, Giant Beasts of Ars doesn’t create that sense of curiosity about the world it’s trying to create, and it doesn’t try to garner much interest in our main characters. It tries to cram in all the character introductions in one episode without giving any of the characters a chance to shine. While I do have some questions, like “why are monsters and humans fighting at all? Why are the Clerics in decline? How are the Paladins fighting the monsters without the support of Clerics for the last 30 years?” The problem ultimately is the entire episode felt completely disjointed and it’s not entirely sure what kind of tone it wants to convey.
Instead of dropping inquisitive hints of what’s to come, the premiere tries to use comedy to inform us who Kuumi and the cartoonishly evil enemies are as people. We do know Kuumi is constantly dehumanized by her captors since they often refer to her as “Number 22”, but it’s really hard to gauge Kuumi’s character because she comes off as goofy and ditsy even in the most dire of situations. It doesn’t help that her transition scenes aren’t smooth and consistent, which can be jarring for folks that want to understand the plot and the characters. Seriously, one minute she is running away from her captors for dear life, the next minute she has enough time to grab food from the kitchen during her escape and opts to explore the city with childlike wonder rather than flee the damn city. I haven’t mentioned Jiro at all because aside from his cool action sequence; he’s mostly drunk and moping around. Based on his flashback, he lost someone important to him, but other than that, nothing about him stands out.
It’s almost a shame that Giant Beasts of Ars hasn’t found a balance between being serious and comedic because it can absolutely work if it can just tweak a few things around (Yona of the Dawn is a perfect example of balancing tone). Hell, I honestly chuckled when one of the soldiers was punched to the wall via 90’s anime style body humor. The animation looks adequate enough along with the unique monster designs and the action scenes look very fluid. This show has a lot of potential, but something about the formula is not coming together.
Beyond that, there wasn’t anything else that stood out to me, which is a bummer since this show clearly wants to tell a compelling high fantasy story. Although, there is a real chance that this could get better later on, I’m gonna pass on this one folks.