What’s it about? Nuclear war has halved the human population and devastated the lives of the survivors. In an attempt to end warfare, they surrendered their weapons to the shadowy World Empire, only to find themselves cruelly subjugated. All that remained were antique weapons like swords and muskets—useless in combat against the sleek modern weapons of the tyrannical government. But there is a small resistance: a group of anthropomorphic muskets, numbering about a thousand, have appeared to form a resistance group.
The Thousand Noble Musketeers is one of those massive multimedia projects that have been gaining a lot of traction lately, where an anime, manga, mobile game, and maybe a couple of other media all get planned for near-simultaneous release. This one is based on gachapon game, where players spend real-life money to draw a random character they can use to play the game.
Gotta catch ‘em all—MUSKETEERS!
One problem when translating a concept like this into anime is that it tends to create a large cast of characters with only the thinnest of personalities. Sometimes the response to that is to take the most popular characters, fill out their personalities to something of substance, and maybe someday make a sequel starring second- or third-tier characters.
Another problem is that these games tend to lack much plot, since they’re designed to be played pretty much indefinitely and the characters need to be completely incidental. That’s an easy enough fix, though—just add story!—when adapting the concept to a narrative medium meant to appeal to anyone who isn’t a fan of this very specific medium.
The Thousand Musketeers does neither of those things. In fact, it has the stink of a low-effort gacha adaptation all over it. Overly large cast of blandly-designed bishounen? Check. Popular voice actors spouting poorly-written banter? Check. Plot so flimsy it falls apart if you blow on it? Check. Any sign of an attempt to market it to an audience outside of gacha-addicted otaku? Firm uncheck.
Oh no, it has no interest in attracting people who aren’t specifically fans of antique weaponry turned into pretty boys. If you do not wish to gaze upon slender, slightly off-model pretty boys cracking limp jokes in the voices of famous seiyuu, then turn your gaze elsewhere, because that’s pretty much everything you’re going to get.
There was one interesting thing about this first episode, however. A few of the musketeers have distinctly feminine designs and names, including Gothic Lolita Ekaterina and motherly Furusato. They all, however, have male voice actors. It’s unclear at this stage what this means—whether they’re transgender, or gender non-conforming otokonoko, or if it will even be addressed at all.
The twenty-five-minute first episode of The Thousand Noble Musketeers felt like it was about a thousand minutes long. I like pretty boys as much as the next fujoshi, but with no bite, no edge, and no point, it all feels ultimately limp and dull.