What’s it about? Below, in the Kingdom of Black, a young man is the sole survivor of an attack on his village. He swears he’ll become the King of Darkness to change things. Above, in the Kingdom of White, young Queen Iris is pushed to her limits holding off the invading forces of Black and its corrupt ruler. The world’s only hope is for the two kingdoms to regain their harmony.
Wow, two mediocre mobile game adaptations in as many days. Truly, my cup runneth over.
The biggest ace up Shironeko’s sleeve is how dang sincere it is. Every sentence is written with the confidence of a writer who, locked in an isolation chamber since 1992, has emerged to tell you about their great new fantasy story.
It has a sad sword boy who’s going to take over
Hell the Kingdom of Black (see, ’cause it’s full of darkness) and there’s a lofty city above them where everybody has it much better, but actually its façade is in danger of crumbling at any minute. And you just don’t have the heart to tell them that Final Fantasy VII is more than 20 years old now, so you let them make a multi-million dollar anime.
Like Shachibato, there’s nothing egregiously wrong with this premiere. The opening minutes laying out the future romance between the newly christened Prince of Darkness and Queen Iris in storybook form are appealingly stylized. But once the show has to get down to more detailed character interactions, both the writing and direction quickly become slack.
Its visuals focus hard on whichever character is at the center of the action and noticeably reduce background characters to more simplified designs, so probably the folks mining for janky-looking screenshots will get a lot of mileage out of it.
It also has a bad case of hitting its prologue beats as quickly as possible, which gets more than a little grimly hilarious when it’s five minutes in and raining child corpses after making sure they each kid got at least one pathos-ridden line. THEY’RE SMALL. THEY HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. THIS IS A SIGNIFIER, SO BE SAD.
But there is no time to be sad, because the soundtrack is battering me with the sound of a dozen mournful vuvuzelas.
There are a number of female characters in various positions of power, and the two who appear here have silly but not egregiously fanservicey outfits. There is, however, a woman in the opening theme whose sizable breasts seem to move independently of the rest of her body and also each other, and I think I’ll be exiting before my brain has to comprehend that level of creeping dread.
I can’t even tell people who are hardcore fantasy fans to watch this show. Go through your backlog. Your friends’ backlogs. Anything. I guarantee there’s something more interesting out there than this sentient pillar of paste.