What’s it about? After Hanasaki Rinko’s (Park Eun-ha) mysterious death, she wakes up in a popular novel as a minor character named “Raeliana” who’s destined to die before the story begins. Raeliana uses her knowledge about the plot to prevent her own death and proposes that male lead, Noah Wynknight pretend to be her fiancé for protection until she can break off her previous engagement.
I’m never going to get over how ridiculously long titles are for isekai stories. It’s honestly hilarious and perhaps because the industry is so oversaturated with them that publishers don’t have enough confidence people will read them unless they spell out exactly what to expect for each individual story — I’m just guessing here [Editor’s Note: everyone give dubious thanks to the popular self-published works of Narou for that one]. Either way, I was extremely surprised when I heard Raeliana was getting an anime adaptation since it seems popular action manhwa stories are the ones getting the most attention.
Most Korean manhwa anime adaptations have been a hit or miss over the years, with the notable exception being the Tower of God. Since a majority of them haven’t been very good, I was worried that Raeliana might meet the same fate especially since the target audience are mainly women and girls. I don’t think it’s controversial for me to say that shoujo or just about anything aimed at women and girls hasn’t received the best adaptation in recent years — I’m looking at you Requiem of a Rose King and 7 Seeds. That’s why I went into this premiere with moderate expectations especially since I’m not a newbie to Raeliana given that I read half of the manhwa a few years ago.
Even though I never finished the series, I know enough to say that the story is enjoyable and Raeliana is a great protagonist. The other characters are equally interesting, but it’s a shame that the animation production isn’t as good as it wants to be. The character designs and the music is great and there’s a real sense that the production staff cares about the source material, yet it’s clear there isn’t much of a budget and animators are trying to work with their limited resources. The music tries to make up for the slow pacing and stiff key frames; however it only made it more obvious when the animators tried to cut corners by doing awkward zoom-ins to dark shadowy areas.
The plot has so much potential and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Raeliana’s real world death is intriguing. Hell, Raeliana’s enthusiasm and intense need to survive prevents this premiere from completely falling apart — the problem is she can’t always be the saving grace for the series alone. There isn’t much I can say about Noah yet, except that he’s a standard romantic male lead that you’d normally expect in this genre. Thankfully, they both have amazing chemistry together; but the question is, can the animation quality deliver the full scope of the story?
I’m actually really concerned because there’s plenty of action and fighting sequences that’ll happen later on and if the animation quality in the premiere remains consistent then we are looking at another poorly adapted romance series on our hands. If that’s the case, I’m disappointed because Miyamoto Yume is clearly having a blast voicing Raeliana and it’s also exciting watching her try to navigate 19th century inspired Victorian culture.
I hope I’m proven wrong so that all my worries can be happily thrown out the window. I don’t want to sound bitter and it’s frustrating to consider that Solo Leveling will probably get a better adaptation than Raeliana. It’s no secret that most popular shows aimed at boys and men often receive a full studio backing and a budget. While Raeliana deserves a three episode test, I can’t help but feel that the story deserves so much better.