Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 05

van51
Not a promising start, Vanadis…not a promising start

In my review of last week’s disappointing episode, which led Oigakkosan to drop the show in disgust, I mentioned that I myself would consider ceasing reviews as well if the show didn’t “improve significantly” this week. There’s just too much good stuff to watch this Fall to be wading in mediocrity.

van52
“Don’t pay special attention to her! I know, I’M paying special attention to her, but don’t pay special attention to her!”

Was this week’s episode an improvement? Yes it was…although that’s not hard when the last episode had a boob-size fight instigated by the heroine and Tigre sucking on a boob (though one not related to that fight). Was it a significant improvement? No. Too many of the same problems plaguing last week, plus a couple new ones, kept this out of the minimum “good” or even “fine” rating it needed for us to retain it.

van53

Limalisha recovers so she can make pained faces and comment when Elen is being overly childish in her dealings with Ludmila, but she doesn’t call her out on it strongly enough. The comely war maiden who had maintained a quiet dignity in the first episode has devolved into an embarrassment whose petty antics have grown increasingly hard to watch.

van54

It’s no wonder, then, that having been caught in the crossfire between the war maidens long enough, Tigre eventually chooses to strike out on his own in order to find the backdoor route to the Citadel of Tatra, a stronghold Elen aims to take from Ludmila. Yes, this is to stop Elen from charging in on her own, but…wait: Why doesn’t Elen just charge in on her own?

van54a

I appreciate that the war maidens aren’t invincible, and that they serve as generals for the armies of the lands they serve, but…they clearly possess the power to single-handedly take out entire armies. Wouldn’t it be a lot less of a waste of life and material if the maidens simply fought each other, as champions of their lands?

van54b

There’s a very strange transition from Ludmila accompanying Tigre and Elen to a market to sample wheat gruel, to a series of battles between the two maidens’ armies, all of it not exactly pretty to watch, not because it’s bloody, but because the animation is underwhelming and they’re battles I just don’t care about. The old-guy narration has officially gotten old, as well.

van55

At any rate, Tigre implements his plan, but happens to hit the same fox with an arrow as Ludmila does while hunting. Because of the bearskin Lim gave him, Ludmila can’t see his face, but his impressive marksmanship impresses her enough to lovingly prepare him an elaborate cup of tea, confirm that she hates the Thernardiers, and ask him to join her, completely unaware he’s Tigre. This is the best part of the episode, but it’s also totally isolated from everything else. And I don’t buy that she’s not cold in that get-up.

van56

Tigre follows her tracks (what kind of war maiden allows herself to be followed?) and finds the route he was searching for, then meets back up with Elen and her siege force. After failing to blast through the gates with Arifar on her own, Tigre again borrows her power for his bow and get the job done, setting up a showdown between Elen and Ludmila. But frankly, I’m not keen on seeing those two interact again. No good can come of it.

5_magdroppedblank

Advertisements

Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 04

vanadis4_1

Suffice it to say, I found last week’s Vanadis unremarkable. It wasn’t truly terrible, but I don’t feel empty superhero worship and fan-wank warrant much attention. Little did I know Vanadis aimed to trump itself in episode 4 with what felt like an endless stream of Dudes Frowning and Boob Jiggle.

Short review: Vanadis’ fourth episode is very long on misogynistic boobsploitation and very short on character development and world-building.

Long Review: This was a stinky turd. So hold your nose! We’re diving in!

vanadis4_3
Dudes Frowning…

Titta the twin-tail maid is super in love with her boss and, well, owner, Count Tigre but she has a problem: her character type has been done to death in anime and, when you scrape away the dead skin of her loli-type harem appeal, Titta serves one purpose: she shows us that Tigre is desirable to women, without Tigre having to do that on his own as a character.

Gekkan-Shoujo Nozaki-kun exposed this phenomenon last season and the summary is that visual storytellers don’t always have time (or any idea how to) convey that their characters are stylish/sexy/powerful so they fill their side characters’ monologues and dialogues with “isn’t that character cool” and “wow he’s so powerful” filler.

It’s a remarkably effective tool, even when used poorly, but when you start to see it in use, the shine wears off and it feels cheap.

vanadis4_0
Dudes frowning and Sexy jiggle…

Speaking of cheap, Vanadis wastes no effort on humor. Instead, it spoon feeds us shovels full of yuk-yuks like Titta walking in on Lady Eleonora straddling Tigre with her sword in his mouth. I guess gender reversal oral rape humor is funny.

Apparently, not so much to Titta or Tigre though…

vanadis4_2
…boobs frowning, sometimes also jiggle…

Then Ellen returns to her kingdom’s capital to report to her king and meets a bigger pair of breasts (Sofya Obertas) that support her and an angry little pair of breasts (Ludmila Lourie) that hate her. She doesn’t help the relationship by insulting the angry Ludmila for being small nor does she capitalize on Sofya’s assistance.

At least, not while on camera. It’s later stated that Ellen spent more time having important conversations about politics while there, and that the king gave very interestingly worded orders to her that are intended to put Alsace in the ‘screwed’ category.

But, for all we know, she could have spent hours watching Sofya’s boobs slowly enter the frame like a squishy star destroyer chasing down rebels, and crushing their star systems…

vanadis4_8

We don’t actually see anything other than Ellen make the king angry for potentially dragging his kingdom into an unprovoked war and Ellen instigating a fight with Ludmila Sure, Sofya fills us in on some background and points out Ellen’s poor choices, but it’s all very talky — and not very talky about anything of note!

vanadis4_5
I can’t really tell, but I bet this dude is frowning too!

Then Ludmila shows up at Tigre’s house and is all like “Ellen is rude as shit but I just wanted to say you’ve got some enemies you probably can’t win against and we should go somewhere else to talk about it because reasons.”

Then Tigre, Ellen, Ludmila and Lim go on a horsey ride where there tits can bounce really well — so well and from so many angles that I’m insulted how poorly the battle graphics have been rendered in previous episodes — because they need to go to another location because reasons.

Then Ninjas attack!

vanadis4_4

Lady Limalisha’s right breast gets bitten by a snake during the attack and Tigre has to suck out the venom and pretty much everything I’ve said about how terrible this episode was seems trivial by comparison.

This scene makes absolutely no sense as it was animated. One second, Lim is able to cut Ninjas out of the sky, the next she’s surprised by a snake falling from the sky and unable to swing her raised sword at it. Must’ve been a ninja snake.

Then, as Tigre is sucking, even more Ninjas attack and Ellen is totally not ready to kill them with her magic wind sword that she’s holding at the ready so Ludmila saves everybody by casting an ice spell that either we see in super super-slow-mo or the ninja’s ‘fall’ from the sky at a leisurely pace.

I mean, Ludmila has like ten seconds to cast a spell that kills the ninjas that are currently falling at them from the trees. It’s a fucking joke, and I do not use profanity lightly!

vanadis4_7
Dudes frow… oh never mind!

Vanadis is fanservice. Fanservice with no spin and no purpose other than keeping our eyes on a show that doesn’t even bother showing us it’s exposition scenes but tells us they happened off-camera!

In simple terms, it’s insulting and cynical. Women hate women — and hate on women over their physical attributes and squabble over men. Even powerful women are half-useless half the time and, when it comes down to it, a man’s gotta suck their fat tits to save their lives anyway so why not paint them like cows and be done with it?

vanadis4_6
This dude is frowning and so am I

Its story is an empty shell of uncooked politics and military drama, drawn in with acceptable but unremarkable quality. Without its tits, Vanadis is nothing and in this day and age, where well-drawn boobs are free and plentiful, Vanadis has no right to exist. Vanadis is horrific, hateful garbage.

1_ogk

Preston’s Take

I’ll admit, Franklin’s review of this episode spooked me into waiting this long to watch it for the purposes of keeping up for next week, which is my turn to review. But having  finally watched it, I’m struggling to see exactly what all the outrage was about. This wasn’t a particularly good episode of anime, or even Vanadis; (the first episode of which remains its best by far.) But it was far from appalling. 

His arguments for why the episode wasn’t good definitely hold water, to be sure. There were more boobs in this episode than previous ones, but we knew from the OP we’d be seeing more war maidens and thus more boobs. I’d kinda gotten used to Ellen and Lima’s boobs, but so many more are stuffed into the frame this week, it got a bit silly.

There were a couple of women who weren’t shown in the best light; Titta’s character really is just “she loves Tigre but it will never be”, while Lima…wow…that breast bite was random! But I just wasn’t nearly as offended by this episode as Franklin. Horrific and hateful never really entered my mind so much as dumb and unremarkable.

Whether next week improves significantly will determine whether we continue reviewing this show at all.

5_mag

Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 03

Titta does not like Tigre and Elen's present status. No she does not!
Titta does not like Tigre and Elen’s present status. No she does not!

I’ll admit, Lord Zion Thernardier is an irredeemably evil scoundrel, coward, and lowlife, rendering him rather generic and boring. The battle waged by Tigre and Elen’s forces on the Molsheim Plains to defend Alsace? That’s another story. Even if Zion’s existence was a chore, the episode that ended with his timely and welcome demise was well-orchestrated piece of fantasy warfare.

Alright Legolas, don't get cocky
Alright Legolas, don’t get cocky

This was a great battle, full of careful preparation and build-up but plenty of withheld information to make the specific unfolding of the battle a surprise. Elen’s army is only 900 against Zion’s 2,700, but if they maintain their kill ratio of 3-to-1 as they did in repelling the raid on Alsace, they shouldn’t have a problem. That ratio is made possible thanks to some clever tactics devised by Torn. Oh, and having his steward nearby to toss him fresh quivers – good to see the episode took logistics into account.

van33a

The movements of both armies are covered by an occasional cut to a strategic game board-like construct with CGI figures representing the units, and a well-informed narrator delivering the play-by-play. I actually really liked this method, as it not only satisfactorily explained what was going on in the action sequences, but split them up to avoid monotony.

van33b van33c

As soon as I saw those two dragons last week, I knew Elen would be facing off against one or both of them. She for one, wasn’t expecting a dragon, but as a War Maiden/Vanadis, she’s more than capable of dispatching one on her own, albeit by breaking out a heretofore rarely-used Rey Admos, which she doesn’t use on people.

van35

van34
“SIGH…Why do I have to work for this shitstain?”

Lima’s unit of knights retreats, luring Zion’s flying column of knights, whose horses trip over a great rope made from smaller ropes gathered from the townsfolk of Alsace. After the earth dragon falls and a force of 2,000 enemy cavalry appears on the horizon (with only 100 riders, but it’s dark and the ruse works), Zion orders his knights to retreat and challenges Tigre to a duel. Tigre, who has been taking out enemies three per loosing of his bow.

van36

Zion initiates the duel believing his prowess at jousting will win the day over the lowly huntsman, but he doesn’t consider the fact that if enough arrows go to the same place in his thick shield, eventually a hole is going to be made – one that goes right through his arm. But as Tigres and Elen’s forces fight each other, Zion escapes on the flying dragon, abandoning his forces altogether.

van37
We did it!

Tigre – and I – curse the fact Zion still isn’t dead (even if there’s a good chance he’ll succumb to infection), but then his bow starts to glow blue and talk to him in a gentle female voice, urging him to shoot the dragon. When he nocks, the bow borrows and merges with the power of Elen’s blade Arifar, and the arrow cleaves Zion’s dragon in two. Daddy’s gonna be pissed.

van38
Halved ‘im!

So this was a fun battle with lots of cool tactics and ruses that a military tourist like myself can really get into. It also showed us just how much ass Elen can kick when she chooses to. I’m not opposed to seeing more battles like this, but it suffered a bit from a weak, boring enemy (Zion) whose defeat was a foregone conclusion. Also, he fell in a lake and still may not be dead, which would frankly suck. But still, well done this week, Vanadis!

7_mag

 

 

Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 02

v2_3

Before picking up where it left off last week, Vanadis back-pedals a bit to give us a peek into House Thenardier. They’re pretty much empty villains, with eyes on the throne and no real interest in Alsace.

They simply want to burn Alsace to the ground and pillage it before another powerful house has the chance. It’s also a good chance for their heir to grind some easy experience and break in his new dragons…

v2_1
“I’m so evil I can’t control my emotions face, face”

Okay, so there are a few (unconventional) signs I use to predict whether an anime is going to be crap over time, and this episode just trotted out one of them. Again, this may seem strange, but when a character makes the above face, I know a show is trying too hard to make someone evil in the most starkly black-and-white way possible.

Characters like that exist to shock us but usually don’t, because they are also usually quite incompetent (yet hard to kill for stupid plot reasons) Such characters also give us no drama and no nuance because they are what they are: pure, irredeemably evil, which is very boring to watch.

v2_5

Flashing forward, that ‘look’ is part of a pointless scene where Zion Thenardier decides to go to Tigre’s house alone and then decides to torture/rape Titta, Tigre’s maid because…evil reasons.

Why he’s there alone or cares at all about Tigre is not meaningful. He’s the villain this week, and probably in the future because he’s non-fatally shot with an arrow before he can do anything rapey-er than rip up Titta’s clothes. It’s dull and predictable.

v2_4

As far as plot developments, we learn Eleonora’s sword’s name, and that she can control the wind by slashing it. We also learn that she and Limalisha had a bet over how Tigre would respond to being kept from his fiefdom, and that he chose an option neither expected.

Ultimately, the result is Tigre giving Alsace to Eleonora in exchange for troops and then a brief overnight ride to save his (or now her?) lands. They somehow avoid (or haven’t noticed) the two dragons overlooking the town for now but…next episode.

v2_2

Tigre also ends up with his family’s magic bow. It’s black. Probably powerful. Nothing exciting here.

v2_7

You’re going to hear this a few times over the next two weeks, if it wasn’t obvious already: this fall season is stacked with excellent shows and there are simply too many to watch. Unfortunately, given it’s decent-but-not-astounding opening, and now a stumbling, uneventful, second episode, I can’t imagine Vanadis will make the cut.

Should it? That’s up to you and Preston, who will get to review it next week. For now, tell me why I should stick with it and I’ll lurk in the comments below.

6_ogk

Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 01

van11

While I’m already busy with Akame ga Kill and planning on watching Chaika’s second season (among other shows), Madan no Ou to Vanadis makes a relatively strong case for itself joining those two on my list to form a Fantasy Triad. It won me over not necessarily with its setting, plot, or fantasy elements, but primarily with its characters. The show looks to become more jumbled as more and more cast are introduced, but I was frankly fine with the first two we meet: Count Tigrevurmund Vorn (Ishikawa Kaito) and Ellenora Viltaria (Tomatsu Haruka), or Tigre and Ellen.

van12

It doesn’t really matter why Zhcted and Brune are at war, they just are, and after an Ellen-led Zhcted routs the five-times-larger Brunish army, she’s disappointed, having hoped for a more entertaining time. Enter Tigre, who isn’t done fighting and even takes out the horse of Ellen’s lieutenant Limalisha, and aims his last two arrows at Ellen herself. Ellen being one of the Vanadis (war maidens), she cuts them easily away, but Tigre has her full attention, and her disappointment turns to exhilaration.

van13

Tigre may be a wealthy count, but he dresses down and uses a bow, which irks his peacock-like peers who condemn him as a coward. Were they around to see him survive the rout, they’d probably use that as evidence of him using his skills simply to survive like a craven, rather than fight and die like a warrior. But as a count, he must worry about his life, for many other lives depend on him staying alive and strong: his subjects in Alsace.

van14

But Ellen likes Tigre. She likes his bow and the spirit he showed on a battlefield, even though his cause to single-handedly take her and her retinue down was a hopeless cause. One reason I like her is that she reminds me of Maou in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha: powerful yet bored; willing to make common cause with her sworn enemy to their mutual benefit, and said enemy intrigues her. She’s also tough, and doesn’t even flinch when Tigre sees her in the bath. Again, she’s a war maiden; embarassment is weakness. Her baby dragon’s cute too.

van15

Still, as pretty as Ellen is and as pleasant a place as Zhcted seems to be, Tigre is still a prisoner on the wrong side. He can’t very well protect Alsace in enemy custody. So when Ellen asks him to join her, he must refuse, and when his arrested attendant warns of a raid on Alsace, and he has to go. But Ellen wants him to stay, and will insist as much with her sword and war maiden skills. The lovebirds are already at an impasse.

8_mag

Franklin’s Take:

Vanadis is unremarkable from a color and design stand point but it’s also not as over the top as other show’s we’ve seen. I’m especially impressed that they got the cavalry rendered as well as they did, even if we only see them charging and not actually fighting.

That said, Eleonora and Limalisha were hard for me to identify at the beginning and everyone has a terrible to remember/type name.

Over all, Vandis is most appreciable for it’s “Yes, buts”:

Yes, it’s bloated with fanservice, but that’s done with a little more finesse than most. (boobs but a surprising amount of thighs, skirts sliding ever so close to crotch lines during conversations)

Yes, it’s a simplistic romantic set up but Elen is thankfully not a cliche tsundere nor a man hungry monster nor a bubble head nor a shy girl and Tigre’s annoying blush is the full extent of his perviness. Thank goodness too — nothing turns me off like a male protagonist who’s portrayed as an honourable hentei in this kind of show!

If I have any concerns, it’s the cute dragon. That is almost always a death flag for mid/late season adolescent stupidity that could break an otherwise sensible, even keel show. It’s a doozy, but I’m willing to give Vanadis a chance in the near term.

7_ogk