Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 05

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Madan no Ou to Vanadis – 04

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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!

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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.

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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…

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…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…

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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