The animated version of the action-packed seinen manga by Yu Sasuga is now halfway through. While 6 episodes ain’t enough to put togheter a full analysis we can already say that Liden Films is definitely saving their money here by putting togheter a rather cheap production featuring a fair amount of flaws. The biggest issue are related to the less-than-decent (to say the least) animation part: those who will watch this expecting the intense, frenetic combat movements featured by Sasuga are going to be disappointed by the extra-long (and mostly static) sequences of people talking here and there, whose apparently unique purpose is slowing down the interesting stuff. Curiosity and frustration will both grow really fast, yet the series constantly fails to exploit them with the few pure action sequences, which are torn to pieces almost every time by an high amount of poorly-inspired flashback and entmological explanations which, as great as they were in the manga, end up being rather frustrating in the anime. Adapting is harder than merely copying, and the series would’ve needed no less than that.
Worse went to the worst when Crunchyroll came up with the highly debateable decision of putting on air an heavy censored version of the first three episodes. It’s not that we hate censorship whatsoever – as a matter of fact, we do, but it’s not the point here: censorhip in anime is something fairly common these days, expecially if the series comes with a fairly high amount of blood and gore. There are laws about that too, which made authors smart enough to cover the tricky stuff in smooth, subtle ways. That’s not the case here: we’re talking about black bars who cover up a huge amount of screen everytime there’s something happening. Smashed head – black bars. Intestine floating around – black bars. Spine rip – black bars. Ok, it’s a rather scary anime with some really gruesome scenes. So what? All of the shock, all the immersion the anime is supposed to grant is completely ruined by these black patches. It seemed to us that this was a blatant and cheap tactic from Liden Films to sell uncensored DVDs and Blu-Ray releases in the upcoming months.
Luckily for us, this harsh treatment stained only the first three episodes (at least for now), and even those 3 have been released in their full, censor-free version on Crunchyroll. We sincerely hope they understood this couldn’t possibly last.
Things are getting better – slightly – when we move to the narration part. Whilst it’s hard to understand why they compressed the whole Akari recruitment story arc that much (2 full manga volumes, 1 mere anime episode), it seems to us that the chronicles of the Annex 1 cycle are presented rather smoothly, with each key character having its decent amount of space. The main issue here is once again related to the excessive amount of cuts, meanwhile scenes, flashbacks and side events which often fail to keep up tension – they actually do quite the opposite – and cripple the narration flow of the main plot.
Long story short, while we’re not having a terrible product here, it definitely seems that we’re not facing a masterpiece anime who will stand its ground against its competitors as much as the manga did within the seinen manga contemporary scene. Hoping that the next episodes will turn the table and deny our statement.