One of the latest shows of the new Fall 2014 anime season, Lord Marksman and Vanadis starts off humbly enough, but it also sets up a grandiose story of kingdoms at war and magically-powered heroes duking it out on massive battlefields. Of course, being a fantasy harem anime, adapted from a seinen manga, it does some things that I’m not quite comfortable with and the focus on the female characters, or rather their T&A, means that I often struggle with the story since a lot of it seems so much fanservice, or what have you. Despite all this, the story is somewhat interesting, which is why I’ve lasted four episodes till now.
Episodes three and four continue the story of Lord Tigrevurmud Vorn, a young nobleman with holdings in the town (doesn’t really look like a city all that much) of Alsace, as he fights against a raiding army of fellow Brune noblemen with the help of the enemy of the Brune, the Warrior-Maiden Ellenora Viltaria of Zhcted. Lots to take in, I know, but the first couple episodes ease you into the world, and thankfully the next two episodes do a lot to expand on the world at large. Some cool battle scenes in episode three and more Warrior-Maidens with cool CGI in episode four are keeping me interested right now, but I suspect that I’m going to tire of this quite soon.
In episode three, we see what amounts to a pitched battle between Ellen’s Zhcted forces and that of Zion Thenardier, another nobleman and the son of Duke Thenardier, who sees Tigre as his son’s rival for the title of King of Brune. In the second episode, we saw that the Duke sent out a large army, backed by two dragons no less, against Alsace, with the intent of destroying Tigre for good. It didn’t quite work as expected though since Tigre arrived with several hundred of Ellen’s soldiers from Zhcted, and routed Zion from Alsace. Now a reckoning is between them.
The centerpiece of this episode is the pitched battle itself. In a neat little visual twist, much of the episode is told via a chess-like gameboard, with the two sides represented by the appropriate pieces. It can kind of grate at times since often it takes the place of actual storytelling and is just a shortcut to letting the battle unfold in its full glory, but I did like what the animator tried to do here. It is different from the norm, and that is indeed a positive for the episode.
However, this also means that the battle scenes are reduced to brief disjointed moments and you never really get the sense that this is a vast and sprawling battle involving thousands of soldiers. And the numbers used by both sides are often hyperbolic and too convenient. I kind of wanted to see a bit more realism to the battle, and that unfortunately never materializes. But still, it was rather cool to see Ellen go up against one of the dragons and Tigre the other. And that brings me to Tigre’s duel with Zion, which in itself was a damn good concept, but too damn overpowered as far as both Tigre and Ellen are concerned. They both seriously need to be toned down because their abilities are kind of stretching the illusion too far and the suspension of disbelief is getting really tough to maintain.
Since most of the episode is taken up with the battle, we never really get to the simple and straightforward character development scenes, which is a shame since they were handled much better in the first and second episodes. This one gets points for visual aspects, but the story is still largely thin.
Episode four is where things get really interesting. Now that the show has established where Ellen and her trusted bodyguard and commander Limalish are concerned, we have a solid basis for the fantasy harem and in the second episode the writers expand that portion of the cast, by introducing two more Warrior-Maidens, Ludmila Lourie and Sofya Obertas. The former is a rather young Warrior-Maiden with her, umm, assets not quite as developed as the more experienced Ellen or Sofya, latter of whom seems to be some sort of leader among Zhcted’s Warrior-Maidens. Or at least, she does seem to be exerting some kind of authority over them in more than just simple rank. Interesting characters both of these, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of them, especially Sofya who is quite a mystery for me as a viewer.
If there is one thing that I didn’t like about this episode, and by that I mean really didn’t like, is how Titta is portrayed. She is shown as an obsessive-compulsive and is a total cliche when it comes to her relationship with Tigre. She is little more than a servant, but since she pretty much grew up with Tigre, she also has this massive crush on him and in many scenes in this episode she comes off as needlessly possessive and desperate to win his affection. To be honest, I skipped any scene that had anything to do with Titta. I just couldn’t handle how bad a character she is.
It also didn’t help that the episode is so rushed with no clear time frame, and that was frustrating since there are so many different things going on at the same time with all the characters, and the story is just not getting any amount of time to breathe properly and orient itself properly in the viewers’ minds, mine included.
And the animation was off in quite a few places, especially when the characters were riding horses through some random country. It seems that the whole fantasy harem thing is being played up far too much since the episode is full of boobs, to he extent that boob-size is apparently linked to the social standings of the War-Maidens, or at least, in terms of how they rank themselves against the other, superior even to their individual combat skills and their particular powers.
But look past all that, and there is an interesting story developing here. Episode four really frustrated me on a lot of ways, but I still find myself admitting that I like the story and where it it is headed. It might be a bit too simple or silly or such in places, but it is kind of growing on me nonetheless.
More Lord Marksman and Vanadis: Ep 1-2.