Arad Senki isn’t the most inspirational anime out there but for a bit of light hearted fun it’s worth a watch. It follows many anime that is RPG based and has a group of adventurers thrown together in a fantasy world that set off on a quest and have to battle an ancient evil at the end. We’ve seen the formula many a time in anime’s such as Ragnarok, Lodoss War and Star Ocean to name a few. And it’s a formula that always entertains because you know what you’re expecting therefore can’t really be disappointed. With Arad Senki there is defiantly more a focus on comedy than the more gritty tales like Lodoss War and Crystannia so it makes it just a very amusing and fun romp, imagine more Bakuretsu hunters where characters end up in stupid situations for a vast majority of the show before any real threat develops.
It’s not until the last part of the series that we really get a real sense of danger and a darker plot line that leads to our finale battle with the villain of the piece. While Arad Senki doesn’t have the heart or perfect balance of comedy, action, magic and dark villainy of the greats like Slayers it’s still has good points in the fact that its light fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s an interesting idea. The idea of a disease spreading demon possession through the inhabitants was interesting; the idea that part of your body is possessed by demon blood making you a stronger warrior but also the risk of turning fully into a demon was a good angle. In fact it’s a shame they didn’t explore this angle more but the series wanted to stay a little more light and fluffy than fully going with the demonic versus your humanity angle and therefore played it down a lot.
The series itself is based on a Korean game called Dungeon Fighter (which explains why so much of the cast and crew for this anime are Korean) that was renamed Arad Senki in Japan. The series based on an original web comic and has a very basic plot of Swordsman Baron travels the world of Arad to find a way to heal his demonic left arm. Accompanying him is Roxy, the ghost of a woman who unwillingly unleashed the evil that also caused Barons transformation. On their travel they get to know other fighters who accompany them and soon they call their group the “Party”.
The frustrating thing about this series for me is I like the darkness and a harsher storyline that really brings out the angst in the protagonists and this series just isn’t like that. I found I could skip scenes and not really pay attention because it just wouldn’t get dark enough for me. I don’t like too much comedy in anime unless it really is the surreal crazy of a series like Kemeko DX or a more situational comedy like Maria Holic. I love Slayers but they have a better balance of amusing situations and bizarre characters Arad is a bit of a poor copy really. Arad does rely a lot more on prate falls and slap stick, which I should have guessed from the “Slap up Party” part of the title.
There was one really good character that I really liked, Carpenshisu (many different places spell his name differently including various subbing groups) he looked cool and was the genius gunman of the series from another outer world of Arad. Unfortunately he was also the character that lost his entire cool in front of women and was reduced to an embarrassing failure of a Casanova and he was always falling over, rolling down hills and getting squashed, beat up and overlooked. He would do something amazing and cool and he really was awesome with his guns but they just kept ruining this cool façade and turning him into a pathetic idiot. That was very annoying to watch because I kept hoping they would make him less stupid and also expand on his storyline, he originally came to Arad from an outer world and when they returned to this amazing place he explained its history but not his own. We never found out why he left or what he left behind making him rather bland when he could have been so much more.
The other characters were not as well fleshed out, our main demon knight Baron was very laid back and didn’t seem to mind having a demon arm and it didn’t really cause him much trouble or lend him any really awesome powers, plus it never explained why only he could see Roxy’s ghost (who lived in his sword) and why none of the characters noticed him talking to the invisible friend. The girl fighter Ryunmei was cool but we never really got to see her have a proper brutal fight where she could go all out, the bad magician girl Ixia was just that, cute and mouthy but rather pants and then there was the warrior priest Jeda that may have been bisexual but we never really got to know his story he just turned up healed people, glowed, flexed muscles and then skipped off again. The villains were more interesting but then they always were with the usual handsome, talented and conflicted bishonen knight Irbek. He had some good angst and trying to do good but in the wrong way, clearly being manipulated while feeling guilty until he realised his mistakes and joined the good guys against the real enemy. He was one of the many clichés I feel were going on, I mean the angst bishie trying to protect his little sister from a demon virus is always going to go all self sacraficy and atone for his mistakes plus get the girl in the form of the trouble misunderstood daughter of a corrupted king, along with cherished side kick with blind loyalty because bishie knight is the only person not to overlook him and to understand that he is worth more than his appearance dictates.
In all the more I think about it the more clichéd I realise this series is, it doesn’t really hold any real emotional weight, the characters aren’t really that developed, the comedy is too slap stick for my liking and fights uninspiring and un-dramatic. The last few episodes at least pick up the pace and give us a creepy and evil villain bent on destroying the world but they don’t use all the characters well and some get left by the wayside in the final battle. In the end it’s a bit anti climatic and just goes back to the beginning as if nothing that traumatic happened and everyone is together, happy and on their little adventures again.
I liked the character designs for a bit but after a while they were just a mash up of costumes and character types I’d seen many a time and normally destroyed by all the stupid faces they pulled. I can’t say anything inspiring about the music apart from every now and again when something dramatic of scary was happening some of the scoring sounded like a tune I liked from the Casshern film. I can’t remember the opening themes they did nothing for me and the only song I really remember was the first ending theme because I like the old school computer game graphics they had on, little pixel people like in Final Fantasy 1 and 2 wandering around dungeons. The animation style was crisp and clear but nothing amazing, pretty run of the mill which I don’t mind unless there is nothing else to inspire me so by the fact that I was being uninspired by most of it means there wasn’t much I did like about the look and sound of the series.
Really if you just want a simple no brain watch of a series with a little plot to keep you entertained than this is good background viewing. If slap stick is your thing or you like RPG anime’s and just enjoying watching some adventurers travel about than it’s worth a little look but there is much better stuff out there like Bakuretsu Hunters (for comedy) and Crystannia (for excellent fantasy adventure fair). But alas sometimes the brain wants a simple show so it’s good to have some on back up.
Dont forget to follow me on twitter @lonedreameryaoi