Louie, a brawny student at the mage's guild, is reluctantly accepted by three girls (Merrill-thief, Genie-fighter, and Melissa-priestess) as a companion for their adventuring party. As the foursome explore ruins, battle dark creatures, and make new friends, they also uncover a sinister plot within the kingdom.
When I think of Rune Soldier, I almost immediately think of Slayers: sword bearing warriors, magical items, monsters, sorcery, etc. It's definitely a comedy, and nearly impossible to take a situation seriously until the very end. There were quite a few times I laughed out loud while watching this. The series is 24 episodes long, and it felt like an appropriate length. There weren't really any dry episodes or filler that was noticeable either. The last three episodes were more or less dedicated to the ending, and although there were events leading up to this it almost felt like an abrupt twist to finish things
up, but in the end I was pleased with the way things were handled so I can't complain. If you dig comedic anime and the old school RPG setting then I'd highly recommend this.
I would rate this a 7.5 if I could. It has a message, it has entertainment value, and it isn't as ecchi as one might think from a casual glance.
The female characters are surprisingly deep and I found that I knew real-life women who could be compared to each of them. On the one hand, one can watch this show as merely being a bit of fan service, counterbalanced by a male buffoon, thus making a compromise show suitable for viewing in mixed male-female company. I take the show more seriously; I think the writers are making a point about how
an old-fashioned masculine man can get along with aggressive, independent female co-workers who are *not* romantically attracted to him in the slightest. I think it's trying to make a point about modern gender roles. I could be reading way too much into it.
At the same time, it's very intertextual, which is a fancy way of saying it rips off cliches from all kinds of sources that have come before it. IMHO the writers do a great job of ripping off a diverse selection of sources -- not just swords-and-sorcery, but also murder mysteries, martial arts stories, etc.
I'll admit, Rune Soldier has a very special place in my heart, and I'm definitely biased towards it. I hope this review will explain why.
Story-wise, Rune Soldier follows somewhat standard form. A group of female adventurers (Melissa the priestess, Genie the fighter, and Merril the theif) need a Mage to fill out their party so they can properly explore ruins and do all that fun adventuring stuff. The problem is, the only Mage willing to join their party this side of anywhere is Louie, a blue-haired, barrel-chested smart-mouth who prefers fighting hand-to-hand than casting spells (mostly because he's pretty terrible at magic). Unfortunately, Melissa's deity
informs her that Louie is to be her Champion, and thus the group is saddled with him regardless.
The world of Rune Soldier is vibrant, diverse, and infinitely interesting, and the characters frequently travel to new places in search of fame and fortune, while frequently returning to the capital city (which is also just as interesting and engaging as the rest of the world). Half the show is spent on their 'down-time' as well as the adventuring, so you get to learn a lot about the characters by what they do when they're not climbing wizard's towers to stop rogue elementals from destroying the country.
There are a couple of interesting sub-plots and recurring characters, mainly an elven girl who helps out occasionally, a rival adventuring party, and eventually the endgame plot, as Louie uncovers a sinister plan to take over the kingdom. The only penalties I can give the plot are than some of the episodes are less engaging than others, but I wouldn't want to cut any of them out - they all add to the characterization. 9/10, definitely.
Art style is pretty typical of the time it was made, it'll feel very similar to Slayers, but with a more mature and rough feel to it. It's good, but not spectacular. Some of the magical effects look a little dated in their presentation, but thankfully no epilepsy warning needed. 7/10.
Sound design is good for the show, but while it fit the scenes quite well, none of them were particularly memorable. They served their purpose, and would work great if you run a table-top fantasy RPG game. 7/10.
Character - oh, here we get to the good part. You see, the best thing about Rune Soldier is the character growth, and how the relationships change over time. Louie is initially relegated to being a pack mule for the group, nothing more than a waste of space that's only good for carrying things and the occasional spell (if that). His irresponsible nature and gung-ho attitude in the first few episodes only serve to reinforce their view of him in this way. However, as the show progresses, Louie improves in many ways - swordsmanship, playing nice with teammates, even magical prowess, and most importantly he gains their respect. By the end of the show, they're fighting right alongside him, trusting him enough to let him take the lead for once, and letting his infection enthusiasm get to them. It's a beautiful thing, and you can track the incremental progression from episode to episode.
The best part is, IT'S NOT A HAREM. Rune Soldier has the balls to put a male lead in a group of female characters and NOT have them falling for him at every turn. It's fundamentally about respect and trust, and it's a breath of fresh air. The only character that has even the slightest hint of interest in Louie in a romantic way is Melissa, and that's really more of a "Wow, he's actually a really nice guy. Why haven't I seen this before?" kind of moment. Overall, it's just a superb cast of characters accompanied by excellent writing, and it's one of the main draws of the show. 10/10.
Enjoyment is a huge part of any anime, and Rune Soldier does NOT fall behind. There are a lot of different episodes (since the show tends to follow an episodic rather than serialized stye), and there's something here for everyone. Dashing swordfights, tournament battles, magic duels, sea monsters, slice of life stories, festivals and fairs, exploring dark forests and holding armies at bay, there are tons of fun adventures to be had here. The show starts strong and keeps the momentum up from the very beginning. The only mar on the enjoyment depends on what method you decide to watch it. Subbed is okay, but the voice actors always felt a little off. The English dub is actually surprisingly good, with the exception of Merril, who is a little annoying and high-pitched. 9/10.
Overall, this show is AMAZING. The lackluster art and sound is only due to its age - in everything that matters, this show is top notch. Get your popcorn ready, get comfortable, and watch the first 4 episodes. You'll get hooked in no time, and the only thing you'll regret is that it's finished. 910, and a definite recommendation here, for what it's worth.
I thought the first half of the series was quite enjoyable. In the tradition of "George of the Jungle", "Beverly Hills Ninja" etc, it's the story of a guy who's strong on heart but weak on execution. The twist of having the standard adventure types of warrior, thief and holyperson portrayed by competent women works well and the series never descends into a harem comedy although it hovers close every once in awhile. The situations are strong and the humor fast paced. Unfortunately after the about the 11th episode it falls apart rather quickly - like the creative team wanted to move on to other
things and just kinda wrote some stuff to fulfill the 24 episode obligation. The stories are pretty cliche - the humor is weak - it becomes disappointing. The first ten or so episodes are definitely worth watching though.