Miura Kyoji, a dedicated kendo student, discovers that his shisho (master) Tate Masanari is a reincarnated Incan warrior named Yawaru who wishes to destroy the world to purify it. Kyoji himself is the warrior Bilka, who foiled Yawaru's plans in their previous lives. Yawaru gathers other awakened spirits to release the powers of nature. Now Kyoji must wrestle with his own fate and decide if he is merely a vessel for the reincarnated soul or if he is truly Miura Kyoji and which will be better able to save the world and the future as he knows it.
“Yes. No. Maybe. I Don’t Know. Could you repeat the question?” – “Boss of Me” by They Might Be Giants
Jikuu Tenshou Nazca is a bit of an infamous anime, but not for anything the anime itself did. No, it’s infamous for being featured in the opening credits of Malcolm in the Middle along with several other lesser known media (such as One Million Years BC, Clash of the Titans, Creature from the Haunted Sea, Thrill Seekers, and clips from a WCW Mayhem PPV just to mention a few). So I had absolutely no idea what to expect when going into this series. To use an
exact quote from Malcolm from the middle, specifically Dewey, “I expect nothing, and I’m still let down”.
The series follows Miura Kyoji, a dedicated kendo student, who, after rushing to see his Kendo Team Captain and mentor, Tate Masanari, participate in a national tournament. His random enounter with Tate’s fiancee, Yuk a Kiritake, is soon overshadowed when both of them discovers that Tate Masanari is a reincarnated Incan warrior named Yawaru who wishes to destroy the world to purify it after both seeing him briefely transform into Yawaru during the Kendo match. It is soon after that Kyoji discovers that he is the warrior Bilka, who foiled Yawaru’s plans in their previous lives. Yawaru gathers other awakened spirits to release the powers of nature. Now Kyoji must wrestle with his own fate and decide if he is merely a vessel for the reincarnated soul or if he is truly Miura Kyoji and which will be better able to save the world and the future as he knows it.
After all my years about wondering where that one clip of that guy grinning in the Malcolm in the Middle opening, my curiosity has been satiated. But not in the good way. Nazca is a bit of a mixed bag even at the best of times to put it nicely, and just flat out just not good the rest of the time. I guess the biggest compliment I could give to the series is that the plot had mild potential. Yeah, the reincarnation stuff is old had in story telling at this point, but it’s something. But of course, the series quickly squanders any potential it had with everything else.
Everyone in the English dub sounds bored out of their minds. They all sound like they’re just reading the dialogue off the script without even bothering to have read it before or practice their lines before the recording, with little to no inflection, which I imagine is not too far off the truth. One of the teenagers sounds like he’s been smoking cigarettes for 20 years, and said character has quite a bit of forced cursing as part of his dialogue
Another character even says “Aww shit!” about something that’s about to happen to them in an unironic manner. And no, going over to the Japanese dub is minimally better than the English dub at best.
I imagine that this was one of those English dubs that had little money put into it since it was a package deal with some other bigger and more popular anime just so they could shove whatever they could onto shelves in the West to jump on that Anime craze going on in the late nineties, and what we got was a stilted script.
The animation is also all over the place. Every now and again, in between the mediocre animation, we’re treated to some of the most 90s CGI that I’ve ever seen from a series. It’s hilarious watching two characters slide across the floor of a 3D room that they don’t fit in stylistically with whatsoever. Say what you want about CGI in modern anime, at least the software has significantly improved to the point where it blends a lot better than what the 90’s had to offer (even if half the time it feels lazily put in, but that’s another thing). I guess the design of some of their characters before their reincarnation is OK, but that’s such a backhanded compliment that I don’t consider it a plus. The most interesting thing were the designs of the characters before their reincarnation, and that’s me desperately looking for something to compliment.
The series doesn’t feel like it has any natural progression. Usually a scene can come out of nowhere with no transition, and if you’re lucky, it’s followed by another scene of characters sitting down and haphazardly trying to explain what just happened. There’s no smooth in pacing in between scenes whatsoever, and there were times I was confused as to what was going on. It was until a couple of episodes later that I finally realized that the characters had even flown to another country to investigate what’s going on, because the characters were in a completely different location altogether, and while they were there, they got a vision that just made things more confusing. Once the story manage to lay everything out, it wasn’t a very interesting story.
Is Jikuu Tenshou Nazca worth watching? Not unless you’ve had the burning question “What was that anime clip from the intro of Malcolm in the Middle from?” for the last 20 years like I did, which is an incredibly niche and obscure question that I doubt that a lot of people would have that question.
Jikuu Tenshou Nazca is a unique show which manages to use an even more outlandish plot element than your standard anime.
Reincarnated Incan warriors.
. . .
During a kendo match, the protagonist Kyoji's sensei Tate awakens to his past life memories, setting in motion the renewal of his apocalyptic past-life designs. He goes about awakening other reincarnated spirits--including our hero--even though half these people worked -against- him the last time.
Maybe he thought they'd be more dissatisfied with modern Japan then they were with ancient Peru?
What makes this absolutely silly is just how many reincarnated Incan warriors can be found in the
same social circle of a Japanese high school. At one point, a newly introduced character who gets caught up in events, declared to be expendable by the villains, also spontaneously awakens as a reincarnated Incan priest. In all honesty, if they'd started turning characters' grandparents and random passersby on the street into reawakened warrior priests, I wouldn't have been surprised. In fact, had they just turned all of Japan into reawakened Incans for a massive apocalyptic battle, it would have made for a more exciting climax.
What's more, you'd expect the characters and their renewed struggle to be tied up in Peru, and thus lead them there. Well, blessedly, it does. . . for like a single episode. Then they go back to Japan. . . because it's anime, and anime can ONLY take place in Japan. Viracocha forbid somebody think outside the island box.
In the show's defense, they -do- make a weak explanation later in the show, but it really doesn't cut it.
Those (extremely cogent) arguments aside, the writing in general wasn't as silly or hairbrained as you'd expect, and I found myself enjoying the battles and story's forward progression. I've seen plenty of popular shows that hit you with goofy scenario after goofy scenario. Comparatively, I'm sure plenty of people can excuse implausible reincarnations.
Animation is very well done. Characters are well designed and animated; I was especially impressed by the quality of character's faces, and was pleased with the stylistic presentation of everything set in present day Japan. People looked and dressed normally, which I consider a plus.
The problem is introduced in the flashbacks.
While the animation is still good quality, the design is horrible. Instead of traditional Incan garments, they wear skin-tight one pieces with tribal accessories. I get the impression the artist's investigation into ancient South American clothing only got as far as Mexican Wrestling. Even where the story was interesting, I found myself distracted and annoyed by just how goofy the villain looked in what I can only imagine to be primitive spandex.
As for the characters: they didn't really leave any strong impressions. There were a couple I liked enough to care when they were in peril--Daimon was likable for being one of the few dynamic characters, who actually faced the ethical dillema of which side he thought was right, and I liked Yuka, who seemed more to me like the story's protagonist than Bilka/Kyoji.
. . .But most of the development was presented disjointedy through past-life flashbacks, and it all felt rather hollow.
The interpersonal relationships didn't feel very deep, the villains seemed to have the most fleshed out motivations, and I found myself mostly indifferent toward the lot of them.
Despite its shortcomings, there is one area in which Nacza not only does well, but excels. Rather than the generic J-Pop or J-Rock that the medium is saturated with, the music is remixed Bach, which works incredibly well.
The OST was reminiscent of Hironobu Sakaguchi, and seems more like something you'd find in a classic RPG than an anime.
That's a good thing.
It gives a grand and serious tone to events which are really too silly to be taken as grand and serious without it. The music managed to draw me into events which probably would have bored me otherwise, and without it I'd probably rate the show lower.
In summation, Nazca is an. . .interesting. . . anime. It does some things well, and a lot of things mediocre, but the final blend was something palatable if not savory. Despite my various complaints, I was, admittedly, never bored.
Viewers who can suspend their disbelief and enjoy things in spite of absurdities will be able to tolerate or even enjoy the show.
But those who like to nitpick over every small implausibility and unliklihood should keep far, -far- away.