Aug 12, 2021
Okay, so today's film is from JC Staff and aired in 1990. I have a mixed history with JC. They've made some absolute rubbish like Sakurasou no pet na kanojo or Puni Puni Poemii. They've also made generic boring stuff like Toradora and Hachimitsu no Clover. But then they occasionally come out with something amazing like Slayers or Flying Witch. They're a studio that's so prolific and varies so widely in quality that I can't even predict what we're going to get from them.
Our narrative is set in a fantasy world where the warrior princess Jiliora and her mage partner Effera are captured and
put on a slave ship. The pair escape along with another prisoner but the lad is mortally wounded, prompting them to return the jewel he left behind to his siblings. This results in them being dragged into a major adventure.
There's one major flaw with this story. It relies on a lot of exposition. We start with three minutes of a narrator telling us background for the world. Because natural world building is too hard. There's also a sequence where Efe and Jira are given information that "everyone knows" except them, apparently. Here's the thing that bothers me about that. It would have been so easy for the old man who gives them the information to say that it's being kept under wraps but he heard it from a contact instead of having our main cast be the only ones around who don't know for some inexplicable reason.
That being said, I appreciate the writing aesthetic in this. It's like a cross between Dirty Pair and Slayers. With the somewhat more serious but still comedic tone of Dirty Pair, along with focusing on a dynamic dame duo but the fantasy setting of Slayers along with action sequences that are more reminiscent of it. Although I should add that this came out before Slayers and the light novel it was based off of came out slightly before the Slayers light novel. In terms of story-telling it's a fun little adventure that manages to stay compelling and provides some funny moments.
Efe and Jira are both pretty interesting characters. The problem kind of lies in the supporting and antagonistic characters. We have a young man who barely speaks and just sort of meekly helps the pair without getting involved in the fights. We have the siblings who they get involved with helping. And the antagonists are just kind of religious zealots, a monstrous tree lady and a creepy dude who pulls the whole "someday she will be mine" thing towards Jira.
Onna Senshi Efe & Jira: Gude no Monshou definitely has that early 90s art and animation style. Including the motion lines and repeated frames as a shortcut to save on the animation budget. That being said, it still holds up pretty decently. The character designs are good and the action sequences look pretty nice.
Matsui Naoko and Ikura Kazue are both really good in this. The rest of the cast is good enough. It's one of those situations where their character underdevelopment does somewhat affect the performances but they still do well. The music s pretty good.
Jira and Efe definitely come across as more than friends. There's a part where the guy who's creepy towards Jira says that he tolerates her "partnership" with Efe because Efe is sharp and he says it in a way that makes it sound like they're partners in more ways than one.
Areas of Improvement:
1. Do your world building by showing it, not by having an exposition dump. Literally no one has ever watched a film or tv show and said "I really want someone to explain how the world works to me while nothing interesting happens on screen."
2. The supporting characters could us a bit more depth.
3. Think through things a little more. What I mean by this is that if something is common knowledge, our protagonists should know it. And there are ways to get around that and still explain it to the audience. You could have it not be common knowledge or they could have to explain it to the phasing boy.
I quite enjoyed this film. It reminds me of two anime franchises that I rather enjoyed and loved respectively. That being said, I definitely don't think it's on the same level as Slayers. It's an entertaining little film with plenty to like about it though. As such, I'll give it a solid 7/10.
What did you think of this review?