A woman died a suspicious death in the forest. Beside her, the sword-smith Amon finds a new-born boy with a tragic fate and takes him in. About 10 years later, this boy who is named Gai and who has become Amon's apprentice, loses his right arm in an accident while making a sword. Amon decides to take a sword called "Shiryuu," which is a sword with demonic powers that has been passed down for generations, and fashion it into an artificial arm for Gai. That was the beginning of it all...
The story of this boy, who has become one with a demonic weapon and is drawn into a cruel fate in which he must face countless battles, can be seen as either the story of "a beautiful weapon and an ugly person" or of "the cruelty of weapons and the beauty of humans." This is a completely new world of comic noir.
This has to be one of the most disjointed, nonsensical, pointless anime I have ever had the misfortune of sitting through. After being delayed for two years, Sword Gai has finally graced our screens; spraying us with its lovingly shat out excrement. Now’s the time to grab an umbrella because no one will be spared from this epically bad dumpster fire.
Bear with me please, this synopsis may be hard to understand because well, Sword Gai is total nonsense.
In a setting that resembles modern day Japan (I still have no clue where or when), there are certain infamous swords so old that they inhabit souls.
Once a person grabs hold of one of these swords, they fall under its control and become totally helpless to its beckoning for the wielder to give it blood. This is where we’re introduced to the supposed main character’s parents, his father is killed on the street by some random guy with one of these swords. Leaving his pregnant mother with the sword to swiftly avenge her husband, give birth to the main character Gai, and kill herself all in the same night. Now the holder is Gai because for some unknown reason she chose to leave the sword in the baby’s hands so he could be the next possessed one. He’s discovered by a priest/sword forger who raises Gai to become a forger alongside his daughter, the same age as him. The set-up is simple enough, right? Think again because this is far from the only plot-line we see in episode one alone.
The first episode is made up of vaguely related vignettes about people with swords. There ’s not much cohesion to it but the action is somewhat entertaining. We’re introduced to the corporation known as Shoshidai that discovers a sacred sword, and they later cross paths with the actual protagonist. There are many other stories shown, but I after seeing dozens of vignettes I can barely remember any of them. And if you find yourself forgetting these little side stories in favor of the actual main plot then I wouldn’t blame you.
A majority of the episodes are just a bunch of these random vignettes that feel like they were made totally separate from the main story. We see stories from the perspective of a wealthy treasure hunter (who eats her treasure for reasons), a pop idol because why not, and a hairdresser to name a few. At best the characters were forgettable (I literally can't remember some of them), but at worst they're malicious caricatures that adhere to alienating stereotypes. For example, the treasure hunter character is depicted as an overweight woman who gets multiple panning shots in a bikini with splotchy character art and with a purposefully toadlike face to make sure you are fully disgusted by her. I'm not sure why it was necessary to depict the only overweight character in the show this way, but it comes off as confused misguided writing to the point it’s insulting. And it's not just her who gets this appalling treatment, almost all of the characters have such ridiculously unaware writing. There was really no one to tell them how bad this was?
As if this show didn't leave enough of a bad taste already.
All of the characters from the vignettes, whether insultingly portrayed or totally forgotten, were totally useless to the story. None of them matter to the main character’s story. It was like they were wasting the audiences time because the main story didn’t have enough content to keep us entertained and frankly it doesn’t!! The main character has the most generic and bland plot line in the show that it made me beg for the side stories to return because they are at least intruiging in how bad they are.
Each vignette has the same sort of formula; a person is driven to kill someone through some horrible misfortune that befalls on them, they receive a sword randomly… and then they beat the living hell out of the people causing their problems! All of the vignettes (and the show overall) have a common theme of anger, each character is driven by raw fury, enraged even further by their sword. I want to believe that Sword Gai is trying to say something interesting about the connection between violence, weapons, and anger, but there’s no commentary part. What we get here is just a raw upsetting exploitation of an interesting theme for the sake of pointless violence. And this series has plenty of violence and gore that is meant to complement the edgy tone they’re aiming for.
There are so many scenes in Sword Gai that make no sense for why they were placed where they were. We could be in a school at one moment, then jump to a random guy in the midst of a duel, then a little girl learning how to play the piano. All within a span of three minutes, because who cares if the viewer understands what’s going on, right? From time to time we get a minor explanation after a series of disjointed scenes settles down, but it’s never enough for us to fully understand what we just witnessed. This issue simply boils down to the poorly distributed 12 episode runtime of the story. A majority of the narrative issues could be alleviated if the series writer Toshiki Inoue shortened (or ideally removed) certain plotlines, and chose to further develop the more necessary ones.
To add insult to injury, Sword Gai has dozens of buzzwords it mixes into the dialogue to ensure you definitely do not understand what is occurring. Busoma, Chrysalis, Shoshidai… the list goes on and on. And if you’re not actively keeping track of each word and what they mean then guess what… you’ll be just as lost as I was!! Even without these pointless buzzwords, the dialogue is still fucking abysmal. It so desperately wants to be dark and serious but it comes off as either mind-numbingly stiff, hilariously overdone, or just outright cringy.
The visuals often fall into an all red color scheme with deep dark shadows (is that you Akame ga Kill?), plenty of blood, lots of angry people yelling at each other; it’s all so overdone. Sometimes the dialogue was so bad that I found it quite laughable, the most enjoyment I got from the show. I’d only recommend this show if you can ironically enjoy it’s how terrible and overbearingly edgy it is.
If you weren’t losing your mind with confusion by those previous issues, then don’t worry because the director’s got you covered! There is no cohesion between the sequence of events between many scenes in Sword Gai. In one of the worst instances of this issue, we’re suddenly shown a montage of this random guy and his girlfriend together at an amusement park… but while I’m watching this play out I can only think, who are these people and why should I care!? There are way too many characters to be supported by such a purposefully disjointed plot! The ‘main’ character shows up from time to time to arbitrarily be a part of the sword fights. But the thing is, Gai is as interesting as a plank of wood for the entire series! So even with the protagonist present, there are no stakes to any of the fights. Maybe if Gai had more screen time we could have learned why he’s worth caring about rather than him getting the everyman character design and generic love interest to swoon over him. It feels like it'd be fitting to say Sword Gai has plot holes, but it's hard to level that criticism at it when THE WHOLE PLOT IS A HOLE.
What made the scenes with Gai bearable was his pairing with my favorite character Seiya. He’s like a diamond in the rough who stood head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. Simultaneously he adheres to the macho-asshole archetype but is surprisingly also a 100% certified nice guy. After being awoken from a sleep that lasted years, he returns to his now elderly wife and treats her with all of the same love and respect he would have before. This single brief vignette lasting only half an episode is without a doubt my favorite part of the show, sadly that is all he gets. Save for a few hilarious one-liners and his constant presence around the gloomy protagonist to provide some much needed levity. Sadly neither of them get much screen time due to the story's messy structure.
I can at least praise the visuals for being decent. However, they’re nothing amazing, especially when comparing it to Production I.G.’s other recent release B: The Beginning. Character art is good but occasionally their animation is anything but. I didn’t particularly care for the CGI sword fights either. For a show that is billing itself as ‘the definitive sword guy anime’ it can’t even do sword fights right. B also has far better fight choreography with much more fluidity and impact. Sword Gai comes up with a stupid plot contrivance to make the characters fight each other in weird samurai/mech suits so that they can use CGI and it’s so obvious. As the rule goes, if you use your cursed sword for too long or something or other then it possesses you completely and you become trapped in one of those suits. Forced to fight in some really just mediocre fight sequences. Sound effects don’t line up perfectly with some of the blows a fighter takes during combat, nor do they have the audiovisual impact to convince us that the scene we’re watching is as dangerous as they want us to believe.
This mediocrity extends into the totally forgettable soundtrack that fades into nothing when it’s present at all. As for the opening song, the less said the better because it’s awful. I’d love to analyze it and compare it to the main character’s arc, but the way the singer sounds makes my head want to explode. I did find the English dub good enough, the sub is equally decent, but remember… TERRIBLE DIALOGUE!! No amount of good acting can salvage a horrible script!
Before closing, I should mention that there is no ending. The show ends on not even a cliffhanger, on just the same old ending of any other episode but without any others to follow it. The ending sets itself up for a sequel, even saying "Part 1" at the end, but there's almost no chance it will be any better given it was in production before the first even released.
Whatever I’m sure as hell never coming back to this series if it gets a sequel or not.
[Story: 1/10] Nonsensical, disjointed, forgettable, no ending.
[Character: 2.5/10] Boring protagonist, one strong side character.
[Art: 6/10] Serviceable art, so-so CGI, eye-catching use of color.
[Sound: 5/10] Decent dub, forgettable music, sound effects lack impact.
[Enjoyment: 2/10] Painfully serious at some times, laughably stupid at others.
[Overall Score: 3.3/10]
Sword Gai is a seething pile of angst and rage. It actively tries to make you feel the anger that all of its characters do, and it regrettably succeeded. If you've come this far you surely know that Sword Gai made me angry. Mostly it was a waste of time, but I can at least say it's the special sort of bad that's easy to laugh at.
If you want an outlandish action thriller then I'd recommend you watch B: The Beginning rather than this. In fact, Sword Gai is the worst anime Netflix has released this year, it is an unsightly blemish on their otherwise strong lineup.
No hard spoilers in this review however there are some references to objects and the aroma the story gives off; however no direct examples from the story are given nor do I give off the main Ideas of the plot.
Story (4): Starts off very ambitiously with an amazing first episode to pull the watcher in; however this feeling does not last. Once episode 6 is reached the story becomes a droll. I simply could not get myself to understand or comprehend the gravity of the situation. I can't help but feel this is a result of 'jumping around' the show could not decide what to
focus on, it feels more like a scrap-book than a cohesive plot.
Art (6): Sometimes the 3D animation can look slightly plastic. To add on the Mecha style futuristic 'Knights' that are introduced feel out of place as the majority of background stories are from medieval to ancient times.
Sound (4): I have no idea why but during dialogue voices can sound far away and never does the music to a fight scene make the fight feel more intense.
Character (5): The main character receives the least time of all the characters in the series to be developed. Constantly jumping around as I referred to in story not only removes the main characters story arc from the spotlight, but also leaves you experiencing negligible emotion towards harm or danger facing characters you should care about.
Enjoyment (6): I have spoken of all these bad things but the reason enjoyment is fair and not horrendous is the adventure that is attempting to understand a story that deep down could be good if directing was done better. It has some good ideas but needs to fix pretty much everything else about it.
Overall/Conclusion (5): If I had to summarize this series in one word it would be "mediocre". This story could be good, it could have good arcs, but it falls short in the end leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Sort of like smelling an exceptionally looking prime New York Steak only to bite into it and discover it has been burnt to a crisp.
Netflix has come up with yet another original Anime.. Or wait... was it? I will begin with the MC who is dull, lifeless, pessimistic, and self centered. We hardly know anything about him other then he is an ass. This is the shows biggest issue. The show focuses so little on the MC you almost wonder if he was the MC or yet another random character. The MC is followed by the loving Sayaka the daughter of the MC's master who seems to hold some emotional attachment to the MC. Yet for some reason the MC chooses to blow this off because his problems are
more important then at least showing gratitude for the family that literally saved his life.
This show is a giant cluster. It's numerous characters introduced(almost never lasting more then an a full episodes worth) make none of the characters memorable at all. Worse yet, other then the supporting characters like Ms. Sayaka we are left wondering who we should be rooting for. Most of the "Characters" in the show seem like they are added for filler, and don't add anything to what is supposed to be a story other then show a different killer. All of the characters are dull, cliche, and serve no real purpose. Add to this random organizations such as Shoshidai, Ghabi, ect. and your left wondering how this "secret" is even remotely private. We have full on military incursions on city streets. Random characters hacking and burning the cities residents and explosions galore. The Fights between characters are almost 40% CG and done poorly at that. They look surreal, and don't seem to move correctly based on the scenery.
Sword Gai is a poor attempt at an action anime. What is has in random senseless gore, and fights, is easily overlooked by its poor character outlines, shoddy animation, piss poor dialogue, and random characters being introduced non stop(none of which do anything for the plot). While the ending leads me to believe this will be a 24 episode anime. I cant help but feel the show is irredeemably bad. I cannot fathom what it would take to make this show into even a meh of an anime.
In my opinion if you want to watch anime Originals on Netflix you would be better served watching the likes of "Knights of Sidonia", or "B: The Beginning." Neither will likely ever achieve any level of greatness but their stories are at least somewhat coherent. With characters that you can actually remember and empathize with.
So in case you're wondering, this is a Netflix series. One of the bunch that they have been spitting out since the beginning of 2018. I would honestly give this anime more of a 7.5 rather than a 7 but I don't want to give it an 8. Any "spoilers" I mention are either in the synopsis or you find out in the first episode. So there are demon swords (so...refreshing) and when a human combines with them they either turn into a demon or control it and use its power...sorta. The twist is that if you use the power too much then it will
consume you anyway. So it follows this kid who ends up getting one for an arm and the story sorta is....eh. The plot meanders because I think they were trying to build up all the characters to the same level of development, which for only 12 episodes is somewhat ambitious. I have to admit there were two instances where I actually felt something for the characters. The mc is supposed to be edgy, but he drifts more to just being a dick, which I can somewhat appreciate because at least he's not the "hooray I have a new power, let's save the world from evil!". I think Netflix really wants to use cg in all their anime for some reason because it's in this, sparingly thank goodness, but it takes away from rather nice visuals. The most interesting part of this anime was the concept of the "power". Besides that it was just ok. I don't remember any song that stood out. It was an easy 12 episodes to burn through. If you've got some free time I'd recommend it. the anime at the very least is enjoyable to watch.