The history books say that in the era of the Three Kingdoms, this land was a place of never-ending war. A young high school boy, Sonshin, who hates his city's history, is troubled by a certain dream. When he wakes up from the dream, strange things begin to happen one after another, and without understanding what's going on, he suddenly finds himself facing Gien, one of the generals from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, who's trying to kill him! Just before Gien's blade strikes home, a mysterious beautiful woman appears in front of Sonshin. What trials await Sonshin, as he witnesses this terrible battle between two generals of the Three Kingdoms?
Ok, so as this Chinese inspired anime, which is based from a Chinese manhua ends, we are left to wonder about that "Tomorrow" sign that was left at the end of this anime, in fact I'm a little bit puzzle if there will be an OVA or season 2 of some kind, I mean, we just don't know, however if this is Studio Pierrot's way of giving this anime an opening ending, they surly provided a very wide one, so how do I rate this 12 episode 15 minute long anime?
Well, I really have nothing good to give it more than 7, so here goes:
well the plot does have a direction, I give it that, but it kinda disgust me that all that plot can fit in just 2 episode, now I don't know if this is deliberate or not , but given the political tension that Japan has with China , I probably won't be surprise if the Japanese studio intentionally wants to keep Chinese manhua stay as manhua, and keep it off Japanese television, by deliberately making it a bad anime, but despite of it, it's a fair 6 in my book.
Art, well, it was a poor 3 , base on the background, coloring , hues and the whole scape layout let's face it, this is where Color Designer: Yoshimi Kawakami and art director, Toru Koga fucked up. then again character designer Tsutomu Miyazawa did a good job on the characters especially with the 2 eye candies Shū Yu, whom is the quintessential zettai ryoki/ samurai girl/ tsundere and Ryō Un who is the quintessential, top student, btw don't expect any panty shots from either of the 2.
Sound, since I don't have any comment on the opening , closing and the seiyuus who did the character's voices, I'm just gonna gun for a mediocre 5.
Characters, I gave it a fair 6 on the ff grounds:
Son Shin, ok so as the main character, he's chicken shit that turns me off, but on the other hand he's this quintessential guy who has no other choice but to face the situation that he unknowingly got himself into. Turn off, he has a general who is seemly a bull head and he doesn't even do anything to make her his obedient familiar.
Shū Yu, I would have wanted her to be this caring familiar, however her stubbornness is a turn off . Though, she one hot eye candy her character alone is leaves a bad after taste.
Ryō Un, another eye candy, that I kinda like........just a bit, now I like that she serves as Son Shi's ally . But I just think that she could have done more than just be another card holder, I mean if this anime is done fairly without the geopolitics she could have some potential to be as powerful as Barin Yi.
Another reason for the rating was that most of the characters were introduced in an instantaneous manner, that we the audience were only left to tell who is good and who is bad, just like that, they come in and come out just like that.
Enjoyment, thought annoying since, like I've said the whole 12 episode anime could fit in a just 2, well, it was still a decent 4, enough to watch. In fact this is something that one should just let it accumulate and watch it in one go.
Overall, Studio Pierrot should have just done an OVA of this thing with just 2 episode, so yes, for it's slow pace, simplistic plot and bad art layout it was a dreadful 2.
Anime based on card games are a dime a dozen but mix it with Chinese lore such as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and you get an interesting take on it. A Chinese co production Soul Buster based on a manhua of the same name certainly sets itself out from the pack through its unique visuals but is there more to it?
Son Shin has a bizarre dream containing all sorts of mythical and unnatural imagery only to awaken when he sees something extraordinary. He then comes across a card and suddenly comes under attack from his teacher who has some sort of warrior
beside him wanting his card and will do anything he has to. Little does Son Shin know this is the first act in a series of escalating events.
A fairly simple set up for a card based series but I am a sucker for a card based series as long as it gets the basics right. Here that is the case for me. There is more to it than on the surface with a lot of world building, twists, new parties with their own goals and characters to come but it doesn’t get needlessly complex. The simplicity here works for the better as it allows greater focus on the characters and action which is what this show does best from Son Shins first battle with his teacher to his clashes with Hakuanshi.
We don’t really get that much background on Son Shin himself so can only go on his actions throughout. He isn’t stupid, quick on his feet, adapts to challenges quickly and will do almost anything for those who have protected him. A bit typical I suppose but I like that he isn’t afraid or constantly questions himself. Shuu Yu I liked a lot, she is a noble warrior but also has a softer side, being used in this game has took its toll on her and she hates losing master after master so seeing her change her tune somewhat after Son Shins efforts is nice to see.
Most side characters are interesting also. Quiet girl Ryou Un and her lord Shuu Sou know much more than Son Shin does and help him when he needs it whilst also providing an insight into this world. A few more pop up over time including a seemingly punk fighter kid Barin who is fun and Ryou Uns father. The villains are fairly generic (apart from their designs), trying to revive their master who wants to start a war but do bring a very real sense of danger and excitement. Other than that the lords themselves take centre stage with an array of designs, personalities and wants.
I like that because this is a Chinese co production the historical elements are based on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It’s refreshing to see a new batch of lords, what they’re like and their powers instead of the umpteenth version of Oda Nobunaga. They’re also quite interesting as they’ve been part of this game for a long time, have their own feelings and thoughts, losing master after master so their personalities have warped to reflect this to the point where stability can be key, they are not disposable cards as evidenced by the link to the user. Seeing them in the now modern world is also rather nice, a real contrast of ages.
The action scenes are frantic and exciting despite the visuals (I’ll get onto that). Scenes flow well as characters move naturally and smoothly. Sure it’s typical of these types of show with bombastic powers that fill the screen but when it’s enjoyable it’s enjoyable. More so when you have an array of powers on display from the usual sword wielders, archers who can unleash more than just an arrow, soul taking and a swathe of magical influences.
One of the problems I do have is the length of episodes. As a mid length series (with episodes 13 minutes long) it feels off. Multiple episodes follow the same battles or directly continue the story with nary a break. It feels like it would be better suited to a full length series as the constant stopping part way through a battle or particular story arc is too stop start. Episodes at this length are more suited to an episodic nature even if you are linking the story together such as Diabolik Lovers which is prime example of how to do it.
Visually is where most people will raise an eyebrow. The actual art is fine, depicting the lords with good detail and nice and varied designs from armour to battle garments to physiques. In shows like these focusing on historical elements that can usually be the case but nevertheless it’s nice to see varied designs or warriors from past Chinese history.
The issue here comes from a completely unnecessary filter or two. Over most scenes there is a filter which covers over half the screen at times which contains heavy almost pastel like line use, it’s hard to describe covers a large part of the screen. Then when actions scenes are taking place they make the bizarre choice to include a paint filter where whenever there are clashes or strong hits lashes of paint hit the screen obscuring the action even more.
Neither of these works particularly well. They obscure too much of the action and darken the visuals too much. The animation isn’t bad but actually decent so they wouldn’t have used this to hide the cheapness so I can only think it as an artistic choice which flails. The paint filter I think they were going for the blood effect to heighten the sense of danger but it falls short. Take it away and the series becomes more vibrant and colourful and you can see effects more clearly. I got used to it 3 or 4 episodes in but even then it became distracting when overused (which it will).
The soundtrack is rather indistinct; there is the feudal, oriental if you will sound effects you’d get in a lot of anime from these eras. The OP and ED stood out above this though with catchy J-Pop tunes from Ayane and Zwei. They’ve been on repeated listens for a bit now.
An enjoyable series marred by the visual choices which is a shame. The story doesn’t wrap up the full story since the source material is ongoing but finishes on a relatively good note. I hope there is more to come as it left a longing taste for more which is proof a series has done something right.
Plot-wise, it's a really simple Fate stay night plotline of "evil masters wants to kill the main protagonists with their servants" and "main protagonists tries to defend and defeat them"...sure there's character development but the plot seems more focused on their one-note fights than the character development themselves. Yeah, the main protagonists Shin Son, Yu Shuu and Un Ryou and Yi Barin do "get" what little character development they get but they shape more to their Fate stay night counterparts only in lesser detail.
*Shin Son = Emiya Shirou only MUCH worse
*Yu Shuu = Saber, only her development and backstory is rushed
like hell, but it can be excusable due to it being an anime short.
*Un Ryou = Rin Tohsaka, but less tsundere more "The Ace".
*Yi Barin = Probably the only character not taken from a Fate stay night archetype.
And yes because of that, their investment are quickly resolved through a battle and due to the length of the anime episodes (10 minutes each) or LA has NO investment to them and no, it's not because of it being rushed, the characters are this bland and ripoff-ed LA just didn't care. Plot-wise investments is even worse as the anime has little respite to it's own characters (and thus the audience) in development and plot, it's exposition is all over the place and cares more about it's eyesore of battles Soul Buster entails.
The minor characters are MUCH worse as LA's biggest problem is that there is one character by the name of Hakuanshi who is essentially the main antagonist of this anime short and he essentially brings nearly EVERY SINGLE HEAVY MOOK enemy towards the main heroes and yes, they are all servants, thus we don't even get to know the enemies/Chinese famous figures besides what their "special powers" are, it gets even worse when we get to the even smaller minor characters like the School Nurse, who comes in for one or two episodes then disappears for the rest of the anime...WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ADDING HER!?!??!!.
Really it's kinda troubling when you have an anime with LOTS of characters and you can't even remember the main villains NAME.
The animation was LA's biggest gripe in the anime, the animation is stock filled with MULTIPLE "stylistic choices" from colorful ink splots during battle scenes and mostly used when swords/ultimate attacks clash, shadows having this "woody" texture all throughout the anime, SHAKY CAM and dual to tri "shaky afterimages" outside and inside of battles...do you see the major problem with this setup?. The animation outside of all this is ok at best, however with these in place, makes the animation UNBEARABLE to watch, they put too much focus on these after-effects more than seeing the somewhat decent animation. Soul Buster really didn't need to do this and if it's for stylistic choice, they failed. It felt more or less they saw that SHAFT did these things, yet they utterly failed to realize that SHAFT used those in-tandem to it's plot and symbolism, they are also not in your face with these animation flairs, Soul Buster however is ENTIRELY in your face saying "LOOK HOW COLORFUL AND ALL OVER THE PLACE, ALL IN YOUR FACE THE ANIMATION IS". There's a fine line between stylistic and annoying. No joke, by Episode 10, LA got a headache by the combination of all four stylistic effects in one big battle lasting almost 5 minutes. The animation is that misguided that it caused LA to get a headache!?!?!??!. LA thought Qualidea Code had inconsistent animation, but Studio Pierrot for this stunt of an eyesore is SOOO MUCH WORSE.
Soul Buster, plot-wise is just another Fate stay night story just substitute them with ancient Chinese figures than the global scale Fate stay night does, the plot follows many of the plot beats nearly plot for point even to their main characters. But what becomes to the worst aspect of Soul Buster and what COULD have been an "average" score instead being nearly "HORRIBLE" is the misguided and in your face animation.
The ending really never resolves itself due to how little the main heroes has done and yes LA gets it, it's anime short, if they wanted to resolve the entire plot in a 10 minute x 13 episode timeframe it would be impossible, or rushed as hell, but still, the ending left completely open ended and worst yet, it felt like the main characters accomplished little to nothing by the end of it because of their rushed character development and coincidental incidents that leads them to the ending they got.
Soul Buster falls under the "the scenery is trying too hard to the point of being aggressively annoying more than the lackluster story" or "scenery chews the story more than the character themselves".
Soul Buster your drunk, go sit on the worst animation of 2016 corner!