On his wedding day, Shi Xiaoguang could only helplessly watch as a mysterious power took his bride Xiaqing, away. Afterwards, he found that no one remembered the existence of “Xiaqing” and he is hunted by this unclear force. Faced with this situation, Shi Xiaoguang slowly began understanding that the world as he knew it had changed.
This anime is an embodiment of tropes thrown together, mixed and poured without apologies. It’s a great example of what not to do.
Shiguang Guiyu (Prisoners of Time) is a dònghuà (Chinese animation) about a regular Hero’s Journey with a regular life that suddenly is chosen by the destiny to save a princess and the entire existence from the Armageddon, all while dodging all the onslaughts of the Big Bad with the most powerful device of all: plot armour.
Sort of. That’s it. Kinda.
The whole anime is kind of amateurish and the obvious tropes are so scratched in your face that you feel they trying hard.
The story starts with a regular man that had visions about a girl in his sleep. He totally believe his visions, to the point of talking about it to his colleagues and treating the visions as normal, mundane things, even spouting them from time to time. (I’m surprised that, given the intensity of these visions, he didn’t ask for medical treatment. Could be overwork. Maybe he could get a medical leave and use it to carefully meditate on these visions whilst also having the time to play videogames. Win-win situation. But no, let’s continue working, talking about them dream hallucinations, flooding web searches, forums and the colleagues’ time.)
All good, all ok, we can accept that. Maybe it’s just his personality. It’s only the beginning, after all.
But things get worse. We have the privilege to see an alien race that can transform into humans and is searching for the Big Miraculous Device that civilizations desire. This alien race has the sort-of Big Bad (or warrior, or avenger, you know, the powerful being that is only one step lower the Overlord on the bad side) that kills people and things ruthlessly and can disguise itself by using human clothes, but, hang on, when it uses its powers, cue to unnecessary change in clothes to provocative, sensual, let’s-show-skin-just-because ones. So, this warrior/almost-overlord alien discovers that the Hero has this Miraculous Device that was given to him by an rapid encounter with the Loner Warrior from the Good Alien Race and Uses Cool Clothes and Has a Cool Alias. Of course, as every generic plotline, the Bad-side Warrior will come to the Hero to kill him.
But how? Using the mighty powers of the alien race, of course!
The warrior is totally overpowered and can warp the reality around it for over a thousand kilometres, yet, when the hero is about to get the blast of death, something happens. Miraculous, I say. Guess what? Well, you might say anything; it will fit, because the generic tropes will diverge to make sure the lack of originality stays. The hero is miraculously saved by the Miraculous Device? At the brink of death, the villain gives a chance to the hero to live because “I want to amuse myself before killing you”? The hero gets to see the utmost dread in the Universe, only to see nothing happening, again? All of the previous alternatives?
Things don’t stop here, there’s also that loner that reveals itself to be experienced in dealing with the devil. To cut explanations, it’s a Wolverine type. Kinda. But useless.
(That’ all, the paragraph is short. Really, no double-meanings.)
Also, everything is an excuse to fight. The intergalactic alien race will stop disguising itself and then set terror on the scenario. Really? Couldn’t they be discrete? You know, just warp a part of their bodies instead of transforming totally. Or maybe use intelligence, tactics and strategies to defeat their enemies without giving them a chance to live. But without that it wouldn’t be possible to extend the animation unnecessarily. Since everything is about fighting, the special powers of the hero(es) will represent themselves as something that can be useful in a fight, like blades. Oh, and they only activate when the users about to die (this is literally said in the animation, I’ll give them credit for that meat-joke – if it was a joke! -- , at least it’s honest).
To crown this mess, the girl in the visions of the hero is a princess from the Good Alien Race that’s about to get extinct and the Bad Alien Race is using time for sort of selfish reasons and control, but no further, meaningful backstory is given. Well, they give, but it just leaves everything at the same weight anyway, nothing changes.
Well, this is enough information, although spoilery, it’s necessary for an important thing: play the game of prediction. With all these tropes mixed and smashed that way, it’s not hard to predict the end of the story and even the attempts at appearing “deep” (yeah). It’s hard to say anything positive about this work. The animation is too simple and amateur, like some American animations that imitate the tracing style of anime, the story is bleak and so predictable that it seems it was done in half an hour, the sound effects are generic ones that one can find anywhere and the voice acting is… ok, I think; I don’t understand the language enough to even judge it. Everything seems like a YouTube high-school animation project from 2008. I can forgive the sounds, animations and voice acting, because everyone starts slowly and cannot have the budget to do boom-boom-blast, original things, but this… I’m sorry to use this word… this is cringey to watch, too tryhard (redundancy?), the story makes you feel dumb, the whole dònghuà is like a challenge on who endures it the most.
So, do not watch it. Skip it. You are better off watching cat videos.