The series takes place in an alternate world, staged mostly in the city of Eridana, whose territory is half in the Tseberun Dragon Empire, and half in the Lapetodes Seven Cities Alliance. Each half is separated by the Orielal River. In this world, special abilities called spell formulas (咒式, jushiki) exist, which are essentially chemical reactions augmented through special weapons that cause a magic spell-like effect. These special weapons are called Magic Staff weapons, and are as varied as regular weapons are. Spell formulists use these spell formulas to fight with "Beasts of Abhorrent Form," natural creatures that use spell formulas and pose a threat to humans, such as Dragons, Aions, or Enormes. The story focuses on the two main characters, Gaius Sorel and Gigina Ashley-Bufh, the only two employees of spell formulist dispatch office Ashley-Bufh & Sorel Co. They are met with a variety of requests from a variety of clients, all requiring the adept use of spell formulas.
Even after 12 episodes weekly (AND re-watching them in another full sitting if anything else made sense that links any arcs together), it made sense...only a little bit, but much of it lies in the play of politics between countries and governments, both big and small with their different ideals and realism tactics to regain ground, and that's the basis with Dance of the Dragons.
First things off, for those wondering whether to watch this series, approach with absolute warning, because this requires a FULL sitting from start to end to completely understand the gist and gestures of the story setting, I had to dig information
from people whom seem to understand the story from an episode-by-episode basis, then combine as a whole into this review (thanks for inspiration and credits to them). If you're like me, you can cast out the entire story with a pen and paper to see the links and how everything becomes full circle towards the end with the unsatisfying but decent conclusion.
Dances of the Dragon showcases the history of politics with the Dragon Empire and the Alliance of the Seven Cities, causing distraught until the peace treaty is held constant by people who call themselves Jushiikists, people who wield swords that channel typical magical powers and spells, being able to defeat the dragons and uphold peace.
Enter the main characters: Gayus Levina Sorel and Gigina Jerde Dolk Melios Ashely Boeuf, two Jushiki swordsmen refined but still dry in their powers. Both are absolutely polar opposites towards one another, with the usual hatred but in need of one another. Gayus is a cowardly, weak but resisting character that has a girlfriend (Jivunya) but of a different race that co-exist among humans. Gigina, aside from being Gayus' partner, comes from the long line of Draken culture, which is the equivalent of victory that defeat is unaccepted, and his bozo liking to furniture knows no bounds, so much so that Gayus despises him for that. Both run the same Jushikist agency, and are given trival tasks to solve because of their powers in the city of Eridana.
Here's where the first problem lies: For the 1st-half of the series, I'm sorry, but you are not gonna be able to follow up to the storytelling because it is all over the place, the only notable things are the relationship between the main MCs and (if you can pick up) the controversies of politics in play that gets the both of them in the radar for something more sinister (e.g. the role of General Mouldeen in being the peacekeeper and tasking Gayus and Gigina into protection him as VIP).
As the main series progresses, Gayus and Gigina's relationship is one of disdain, uncomfort and distortion, so much so that their personal feelings come across to the battleground, and is always the plot drive for the series for the 1st half of the series, so much so that's it's painful to watch and appreciate the original source material.
The 2nd half talks about the forming of a political party of the outskirts of Eridana, particularly the town of Urmun, its independent retaliation crew of Aurora Hammer, the spokesman for the townspeople, the Man-Eating dragon of the sand Zhuo Lu, and the one who started the Urmun Revolution, Remedius. This plot is ACTUALLY more interesting, and unfortunately boring but yet shows the ideals and intentions of wanting to overthrow the existing government (that is the Dragon Empire) and take over the city with some foes and relinquish hostages that have relevance to their mission, all in typical fashion.
Overall, the story is YET convoluted and confusing, so going slow is the best way to go if you really want to get something out of this series, otherwise take it or leave it. Because this series, coming from the light novel adaptation, it was cool for its time but sadly and frustratingly prolonged for more than 10 years, I wished this anime could have premiered last year instead.
The art and animation...really looks OK, but from early production issues, I'd say by the time this has been done, the artwork and animation are leagues down than going up. Now mind you, the one instance that's plastered all over is that the graphics are too dark in the darker scenes, so much so that I can't really make up what's going and had to adjust my computer brightness to make it visible (that's very painful to the eye). Other than that, there's nothing special nor noteworthy to say about, because it's an average, mediocre production. Good try, Seven Arcs for replicating the source material, but more misses than hits.
The same could be said about the music. For one, the OST was done by reputable artists (fripSide, Maon Kurasaki) but it seemed very dull, lifeless and not very appealing at all. As much as the BGM is helping with sorting scenes, it shares the same fare as its OST counterpart, and while presentable, it's not good at all.
It may seem that Dances of the Dragons has more fault than good, and it does, and as comical as it seems, I wouldn't recommend it against the weird story with obnoxious storytelling, dark visuals and sound so poorly made. I wish I could find a good point (I really do), and that comes with a clear mind to start everything afresh and have your take on it.
"Dances with the Dragons" is a show that shows moderate potential but fails to deliver fully on that potential, resulting in a thoroughly mediocre show. The plot introduces threads out of nowhere, and there's more loose threads at the end than a ball of yarn that went through twenty cats.
The story is the worst link in the show. I'm not sure if this is handled with the same amount of grace in the original light novel, but the story has approximately four major plotlines that converge together at two separate points awkwardly like the wreckage from a two-car collision ramming into two other cars creating
a flaming storytelling four-car pileup. The serial murder and "peace talk" arcs that take place in the first five episodes are barely related, and due to there being no apparent link between the Urmun and Maga-something-Japanese-I-forgot arcs at the beginning, I'm confused at what location they even are at sometimes when it shows them going through border control and then back at their agency in one simple cut.
Also, episode 11 and 12 are the textbook definition of "awkward pacing".
There's also a bunch of convenient things that happen to Gigina and Gaius that go completely unshown before showing up. X shows up and saves their asses? Welp, it's actually never mentioned that they were there.
I still don't know where that huge fireball Gaius shot out in episode 10 came from.
Here's a nice idea: instead of four plotlines and focusing on none of them -- it'd be easier to focus on one plotline and commit to it.
The original light novel obviously has a very complicated and delicate setting -- it's the only way I can justify all the incredible facts about the world I'm supposed to know. Eridana is split into half between the Dragon Empire and Seven-Cities-Alliance? Oh, they never mention it in the show as far as I can recall. Nidvolk's orb? The poison? The other damn countries that are offhandedly mentioned? Good luck finding exposition.
The setting normally won't be such big of a deal, but when sociopolitical-maneuvering seems to be your only constant thread within the show, it would be nice to get some exposition on the world.
Art and character design:
I like the character designs, and the art is serviceable. However, the fight scenes lack motion (dragon fights don't actually show the characters with sword swinging and excess movement much), and when it gets dark, it gets really dark. Like some others mentioned, I had to turn up my screen's brightness just to see what was going on.
The music in this show sound closer to a JRPG soundtrack -- noticable and a bit obtrusive. It's good enough though, and the vocal flourish at the end of the opening theme is a nice little moment to get your blood pumping.
Characters are given time to develop, but not enough to make them stand out as good characters. Gigina and Gaius have almost no chemistry apparent at first, but instead of showing why they butt heads, it just tells you to accept that they do. Their relation improves of course, and they actually share one or two quite funny moments at the last few episodes of the show.
Of the support characters, Jivanya is probably the only constant one throughout the series as Gaius's girlfriend. Her character is never given enough time to develop as well. Moldeen could count as well, but his goals and motivations are so illusory it's hard to grasp his character at the end.
I got a lot of enjoyment out of watching Nidvolk and Jivanya's lady-parts.
But seriously speaking, there aren't many enjoyable or despicable moments in this show. Things happen, and the viewer is swept along. It's not bad enough to make you unable to watch, but there isn't much of anything that actively engaged or interested me. No well-developed characters, a plot with horrible pacing and a bit of mediocre comedy -- it's not exactly a recipe for maximum fun.
Oh, I guess Norio Wakamoto is here, so if he's your thing (he should be) he'll provide some fine entertainment.
The plot is confusing, the characters only barely there. What's there to like? The art is a resounding "meh", the sound and music passable. Nothing here's bad enough or crazy enough to be interesting, and the only thing that seemed like it had potential -- the setting -- was laid to waste by a lack of exposition and a lack of screen time.
Meh. It wasn't that bad. I guess. "Decent" works.
Recommended to no one but fans of the original light novel or its manga adaptation. Maybe if you are one, you'll get more mileage out of this than me.
Dances with the Dragons is certainly a badass name for a show which is both: bad and ass.
When I heard the main character is called Jerde Dolk Melios Ashley Boeuf Gigina, I assumed upon introducing himself, he would continue this with something like "friends call me Billy." but unfortunately the author of this series was completely serious when they wrote this piece of shit name monster. This petty much sums the series' biggest mistake. It tried to be serious when it was obviously so bad it could have only carried itself as a comedy or alternatively by creating content that is so over the top
it becomes entertaining to watch.
Basically elf-people, philosophers and high school kids who wear classes and look like bishonen princes are fighting against dragons in a fantasy universe filled with technology. Sounds great once again until you remember the series tries to be serious. Pretty much the only way to enjoy this show is to mock it and view it ironically, but it comes off so lacklustery it's nearly impossible to find even one detail or factor that can be laughed at. The show is simply the visual representation of "nothing". Not even tabulara rasa is this content-lacking.
I somewhat enjoyed the scenes where MC for example took an elf-lady in a manly fashion while she whispered "baka". Pretty much all the entertainment the series can offers lies within fanservice where main characters grope tits and embarrass elf ladies in lewd ways.
Maybe ppl who have sicker sense of humor than myself can find some enjoyment in this, but be warned, I was able to enjoy shows such as Hand Shakers, Guilty Crown, Sword Art Online, Death March, Shingeki no Kyojin and even Mirai Nikki ironically. This show is where my humor stops.
I'm unsure why this show has such poor reviews, my suspicions lie with the degradation of intellect in the world as a whole. First and foremost this is a DRAMA that means most things are going to be over the top people are going to cry all the time and the comedy is going to be drier than an 80 year old cooch. so yeah if you looking to giggle away the night make sure you can understand the nuances that dry humor has to offer!!! If you love dry humor and shows that involve you questioning morality, does the end justify the means!?!, then
you'll enjoy this show. Its plain and simple/ cut and dry... nothing fancy going on here, but that most assuredly doesn't mean you have to write nasty despicable reviews on a work you don't understand!!!