Widely regarded as a trailblazer and top-tier professional player in the online multiplayer game Glory, Ye Xiu is dubbed the "Battle God" for his skills and contributions to the game over the years. However, when forced to retire from the team and to leave his gaming career behind, he finds work at a nearby internet café. There, when Glory launches its tenth server, he throws himself into the game once more using a new character named "Lord Grim."
Ye Xiu's early achievements on the new server immediately catch the attention of many players, as well as the big guilds, leaving them to wonder about the identity of this exceptional player. However, while he possesses ten years of experience and in-depth knowledge, starting afresh with neither sponsors nor a team in a game that has changed over the years presents numerous challenges. Along with talented new comrades, Ye Xiu once again dedicates himself to traversing the path to Glory's summit!
Based on The King's Avatar (全职高手) a Chinese web serial novel. Written by Butterfly Blue (蝴蝶蓝) about esports. It received the title for Best Work in 2013 and is the first and only 1000 Pledged Work on Qi Dian.
**TL;DR at bottom* *Spoilers are clearly marked*
The fact that this series is getting rated so low really saddens me. To put it simply, the King's Avatar is great, and hopefully, in this review, I can provide a reason to convince you.
Before I begin, however, I want to preference this is NOT an anime about eSports. This anime does not deal with, nor care about the struggles of, eSports players. It has eSports elements to it in order to logically and naturally bring in the topic of video games and how the main character Ye Xiu is so good at them. Elements of this are glorified
quite often, if nothing else as a love letter to eSports in general. It is not about the struggles of players and the industry. If you're looking for something like that, I suggest Valve's eSports documentary Free to Play.
So, if TKA doesn't deal with eSports, what does it aim to do? The answer, quite simply, is to watch a likable character and his friends be good at video games. That may sound boring, but it's really not, due to the sheer quality of TKA.
The only real and only main character is Ye Xiu, who is, like many of his contemporaries in video game anime, a total God at this universe's most popular game, Glory. The justification for this is that Xiu is a former leader of one of the best professional teams of the game, and after a decade of leading it, is maliciously kicked off from the team and is forced to make a new account and grind his way back up.
If the fact that he's spent a decade playing this game confuses you, then let me inform you on one of the bigger selling points of this anime -- all characters are adults. Xie is said to be between 25 and 26 in the series, and he only plays with adults throughout. That allows the majority of the annoying, overused anime tropes such as excessive fanservice, stupid love triangles, a high school setting, etc. to be totally vacant from the anime. This really helps the series both focus on being about games and also have a fresh feeling to it, as it's not super interested in feeding into the wish-fulfilment teenager crowd many video game anime target.
Ye Xiu, (Western order Xiu Ye) is a really well written character, which is important since he's the only one who gets a major amount of screen time. A big element of the series is watching Xiu grow from replaying the game out of spite (and simply not knowing what else to do with his life) into loving it once again, which is done very subtly but ends up being satisfactory in the end.
A big element of Xiu's character is subtlety, primarily considering the air of "I am better than you" he frequently puts on, however, the series shows time and time again that he has doubts about his own skill, fears, and goals of his own, even if he could easily wipe the floor with anyone he battles.
A fantastic example of this, and a great example of the amount of care put into the show, is Xiu's smoking. Both a symbol and an indicator of his stress, the cigarettes always come out when he is put into a situation that upsets him, notably when he's reminded of his eSports past.
**MINOR SPOILER WARNING** In episode five, he does just that -- Xiu, a character still keeping this sense of superiority around him, makes some remark about a professional event going on, before leaving the net cafe he's in to take a smoke outside. The way he does it in private, and the stance he takes, including his expression, show simply how upset he is about the whole thing, and that he's not the one up there in the tournament.**END SPOILER WARNING** It's subtle--quietly great--but tells so much more about Xiu's character than any dialogue saying "he feels this" could ever do. TKA has so much of this sprinkled throughout, and it works great to really make the audience sympathize with Ye Xiu.
I've spent so much time talking about the lead simply because the series focuses on him, but for anyone interested in both interesting side characters and fantastically animated fight scenes, TKA does both well.
No supporting character gets as much development as Ye Xiu does, but some do grow quite a bit from the introduction to the conclusion, notably Rou Tang, a friend of Xiu's. All of these side characters are still very likable, and none are some dumb anime trope designed so heavily to be liked, they just come across as artificial.
As for the animation, TKA's is both experimental and well done. Many of the smaller scenes are where the series falters, having to opt to use 3D models for background characters to allow for room to the incredible animation during in-game fight scenes. Absolutely all of them are extremely well done -- great fight choreography, framing, and extremely detailed animation, especially during the bigger fights. If you're the type of person who loves good fight scenes or animation, this series will more than please you.
Regarding the voice acting, yes, this is a "Chinese anime", more properly referred to as donghua. Donghua has a bit of a bad name to it, considering it's known as both invasive to Japanese anime and lesser quality, to which TKA is neither. Yes, the people in the series speak Chinese. If you can get past how odd it's going to feel initially, the voice acting is very good, albeit different, than Japanese. Rather than the bigger, more campy style voice acting that tends to come out of a series like this, the Chinese opted to do something a lot calmer and natural sounding, which definitely helps the series stand on its own and makes the entire show seem more grounded.
Overall, the King's Avatar is a fantastic series about skilled video game players. It uses a logical setup, interesting and developed characters, and well done but easy to miss symbolism and character development, while not slacking on the action and animation in the slightest, to bring a great story about adults who love games. While it may not be the best representation of the eSports scene, it doesn't aim to be, and still manages to have compelling characters and growth.
Like Sword Art Online or No Game No Life, King's Avatar is an anime that has aroused great interest when the first episodes were aired. Indeed, the fantasy universe and the dynamism of the action scenes are attractive. Also add a strong, intelligent and charismatic main character and you have all the ingredients needed to produce a popular anime. Moreover, unlike most animes about games, King's Avatar really focuses on e-sports with players who live outside the game. (Characters aren't transported into the game like Sword Art Online.)
But the show is properly executed? Meh.
If you read the synopsis, you can continue.
The story is very
generic. If you were expecting any development around e-sports, you will soon be disappointed. For each episode, you just follow the adventures of Ye Xiu who confronts monsters to beat the best records. As Ye Xiu was a top-tier professional player, it isn't surprising to see that he has no difficulty in eliminating enemies. So as you know in advance that Ye Xiu will win all the fights, then there is no more tension, no suspense on the outcome of the fight. Consequently, the action scenes lose interest and serve only to highlight the unrivaled force of the main character.
Also there is absolutely no explanation on how the game works, whether it's skills, mana, and so on. Therefore, when Ye Xiu develops a strategy, I'm forced to take Ye Xiu's word for it: he chooses the best tactic since I don't have the information concerning their enemies or their skills. Obviously the series seems to be addressed to fans of MMORPG.
Regarding the different worlds, there is no exploration. With each new world, Ye Xiu creates a team of several players to eliminate the monsters and annihilate the final boss. There are oppositions between the different teams but nothing really dangerous since they do not represent a threat to Ye Xiu, too superior to other players.
In general, the story is disjointed. We move from one event to another without logical connection. Because of this, the plot loses consistency because you do not know why such an event takes place or why such a character is introduced. I think the fault is also due to a bad adaptation. If more than 10 chapters are adapted for each episode, it will be difficult to produce a quality scenario. I guess a lot of scenes have been cut.
The characters have almost no development. Only "the presumptuous" Ye Xiu is a bit interesting because he is the only character who really has a background. For the others, they are present only to admire the prowess of Ye Xiu. They are not especially useful since during the offensives, it is essentially Ye Xiu who dictates the strategy to them. They are at times stupid or perhaps deliberately stupid to highlight the hero's intelligence. What is surprising is that they dedicate their whole lives to the game. They have no private life: no love relationship, no family life, no financial difficulties ... Everything is for the best for our players, lol. Their only worry is to get better in the game and try to defeat Ye Xiu.
There is no real construction in the relationships between the characters. It would have been interesting to focus on non-IRL relationships.
I don't like the mix between traditional animation and CGI. The animation of the clouds in the sky seems too false and contrasts too much with the animation of the characters. It looks like Ufotable-discount.
Some backgrounds are botched because the characters are animated in CGI and look like puppets that move in slow motion and I find them disturbing.
However the animation during action scenes is really commendable because there is a real effort in the movements of the characters and the staff did not content to insert fixed shots as in many Japanese animes. At times, it's awkward because the characters stand out too much of the scenery.
Personally, hearing Chinese has never bothered me but I know it prevents some people from watching because they have difficulties with the unusual sounds of the Chinese language compared to Japanese. The opening is really attractive and the song is rather pleasant. As for the ED, the song reminds me of some K-pop musics, neither bad nor exceptional. The soundtrack isn't really impressive apart from one or two tracks that I found excellent.
The anime doesn't generally meet my expectations. I get deeply bored when I watch a series of action without content because it makes the action a bit simple/stupid. I know the series is tagged "comedy" but I don't find it especially funny, except for episode 11.
I don't see the interest of following a series where I only have to watch a professional ex-player dismount the enemies one by one without any exploration of the game or characters. Instead of watching an anime where I see an individual playing, why wouldn't I play myself?
Honestly, I recommend you invite friends to play [insert name of the game], I'm sure you will have a better time.
King’s Avatar is a show that made a wave before its actual first episode aired, solely because it was chinese, it looked good and it got people nostalgic about the old days of SAO craziness.
To me, the characters were dull, the story was close to nothing and the aesthetic and sound of it were above average but not amazing.
The story of King’s Avatar is straightforward, having no “tricky” plot twists or high stakes to get the viewers riled up and praying for the characters.
The story takes place in a world where people look up to and give great importance to pro gamers.
It revolves around the 30-ish pro gamer,Xiu Ye, who gets fired from his pro gaming team although he is considered the best player out there. After suffering this great injustice, Xiu Ye vows to make a come back, by working his way up the latest server of the incredibly popular “Glory” game, and making a name for himself. The story presents Xiu Ye’s everyday life and struggles as he shoots to become the best player… again.
To start off, I’ve seen numerous viewers drawing parallels between Sword Art Online and the King’ Avatar, but these two shows are only similar in their premise, they both feature an MMORPG and an OP main character.
As for dissimilarities, they are everywhere, starting with the goddamn plot: in King’s Avatar we have Xiu Ye getting kicked out of his Esports pro gaming team and vowing to make a comeback within a year, by working his way up the new Glory 10 game server, while in SAO we have a large number of gamers who are trapped in a virtual game and can die at any moment. Besides the word “game” and its word palette, are there any similarities? Nope.
As I watched the first episode and saw how the show portayed the “friendship” and “loyalty” within the gamer team, I thought it was gonna be a nice experience and an overall nice show, but I was wrong. Following Xiu Ye’s departure, the story took a drastic dive into nothingness in my opinion. It started showing Xiu Ye playing Glory on the computer, for the entire duration of the episode, and that was just incredibly boring.
The protagonist goes to different worlds (or whatever they’re called, I’m not a gamer), assembles a specific team with the purpose of beating the time record for clearing that world of monsters, then proceeds to clear that world, sometimes mostly by himself.
Another big issue I had with the show is that it did not explore any of those in-game worlds, it didn’t explain anything about what tactics the game allowed or even how the game worked. It was all a mess.
To me, the plot felt segmented and disjointed. Every new episode consists of Xiu Ye travelling to a new in-game world and beating the time record. The world is not explored, there is no emphasis put on the characters and there is no clear connection between the episodes, they don’t add up to make a series, they are just puzzle pieces forced together. You could easily watch the episodes, except for the first and last ones, in whatever order you pleased, and you wouldn't feel any difference.
With Ye Qiu’s background as the former freaking best pro gamer, even as a low-level player he had absolutely no problems defeating any obstacles the game or other players put in his way, he just defeated everything.
And because the protagonist can defeat anything the show throws at him, any potential tension there was left, dissipated into utter nothingness, therefore all the flashy fight scenes served no purpose and held no meaning any longer, other than proving how awesome the protagonist was.
What really bothered me was the lack of any stakes, there is nothing that the protagonist will lose if he loses in the game. And because of that, and his insane gaming skills, I wasn’t engaged, felt not tension or suspense and overall didn’t care for the show.
As for the characters, they are just for decor, shallow tropes, generic, one-dimensional characters lacking any shadow of personality, except for the protagonist who’s only trait is being good at playing on the computer.
To be honest, none of the characters have any sort of life or goals other than getting better in the game. They don’t interact with each other, they don’t develop and they seem to have no private life or any kind of life outside the game, no jobs, no worries, no nothing. They aren’t even worth mentioning, not even the protagonist.
As for the animation of the show that so many people praise, I personally disliked it. It mixed CGI with regular animation which made the characters look out of place and move in an oddly manner, but I agree that the fight scenes were well done, and a few other more scenes I really liked.
The sound is mediocre, with a pretty good opening theme, an ending theme I don’t remember listening and quite the bland soundtrack, the sound really is nothing memorable or to brag about.
I almost forgot, now I fully know and understand why some people dislike chinese anime, the voice actors are just awful and the language itself is quite unappealing.
Did I hate the show? I can’t say I hated this show but it definitely wasn’t a pleasant or remotely nice watching experience, just boring. Sure, the fight scenes were nice but they held no substance and had no build up so they ended up being just something I fast forwarded over. I can safely say that I would rather start playing on my computer than watch another show like this.
In conclusion, I would not recommend spending your time with this show, it’s just not worth it, but maybe if you are a gamer you will think otherwise, so be sure to check out the first episode or two.
I've played my fair share of games. I will fully admit that I have played games since I was 4, and I managed to git gud at some pretty hard games, like the Megaman Zero games and Robotech Battlecry. Now, I must confess:
I am not a pro or competitive gamer.
I've never done any E-Sports, nor have I done any real competitive gaming. The closest I've gotten to is dabbling in some online Pokémon battles and some "For Glory" on Smash Bros. 3DS. So, this was certainly an interesting series to look forward to, as while we've definitely had some game-oriented anime in the past
that ended up being popular (namely SAO and No Game No Life), we never had one that showed the competitive side of gaming, since other game anime merely used gaming to basically flesh out a fictional game by putting players in it or have them celebrate them. This anime, made in China, shows a true badass in the realm of E-Sports. Given that China is more passionate about E-Sports than any country in the world (if World of Warcraft is any indication), it's no surprise that they would make the plunge into this before the japs would. I'm sure that plenty of E-sports players find this show to be great since it seems to really understand the terminology and what makes a good MMO game that is capable of E-sports. As for me, this show is, for most part, will adequate, if not amazing. Again, if I were someone who dabbled in E-sports, I’d probably be even more fond of this show but nonetheless, it's still a good series to have come out, and is proof that even a Chinese anime can be not only popular but good as well since those have been getting a lot of bad rep recently with titles like “Cheating Craft” and “Bloodivores”. So, how did this series do it? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
Ye Xiu (formerly known in game as Ye Qiu) has just been forced into retirement of the team and of the game “Glory” by his old team “One Autumn Leaf”, and interestingly and refreshingly enough, we see a protagonist (him) keep a level head in all this as opposed to the traditional angry retorts we’d normally hear from a situation like this. This 25 year-old man is a bit rusty, but given that he is still basically a gaming god, it's frustrating to see his team just discard him and lock him into taking only one approach for his contract. Afterwards, he simply goes “oh well” and begins like working at a café. Even though he starts a new account (Lord Grim) and decimates everyone, we still see a really human touch that is somewhat prevalent in this series. After all, like any real life sport, people take it very seriously, and people do have to retire earlier than with most jobs. We see moments of true, civil familiarity that doesn't remotely touch the realm of melodrama like most anime do, like when he and his old friend Mucheng meet up again in episode 5 long after he was kicked and she had to watch, or when he and one of his old rivals square off in the finale, only for us to see their battle history in the middle of this to really sell us on their relationship. It's refreshing to see all of this. To add onto how refreshing this show is, I should make note that every single character here is a full-fledged adult, which is insanely rare nowadays.
I don't have any major problems with the story to speak of in terms of any plot holes or inconsistencies or major leaps in logic, and in fact, any and all worries I began having were actually addressed. When I began wondering “how come no one realizes that Lord Grim is Ye Qiu”, we see veterans hypothesize and come to that exact conclusion. After I thought “man, you'd think more people would be apprehensive to his assholish behavior and start turning him down”, we see him fail to score a bargain in episode 9 for demanding too high a price. I really like when a story can assuage our worries of it. I'm not gonna spoil anything much, but the story does pick up after the first 4 episodes and we really get to see all sides grow tensions and even some members in many teams grow as people,and the finale, while not really giving a sense of finality, even for a season finale that will segue into a sequel, it still builds character and shows up a pretty well done human side to this whole thing. The story isn't grand or anything, but it is really solid, do I have to give it that much credit, especially since it actually assuages certain fears we have. Plus, it's very in touch with E-sports culture given how they properly use terms like “aggro”, “PK”, etc.
Apparently, there are a number of people sort of upset about character development, or lack thereof, namely for our protagonist. Let me tell you why, in this particular instance, this isn't that much of a bad thing. The main character, Ye Xiu has already grown into an expert, and it's not only about seeing him deal with new situations in his already grown state as opposed to most characters growing while dealing with their problems, but it's about seeing how he makes others develop, not only as people, but often as rivals that team up to try to surpass him. It's not like Mahouka in which the show is about GodSuya trouncing everyone and no almost no one developing as a result of trying to reach his level since everything is all about him and how “badass” he is. We see Ye handle things in a way that actually forces others to grow. Also, he is a total dick, often making witty trash talk comments at anyone and everyone, or exploiting people for his own personal revenge in episodes 1 and 4. He is still a good person at heart, like how he encourages Yi Fan to grow by changing styles. That's what this show is all about: seeing a cocky bit usually well-meaning badass adapt and force others to grow, which more shows that have OP protagonists should focus on instead of the usual “look at our main character, he’s so cool that he dominated everything effortlessly and everything revolves around him” like that other show I brought up.
Admittedly, most of the characters here aren't inherently very memorable, even if I like how they bounce off each other. That does become a problem given how many characters there are to keep track of, so I'll say that they are all pretty decently characterized despite not having much to them, and leave it at that for everyone but the major protagonists that Ye recruits for the second half of the show (and onwards). Mucheng is a beautiful badass who seems almost romantically interested in Ye, and is almost as playful as him in some regards, even if her role is more minimal than the rest of the team. Guo is the manager who has the most banter with Ye and is probably my least favorite, since honestly, after the initial episodes, she hardly provides anything to the story, bit even being part of the major team. Rou ultimately had to nod to learn since while she was powerful with hand speed, she was beyond unskilled for her talk, but ultimately, she became one of the more prominent characters to the team, even if she doesn't have that much to her personality, even less so than most of the characters. Rao Xing (Steam bun) is definitely a more nooblike, almost idiotic character who has muscle, but he actually provides some amounts of cleverness that save him from truly falling to that dreaded archetype. Ultimately, Ye carries the show in terms of the characters since we don't really see much nuance to them, but we do get to see some of them grow, whether it be these guys or some of Ye’s rivals, even if I'm not showing the full extent of that (for brevity and spoiler reasons).
To be honest, I’m aware that this one of G.CMay Animation and Film’s first anime projects, but there are some things I’d like to see them improve on. The character designs are pretty good, and the flashy animation is well, flashy, but the choreography isn't anything really great. Their use of CGI is...interesting. On the one hand, when doing establishing shots and first-person perspectives on certain things in their real world, it can look pretty good, sort of like a trailer at EA for a PS4 game (especially in the first few episodes), but when they get to using character models or other objects in either stock-footage or CGI, it all looks terrible, and honestly, a lot of the techniques here, especially the ones that don't work out well, remind me of Hand Shakers, which is frightening. It doesn't do any of that anywhere near as badly as that show did, so that's a plus. However, there is an unnerving amount of reused animation, particularly when Ye switches his weapon to gun mode or when he is battling goblins (namely him throwing them and them colliding and falling in CGI “glory”). Certain CGI models either look pretty bad or look like bad claymation models that were simply painted on to the point where they look melted. Overall, the series isn't badly animated, at least for a newer studio, but I hope they can tweak the CGI and improve on the choreography.
The OP, “Xin Yang (信仰)" by Zhang Jie (张杰), is just an eh OP to me. Maybe it's partially due to me never hearing Chinese music before, but it's just rather meh to me. Same applies to the ED, "Rong Yao Zai Lin (荣耀再临)" by Da Dan Yin Zu (大胆音组). In fact, the OST, while it does fit everything, it's rather meh and unmemorable, though the alternate rendition of the OP in the later moments of the final episode was pretty nice. Not a bad OST, and both the OP and ED were simply ok, but overall, it's just meh.
The first 4 episodes were mildly engaging, leading me to believe this would be a show that didn't really follow through with promise and simply petered out when it didn't bring too much other than mild intrigue to the table. Luckily, starting with episode 5, the show became more entertaining. I definitely liked the use of the gaming lingo, and it's amusing to see an online conversation, let alone one that actually uses emojis (like the middle finger emoji) and most of the comedic banter was pretty humorous, like any time Ye is being an ass. The action was also mostly alright as well. I especially appreciated any moment that felt vedy genuine, or when it addressed issues I was beginning to have.
OVERALL: 7/10 RAW SCORE: 6.86/10
Ultimately, this first outing of The King’s Avatar has more substance than some people might give it credit for, but despite the relatively entertaining humor and action, the characters and production values don't hold up all that well, even with the surprisingly solid story. Again, I imagine that E-sports players (or MMO players in general) on the whole, probably find this show more enjoyable than I do, but that doesn't mean it's not a pretty decent show, because it is. I just hope that when the next outing of this show arrives, some of these issues are ironed out and that we get to have more reasons to invest in the characters. Either way, I'm really looking forward to what the rest of the series has in store, if they choose to keep animating it. With all that said, I bid you adieu.