Every 12 years, mercenaries who possess the highest caliber of brute strength, cunning wit, and deadly precision gather to participate in the Zodiac Tournament. Each warrior bears the name and attributes of one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. With their pride and lives on the line, they engage in vicious combat until only the victor remains.
The 12th Zodiac Tournament begins in a desolate city, devoid of any evidence of the half million people who recently lived there. To raise the stakes, each warrior ingests a poisonous gem, thus setting a time limit on the tournament—and on their life. With one wish for the victor up for grabs, the Zodiac Warriors start their cutthroat battle for survival.
I'm sick and tired of seeing people treat Juuuni Taisen like trash because the plot is predictable.
It might just be intentionally predictable!
I know, how blasphemous!
As if its intention was to besmirch the name of our beloved Fate and the tarnish the genre it birthed into existence!
Did it really take everyone 12 episodes to realize that the show reveals the order of every characters’ death by the end of the first episode?
Would it be so far-fetched to imagine that Juuni Taisen actually wanted to put an original spin on the battle royale genre?
Or does every battle royale show have to be like
Fate to be deemed “good”? Don't get me wrong, I love Fate/Zero, but just because it's an exemplary entry in the genre doesn't mean every other show in it needs to be exactly like it.
Instead of trying to stand out with spectacular visuals, Juuni Taisen offers compelling characters and lots of new spins on the genre to keep you engaged.
+Interesting Character Backstories
+Innovations to the Genre
-Lacking World Building
-Dragon and Snake's episodes
-Visual Quality Inconsistencies
In coming up with the score for the story I included both the actual plot and the way that the story is delivered because it is a crucial part of the experience.
Juuni Taisen understands how predictable stories in the Battle Royale genre can be, and it plays with this idea of predictability. It’s a show that acknowledges the nature of its genre, all of the opponents in a death game but one will die eventually. It rubs its predictability in your face and forces you not try to figure out who will die next, but to analyze the show’s other aspects. Namely, the characters, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
As for the setting and plot themselves, they are fairly barebones but sturdy enough to hold up the exciting action and character stories. Whenever the show draws attention to the behind the scenes of the zodiac war it feels very apparent that it’s the most undercooked part of the show. Occasionally we see anonymous bidders watching the battle, but there is little reason for these segments other than showing us important people view the game as a form of entertainment. In the backstories side characters offhandedly mentioning how the zodiac war is some myth that is typically referred to as very important, but that doesn’t come across at all during the actual war itself, as it mostly focuses on the characters.
The city that the competitors battle in is entirely devoid of life, with little explanation to the why and how. Characters have special powers connected to their zodiacs, although the powers are cool and well implemented into the action they have no explanation for their existence in the real world. Very little of the actual plot is clear, but each character’s backstory is enough to make up for its issues. The backstories worked so well to get me invested that whenever the characters engaged in combat I was on the edge of my seat hoping for the more developed character to survive despite knowing the inevitable would come.
The ending will no doubt disappoint some people, but its tameness didn't bother me. For me, it concluded the characters' stories in a satisfying way and it gave me everything I expected from the ending.
Most of the entertainment from Juuni Taisen comes from the characters, as you’d expect from a battle royale show with a paper-thin plot.
The cutthroat cast of twelve mercenaries/warriors are each represented by one of the twelve zodiac signs. Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. They all have special abilities related to their sign which are revealed over time, another mystery that adds a layer of tension to the thrilling atmosphere. Even their deaths are directly tied to their zodiac sign. This opens another avenue for analyzing each character, and frankly, it's not surprising to see a writer as impressive as Nisio Isin try to innovate the battle royale genre like this. Also, they’re all edgy as hell. All of them, it's funny how on point they are to the edgy battle royale genre style the show is aiming for and successfully hitting it. Their personalities are all very distinct and are represented by their character designs. Their designs also have elements that represent their zodiac sign. Whether it be Usagi’s bunny ears and high heels or Niwatori’s chicken style outfit and pitchfork for a weapon. They all look absurd and have the strong personalities and backstories to justify their designs.
Their personalities are quite overdone, but once you see the explanation for why they behave the way they do you’ll be more inclined to embrace them. Although a couple of the character backstories didn’t quite do it for me (namely Dragon and Snake) because of their stories, while funny and full of action, blatantly disregarded what made the other character so well developed. Even with all the absurdity, a majority of the challengers evoke empathy from their backstories and make you think, oh now I get why that character is trying so hard to look cool. At first, they’re vicious killing machines, then the show makes you pity them and you'll become endeared in their struggle to win, no matter how futile it may be.
The quality of the art and animation varies, it starts off great but has a noticeable drop-off in quality in the later episodes. While in the actual present-day Zodiac War the visuals are quite good, solid character art, a dark and moody desolate city, and sometimes really great battle animation. During the flashbacks is where the art quality starts to drop. In the early episodes the art and animations look good all around, but as the episodes go by the flashbacks have noticeably less motion and become mostly conversation scenes. Not to say that the conversations aren’t interesting, but the show is at its best during the high stakes action.
It’s understandable that the budget isn’t huge considering it’s a new story from a fairly small studio. I can commend Graphinica for subtly swapping the art style to CGI to save funds in the later episodes because of how great it looks. Don't expect to see low frames CGI like what we got with Ajin in this show. Graphinica previously worked a fairly good looking CGI movie, Expelled from Paradise, so it’s great to see that they’ve only gotten better through practice. I didn’t struggle to forgive the issues with the visuals while watching the show, but I have to knock it a few points for some distracting quality dips during the middle episodes.
The greatest saving grace of the show's visuals is its grimdark aesthetic. You might just call this "edge" and you'd be right, but it's consistent edge that is totally in keeping with the rest of the show. Scenes are full of shadows, dark colors, and the fact that the war takes place during mostly the nighttime with rain and clouds during the day. Every aspect of the show contributes to this style and the visuals pull plenty of the weight. While the art is far from perfect, I can say it makes up for enough of its flaws with a memorable personality.
A nice tense soundtrack that gets the blood pumping during action sequences. It ranges from orchestral music to EDM and I liked all of it. It’s also present during the slower scenes where characters are conversing to add a layer of tension, reminding you that they have to kill each other as soon as they finish talking. There are times it strikes the audience with some more sad songs to hammering home the brevity of some of the show's tragic situations. I feel safe saying it's one of the best OSTs of the season, as well as having a great alternative rock OP. The ed has a good song that’s more subdued than the show that precedes it.
The voice acting is good across all 12 contestants and there's a dub as well that's not as good as the Japanese voice acting but it's nice to have the option.
Despite having exciting action, a majority of the show’s screen time is flashbacks and talking scenes. I liked a lot of the backstories, but as I said earlier not all of them are interesting. Your mileage may vary when it comes to enjoying Juuni Taisen, I really liked it but it may not be for everyone. If you can embrace the edginess regardless of the absurd plot then you’ll probably find it to be an enthralling watch.
[Final Score: 7.7/10]
You know how Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works has great visuals but it leans on them so hard because it has almost nothing else noteworthy going on? Well, Juuni Taisen doesn’t have the luxury of being able to slack off because its visuals aren’t anything to write home about, that's why it devotes so much time to its characters and offers up some intriguing hooks. In the end, it’s just a good time. If you go into it expecting Fate you’ll be disappointed.
Do you know what Juuni Taisen lacked? The music in comedy anime where someone does something stupid. Everything was so stupid here that it might've been better to just make it a comedy anime. And even with that my score would've been maybe 5 instead of 4
After watching all of the show, I want to say that this anime... Had potential. And a lot of it. But it went downhill really fast.
I'm going to talk about the pattern of the anime, which makes almost every episode the same, the poor "border story" and why the anime which is tagged only as "Action"- doesn't do anything
interesting with action. Minor spoilers but I do not specify names.
So, when I first saw Juuni Taisen, I got hyped "Another Fate? Sounds cool!" and the story is pretty simple. 12 fighters, 1 wish, fight to death, last one standing (probably).
Where did it fall off? Basically at the end of the first episode, but you only realize it later.
Juuni Taisen repeats a pretty bad pattern for almost every episode.
Show flashbacks of character->Show character's amazing plan how to win->Character dies a random, quick death. (You sit there afterwards and ask yourself what the hell has happend)->Show next episode's title which contains an animal and spoils the next death in the next episode.
I have been watching it and hoping- Will the pattern break? And also, we are spoiled the order of the deaths, I do not want to spoil where, but once you see it and realize and doesn't break pattern and unlikely to.... You lose 80% of the enjoyment.
The border story? None. They fight for a wish, that's it. Oh and there's some guy who started all this and introduces them in the first episode to that Juuni Taisen, we don't know who that guy is (....yet?).
I wanna give props to the music (kinda), the OP and ED were top notch. The soundtrack.. Mostly forgettable.
But the art on the other hand... Went downhill real fast.
In conclusion, my score is 4/10. And if you're looking for a Fate alternative, you better watch Kiss X Sis because at least it's better than Juuni Taisen.
Every season nowadays, we get one of those “dark, edgy” shows that can make our stomach growl. From this year, we had plenty of those. Titles such as Kakegurui, Chaos;Child, and even Vatican Kiseki Chousakan tried to sell its ideas to viewers with mixed results. Then, there’s Juuni Taisen, a show that features a battle royale theme. Based on the signs of the Eastern Zodiac, it’ a character battle for the ultimate grand price of having a wish fulfilled. But honestly, Juuni Taisen is a show that betrayed expectations. It didn’t fulfill my wish of a show that is memorable. Instead, it delivered a half-assed
TV anime that makes headlines for the wrong reasons.
Juuni Taisen is interesting to note for its creator, the brainchild behind the Monogatari novels. While that franchise takes on a more narrative approach, Juuni Taisen tried to do something different. It became a show that heavily focused on its characters, ones that I honestly found to have many problems by their standards. That’s another subject by itself though. For this anime to succeed, it had to really get viewers invested into the story and be something unique of itself. Unfortunately, the battle royale theme is hardly original. The popular Fate franchise already had a similar premise while other shows in recent years also took on such an approach. (ex. Btooom, Mirai Nikki) What Juun Taisen failed to really do is not bringing in characters that are worth watching for but instead kills them off like they are some failed experiment. To say the least, that’s just awful to realize.
Watching this anime will probably get you to realize what it wants you to like. The bloodthirsty action, tragic drama, and emotional storytelling is what people should really expect from a show like this. Unfortunately, it only capitalizes on a small percent of that. Its straightforward storytelling is very predictable as you’d expect from a battle royale theme show. Every time you see an episode filled with storytelling based on a certain character, almost always expect that character to die sooner or later. As for the storytelling itself, this show took a risk and it didn’t truly pay off. Most of the characters in this anime has some sort of background story, motivation, and apparently goal for themselves. However, it doesn’t really evoke any feelings in the end as it’s hard to get attached to them. With perhaps the exception of the Tiger, almost every episode made me feel less sensitive about the characters. I don’t feel much sympathy for them because there’s really no point to after realizing what their fate awaits them. It’s so predictable that you can almost guess exactly what may from scene to scene for some episodes. The worst offender is the Usagi (Rabbit) because this anime omits any sort of character development for him. He is literally portrayed as a psychotic abomination who tries to make “friends” and enjoys the thrill of killing. It doesn’t also help that the character lacks a personality and is there to fill the bloodthirsty action part of the show. By storytelling context, I do want to say that the show provides reasons for the battle royale itself and that there’s a larger end-goal than just making a wish come true.
If you came for a show with graphic content, then this may end up being somewhat of a crowd-pleaser. The body horror, bloodshed, and overall psychology lives up to certain expectations. So really, if you plan to watch Juuni Taisen, you won’t be disappointed for a show that offers its violence. I also have to add that through its battle royale theme, the show sometimes gets creative with how characters uses their approach to kill. While it’s far from being an intelligent anime with strategies and clever psychology, some characters are deceptively cunning. The anime makes it clear that there will be one victor so death is something that you’ll see often. The way these are carried out can occasionally be impressive despite the extreme predictably.
Adapted by studio Graphinica, I will admit that the overall visual quality gave me some favorable impressions. From the character introductions to the battle choreography, Juuni Taisen knows how to get viewers pumped up for some of its episodes. As dark and edgy as this show can be, it does live up to some expectations in regards to its technical content with graphic horror. Body parts are shredded, blood is spilled, and mentality is tested through facial character expressions. There isn’t much censorship either. Tragic background stories has a black and white stylish tone that expresses a sense of vulnerability. Most of the animation also remains fluid without questionable raw quality. The character designs are interesting to take notice ranging from Usagi’s man service to some of the sci-fi gimmicky outfits such as those wore by Tsumita siblings. The animal motifs and characteristics are also evident to represent the Chinese Zodiac.
When it comes to soundtrack delivery, there are several qualities that makes this barely watchable. First, the battle OST is far too generic. It just seems to be there and isn’t unique by any standards. Second, there are the character voices. Some of them really doesn’t make an impact while others are memorable just by their voice alone. The guiltiest example is Usagi, a character voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto. His voice from this show channels the craziest and ridiculous lines I’ve seen from this show. On the other hand, the theme songs gives a feeling of melancholy and grimmer mood. I mean, it is a very moody anime after all.
Should you really watch Juuni Taisen? As a light novel adaptation with 12 episodes, it’s about as predictable as it can get. Expectations were shattered in pieces once you realize what you’re in for. Beyond the predictably, the anime fails to get over most or if any of its character cast. Even when there are characters that you try to feel sympathy for, it ends up being wasted in the end. It’s a show that I tried to accept for what it is but ended up being a dumb action flick that ran dead on its shoes.
Before the start of the fall anime season, Junni Taisen was one of the animes that caught my eye. The reason why is because it had the term Novel on what material it was adapted from. As in it wasn’t a light novel series or a regular novel series, but rather it was one single novel. As in all it needed to do has been done, and all that’s left is to adapt it to animation that has an ending in sight that will leave little to no loose ends. What started as mild intrigue was quickly overtaken with dissatisfaction as the first two episodes
Juuni taisen starts out in terms of its premise, as a very simple battle tournament between some of the best “warriors” in the world. The gimmick in this story is that each the the contenders is representative of each of the chinese zodiac. Add on top of that a desolate city where the contenders can do whatever they want, and you have a formula for some fun. It may not be the most smartest of stories, but it has the ability to bring many great fighting scenes which sadly never becomes the case.
Backstories and their utilization
One of the most noticeable aspects of this show, mostly because of how much time it takes from the show, is that it has a lot of backstories. Almost every episode has a backstory for one of the characters which is fine, I mean there are 12 characters and only 12 episodes worth of screen time for them. The problem is that each backstory is too long, and even worse is that it's the only shreds of characterization that we have for almost all the characters. I mean i’m fine with backstories as a way to develop a character and give them more depth, but it should be used as the base not the entirety of the character. It’s because of this that all the characters feel shallow, and it’s difficult to get engaged with them which in turn removes a lot of tension that could have been given to the anime.
It’s also because of the overuse of backstory that during my time watching I began to wonder, how are backstories are used in a story? One of the answers i came to is the one i used a paragraph above, as a way to develop a character and give them some depth while serving as a base and point of reference for how far they have or haven’t changed through the course of the story. It could as be used as a way for characters to interact as a way to sympathize or persuade each other, as well as the characters and readers getting a chance to know the characters. Now how are they are inserted into the story? Well as stated above it could be through character interaction, but another way is through characters reminiscing over their past. A majority of Junni Taisen’s implementation of backstory is through reminiscing, which also becomes another of its faults. Reminiscing over your past is better used during the low points in the story when there is not much conflict and characters are allowed time to think about things without interruption. However since Junni taisen is mostly conflict it seems unreasonable for characters to think about their past, since they should be more busy thinking of strategy plans. It’s only used properly twice and that’s because it was before and after the battle royal, which is basically the low point, and it also does backstory via character interaction maybe once. All other backstories feel hamfisted into the story as a way to give the characters some form of depth. They should have also thrown in a record scratch and a freeze frame before delving into their backstories because at least that would give them some value even if comedic. Even worse is what comes after each backstories that turn the show into a bore which leads to.
Character focus and the wheel of predictability
Junni Taisen doesn’t really have a central that the story focuses on, but insteads puts focus on almost the entire cast, with each given an episode each. It did comes as quite the surprise during the first episode when only one character was given the most focus to, as well as a backstory, to the point that it was made to believe that they were the main character. Of course that thought was dashed away as they died in the very same episode. It was a nice subversion of expectations, but the problem is that it didn't go anywhere with this. It kept on doing the same thing over and over again with each character. If they are the main focus of the episode, and are given a backstory than they are likely to die soon. It may not be in the same episode, but they still die in a certain manner that holding back their death for an episode or 2 didn’t really matter. Another thing to add on top of that is the order that the characters die. All you need to do is look at the chinese zodiac wheel and after the death of the three contenders, it’s easy to see how the show is going to play out.
It seems that the people of the show were aware of the predictability of the show, and made heavy hints on how it will play out via the ending title, and the name of each episode. Even so it really adds nothing to the show. The show tells you what it’s going to do and does it, and does nothing else. It’s fine but leaves nothing for the viewers imagination, and removes even more tension from the show. With a predictable story and shallow characters, it’s hard to see the point in the story as it drags on.
the fuckery of the junni taisen world
The world of juuni taisen doesn’t make any fuckin sense. At first there wasn’t much to the world other than a group of assassins wearing costumes corresponding to their zodiac animal meeting in the middle of a desolate city to duke it out in order to have their wishes granted by the host. Gimmicky and simple sure, but it allows for things to be straightforward and brush of things that are never explained such as, how are they able to fight in a city that seemed to be abandoned recently? Well if they are able to gather the best killers in the world than they must be stinkin rich which also could explain how they are able to grant a wish and have people evacuate the city, via money and power. However in the same first episode near the end magic is also introduced through the use of necromancy. So that leaves questions that weren’t questioned now difficult to explain because now the wish and the the abandoned city could have been explained with magic or money, but it seems the writers weren’t bothered now to actually explain it.
So now you have a world where there is some sort of magic in the world and the contenders are able to use them, but it seems that one ability is restricted to one character each. It’s never explained why only one ability or how abilities such as theirs play in the world outside of people being assassins. It also leads to a power imbalance as it could be possible for one of the characters to have an op ability that can beat the rest of the contenders.
I think the thing that bothered me more was the entire point of junni taisen was that it served as a proxy war so that unknown people can make bets to take counties, and the whole thing is just dumb. There’s been enough flashbacks from the series to show us that there is still war between nations and fighting over land outside the battle royal. Is there going to be a change of government are borders going to be redrawn especially for something that happens every 12 years. Even then it’s not like the citizens will be happy which can lead to civil unrest and rebellion.
I was also going to go into the 12 families and the happenstance of the character aesthetics to their respective zodiac, but at this point it’s too much. Basically as more about the juuni taisen world is shown the more convoluted and contradictory it really is. It looks like a bunch of things slapped together with not much thought in the big picture.
Production Value and other final thoughts
The production value during the beginning was fine to say the least. I liked the character designs of the warriors mostly because of how gimmicky they are just so they can be identifiable to their zodiac. Although backstory boars combat outfit looked nice as it had a metal gear look to it. The animation was smooth although it had a rough looked to it which i personally liked even some of the cg animation was good. But that’s just the beginning as the quality in terms of both art and animation go down. Animation starts to look jagged and cg is used even though the characters are standing around which looks ridiculous. In terms of sound there’s nothing to harp about as most of it was forgettable. Characters sound like how they’re supposed to sound, and music play when it’s suppose to, but nothing truly stands out.
Going into this show i was at least expecting some action shlock, but it seems that wasn't the case. There were interesting things in the show for sure such as the backstories which themselves could make interesting stories, but they are confined to this one. There was also some “witty” writing when it came to the characters and what they represent, but nothing mind blowing. This is a show that said it will do a thing, did it, and nothing more.