The series takes place in the Imperial Capital of 1930. A group of people known as "Jaegers" landed on Tokyo Station. They carry musical instrument cases and came to hunt vampires. A man named Yuliy stood among them with a striking serenity and unusual aura. Known as a werewolf who had his home village destroyed by vampires, he and the Jaegers engage in battle against the mysterious holy arc known as the "The Arc of Sirius." What truth awaits them?
Although vampires have always been quite popular in the western culture they have never been mainstream in the anime medium. There are only a few titles which have the 'let's kill the vampires' premise, like Owari no Seraph and Hellsing, and they all have their own folklore and way to depict vampires. Now, does Sirius bring anything new to the table? Let’s find out.
This review contains some spoilers.
Set in 1930, Sirius the Jaeger follows the story of Yuliy and the “Jaegers”, a vampire-hunter group which is chasing the Ark of Sirius, the plot device that gathers both sides of the conflict. As the Jaegers start
their race to find the mysterious item, they find out they’re not the only ones interested in the Ark, since vampires are also chasing it. Although the premise sounds really cool on paper, its execution was rather poor not only because of the extremely linear plot and uninteresting characters, but also because of the weak way everything was presented: the dreadful main character, the unexplored setting, the forgettable villains, just to name a few things.
First of all, the author forgot a crucial thing about making a vampire story: that the audience actually cares about the vampires. In Sirius, they’re just boring creatures with not much detail and there’s just nothing that differentiates them from other shows that have vampires in them. The only things about the vampires that should have been explained in order to enrich the world building are unexplained so that the audience can figure them out. And even if they are given an objective –like being immortal- the vampires are presented in a very shallow way, so you won’t care when they are killed. If you want the audience to care about the enemies of your story don't just present them as one-dimensional monsters whose only trait is to kill humans.
However, the main problem with Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger is that it doesn’t really do anything with its setting or characters. You have a cool group of guys that kill vampires and carry their weapons in musical instrument boxes and you don’t do anything with it? It could have worked perfectly as a rule-of-cool type of show or even as a drama, but somehow they managed to make it a typical action show with nothing new. At least the battles are great, right? Unfortunately, no. Despite being well animated, there are no tactics or strategies involved in any of the fights, it’s just a typical combat with no real way to know what each character will come up with or if they’re going to use an inventive way to take down their enemies. The only thing you know for sure is that Yuliy is somehow going to win.
Another thing I should mention is that the last episode seems completely disconnected from the rest, pulling things that were not foreshadowed or mentioned before –like the role of a Sirius saving the world and to let humanity live in peace with other races or the other sirius box that literally comes out of nowhere-. So I guess the sales are going well and P.A Works thought it would be a good idea to end the show hinting a second season.
-END OF SPOILERS-
Not everything is wrong with this anime, though, and it’s actually satisfying that it doesn’t try to be melodramatic or sad except for a few scenes and it always keeps its serious -no pun intended- tone, without adding unnecessary comedy. Plus, its pacing is actually bearable for the first part, since most of the chapters have a decent amount of action to keep things interesting and the plot doesn't seem as rushed as the second part, but that’s just it.
The main character is that one we’ve seen dozens of times ever since Attack on Titan came out: I want to kill all the titans-, I mean vampires! Yeah, he is also the only one the conveniently survives the massacre of his village and conveniently gets chased by only 1 werewolf and conveniently awakens his true powers, wow! How original was that? Even if he's given some development, it feels so rushed and disconnected from his original character that it makes it laughable. He changes at the very end of the story with nothing happening in between that would make him start thinking in another way.
All the secondary characters are just blank pieces of paper and serve no purpose in the story since they don’t contribute in any significant way to the plot and most of them are not even fleshed out. In a 12-episode series, you would generally expect to have at least 2 or 3 important characters on the spotlight for a couple of minutes but here no one is allowed to kill the enemies except for the main character. If the author at least bothered giving each of the Jaegers a backstory or some sort of development this wouldn't be so significant. The thing is, we don't know anything at all about them! The only member of the group which is given some screentime is Phillip and even that doesn't really tell us anything about him. The others -Dorothea and Fallon- are completely useless and are not given any sort of development.
Then there’s another particular character which for practical purposes I’ll be calling the ‘stalker girl’. She is basically the generic love interest that is constantly trying to get some attention from the main guy. The stalker girl also constantly follows the main character wherever he goes (imagine if it was the other way around) and for some reason she is at least given some focus throughout the story. The funny part is… She was completely useless! She didn’t have any purpose to be in the show and things would have been exactly the same if she wasn’t there.
Now about the villains… they’re just as bad as the rest of the cast. When the first episode came out and a dozen villains were introduced it was quite obvious that they would be the generic one-dimensional villains that the good guys defeat in a single episode and you wouldn’t remember their names afterwards. Also, as I mentioned before, there are a lot of things that were not explained about them. What’s the origin of vampires and why is the rest of humanity not aware of their presence if they’ve been around for so long? Not answered. What’s up with the vampires’ decease? Where does it come from? Not answered either.
ART AND SOUND
Visually speaking, it is decent enough. The art style reminds me of other Bones shows, and especially resembles a lot to Bungo Stray Dogs (and the main character has the same voice actor). Most of the fights are, although bland, really well choreographed, the animation is fluid most of the times and the backgrounds are nothing special.
The art director worked on many great titles like Gundam: The Origin and Cowboy Bebop and the one behind the sound direction was the legendary Jin Aketagawa, so you can expect quite a lot from the production values. The music in particular was actually really fitting, and the guy who composed it also produced Fate/Apocrypha and Iron-Blooded Orphans soundtrack, which are enjoyable at least. The voices are done by all well-known actors which play the same roles as they usually do (like Takehito Koyasu and Kenjirou Tsuda playing the villains) but nobody really stands out.
All in all, Sirius is a forgettable, shallow and generic show. It doesn’t do anything with its setting or characters and apart from the soundtrack or animation, there’s really nothing fresh or new that would make it stand out from any other vampire show. If you are looking for good vampire action go watch Hellsing Ultimate or Vampire Hunter D. The first one is more of a rule-of-cool with silly comedy while the second one holds a more serious tone. In any case, both shows deliver a more compelling story and at the same time have a much more interesting cast.
Once in a while, I tend to enjoy a vampire theme show that is packed with action heroes and drama. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any series of similar nature that intrigued me from these past few years. Many of them run with recycled concepts that includes Beauty and the Beast romance tales or the same survival themes over and over again. Then came along this show called Sirius the Jaeger.
It’s quite unusual for P.A. Works to jump into a show with a vampire genre. They’re mostly known for their slice of life shows and coming of age stories. Sometimes, they can pull out a surprise
or two like Spring 2016’s Kuromukuro. However, this isn’t mecha so you’re not going to encounter giant robots. Instead, Sirius the Jaegar deals with a time of crisis when vampires are on the loose in the city. In the year of 1930, we are introduced to a group known as the Jaegers who act as specialized hunters with a goal to exterminate vampires. The plot focuses on a young man named Yuliy with a vengeance to kill vampires after his hometown was terrorized by them.
Sirius the Jaeger marks its spot very early in the show with its beautiful setting of the 1930s. The dark domain of Tokyo looks and feels like it’s a time era for revolution. In fact, the first minutes of the episode had my eyes glued just at the background setting. P.A. Works are well known for their well-polished cinematography and production quality. In this series, they didn’t disappoint with that in any way. The eerie alleyways, artistic architectures, and the old fashioned vehicles are just a few innovations to admire. Still, I think what people mostly are interested in here is the story. Vampire storytelling tends to be very niche these days that often involve in soap-opera like modern stories. For this show, it takes on a darker tale of revenge and self-discovery.
In wasting no time, we discover quickly that vampires are ravenous monsters with little care about mortality. In essence, they are beings with a desire to eat and kill humans for their own desire. Some vampires in the show are more sophisticated than others but most if not all possesses a insatiable appetite. They attack a party in the first episode while Yuliy and his gang of Jaegers hunts them down. It established them as a mercenary-like group who work like professional hunters. Yuliy tracks down a vampire named Agatha and the expression on his face says it all. It immediately gave me the impression that his hate of vampire runs much deeper than just what they are. Through flashbacks, we also learn about his past and how he became the person he is today. It’s a tragic story that changes a person forever and he still seeks vengeance for his loss. Meanwhile, the vampires themselves have their own goal in the story and that’s to find a mysterious object known as the Ark of Sirius.
At the heart of the show is still Yuliy. No matter how you look at it or accept him for who he is, it’s very plot driven about his character. Yuliy is bent on revenge although he also cares about his comrades and certain people in the show that he encounters. This includes a girl named Ryouko who gets involved in his affairs. While not being an official member of the Jaegers, she does learn much more about the nature of vampires and occasionally provides assistance. The series also made it obvious that she develops affections towards him although their relationship doesn’t really become a loving couple. This falls under a bit of the character cliché that I’ve seen over and over again in vampire theme shows. However, there are several other characters in the show that are worth looking into. First, there’s Williard, a man who acts as commander of the Jaegers. He genuinely cares about his comrades and the show makes it clear how far he is willing to go to make the world into a better place. Dorotha is introduced as the main female of the group. With her expertise using firearms, she provides invaluable assistance on their missions. Similar to Yuliy, we also meet Philip, who shares a hate for vampires. Fallon offers more of the muscle for the group as the Jaegars needs a balanced team to get their business done. As impressive as this cast is, don’t expect too much characterization on them. Yuliy is the one that gets the most spotlight and his character relationship with others is quite important.
One of the most prominent character relationship in the series is between Yuliy and a man named Mikhail. Rather, they are actually brothers but now stands on the opposite side of each other. While Yuliy plays the role of an action hero, Mikhail follows a darker path that resulted in him becoming a vampire. As such, he is now the very embodiment of what Yuliy despises in the world. Their complicated relationship is told through meaningful dialogues, flashbacks, and how much each have changed. It sort of gave me the impression of a show called Owari no Seraph so for those who are familiar with that, this anime may be a treat for you. On the other hand, the vampire side of this series is mostly clouded in mystery. We meet characters like Yevgraf and Kershner with mysterious motives. Others like the vampire girls in the series are mostly added to bring in more action. There’s even a mad scientist named Klarwein who allied himself with vampires for his experiments. I’m also quite disappointed that one of the vampires advertised for this show got killed off way too quickly. In retrospect, I think there’s a big gap between the antagonists of and heroes of this series in terms of presentation. And unfortunately, the vampires took the pitfall.
Original series made by P.A. Works can be a bit of a hit or miss. But as I mentioned before, it’s hard not to take eyes off of the exceptional visual quality of this series. From the very first episode to the end, everything looked fluid and in style of the 1930s. Vampires are designed with a menacing look and their action speaks for themselves. Expect graphic violence to happen often in the show including blood being spilled by being bitten brutally or limps being torn off. It sells its fan service to make the vampire society look as dangerous as they can be. The Jaegars themselves also have distinctive looks especially for Yuliy’s trademark blue eyes and hair style. Others such as Mikhail and Yevgraf are dressed in a more gentleman-like manner as a deception of their true nature. I should also mention that characters in the series all speak in their native tone regardless of their origins. Most of them deliver their personalities to the bone. Similarly, the theme songs in the show adds a feeling of dark melodrama with and unsettling mood.
I think in the end, Sirius the Jaegar is a show that took on the vampire theme and made it into an action thriller with a feeling of suspense. P.A. Works remains one of my favorite studios for not just their production quality but also being able to continuously reinvent itself. For this particular show, it managed to do that by taking on a darker side of storytelling. To me, that’s a thing of beauty.
You know what we have a lack of lately? Good vampire anime. Which is a shame because vampire anime can be diverse from the typical Horror anime to a more light hearted comedy anime. Normally, vampire anime land in the former with vampires either being the main villains or just being bad asses as the main character. Thankfully, P.A works has given us a vampire anime following a group of vampire hunters hoping to wipe them all out and stop any plans that they may have. But is the anime just style or does it have substance as well?
Sit back, relax and burn all
copies of Twilight and then show the fans what a real f*****g vampire looks like as I present to you the anime review of Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger.....wait. When did they decide to change the name? Oh never mind. Lets begin shall we?
In this world, vampires have been manipulating humanity for a very long time, influencing events so that they can maintain a food source, like the entire Earth is just one entire farm for them. However, once people starts realising what's going on, they will retaliate. Enter the Jagers, group of vampire hunters vowed to hunt down every single vampire. One Jager, Yuliy, has a bigger reason than most since he is the last survivor of his village which was destroyed by vampires. That is until his brother, Mikhail, returns from the dead and says that the vampires are looking for their peoples' greatest treasure, The Arc of Sirius. So Yuliy and the Jagers must stop their plans and kill all vampires that stand in their way to obtain The Arc of Sirius.
Sounds like a pretty good base for a story right? Well, when you start watching it, yes. The show does start out good with some bad ass vampire slaying and an overarching major plot element that is building in the background. But it then starts to slow down and the momentum of this show starts to halt. Now I blame this on the fact that the story just doesn't have substance to it. There are side plots in this show that don't get developed enough to make them interesting and can make them forgettable. But these side plots could have helped make the story more dynamic and added some context to some of the characters motivations.
The focus is always placed on stopping the vampires from obtaining The Arc of Sirius, but it stumbles in that area too. It lacks detail and context behind some elements in the plot that can help make the plot more interesting and dynamic to help give intrigue of what the actions of the heroes and villains could cause to the main plot of the show. I've watched all episodes and I still have no idea what The Arc Of Sirius actually is. Instead, things just simply happen and we then move on to the next part of the story.
The shows biggest weakness is without a doubt its characters. Outside of one character, the cast of characters are just either boring, bland or just one note. Yuliy exemplifies this because he has no unique qualities. He is single minded and filled with revenge against the vampires for destroying his village. He sees his life have no purpose outside of killing vampires and when he hears about The Arc of Sirius, he realises he has a purpose in life but he must do it alone because only he can do this task and must shut out everyone. Talk about being boring and generic. When I saw that Uemura Yutto was voicing Yuliy (who also voiced Hiro from Darling in the Franxx this year, who I also thought was generic and boring), I knew that we were getting a generic character. What Yuliy says and what he does doesn't surprise or intrigue me because his motives are nothing new or unique from what I've seen from other main characters so I get an idea what he will say and do next.
This also applies to the Yagers as they are just as uninteresting as Yuily. Willard is the level headed leader of the group. Fallon is the happy and strong "bro" character. Dorothea is the smart but sexy female character. And Phillip is the back talking, sarcastic t**t character. The fact that I dismissed these characters with one sentence just shows how uninteresting they are. Willard is the only one that has some intrigue due to his backstory but not enough to get me interested. There is even a love interest, Ryouko, that goes nowhere. Like seriously, she has no relevance to the plot whatsoever and normally ends up being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The only interesting character is Mikhail, Yuliy's brother. Since he became a Vampire after their village was destroyed, he essentially becomes a point of conflict with Yuliy's desire to kill all vampires. But even though he his essentially the enemy, there are hints that he might be indirectly helping Yuliy stop the vampires from obtaining The Arc of Sirius. He becomes a more intriguing character than Yuliy because you don't know where his true loyalties lie until near the end of the series. Does he want to help Yuliy or does he merely manipulate Yuliy to trust him only to betray him later on?
This show's animation is fantastic. Whether it is from the art direction or the fight scenes, everything in Sirius the Yager looks superb. The 1930s setting is greatly captured here with the character and environment designs being very distinct from one another. Now, in terms of the animation in the fight scenes, it is important that the fight scenes are fluid through the animation itself or though its use of clever cinematography to capture each scene. Thankfully, P.A works capture this very well and the fights are just an enjoyment to watch every single time due to the fluidity to it all. It helps distract the viewer of the poor story and characters because it is fun just seeing them slaughter vampires and show them who's boss.
The OST is something that also captures the scenes but not enough to make it stand out. But unlike other shows, I know that it is there and is does help set an atmosphere and I appreciate that. Rather the sound effects were more noticeable to make it sound more realistic and add to the scenes. This especially true in the fight scenes where the clashing of weapons helps us feel the impact of each swing and clash.
The opening "Sirius" by Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets is a very solid opening. Its use of silhouettes in its imagery help set a rather dark and broody atmosphere with the song being catchy enough to make the opening enjoyable to watch and listen to. The ending is again, very solid. It helps emphasise the fact that Yuliy and Mikhail were very close as brothers and had a lot of fun together before being torn apart when the vampires attacked their village. Kind of sad when you think about it.
The main problem that I have with this show above everything else is that the overall show is just....boring outside of its animation quality. It's difficult to review something that does not do anything good but not anything bad, but instead is just bland. I said earlier that does this show just have style or does it have substance? No. It is all but style and little substance. The high quality animation can only carry this show so far before its story and characters have to help carry this show but it then stumbles when this happens. It doesn't develop its plot well enough and its overall characters are just too one note and boring to make me care. I like to prioritise story and characters to look for good anime since animation and sound only enhance the anime. This show is the opposite of this and it is a shame because I wanted to enjoy this show. It looks and sounds good but unfortunately, that is all there is to it.
Watching this series reminded me so much of spectacular vampire-supernatural series that have gone by like Hellsing Ultimate or Owari no Seraph. It's a good series through and through, and although there are many whom have milked the genres and put their own spin on it (only to fail badly), Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger offers something up its sleeve to the point of being captivating, and yet being so underrated.
Similar to series like Princess Principal for the old 20th Century London-esque time period, we have the usual Van Helsing or Constantine type of shows, where said person arrives in some place that is chock-full of
vampires to hunt, then meet up with people (presumably the Japanese government) that liaise to do and deal the same treatment: investigate, plan, seek, kill and destroy the source. That's what Yuily and his team of vampire exterminators are here for this purpose.
For Yuliy, it's a fight that has been overbearing since his childhood days: The village of Dogville, the people residing there may look normal, but with Yuliy being the last of its kind as Sirius, there presents an unescapable fate with what is the triggering catalyst: "The Arc of Sirius", a ball-shaped item of powers unimaginable meant to keep both Jaegers and vampires away that could reshape humanity according to the user's wish. This is protected by Yuily's father, in preparation for the future to come, and for both survivors of the massacre, Mikhail (older brother) and Yuliy (younger brother) must both protect at all costs. Midway, the unexpected betrayal ensues that Mikhail changed sides to help the vampires (with Yevgraf), presumably to keep his life intact from protecting Yuliy from the vampires. With that in mind, Yuliy has a number on his shoulders to not just fend off vampires alone, but to awaken his brother back to his senses.
For such a story, it's refreshing to have an omage to certain series and the tried-and-true methods past. However, you're gonna have to plunder through boring and slow parts (say for the majority of the series), but when it picks up steam, that's when the story gets more interesting and engaging with the ever-so-constant build-up towards the end.
The "Jaeger" team: Yuliy, Dorothea, Philip, Professor Williard + the side counterparts (Fallon etc.)
A merciless band of vampire slayers crafted from their usual expertise, I must say that these characters, as fun as there is to watch their every move, they give the sense that for all their strengths and weaknesses, they balance well together, making up for the subtle differences which testifies their skills to a T. And if you can tell from the usual cliche of a team of men and a woman, where the female is the damsel in distress? Sorry, but that ain't the case as Dorothea is a skilled shooter herself, firm and able to be trusted with much.
The commoner team: Ryouko, Hideomi (and I know I've missed a few others)
For once, I thought that her love obsession with Yuliy was just for show...but for her to follow Yuliy along with his plan is underwhelming to say the least. At most, she's just there for story exposition to make Yuliy's life a bit more interesting, but other than that, a filler character. At least there are people in the Japanese government would be concerned
The vampire team: Yevgraf, the vampire Twins (vaguely shown), Kershner, Klarwein, Mikhail (through blood pact), the catalyst Agatha
Yevgraf is the epitmony of evil: the Devil incarnate himself. Awaiting the Arc of Sirius that has been laid dormant for the vampires for an insane amount of time, he does not stop at anything to achieve his ambitions, at the expense of others. The fearsome enemy who uses a blood pact to hold those who has been resurrected as vampires, and then sees them as a tool to help aid in his efforts. Kershner is no different, except that he sees it as being Yevgraf's strategist and most capable helpline to him. Same issues and characteristics with Klarwein, the insane experimentalist (equal to Back to the Future's Doc Brown). All are committed to seeing Yevgraf's vision happen, with the side-effects of being tools just for the moment.
An overall (almost) well-rounded character lineup, but the problem of being one-dimensional is truly the weakest connection here.
Art and animation:
Whenever P.A. Works are down for almost any anime, I'm a hardcore fan for whatever shows they make for their beautiful artwork and great animation, and Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger doesn't disappoint. Since it's an action-oriented show, what better way to call forth a director who handles good action, and that name is Masahiro Andou, known for his works on Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell and more.
Not to mention that this series is a major departure from their usual SoL or coming-of-age of works past, but what's best to know is that everything about it is left intact, and is safe to say that this series stands out because of impressive art and animation. Good game and a job well done.
Damn, yet another area where the series nailed it to perfection. The OST is a spectacular pickup just for the series alone. Both the OP and ED helped set the pace for the series to follow, shadowing the events that lie ahead for everyone (especially Yuliy and Mikhail), and is a blast listening to. As with any action series, the SFX really gets loud under load so much so that it causes some distortion and causes a major distraction sometimes. It's noticeable, yet it feels just about any other action anime would be at its best caliber.
Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger is quite the production, but production itself can't tell the whole story, and that's where the series' Achilles Heel start to show up: The slow and methodical story along with the characters, emotionless and only care about their field of range (or mission). After being burnt by so many vampire series, I'd say this is at a level where it's neither good nor bad, but the hopes of knowing whatever the heck is going on here is least to say the best. Good try, but one could hope there's improvements to be made. Recommendations though? Just purely for action alone.