Jul 15, 2021
Beyond the Ocean is billed as an anime featuring naval and pirate warfare, but it doesn't quite live up to its ambition. The story had potential: A prince witnesses the state advisor, his teacher, kill the emperor in an argument, and is framed for the kill; he eventually attracts a ragtag group to achieve revenge. However, there are numerous directorial problems in its execution that distracts from immersion of this epic synopsis.
First, the show sports a number of villains of other ethnicities in bad stereotypes that make it seem borderline racist. For example, the Japanese villain has a faceless shogun surrounded by lava and
effeminate ninjas that look like Orochimaru. The European traveler is book smart but dimwitted.
Perhaps more pertinently, the naval warfare aspect looks silly when some of the ships are indestructible despite taking direct canon hits, while some ships charge through other ships like a battering ram and change directions arbitrarily like a video game controlled by a joystick.
It doesn't help that prominent characters tend to space out in important moments. Like when the protagonist, the prince, spaces out while an enemy ship approaches his and hooks it with grapples, instead of commanding his magical ship to pull away. One of the pirates space out in an important fight, allowing the enemy to retreat.
Much of these moments are probably intended to dramatize the scenes, but are poorly executed, so instead makes for a frustratingly unreliable narrative, if you give it benefit of the doubt.
The protagonists are thrown together under rather silly circumstances, and the union is poorly justified. They do gain some camaraderie as the show goes on, but individually they don't have legs to stand on. There is the prince who is so hellbent on revenge, yet he is weak and indecisive when it comes to actually killing anyone. There is the Mongolian brute who only tags along because the prince damaged his boat, and he wants him to buy a new one. There is a Japanese ninja tsundere with a mysterious back story. And then that European guy, because he just really wants to ride the protagonist's ship.
If all these sound like shounen tropes, well, that's the maturity level of this story. And it's unfortunate, because going into the first couple episodes, I had such high hopes that were dashed by episode 3. It's not terrible, it's just more of a turn your mind off sort of adventure, that could have been easily improved if the characters had more genuine expression, if the foreign villains are depicted less like cartoons (together with the cliche "muhahaha" laugh), and the action sequences are inspired by the modicum of research or detail.
Reviewer’s Rating: 5
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