I know many others seem to believe this is a commonplace action show with bland characters, but I believe otherwise.
The premise of this show will tell you right away that it's meant to follow the lives of the Incarnates. They are super soldiers who lost nearly everything on the battlefields and are now attempting to find a way to live in society. This is the indicator that this show is mainly character-driven, the plot is based on the characters of the stories and it also sees the characters develop. You will get a sneak peek at the mental state of these soldiers and I
will say, it's quite entertaining. Not only does Hank's life and situation make you feel genuinely bad for the guy, but the Incarnates' troubles invoke some emotional feelings that get to you as well. Their lives are sad, which makes you sad too. I think that's the most enjoyable part of this show, the morally challenging existence of the Incarnates. The fact that they're also human, but because they succumbed to the issue they experienced during the war now they all must be eliminated. The only way I can describe it is sad, very goddamn sad. It seems unfair, but then fair at the same time. Nancy sort of takes on the audience's position, as we're both trying to understand why the Incarnates are as awful as society sees them and why they have to be treated so harshly. Obviously, we have the background knowledge, but Nancy follows Hank around just as us watchers follow him around too.
I actually find the art very clean and crisp, I like that the characters are vibrant, especially their eyes. Though, many scenes are coloured dark and grey for the more heavy scenes.
The opening and ending are good, I have no real complaints. The sound doesn't exactly stand out, but it's not so bad that I would exactly recognize that it's bad.
I like the characters, I don't think they're exactly bland. Though I do feel a bit of a disconnection between myself and the characters (mainly because we don't know much about them) I'm still able to feel sympathy for them. Especially for someone like Hank, I feel nothing but sadness for him. I can see and understand his pain and struggles, and I do find myself wishing it didn't have to be that way for him. He's a strong main character who feels many negative things, yet somehow finds a way to keep going. He chose to burden himself by relieving his fellow soldiers of their war days, feeling responsible as their old captain. The side characters are interesting as well, they have their own views on the Incarnate situation and their own goals towards it. The villain is diabolical as ever and challenges Hank to his core, who doesn't love a truly screwed up villain?
All in all, it's a pretty good show and I've been enjoying the action and story a lot. I wouldn't say the concept is unique, but I like the way it's being portrayed and used in this series. I would recommend giving it a watch if you enjoy this genre.
Something always bothered me about shows that mixes fantasy, drama, and tragedy. Most of them always seems to follow the path of a dark past or event that changes a protagonist’s view of the world forever. It’s some of the most cliché writing that easily gets milked into a storyline and the authors would expand on it seemingly forever. When watching this show called Katsute Kami Data Kemono-tachi e (To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts), I had a similarly eerie feeling. If you thought this Spring 2019's Fairy Gone was garbage, this isn't much better.
The practice of using a background story episode as its opener isn’t
too uncommon these days. It’s what we get from the very first episode as we meet the Incarnates, soldiers with the ability to transform into supernatural beasts. They are essentially living weapons of war. It didn’t long for the show to unravel the war drama that adapts the overall story tone into an unsettling conflict. To be frank though, I find the opening episode to be a clever way of hooking the audience. It managed to captivate me into the premise. After all, the idea of humans becoming Incarnates sparks curiosity on how much they can change. Soldiers who became these monsters also have to deal with the aftermath of this war and the way humanity judges them. This story follows the plot of a young girl named Nancy Schaal Bancroft who becomes a Incarnate hunter after a certain tragedy.
Before coming to understand the full concept of the show, you should realize the brainchild behind this franchise. Mangaka Maybe has been known to mix a variety of genres into their work. However, most often, he tends to add elements of fantasy or drama as in the case of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia and Tales of the Wedding Rings. This show takes the tone into a more serious direction as you see the consequences of war and how it affects humanity. Everything so far seems like the anime has a degree of storytelling potential until you understand the main cast. Can we just talk about how unbalanced the characters are?
First, we got Hank, the Beast-Human hunter. Being a gloomy man with a vengeance, he has no time for foolishness and is hard to approach. The first episode establishes his hate for Cain, the main antagonist of the series. In fact, Cain is the catalyst of Hank’s character change and he seeks revenge as an avenger. The idea of revenge is a major source of motivation for at least two main characters. Schaal also holds a similar goal in her mind although the story makes her into a much weaker character compared to Hank. I can’t fandom how annoying she gets as the story progresses with each episode. The more I watch Schaal, the more I see her as a damsel in distress. She even has hard time making important choices in life and often seems to need someone to lend her a hand. The relationship dynamics between her and Hank is a strange one as even when they understand each other more, the two feels very distant between each other. With how their relationship develops, let’s just say that it’s hardly emotional. The ‘monster of the week’ format puts the duo into compromising positions but it’s usually Hank doing the dirty work. Even with an elephant gun in her hands, she seems very useless on the battlefield. For instance, she gets captured by an Incarnate and almost ends up being dead if it wasn’t for Hank. In later episodes, the show seeks to make us feel sympathetic for her because of the circumstances about her father. But honestly, I don’t buy it. In a time of despair and tragedy, she’s not the only one suffering inside. Unfortunately, you’ll hardly need a tissue when watching this anime because the storytelling’s emotional elements lacks impact. And at the end of the day, it's easy to point fingers at how weak Schaal is as a character.
That brings to another question, what about the rest of the cast? To be honest, most of them feels like filler characters with little to zero development. One of the more noticeable cast is Liza who serves as a sort of mentor and big sister to Schaal. The other noticeable character is Elaine Bluelake, who ends up being dead before the main story timeline begins. It’s what sets the main conflict between Hank and Cain. So if you’re actually expecting some sort of meaningful character study, prepare for disappointment. The reality is that a majority of Incarnates in the show suffer from psychological problems. They struggle between the balance of their humanity and monstrous side. Unfortunately, most of these Incarnates are used as plot devices and amplifying the themes of the show. It also tries to evoke a form of emotion but hardly succeed. Ask yourself how many of these Incarnates you can remember by heart when the show is over. For me, that’s almost zero. Oh for God's sake, why does Cain make me want to turn the TV off every time I see his face?
Studio MAPPA managed to animate the show to fit the time era of the mid-19th century. It’s actually refreshing to see an anime in this timeline for its aesthetics. Even character uniforms in the show is distinctive while the Incarnates are crafted with grotesque elements. It evokes a sense of fear once you realize the threat they pose to humanity. On the other hand, the character emotive performances is a letdown. Some character expressions often looks forced such as Schaal during her emotional outbursts. Hank always has a stoic face that borderlines on emotionless. It’s what drags down their character chemistry and ultimately makes the pair unremarkable. But if you’re in this show for its graphic violence, fan service, and dark fantasy action, that may leave some more favorable impressions. Maybe's cheeky humor writing is also noticable sometimes in the right and wrong ways.
With just 12 episodes, it won’t take long to get through the journey. However, this journey is not built on a masterful storytelling plot or creative cast. Instead, it ends up being a madhouse of generic clichés. I hate using that word but it’s how this anime played its cards. Should you watch this anime anyway? That’s up for you to decide in the end. I’m not your dad. But with everything this series showed us, this isn’t one to brag about to your friends.
Medieval fantasy anime are rare these days as compared to genres like rom-com and sci-fi. The good ones, even more so. As a fan of the genre, I’m always interested when I see a show set in the medieval age, hence To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts instantly caught my attention after I saw the PV. From the studio that had produced Zankyou no Terror, Zombieland Saga and Yuri!!! On Ice in recent years, there was cause for excitement, even though the PV had made it clear that this was a low-budget anime as compared to the other hits the studio has had.
From the beginning, To
the Abandoned Sacred beasts throws us into a war between the North and the South, with the South dominating the war for the most part until the North delved their hands into something they should never have: transforming humans into all-powerful beasts of destruction and war. The humans who’d been the victims of this were made to believe that they were special, revered by their army but on the inside, the entire populace was terrified of them. However, such beasts were only going to be useful until the end of the war. As soon as that ended, the army always wanted to get rid of these creatures who, in their view, threatened their existence. That’s pretty much the premise of the story. Not bad. Unoriginal, but the execution was fairly well handled at the start.
Now, that’s where the problems begin. There comes a time when you get bored of the same script every episode over and over again. Find an Incarnate, hear about how they’ve been ravaging stuff around the area, talk to them, and then at the end of the episode, eliminate them. That’s the formula that was followed throughout the season. The repetitive nature of the plot had me rolling my eyes from boredom at times.
We’ve got two main protagonists: Hank Henriette and Schaal Bancroft.
Hank Henriette, the charismatic leader of these Sacred beasts or incarnates, as they’ve been called, is a pretty straight-forward character to understand. Being betrayed by your best friend, who also kills your lover is an easy way to make yourself hate someone, isn’t it? He’s about the only incarnate who’s neither lost his humanity completely nor wants to eradicate humanity for what they’ve put all of the Incarnates through. The threat posed by these mindless beasts who were once his comrades in arms is understood by Hank, hence he takes the mantle of eliminating them before they cause any further damage to society upon himself. And we follow his encounters with his fellow incarnates. Hank rarely showed emotions, keeping himself focused on his goal for the most part.
The second protagonist is the daughter of one of the Incarnates. Loved by her adopted siblings, her father as well as the village, Schaal is an exuberant spirit full of positivity until he sees what’s happened to her father, who’s body had changed into a dragon permanently. Even so, she never hesitates to treat him as the same father she once knew. When one day Hank arrives and kills his father, she goes into rage and vows to track down his killer. As she meets and gets to know Hank though, she decides to accompany him and see for herself the reason for which her father had to be killed. As time passes, she begins to sympathize with Hank. Watching their interactions and relationship develop is one of the better points in the show.
Talking about the animation, I was extremely disappointed. I was expecting a lot better from MAPPA, who’d done such amazing work in the past. Far too many of the battle scenes, which are supposed to be the best animated panels, are crappily done for the most part. The character designs are better but nothing to write home about. The soundtrack is meh, the voice acting okay. I guess they really had a low budget because there was one soundtrack they kept repeating over and over again in tense situations.
The animation or the sound aren’t the factors that brought down the show for me though. The culmination of what Hank and Schaal did throughout the season didn’t have much of a payoff. The first few episodes were interesting, then the loop begins, ending on the same note. This may work for comedy, but doesn’t for action fantasy. The story had potential to develop into an intriguing story that shows the grey side of human nature. But alas, it never took off after the first episode.
To the abandoned sacred beasts is a very niche show that has come out this season. Many believe this is just a boring action show with no good characters or story. However, even if the story is lacking in areas, I still find this anime to be entertaining.
The story focuses on the mental state of the Incarnates, beastly super soldiers, after a war. Our MC, Hank, has to kill the Incarnates because they've gone insane. However, the one fatal flaw of the series is its pacing. There wasn't enough time for the watcher to relate to these characters because they started being killed
in the 2nd episode. That makes the show feel like a typical monster of the week show. Mappa has done a fine job with the animation but the directing is nothing to be excited about. The characters are kind of interesting but overall they are bland. Although, in later episodes the story starts to pick up dramatically and has become quite fun.
If you are someone who likes monster of the week shows, then you will definitely like this. There is something interesting about it that makes me watch it every week. Especially the last two episodes have been really fun.
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS; READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION***
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts, which I will be calling ‘Sacred Beasts’ for the sake of brevity, is much like a young aspiring student, bursting with ideas yet lacking a proper way of expressing them. This student also suffers from the faults of poor time management and a shoddy work ethic, treading through obstacles that hinder the reach of his or her full potential. Sacred Beasts can be thought of as a big project of said student with such great ideas presented, but a far cry from a professional effort, and one that mainly exists as a
stepping stone for something greater in the future. If we put aside such a liberating outlook, this show is really an unfortunate result of what should have been much more. Enticing concepts are held within a product that lacks confidence in itself, with none of its concepts being properly fleshed out.
With its first episode, Sacred Beasts starts off with a bang, kicking off with the beloved Incarnates unleashing their might on their helpless adversaries, with a majestic and opulent soundtrack to applaud and accentuate their heroic endeavors. In terms of presentation, the first episode is a success in many ways. So much so, in fact, that you’ll likely manage to look past the numerous writing issues. Consistent storytelling is something that Sacred Beasts struggles with constantly, but it’s Mappa themselves who managed to compile so many of these problems into their own anime-exclusive introduction. The writing in this episode is so shot full of holes that it’s a shining example of why you should proofread your own draft well before your deadline.
It begins with a horde of soldiers, equipped with nothing more than a rifle, charging towards a gigantic stone wall that is the enemy base. Behind them is a squad of cannoneers firing at the wall seconds after. In real life, no squad in their right mind would even think of doing this, as it’s a fast ticket to a mass suicide of your pawns. If this episode cared at all about logical consistency, the least it would do is have the cannons fire first, and have the soldiers charge once a breach is made. Even then, breaching a major fortification in the Civil War would realistically take days with siege artillery and engineers, none of which are seen here. This scene was obviously a gateway to introducing the Incarnates, presenting the enemy base as a powerful force with normal soldiers being wiped away in its territory, contrast to the Incarnates who come to annihilate it like nothing. But there’s not much comparison to make with soldiers stupidly throwing their life away with no apparent plan.
The arrival of the Incarnates itself also begs the question of why they were never shot at despite being well into the territory of the base. This scene veers into the level of B-movie writing where any and all logic is disregarded to make something look cool. Plot armor this horribly blatant only degrades the weight that this sequence holds, and is not worth the epic arrival of these heroes trekking along the battlefield like it’s become a stage auditorium.
As if this isn’t enough, a third major issue presents itself in a scene where Abi, the Hydra Incarnate, talks to Elaine about his apprehension that he might be losing control of himself; foreshadowing his own role as the first apparent case of an Incarnate going berserk. So what lets this incident follow through? Abi says “just kidding” to Elaine, and thus this suspicion is left unattended. No researcher in her right mind would ignore a potential disaster like this, especially not the one and only researcher on these lethal experiments.
And this is within the first eight minutes, showing little or no concern with a logical setup and throwing us headfirst into the second act. This first episode excels in generating hype and selling the experience, but with the demand of a robust suspension of disbelief. These issues would be egregious in any story, and perhaps wouldn’t matter so much in a series with such an emphasis on spectacle. Yet it’s beyond this point where Sacred Beasts’ true ambitions are made clear.
Ostensibly, the story of Sacred Beasts mainly exists as a scaffolding for epic battles between the Incarnates. But Sacred Beasts wants to hold the honor of being more than this by posing as a character drama, enacting the monumental tragedy of bestial war heroes meeting their end at the hands of those who fear they have lost their humanity. This story-driven approach is something Sacred Beasts is confident in pushing mindless spectacle aside for, and to its credit, its narrative concepts could have really elevated the series to its aspired heights. For this reason it’s a shame to see these manifested in what’s ultimately a safe product; one that’s too simplistic and short-sighted with its storytelling to really leave an effect.
As we follow Hank Henriette and Nancy Schaal, their difference in characterization is clear: Schaal connects easily with others and surmises the supposedly soulless Incarnates to have some humanity. Hank on the other hand passively endures Schaal’s protests as he carries out what he believes to be the only solution with the Incarnates: death. This is the basis of their interplay, and Sacred Beasts sadly doesn’t make the most out of their chemistry. Most of their interactions are interchangeable from the outset to the turning point in episode 6. Hank and Liza locate their target, Schaal protests through conjecture, Liza intervenes in Hank’s defense, Hank reaches his destination, and the Incarnate is inevitably slain. A repetitive structure can work so long as the main leads are engaging enough to uphold it, and these characters sadly aren’t, as the story is far more focused on delivering that one emotional gut-punch with its Incarnate-of-the-week setup.
That said, these characters aren’t completely static, as there’s a significant point where Hank and Schaal get somewhat more comfortable with each other. It’s comforting to see Schaal act kinder to Hank than before by sewing his clothes and making good company with him, and Hank being friendlier with her and opening his nearly impenetrable shell. After two episodes of working together, this is the kind of development they needed, and it’s a valuable moment for this reason. However, valuable as it is, it’s a shame that the dialogue is just as flat as ever, written more like a description of these characters and their histories than a genuine human exchange.
Bland dialogue is something that Sacred Beasts is plagued with. A majority of exchanges between characters are woefully lacking in personality and wit, divulging information in such an inorganic manner that makes the events all the more distant. With how much time is spent on military negotiations, plans of action, and other things in place of spectacle, the least they could do is provide some engaging dialogue to spice up the experience. Instead it’s just a case of enduring our way through tedium to the next predetermined outcome, hoping that something meaningful will come of it in the end.
That ‘something’ is obviously the emotional or cathartic finality of an Incarnate. We insert into this story as Hank, who already has a strong attachment to the comrades he dispatches, but as viewers we have little reason to care. While Hank’s company with these people during the war comes to a tragic close, we don’t experience that company ourselves outside of a brief flashback. This is a major factor in why Hank’s turmoil feels so distant, and is also perhaps the biggest missed opportunity in Mappa’s anime-exclusive introduction.
It’s made all the worse when Sacred Beasts tries to compensate by dramatizing the Incarnates’ plight to a groan-inducing level. For a show that wears moral ambiguity on its sleeve, it’s quite hellbent on telling us how to feel, with the worst offender being the death of Daniel Price. If this scene only relied on the Robin Hood-esque motive and the mourning of his loved ones, that would be enough to sell the ordeal as morally ambiguous and heartbreaking, especially to an outsider like Schaal. The melodrama and shoehorned flashback intended to tug harder at the viewers’ heartstrings is doomed to backfire with a character having less than 3 minutes of screentime before death.
However, I’d be lying if I said I felt no connection to these Incarnates, although it’s hardly an emotional one; it’s more of a fascination. For instance, Theodore’s fear of death had manifested into the making of an entire fortress, and what’s interesting is that this is what he was taught by Hank. There’s also the revelation where Theo’s incoming death happens to wash away his fear at last, something that’s true to the character and separates him from other Incarnates. Additionally, the Behemoth’s want to see the ocean with Hank trying to lead him there is a pretty great end twist, with a merciful lack of hamfisted drama. And thirdly, Trice’s belief that she’ll never be human again is one many of us can connect with. Sacred Beasts is at its best when it draws on this aspect rather than nearly drowning itself in its liking for melodramatic sob-story deaths. It’s fortunate that every once in a while it comes up for a breath, notably with Topher the Gargoyle in episode 5. Sacred Beasts is determined to make each major Incarnate engaging, and to an extent, it was successful. It’s just a shame that formulaic plots and flat dialogue weigh their respective episodes down. These resolutions certainly shine on their own, with Behemoth’s arc being my personal favorite, but that hardly salvages the episodes that hinge so much on those conclusions to be worthwhile.
Distant characters is hardly the only major problem with the story, however. There’s a frustrating pattern with the writing in which it neglects to found a logical setup for the events that follow, which makes it harder to take the the events seriously. Much of this is apparent in the first episode alone, but the problems only begin there. The Incarnates perhaps wouldn’t be running amok to begin with if the military thought for a minute about how lethal they are. A competent authority would have these living weapons confined or at least under strict supervision to ensure that what could go wrong doesn't go wrong. Additionally, it’s quite uncharacteristic of Hank to let someone as defenseless as Schaal to come with him into Theodore’s trap-filled fortress. Considering his goals and his position, you’d think the last thing Hank would be fine with is to put an innocent life at risk. Sure, he asks Schaal if she’s sure about coming with him, to which Schaal promises that she won’t cause him trouble. But that shouldn’t be enough to sway anyone with a sense of responsibility, let alone someone as sentimental as Hank.
To be fair, there are moments where Sacred Beasts avoids these drawbacks. Episode 2 for example handles the villagers’ suspicions of William Bancroft rather competently. William is suspected to have killed livestock, yet the villagers acknowledge that they don’t have tangible evidence. Because of this, they take the safe measures of putting a cowbell on William and taking the children to a distant location. On one hand I applaud this scene for having characters behave realistically in this situation, yet on the other I lament that villagers are sadly more sensible than those in the military.
In fact, plenty of these other moments show how just a simple fix could make all the difference. Certain plot points disregard how stringent the military should be with their assets, and once you bring those moments to light, it can bring forth many ideas that probably seem obvious in retrospect. In episode 4, for example, Schaal makes her way to a confined Behemoth to converse with him, but we never see her actually getting permission to do so, when logically those in charge would be selective in who is allowed to get in close proximity to a large untamed beast. We don’t see the military having any issue whatsoever with letting Schaal, a civilian, walk up to a monster that the people were fearful of to the point of strapping down in place. For all we know she could’ve gotten permission off-camera, but it’s not a good practice of any writer to have viewers assume something improbable to fill plot holes themselves.
This particular oversight would have an easy fix. Just show a scene of Schaal getting permission to come close to the beast with a solid reason for them to let her in, and suspension of disbelief would largely remain in tact. A good step further would be having someone assist Schaal during her visit and perhaps even a prolonged exchange of the guards being convinced by Schaal or each other to let her pass.
Better yet, instead of seeing her get permission, we could have a scene where Schaal sneaks out at night, stealthily making her way past guards to get to her business with Behemoth. This would not only be a simple fix, but also one that could provide a tense and engaging situation where Schaal steps out from the back seat and acts without the help of Hank or Liza. It’s the perfect scenario where someone as inexperienced as Schaal could take action. There are plenty of ways to iron out these kinds of issues in your draft. You just have to get a little creative.
For some people, this sort of creativity would have really uplifted the 7th episode with the zombified William Bancroft, or Nidhogg. It’s a common opinion that simply bringing him back to life is an incredibly cheap way to develop Schaal. To an extent I agree with this, but it’s not something I’m personally bothered with. An “asspull” it might be, but we’re given an explanation on why this particular Incarnate has revived. Honestly, in a world where myths are made real through science, I’m willing to accept much of anything related to it, however outlandish as it may be. There are very few rules shared by each and every Incarnate, as they’re all unique in some way. So learning that William has some sort of regenerative ability isn’t going to weigh down the experience for me. Perhaps from a writing standpoint, it can be seen as lazy, and there are likely much better ways to enact Schaal’s change of heart in a similar manner, but it serves its purpose well enough to where I can let it slide.
However, in that same episode is something much, much harder for me to let slide, and that is Liza casually handing to Schaal the Godkiller bullets, ammunition that is very rare and isn’t supplied to the regular soldiers battling Nidhogg. This is something that myths-made-real cannot excuse. It’s clearly done by the writer to give Schaal the chance to face her father, yet Liza has no reason to value Schaal’s growth over her own duties as a lieutenant, and the preservation of these bullets. It’s yet another case of the writer’s hand being all too visible, taking contrived or illogical routes to construct a scaffolding of plot points rather than a fully realized narrative.
The resolution of this episode leads into one of the smallest yet significant changes I would make to Sacred Beasts that takes place right after Schaal kills her resurrected father for good. We’re to believe that this event will go on to affect Schaal’s character in the future, but as it is, she acts too similarly to her previous self to truly signify a change. She behaves as merrily as ever and shows practically no signs of distress after seeing her father die by her own hands. There’s more to character development than just the events they go through; a change in personality should be there to show that Schaal is not the same person she was two episodes ago. She can act perpetually glum over past events while still upholding her proactive attitude. This emotional state could be temporarily alleviated with her meeting Trice, making this anime-exclusive subplot all the more impactful, where she befriends the type of monster she had pledged to exterminate. These are elements that go a long way to improve viewer investment; depicting these characters as living, evolving people rather than vessels made to spout themes and exposition. It’s sad to see such potential in characters who, while not dimensionless, don’t have much more humanity to them than the brainless beasts the Incarnates are feared to have become.
Some might think these complaints to be petty, but Sacred Beasts’ emphasis on story is what makes these flaws so damaging. If Sacred Beasts was primarily about spectacle like that of Attack on Titan, Pacific Rim, or John Wick, I’d be more lenient on these sorts of drawbacks. But considering what Sacred Beasts chose to uphold itself as, it should be held at a higher standard in regards to its plot, and especially its characters.
It’s all the more unfortunate when even the spectacle loses its value as the animation quality drops considerably with each episode, to a level that’s pathetic even for what’s expected of a usual 12-episode anime at its midway point. In-between frames are seemingly forgotten about and inconsistent models are shockingly abundant. After the glamorous first episode, this is a huge slap in the face, and hardly excusable with 11 animation directors.
Apart from the awe-inspiring presentation from the first episode, the cinematography of Sacred Beasts is also quite lacking overall. There’s nothing truly unappealing or jarring, but nothing that really shows a passion beyond just pasting the content onto the big screen and calling it a day.
Liza herself is a sore spot on the tone with her character design alone, made worse with frequent jokes about her sex appeal, even in mildly tense situations. When a negotiation occurs between characters focused on warfare, tactics, or emotional hangovers, chances are that Liza will be there to shatter the tone with her massive knockers, doing things like teasing Schaal or flirting with Claude. It’s moments like these where the hand of Sacred Beasts’ male illustrator really shows, and invites wonder of how the Sacred Beasts’ female writer could ever be content with scenes like these muddling the tone.
Thankfully the visual quality gains better footing right around Hank’s confrontation with Roy, taking place at an arc that I consider one of the more fulfilling parts of the narrative. The showcase of Hank becoming softer and more sentimental while Schaal has grown tougher is a satisfying progression, bringing them on closer terms. This is certainly a highlight, but it’s a shame yet again that the show hasn’t done much to bring us close to their struggles.
Throughout all its attempts to make me weep for the fallen Incarnates, To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts made me feel most sorrowful for its wasted opportunities. With every chance to do something great, it instead takes the easy way out. As the novelty wears off, the numerous flaws make themselves more and more clear. With all this considered, it certainly serves as a passable viewing experience, but it's a tragedy all the same.
So in the spring season this year, Fairy Gone was a thing and it kind of sucked. So much so that I decided to drop it halfway through. Its story was not gripping enough and its characters were so bland and stuck in mud in terms of their growth. It was not really a good show. So I bring Fairy Gone up because this show this season is rather similar in terms of its setting and certain plot elements (kind of) on paper. But MAAPA has been on a good roll in terms of quality anime they are animating lately so how does this entry
in their catalogue hold up?
Sit back, relax and make sure that the inner beast inside you screams out as I present to you the anime review for To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts. Lets begin.
“WAR...is hell” - Ace Ventura, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
I will just leave that quote there. So the story begins with a civil war between the North and the South (they never say the country’s name so lets leave it at that). But the war swiftly favours the Northerners as they unleash a special unit of super soldiers called incarnates to fight on the battlefield. But there problems being developed as the incarnates start to lose their minds and become the savage beasts they are transforming in to. With the war over. Hank, the leader of the incarnates, must now hunt the other members of the incarnate squad and put them down before they cause any more harm. But when the daughter of one of the incarnates, Schaal Nancy Bancroft tags along with Hank, it may not be as clear cut as it seems.
I will say that the first episode of the show feels rather rushed. I think if the first episode was expanded to two episodes, or the episode was twice the length, then the narratives developed here would make me more emotionally invested into the story and our characters. But the way they did it, it made me struggle to get really invested into this show. Thankfully, the show’s story structure and pacing does get better as the show goes on as it follows a monster of the week type setup that helps establish that not everything is clearly black and white and there is some grey area in the middle of it all as some incarnates still have some humanity left in them. But the problem is that the majority of the members of the incarnates don’t get much development (except for a couple scattered here and there). We get one or two flashbacks as to what they were like but that is about it. Which is a shame because the ones that do get more development, especially the incarnate in episode eight, are well done and made me invested. So it is inconsistent in that regard.
Another thing this show likes to portray is that...well…war is hell. Not only for the citizens, but also for the incarnates themselves as they were tools for war and now have no purpose since the war is now over. It is shown here and there and expanded upon by the main antagonist of the series, Cain and gives context as to why he is doing the things he is doing. It is a subject that we have seen plenty of times and here, it is no different. It does though strike a balance between showing us and telling us which I think it did well so that it doesn’t bore the viewer. It is where the story is at its best as it explains to us why these incarnates should be put down to make sure that remnants from the war are removed and we can start moving forward. Because if these incarnates are still running around and are killing people, innocent or not, then is the war truly over?
The main protagonist role is split between Hank and Schaal. We will start with Hank first. Being the former squad leader of the incarnates, it would make sense that he is not happy of putting down his former squad members. We see this in his expressions and tone of voice that he is not comfortable doing this and helps remind the viewer that, while he is an incarnate, he still has plenty of humanity left in him. His motivations though are not well developed. He fights because he swore an oath and as squad leader, he feels that this is his responsibility. That’s fine, but is other reason is that he wants to get revenge on Cain for betraying him and shooting someone Hank cared about. The main problem is here is that we don’t really see much of their relationship bloom enough to act as a good motivator. A told, not shown kind of situation that is rather lacklustre when you think about it.
Schaal acts as the reminder that killing the incarnates is not all black and white. Being the daughter of one of the incarnates. We see her full of rage and spite towards Hank for killing her father but eventually starts to understand why they need to be put down. Her growth and understanding of Hank’s circumstances is one of the best things about this show. She acts as the voice of reason at times but is not always stupid enough to get in the way; only doing it when needed. She is plenty capable with her rifle but also knows her limits as to what she can do. She is easily my favourite character in this show and adds complexity to the situation since it can easily be just him Hank going around the country, killing the incarnates and moving on to the next.
Cain though, the main antagonist in this series, could have been a lot better in my opinion. I understand his reasoning as he something more than human and doesn’t want to be cast aside now that the war is over. But the way he sees it is rather comical. He sees himself as a god and wants to rule the country because of his power. I think him rebelling because he doesn’t want to be a tool for war along with the rest of the incarnates. He does see that, don’t get me wrong, but the way he goes about doing it is rather stereotypically evil. I feel like he could have been a moral check and that would make him a more interesting antagonist. But he is just simply evil and that’s just it really.
The rest of the cast are pretty much just there to act as supporting characters and not much else. Whether it is just to fight alongside Hank and Schaal or provide them with information. Claude Withers, the brother to Cain, felt like he had his own arc but he is rather uninteresting and his arc as well is rather uninteresting. So when the second half of the show comes and more spotlight is on him, he just comes of as a rather boring character.
The animation is fine but could have been better in my opinion. The fights are serviceable and the art style and character designs are alright, but I feel like they could have been better. Which is a shame. MAPPA have been on a great roll lately with producing quality animation. Starting from Banana Fish from the summer season of 2018, they have produced Zombieland Saga, Dororo, Kakegurui xx and Sarazanmai. So following on after those shows, Sacred Beasts’ animation quality is rather lacklustre. It’s not bad and the fact the show doesn’t resort to CGI is impressive. But I feel like it could have been better at displaying these monster on monster fight scenes and if more effort was put into it, it would have been rather cool.
The soundtrack does its job of help setting an atmosphere or matching the tone of the scene. Whether it would be a more somber scene or a fight scene, there always seems to be a ost that matches it. My favourite is played when Hank transforms into his incarnate form for the first time. The use of the orchestral and the increased paced of the music did feel like s**t was going to go down. It was definitely my favourite from this show.
The opening “Sacrifice” by Mafumafu is paced good due to how it portrays both Hank and Schaal’s emotions through rather aggressive vocals and instruments, especially for Hank and his hatred towards Cain. It is also very well choreographed as well and the visuals manage to keep up with the pace of the song well. So I would say that this is a good opening when all things considered.
The ending sequence “HHOOWWLL” by Gere x ARAKI shows off the incarnates displayed tapestry kind of way to let us see these powerful soldiers. They are also displayed in order of appearance in the show so we get to see what incarnates Hank is going have to hunt down. It’s a nice sequence to get you to relaxed after you finished an episode.
Well its certainly better than Fairy Gone which isn’t saying much. But there are problems in this show that does prevent this anime down from being a really great show. What’s annoying about that is that they are simple problems that I think, if addressed, could have turned this show into a great show. If it added more context, expanded on the first episode and improved its animation quality that MAAPA has shown from their previous shows, then this would be a great show. There are still some parts of this show that I like and kept me watching like the main leads and how it portrays that “WAR...is hell.” But it is also a show that could have easily been better and that’s what stings me the most about it.
Please be aware that this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching the series and while care has been taken to minimise spoilers, they may still exist within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on a popular manga of the same name To the Abandoned sacred beasts is a fantasy, action and drama genre anime that gives us the opportunity to see what will happen if you introduce the concept of genetically created monsters whose sheer strength, cunning and intimidation serve to allow them to act as potent force multipliers and pair them with a faction that’s not only
outgunned but outnumbered by their opponents in a war that’s reminiscent of the American Civil war. On the surface To the Abandoned sacred beasts on first impression can be seen to be one that looks to focus on the usage of the series prominent cast who in this case are aptly named as the incarnates as they help the outnumbered North fight in the grueling civil war which serves as not just the series’ first main conflict but also unknowingly serve as the trigger point that would serve to as the fuel that would trigger the series main overall crisis but this can be said to be half right. While the incarnates introduction into the bloody and grueling battles that define the wars in which the cast fight in do well to showcase the potent power that the incarnates possess this at the same time also shows a myriad of feelings, hopes and desires that are hidden beneath the many soldiers that lay their lives on the line. While the incarnates that serve as the elite shock troops of the North are powerful beyond measure and have the support and admiration of the troops that they have fought alongside with it can be said that this is merely a surface impression for beneath their fake smiles the incarnates are merely seen as tools and are nothing more than weapons that are to be used to achieve victory and discarded when it is attained. However, this sense of hidden feelings, desires and hopes can also be seen within the incarnates themselves who despite understanding that they will never be treated as equals by their allies still wish to fight for their country and fight to create a world of peace like their compatriots. But alas things are not to be for the brave incarnates.
While the series premise of having super soldiers whose ability to assume many forms of mythical creatures fight in a war that’s reminiscent of the worst wars of the 18th century can be said to be one of the main points that drew me to this series it is far from the only one. For while seeing the incarnates wreak havoc on the frontlines to aid the north in the war was entertaining what served as the main element that drew me to the series was the kind of feelings, desires and hopes that I feel lay beneath their fierce beast forms. Even as they are sent to fight in battle after battle to help the war effort just what kind of hopes, desires and wishes did they have for the world in which they are fighting so hard to create. Even if peace comes just what kind of world would they find. And more importantly, would humanity accept them as equals and treat them as such. The first episode for the series I felt was an interesting one in that while it did well in establishing not just the brutal war that was being waged on the continent that warranted the creation and deployment of the incarnates but also show the kind of contrasting feelings that exist within both the hearts of the incarnates and the senior commanders who deploy them on dangerous missions. Perhaps more importantly the first ep also through the use of a well thought out twist force the lone sane member of the team to embark on a hard and brutal mission in which he must not only seek out his former comrades who have gone insane but also face them in a deadly battle that will only have one outcome. Duty, friendships and bonds have never been so hard to divide for a soldier but in order to give his former comrades the one last mercy that their former commander owes them Hank will fight with all his might and cunning to save his former charges. It is this combination of dark fantasy and a desire to understand the kind of hidden feelings that lay beneath the heart of each incarnate as they fight one last battle to bring resolution that can be said to draw me to this series and ensure that this series is one of the ones that I kept my eyes on.
The overall story for the series takes place on the continent of Patria within the realms of the Nation of Patria. For 100 years the country of Patria has prospered thanks to the hard work of its people and the vigilance of its military but alas this soon changed when a mysterious energy source was discovered that soon caused the nation to split into two opposing sides which were the Northern Union that had the might of industry on their side and the Southern confederation which had the mass numbers that are needed to keep their vast lands secure. Despite the bravery of its soldiers the North was forced to make use of new and experimental tech that can be used to turn the tide with the most well known being the incarnates genetically engineered super soldiers whose ability to make use of abilities tied to their beast forms made them potent shock troops. Leading them was their charismatic and popular commander Captain Hank Henriette. But despite leading his men successfully through many brutal battles with honor and valor as the war neared its final stages and peace was visible on the horizon what was supposed to be a call for a celebration at the end of the war soon become the beginning of a nightmare thanks to a sudden betrayal. 2 years after the war and after awakening from a long coma Hank finds that even though the peace that he and his comrades have been fighting so hard for has now been attained his former friends and once the nations elite forces are now enemies of the state and who openly see their former homeland as their enemies. Faced with this harsh reality and desperate to deal with his former allies and give them the mercy that he feels that they deserve Hank is forced to embark on a brutal and grim mission in which he must locate and hunt down his former teammates and give them the one mercy that they all deserve which is to be vanquished in a clean death as all humans deserve.
Nancy Schaal Bancroft portrayed by veteran seiyuu Ai Kakuma of Asterisk wars and Clockwork Planet fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main heroine of the series. A teenage girl and the daughter of one of Hank’s fellow incarnates that served with him in the war Nancy who prefers to be called Schaal within the series on initial impressions was seen to be a kind, caring, gentle and innocent person by nature that lived a seemingly sheltered life with her father in a remote village far removed from the crisis that envelops other parts of the kingdom. As a result of this type of life Schaal was seen to be a polite person that always advocated for peaceful means to solve problems rather than use violence as others would have. However, while a kind and caring person Schaal was also someone that had a somewhat stubborn side to her which when combined with her determination made her a trusted ally to both her friends, charges and her father. Indeed, the relationship that Schaal had with her father can be said to be one that served as the very foundation of her life one that unfortunately came to a tragic end in front of her eyes one day.
In the aftermath of her fathers tragic demise and the beginning of her journey to find out the truth of the matter Schaal’s personality began to gradually change as a result of both her journey with Hank and the reality of not just how the incarnates have fallen but also as a result of seeing the pain and suffering that they were causing to innocents across the land. While still remaining kind and polite to all she meets Schaal as the series progresses gradually becomes braver and more assertive willing to stand and fight for what she believes in even if it meant facing the ire of powerful men/beasts. This is shown well in the ever-evolving roles that she has in the fights that she and Hank engage in on their travels. While gradually becoming stronger both mentally and in terms of fighting abilities Schaal was also shown to have developed her perception skills which when used in combination with her innate sense of kindness and understanding allowed her to peer into the hearts of others and see the truth that they want to keep away from others. This within the series is demonstrated well in her relationships with Hank, Claude, Liza, and the incarnate Beatrice the latter of which can be said to affected Schaal strongly. Due largely to the manner of how they met within the series Schaal’s relationship with Hank, in the beginning, was a tense one however as the series went on and Schaal got to see first hand the kind of brutality that surrounded the incarnates as well as the cold, brutal and tragic path that Hank has to follow this opinion of hers gradually began to change. While at first disagreeing with the fact that violence was the only method to be used against the incarnates and seemingly put off by the fact that Hank viewed his former comrades as targets this opinion of hers gradually began to shift as she came to realize just how much sadness lay within Hanks's heart as he prosecuted his mission while at the same time seeing the kind of efforts that Hank was putting in to ensure that his former comrades died a clean death as human beings.
As a result of seeing such a large sacrifice by Hank in his duties as well as seeing the kind of pain that exists in the world whether inside the incarnates, Hank and the soldiers and civilians that were caught up in the struggle Schaal gradually begins to realise that if she is unwilling to step forward and try to change the world with her actions that the darkness that had enveloped the world in the past would once again return a fact that is demonstrated well in her vow to Hank to serve as his foundation that would support him until the end a vow that shows well Schaal’s determination to support her partner while at the same time her desire to fight and create a world where humans and incarnates can stand on equal terms. The character of Schaal I felt was an interesting character that I felt was well designed and developed over the course of the series with her gradual evolution from a kind, innocent and caring person whose only worries was keeping the children that she manages safe to a girl who is not only brave and independent but also able to stand firm and fight against mythical monsters being especially well done.
While Schaal’s initial views and attitude towards the grim mission in which Hank Prosecutes may seem to indicate that she will be a poor fit for an ally it can be said that rather the opposite is true. While Schaal’s kind, caring and friendly personality may be seen as a weakness by some this instead within the series can be said to be one of her greatest strengths for this allows her to not only understand and perceive the kind of feelings that people are reluctant to reveal but also allow her to make use of these revelations to help them resolve the core problems that serve to worry them and in the process allowing her to gather useful intel that can aid both Hank and herself in their missions. Though the pairing of Schaal and Hank may have seemed like a mismatch at first I believe that Schaal’s core temperament as well as the endless amounts of hard-fought knowledge that she gained in her travels with Hank served to not only make her a better person that’s more aware of just how dark the world is and how much it needs to change qualities that served to allow her to be an effective emotional support for Hank.
Hank Henriette portrayed by veteran voice actor Katsuyuki Konishi of Kakuriyo fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A member of the once renowned incarnates unit where he served as their leader and captain Hank on initial impression was seen to be a calm, composed and confident person by nature that fitted well the professional image of what a soldier should look like. Despite holding the senior rank of captain Hank was shown to be someone that had few signs of ego and indeed he was someone that was friendly, considerate and understanding of the men that served under him and was shown to be perceptive to their fears and needs. This is perhaps best shown in the speeches that he gives to his soldiers in that rather than try and rouse his men with the standard propaganda BS that will be the standard for the military Hank instead makes use of his own heartfelt words and his desire to see them all work together to make it through the battles and step into the future that they created to motivate them. While showing well the desire by Hank to ensure that every one of his men makes it through the war unharmed this also shows Hank’s innate sense of being an honest and fair person that prefers to state the truth in all things. Despite this noble attempt however a tragic act of betrayal soon ensured that not only did Hank end up losing two years of his life but also make his life a nightmare as his valued friends and comrades are now nothing more than dangerous enemies of the state that were harming the very innocents that they were supposed to be protecting.
In the aftermath of such dark revelations that shook Hank to the core, Hank was forced to embark on a new cruel and brutal mission that would later serve as both his primary quest and his core purpose in life in this new dark world that the sacrifices of his men had created. In his new role as the hunter of incarnates Hank while retaining his calm and composed manner largely loses much of his positive nature instead replacing it with a sense of grim determination and a desire to perform his solemn duty by taking on and extinguishing his former friends. Despite his duty and the reality of the situation that’s facing him Hank was someone that can be said to still have hope that despite the madness that was affecting them that some part of their human self-remain inside his targets which is shown well in the initial fights that he has but unfortunately this was a fools hope. However despite this it can be seen that to Hank even if his former charges had become nothing more than mindless monsters who were harming the very people that they were supposed to be protecting that he still sees them as his comrades and as such feels that he owes them one last fight that should be fought with all their might. While one might argue that doing this will entail putting himself at too much risk it can be said that this desire to fight his former comrades at full strength one last time is an indication of Hank’s core desire to not only defeat them but also give them the one mercy that he as the hunter can give them which is to die as a human being and not a mindless monster.
Due largely to both his duty as a hunter and the grim mission that Hank has been assigned too Hank in his new role was seen to be someone that preferred to keep a low profile and avoid forming any emotional bonds with others preferring to seemingly harden his heart and set about his grim task alone. However despite this loner like attitude of his Hank was shown to retain his innate sense of kindness and care towards others that he is willing to show to those people that have proven both their worth and trust in him which is shown in the developing relationship that he establishes with Schaal and Liza a bond that would eventually bloom into the very thing that Hank needed the most in his grim and brutal mission that he’s embarked on which was someone that both understands the kind of pain that he’s going through but at the same time willing to fight alongside with and shoulder that pain alongside him as his foundation and emotional support. The character of Hank I felt was an interesting character that was well designed and developed over the course of the series with his gradual evolution from a calm, confident and professional soldier who while fighting hard on the front did his very best to lead and protect his friends and charges on the field to someone who thanks to a harsh twist of fate was forced to hunt down his former comrades being especially well done.
While seeing Hank transform from a confident and charismatic leader into a lone hunter was interesting what served to make Hank’s development as a character stand out was his developing relations with his allies as though his new duty and mission was a tragic one just like in his previous war Hank was not fighting alone and in a way the ever-developing relationship that he forges with both Schaal and Liza is one that’s reminiscent of how he fought in the previous war where he’s fighting hard to once more protect the country and its people from harm.
In terms of animation, I felt that the series made excellent use of both the setting and the premise in creating the many fights that take place within the series. These fights while being well designed and developed also featured an interesting variety of scenarios and locations that resonated well with the former specialities of Hank’s former allies. Character designs wise I felt that both the human element and the incarnates were both well designed with the latter featuring a great variety of forms that serve to show not just how powerful the incarnates had been when they were allies as well as the kind of temperament in which they had that granted them that form. Combat animations wise I felt that the fights within the series while relatively simple ones too great advantage of both the incarnate’s beast forms as well as the skills and temperaments that they had in life to create many smooth but brutal fights that didn’t lack in variety in terms of tactics being used. Notable examples include the battle within the fortress and the fight against the gargoyle. Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme respectively which was sacrifice by Mafumafu and HhOOWWLL by GeroxARAKI. While both of these songs I felt were excellent ones as well as being haunting ones I felt that the former invoked within me a sense of both despair to an unjust situation and a determination to overcome it while the latter invoked a sense of childhood memories and a strong bond that had existed between them through war and thunder only to be broken. In terms of OST, I felt that it featured an excellent variety that allowed it to provide excellent situational music being able to provide both dramatic, calm and sombre tones when needed.
In terms of voice acting, I felt that the series voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether main or support ones. In particular, I feel that Katsuyuki Konishi, Ai Kakuma, Yoko Hikasa, and Yuuichi Nakamura all did an excellent job at portraying the characters of Hank, Schaal, Liza, and Cain respectively. Additionally, while their characters were only featured in standalone episodes, I also felt that Mamiko Noto and Saori Hayami also did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters with Saori’s portrayal of the tragic Beatrice being especially impressive.
In Overall To the Abandoned sacred beasts was an excellent anime that I really enjoyed seeing with its main strong points in my opinion being its unique premise, strong story, well designed and developed characters and its pairing of a standard war theme with some rather interesting themes that are as relevant to the soldiers fighting in the war as it is to the civilians that are caught up in it.
Standard war based anime tends to focus on the soldiers and the civilians that fight within it and the consequences of the very actions that their deeds on the field cause to the overall war and while To the Abandoned sacred beasts does show this to a degree the great majority of the series takes a look at the many lingering questions that can result from any war. This within the series is shown in the guise of the incarnates and of the journey that Hank was forced to embark on. The incarnates within the series while formerly one of the north’s most elite military units on account of their unique strengths and abilities was as the war progressed were forced to realise that no matter how much they contributed to the overall war effort and no matter how much allies they save they will never get a genuine word of approval from the brass who sadly see them as nothing more than weapons that once no longer useful is to be disposed off. Faced with the grim reality that for all the great sacrifices that they had made both as warriors and the sacrifices that they made in deciding to abandon their past civilian life and serve their country on the field is for naught its perhaps not surprising that such strong feelings would cause a poisoned dagger to form within their hearts. A dagger that would later explode with vengeance when their country seemingly turns on them.
This tragic turn of events I felt made great use of the themes of war and peace as the incarnates while suffering as much pain as their fellow countrymen also had the misfortune of never being able to return to the life that they once had in their past lives thanks to their new forms and the scars that they gained from the war scars that will make them vulnerable to agitators like Cain whose innate cunning and past knowledge allowed him to easily see the turmoil that lay beneath the incarnates. This insight into the incarnates as people via the chance to look into their past civilian identities, the role that they played in the war and the fate that had befallen them at its end as well as the kind of scars that they gained from the war I felt was used to great effect to expand upon each of the incarnates that were featured within the series and preventing them from being simply one dimensional villains and instead show that they are as much victims as their opponents were. When combined with the grim mission that Hank and Schaal are forced to embark on I felt that the incarnates desire to be recognised and remembered for the sacrifices that they made in the war by siding with Cain and Hank and Schaal’s desire to stop them served to make the story that much more compelling as to both sides both have an equally valid reason for fighting.
As a final score, I would say that To the Abandoned sacred beasts deserves a final score of 8/10 on account of its unique premise, compelling story that skilfully weaved several difficult themes together, an excellent cast of characters that were voiced by excellent seiyuu’s and interesting battle scenarios that took great advantage of both the different terrain types that can exist in the setting as well as the nature of the beast types that the incarnates made use off.
I'll start off by saying I don't recommend you ever watch this show. I don't think this show brings anything new to the table, and every aspect of this show has been done better elsewhere. This show is episodic, with the main characters hunting down a different incarnate each episode. This concept by itself is what made me want to watch it, because of how different it sounded from conventional series, with fights cool fights between these awesome monsters, but I don't think they could have botched this idea any worse than they did. Keep in mind, I haven't read the manga, nor do I
intend to, so many of these issues could stem from the source material for all I know. The first problem I have with the show is how they to pound the same message into your head every episode about how tragic the story is, and try to make you feel bad for the incarnates they have to kill. There was not a single time I felt bad for the incarnates, or truly felt their mission was justified, or made sense, especially for Schaal. The incarnates all have different powers, which, on paper, are very diverse and compelling, but they somehow failed to make a single incarnate feel interesting. The fights with these incarnates were all incredibly predictable. they all played out the same way. Each fight starts with Hank telling the incarnate what their doing is wrong, then the incarnate says some half-baked philosophical bullshit that is supposed to make the audience question if maybe the incarnate is right, they fight, Hank is about to lose, Schaal shows up, Hank thinks, "Oh shit, I can't look like a bitch in front of my girl," pops off and wins, then they brood and say edgy bullshit about what they had to do and their "mission" for the rest of the episode. Every fight plays out this way. None of the fights have any weight. In the fights, injuries appear, disappear, and heal left right and center, making none of the damage Hank or the incarnates take feel meaningful. There is also the issue of how rushed the fights are, but I think this this is mostly due to the constrictions of the episodic format they were forced to use. As you can probably tell from all the edge I'm talking about, the script is atrocious. If you hit pause at almost any time on any episode of the show, then think of the most "anime" line they could say next, 9 times out of 10 thats the next line. It is ridiculously predictable, to the point where it felt like they googled "cliche overused lines in anime" and were just copy pasting them in to pad for time. I see many people say that a redeeming factor of this show is the characters, but, personally, I hated every character in this show. Hank was your generic, hardened by tragedy hero who just wants to complete his mission. The thing with Hank was, despite being an incarnate, he didn't want to use his powers, or at least it was until he had to use them once then just forgot about it, using his power from the start of every fight from there on out. Schaal exists just to give Hank something to protect and show he is something past his gritty exterior, which is so cliche and overused it hurts the show more than helps it, and makes Schaal feel at times like shes just a damsel in distress Hank takes around with him for their enemies to use. There are a few times when Schall does something helpful, but most of the time she feels like a useless character. Speaking of their enemies, the main antagonist, Cain, was the only reason I got through this show. Every time he showed up on screen it turned the show from bad to laughably bad. He weirdly felt a bit like Dio from Jojo's, with lots of just yelling his name and the like. During the course of the show the dude somehow creates an entire fucking country out of nowhere to the west that is significantly larger then the one in which the main characters are in. He feels like a Bond villain in that he just gets a bunch of his guys killed by the good guys for no reason and has multiple opportunities where he could have just killed Hank but just decides not to because plot. The most hilarious of these instances is when Hank is badly injured and unable to fight, With Cain standing over his disheveled body. It felt like Hank might actually be dead, but instead of finishing him off he kidnaps Schaal, gives Hank an invitation to a Banquet where he is holding her hostage, just so Cain could try to kill him again at the banquet. Another problem the show has is that it at times just forgets the tone their trying to achieve and has weird attempts at humor through dumb jokes or visual gags via unrealistic character model changes which you might see in something like the comedic parts of Bungou Stray Dogs, mainly during conversations between Schaal and anyone who's not Hank, despite the main audience and appeal for this show bring how dark and edgy its supposed to be. In conclusion, its a jumbled, formulaic, super predictable mess that tries way to hard to be edgy. The concept of this show is genuinely interesting and I think if done correctly this show could have been great, but unfortunately, this is in my opinion the worst show to come out this season.
[This contains no spoilers]
I started this anime, expecting the usual product of combining an industrial age war setting with a fantasy concept. Usually they get convoluted, lose focus and resort to blindly padding the plot with action sequences and tropes or allowing it's sub-genres (like comedy and romance) to dominate the plot and stagnate progression. The first episode foretasted that prediction, and I was certain that I didn't need to give it my usually 3 episode trail to determine if I liked it, so I forgot about it. However, this week I thought that I might just spend the train ride home from work to
stick to my principles or giving it a fair try, since I had done the same with Youjo Senki only to realise I had missed out on a great show. Surprisingly the second episode was quiet enjoyable and I realised I had misjudged it a little. Nevertheless, it did not turn out to be a masterpiece or an anime that changed the formula it's genre, but nor did it turn out to be a complete waste of my time.
Upon finishing this anime, I was curious to see the general consensus of it, and was surprised to see it had a bellow 7/10 average on MAL weeks after it fished airing, which is a score you'd usually see on something that was so generic to it's core that it didn't even managed not to capture it's own target audience well enough to score a few free 10/10s. Perhaps it's because I score base on comparison to other series I've seen (with consideration of my personal enjoyment included). It baffles me that this anime was in that score range when anime of it's same calibre would still on the top end of the 7/10 rating with worse art and music.
To summaries my thoughts on the plot, the premise was not original in the slightest and reminded me of Berserk, minus the build up that made the betrayal in Berserk all the more dramatic. Nonetheless, the show did not divert the focus like I previously predicted and kept a good pace for it's progression, while changing up the formula each episode to not make it feel less like an episodic series where the reset switch was constantly pressed to extend the plot further. By this I mean, despite having the opportunity to include some comedy and romance (to potentially mask the fact that the story may not have substance), it went straight to the point and gave you the explanations you needed then jumped into to action sequences - which didn't last for more than a third of the episode and had dialogue that added to the plot instead of reiterations of it. Surprisingly, it didn't keep you with the same set of main characters and didn't always follow the format of "discovery, investigation, interactions and fight sequence" which it had for a few episodes - instead you had some episodes dedicated to looking into the backgrounds of characters who had been established as the villains of this anime (who were anomalies in a few cases and no villains) and you had some episode revisiting previous aspects of the plot to further reflect on them.
On the other hand, the plot didn't avoid the many tropes you'd find within this kind of story. It had randomly included a female solider character with oversized boobs to constantly act as the ice breaker and to be the token strong woman character (which I see inserted into plots like this sometimes) - despite some of the other main characters being able to easily assume that role more tastefully. Her presence was mostly unnecessary, and her lines could have been given to a less flamboyant character that didn't need time invested in them to have some boob physics for an unrealistically massive pair of breasts - which are boldly displayed (while mostly uncovered) during serious dialogue.... It honestly ruined the vibe of the anime.
In addition, sometimes it felt like the plot didn't dig deep enough into the backgrounds of certain characters and missed opportunities to more comprehensively look into the mindset of villains. At times, there wasn't enough time spent in showing characters transition between different emotional states, so you would get stubborn and angry characters become submissive and calm in the next scene, which would break immersion. Also a lot of the lore of the setting wasn't explained at all or in depth, you were left to assume the setting was some 19th century industrial American cowboy setting, since that's all you could gather from the visuals. Though I do appreciate that unlike my experience with many anime of this genre, I wasn't subjected to a complicated explanation of the politics and factions and then expected to remember it, it spread out some of the explanations of politics and kept it simple - albeit too simple sometimes.
In terms of the voice acting and music, it was decent and was good enough to set the mood. The voices fit each characters and the music usually fit the scene. I can't say it did anything amazing, but it didn't have any flaws either in my opinion, so "good enough" is the best way to describe it. However the art was indeed above average, with MAPPA not resorting to using CGI for some of the action every scenes with a lot of movements, body transformations and lib distortion. The designs for uniforms, hair styles and the look of guns were well thought out and considered the setting well. The backgrounds were the usual mediocre stuff, so I can't give it much praise, but overall there was a decent amount of effort displayed through the character design, animation and presentation style - and it was definitely was not an anime filled with lazy and loose animation and character designs like some of it's counterparts.
So in conclusions, I think this anime isn't something to write home about, but it seems to also not be deserving of such low praise, when at best it was lacking certain things rather than being completely void of them - like character development. I feel like the above average art and animation, as well as it's consistent focus on a premise that is decent enough to enjoy and the fact that the execution was not too shallow, boring or filled with repetition - makes this a 7/10 at the very least to me. I say that as someone who was probably not the target audience for this anime - with me not being a huge fan of action fantasies and valuing dialogue heavy plot with character development over fight sequences. I managed to enjoy this series despite my preferences, and I think that's great.
The main problem with this anime is the annoying Nancy Schaal Bancroft she is one of the 2 most annoying anime characters ive ever seen in my life hate is a very strong word but i may have to use it on her.
She makes this anime so hard to watch she always unsure she following the protagonist or if hank is even the main protagonist around for unsure reasons.
The storyline is pretty good if you only thinking about hank side of the story and not listening to say unsure crap Nancy always talking about.
The action is really good actually very good if anything maybe
just watch clips somewhere of all the fight scenes its probably a better option.
During the seasonal line-up, sacred beast was an anime that quickly got my attention after a quick cursory glance of it's premise. Mainly due to it dealing with a civil war between between a Northern and Southern faction. Easily it was entirely reminiscent of the american civil war, even to the point that I thought it would actually be about that time period with a bit of magic sprinkled in. However that wouldn't be the case as it would instead take place in a fictional country of Patria that is inspired by 18th century America, although their civil war was more about magical resources rather
than about slaves and what not. Even then the show isn't about war itself but about the post-war reconstruction-esk era that followed after, with the war and time period serving as the narrative and aesthetic backdrop for the show. A show more focused on soldiers after the war who have become monsters both physically and mentally, and of a man who is yet to become one of them and is out for revenge.
The story can be separated into two different parts with one focusing on the soldier/monster hunting and the other on the main character, Hank seeking revenge against a friend who betrayed him. They aren’t clearly divided, but more so they are interwoven. The soldier hunting is rather episodic as it mostly has Hank try to track down his former comrades. Comrades who were once under his command due to their ability to turn into monstrous beings known as incarnates. Yet it is because of this ability that problems arise, because not only do they physically change into monsters but their mentality starts to change, as they end up being a danger to those around them. However before anything could be done about them, they all went their separate ways after the war, which in turn lead to their former commander going after them.
These were the more interesting parts of the show, mostly on it’s themes and ideas rather than the writing. Because even though the soldiers have become monster, to some capacity they still retain some human aspect of their former selves, for better or for worse. Since those human aspects become the core of the soldiers action when they are incarnates. Such as the cowardly soldier who made a super fortress to ward of enemies that would never come, or the righteous soldier who came back home and became an executioner against those who even made the most trivial of sin. It showcases how despite how similar they were to their previous selves their main ideas and beliefs have been monstrously skewed that they aren’t presented as mindless beasts, but victims trapped in their own demented minds. This in turn shines a light Hank’s motivation to hunt them down, not only to stop them from hurting others but to also give them some dignity to what bit of humanity they have left before he kills them.
In a sense the incarnates are like an analogue to war trauma. Of men who go into battle and become literal monsters and then become human outside of battle. Yet the more they fight, the more their monstrous form sticks with them outside of battle. And after the war is over and they all go back to their homes literally changed by the war and try to relive a normal life, but in the end they cannot as they inevitably start to mentally change as well and end up becoming a danger. It’s certainly stretching it in terms of meaning in this show but it’s there even if it’s not handled all that well. Especially considering how the only way to help them is via mercy killing even when taking into consideration its 18th century-esk time period.
However that is only one part of what the show is about as Hank is also hunting down a specific friend/comrade, Cain who betrayed him and what led to the events of the show as they are. Cain serves as the main antagonists so the show can have a more central focus and narrative pay out as the show continued on, instead of being episodic vignettes until there is no one left. The real shame is that despite wanting a more structured story, the end result is predictable, boring, and a disappointment from what had been presented before. Cain is the most basic foil there is as he is pretty much everything that hank isn’t even down to their monster forms being so predictable that it’s eye rolling. Even then as a foil there’s not much to write home about Cain because there’s not much to write about Hank. since so much of the episodes before were more focused on the characterization of the former soldiers that Hank didn’t have enough room to be properly fleshed out beyond the first couple of episodes. What is even more egregious is with Cain becoming the main focus, the other incarnates become less focused on and a good number of them become shafted as generic grunts.
The only other character worth mentioning is Schaal who serves as a sort of mediator between the audience and the story. She follows around Hank trying to see if his actions towards the other incarnates, such as her father, are justified. It all does come to a head by the second half as she develops more as a character but it really comes off as expected since that was what her character was about.
Everything else about the show can be passed of as serviceable. But the one thing worth noting is the fact that the story takes place in a pseudo-america setting. Because despite the fact that the maps look similar and that they sort of have similar events, there isn’t anything about the setting that captures the essence of the country. It has no identity and doesn’t bother even copying the identity of americana. Instead all there is left are non-descript villages and towns that are only slightly different from the non-descript villages and castle towns in a psudeo-European settings. The only interesting parallel it had was with Cain mustering the equivalent of southern redeemers against the equivalent of scalawags and carpetbaggers. but in the end that gets quickly shafted aside.
Sacred beast certainly wasn’t a show I expected much out of during it’s reveal. It came off looking more like derivative schlock, and while it did have that, it also had something more that made it interesting. It had somber stories of soldiers terribly affected by war meeting their end. Even Hanks journey for revenge against Cain had its moments. However there really wasn’t enough in terms of storytelling and characterization that made the show engaging or satisfying. Just enough that it can be a serviceable adaptation, that will only be forgotten a few seasons from now.
Out of all the complaints I could make about To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts, the most galling and unforgivable one is that there’s not technically anything wrong with it. It has a strong, memorable premise that lends itself to a lot of different possibilities. From that premise, it uses its fantastical elements to explore mature, interesting themes that all play into its larger point. The characters all have recognizable emotional arcs that take them from point A to point B through a series of logical beats. The story makes decent sense, without ever asking you to stretch your suspension of disbelief beyond the point of
no return. The animation is unremarkable, but generally solid and gets the job done. In all honestly, Sacred Beasts is probably the most outright “functional” anime series I watched in the summer of 2019. There’s nothing really you can point at and say, “This is bad filmmaking” or “This is indefensible storytelling.” And yet, every piece of it is also just uninspired enough, just pedestrian enough, that the overall impact is one of sinking into a thick, mealy porridge of mediocrity that just grows harder and harder to stomach as time goes on. I can’t remember the last time a basically “okay” show left me this angry and frustrated, this unmotivated to click the next episode button whenever Monday rolled around. That’s gotta be some sort of achievement, though even mentioning “achievement” in the same vicinity as this show feels like an insult to achievement.
The story, for what it’s worth, centers around the fictional nation of Patria, which is just recovering from a North vs South Civil War and trying to heal the broken bonds of its people (any references to the American Civil War are strictly aesthetic). For the most part, everyone seems to be doing a decent enough job picking up their lives and returning to some semblance of normalcy. But then there’s Hank Henriette, leader of the special “Incarnate” squad that helped win the war for the North. You see, in order to win the war, Hank and his teammates agreed to be the subject of scientific experiments that turned them into being called Incarnates, capable of transforming between their human forms and some manner of monster. Hank was a werewolf, one of his teammates was a siren, another was a gargoyle, yet another could become a giant rhinoceros dinosaur thing called a Behemoth, another could just turn into a straight-up dragon, you get the idea. They were incredibly powerful, and that power helped them turn the tide of war when it was needed most. But while the Incarnates certainly did their job well as half-man-half-monster Super Soldiers, their new forms stared weighing on their mental state, threatening to drive them mad as they lost themselves to their animalistic natures. So as the war drew to a close, they all made a vow to each other; should any one of them start losing their humanity, their companions would strike them down while they still had some semblance of dignity left.
Well, as you can imagine, things went belly up, one of the Incarnates turned traitor (though in all honesty, the fact that his name was literally Cain Madhouse should have rung all the alarm bells), and Hank was knocked out of commission for a good few months. When he recovered, the war was finally over, but all of his former companions were in the throes of beast madness, wandering the reformed country they once fought to save and tearing it apart in their wake. So in keeping with his oath, Hank sets out to bring his friends down, while pursuing the trail of the traitorous Cain in hopes of stopping him fro causing any more damage. Along the way, he enlists the aid of Schall Bancroft, the daughter of one of the Incarnates, who wishes to understand why her father and his companions need to be killed without hope of saving them. The stage is set for a series of episodic adventures focusing on Hank, Schall, and the occasional military assistance tracking down the incarnates, facing them in brutal beastman-on-beastman battles, and bringing closer to these war heroes who have become lost in a world without war, all while growing ever closer to Cain and his schemes.
See, if you knew nothing about this show but that premise, you’d probably be really excited to check it out. Because that sounds fucking awesome, right? A tragic, macho tale of veterans struggling with PTSD and trying to find their place in the world now that their combat prowess is nothing but a liability, punctuated by big, nasty action scenes with blood and fur flying everywhere? You’d be stupid to not at least give it three episodes. And like I said, there’s not really anything wrong with it on a foundational level. Each episode focuses on Hank and his crew chasing down a different Incarnate, and they all regularly have just enough of their humanity remaining to explore a different aspect of how war effects those who fight in it. One incarnate is so traumatized that he builds himself an increasingly impenetrable fortress to keep him safe from any potential harm. Another’s gone full gun nut xenophobe. Another used to be a doctor trying to save lives, but embraced slaughter when he realized that he was praised whether he saved people or killed people. And their inevitable deaths are all suitably poignant as they pass away with one last scrap of humanity intact, trying to make sense of where they went wrong and why the world they fought to protect no longer seems to have a place for them. There’s no real reason why Sacred Beasts shouldn’t have been good.
And yet, the more I watched, the more I came to hate it.
The problem is, while everything is basically functional and all that, nothing has any soul. Everything technically “works”, but nothing actually connects, because every piece is the least interesting version of itself possible while still not technically being “bad”. The animation isn’t really janky or awkward, but it’s blocky and stiff and ugly to look at, and most of the battles don’t have the cathartic oomph they need as a result. The one-off Incarnates all have understandable traumas, but with maybe a couples of exceptions they’re all laid on too thick and treacly to respect. The characters all make enough basic sense, but they’re all written so trite and paper-thin that they warm right back around to being annoying. Hank is a brooding bore, Cain is a one-dimensional cackling psychopath, there’s an arrogant military general who gets exactly the kind of story you’d expect him to get, and Schall is maybe the worst example of the generic “tough girl damsel” I’ve ever seen. Her only role is to whine and complain about how unforgiving Hank is to the Incarnates, preaching in a wobbly voice constantly on the verge of tears about how there must be some humanity left in them worth saving, and it’s all laid on so painfully, agonizingly thick that almost every time she was on screen I could feel my teeth grinding in aggravation. At least she gets more interesting and palatable once she undergoes her requisite “My innocence is lost and now I’m a stoic-ish badass too” arc in the back half of the series, but the damage is already done.
“Trite” really feels like the right word to sum up this show, now that I think about it. Sacred Beasts treats its story at a bare surface level, but it lays on the operatic melodrama so thick that the dissonance just ends up grating on you. The characters all emote explosively, the dialogue is designed for big, dramatic confrontations, the music is bombastic and tragic, but all the while the actual story they’re propping up hasn’t done nearly enough to justify even 10% of the sturm and drang. Everything is basic, everything is obvious, everything is lazy, and as a result, everything is dull, dull, dull. It does pick up a bit in the second half, with some battles and story turns that feel marginally more meaningful, but it’s not enough to wash off the frustration and exhaustion Sacred Beasts leaves you with. It also doesn’t help that this show’s got some of the most inopportune fanservice I’ve seen in a while (at least outside of Fire Force, but that’s a rant for another day). There’s an officer in the military whose entire purpose seems to be walking around with her massive tonhonkerabongos all but popping out of her half-unbuttoned jacket like someone out of Prison School, and the show always makes a gag out her at the worst possible time, killing whatever serious tone it was trying to build up. Here’s a thought: if you’re trying to write a grim, serious story about metaphorical PTSD and the tragedy of war, maybe save the “lol tig ol bitties” gags for another day.
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts isn’t the worst show ever, but it makes me angry in a way that most basically okay shows don’t. From such a great premise, from such solid storytelling, this show manages nothing but pasteboard mediocrity that unsuccessfully tries to pretend it’s anything better. It’s a limp piece of wet cardboard steadfastly refusing to be lit while proclaiming itself a raging fire regardless, and that dissonance only gets harder and harder to stomach the more I think about it. Themes with this much potential deserved more in-depth exploration, battles this conceptually cool deserved bigger impacts, and a title this kickass deserved a much better story to do it justice.
Oh...what a folly that is To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts. A show so niche that the audience it's hoping to fill (plus the audience it found) are quite opinionated upon it. Some find it bland, some find it neat, but overall it is definitely an acquired taste, where it lacks in one aspect (say the overarching story), the others (character development) tops it up in its place, making this show seemingly substantial. And I believe wholeheartedly that the 3/4-episode count doesn't work in this case, NOT AT ALL.
I remember walking into this show being a carbon copy of Fairy Gone (seeing that Spring rubbed my
wounds the wrong way), but as the series got more in touch with its characters, it was a (decent) watch, though I had to suffer being boring (yet again) due to misunderstanding about the world-building around its one-off characters from the get-go. Plus the original manga source was bare-bones when touched upon, and the anime DID actually gave “significant” backstories, so thumbs up to the scriptwriters who've thought of this first to expand the world based on the manga.
So with that understanding, this is not a show where the story holds up coherently, but it's meant to tell you a story about the lives of innocent humans who have been experimented into sacred beasts called the Incarnates: super soldiers who have lived and breathed the life of war, only to find themselves being injured badly to the point of death, and some Rintaro Okabe crazified scientist by the name of Elaine decided to give these people a new lease of life: a life of both being a human and a creepy-ass monster to the audience. And of course, as life is unfair, the antagonist (the Devil's Incarnate) Cain Madhouse tries to offer better lives onto the Incarnates who have been wrongly justified by the audience and give them another life of justice that is "rightfully" theirs. And of course, the MC Hank Henriette, whom used to be the captain of the Incarnates, set out on a journey rather, to eradicate his comrades of their beastly lives in order to save their souls of lost humanity.
As soon as you start watching this show, you'll notice right away that the plot doesn't help you settle into the scenario of the people involved, it's either that you'll be missing out or really give a pecking care for it. It's that bad having to start out the way it did. But wait, there's someone in the audience by the name of Nancy Schaal Bancroft, someone in relation to Hank due to her close kin also being an Incarnate and her undying wish to kill (but eventually save) Incarnates like Hank due to her hatred for them. But naturally with the human mind, it likes to play with our mindsets, and seeing her journey with Hank isn't so much placeholder once she understood his intention to free his comrades of such a ridden life. Due to the "Monster of the Week" interactions, we see most of Hank's comrades play the "Human vs. Beast" card thereafter, a card that they wished could be told to somebody out there to learn that as much as they helped settle their own nation from torrential war, they too are not the "be all, end all" result to a better climate of either humans or beasts having to be the last kind standing.
As for characterization, Hank was kinda nice, as it is for a big bad, white wolf Incarnate, he learns to take it all in stride, from the moment that is partner-in-aid Elaine was cut down from the get-go. It's just really a shame that he started out living a life that is dedication to his comrades, all of them being the same kind and resonating the same strength and lifeblood, to someone (Cain) close to them cutting the line and severing their only way to salvation, and Hank is the only one who could still deliver them hope in death and raised to new life, even with negativity rubbed down on his face. As someone who lived in bad conditions before, I empathize with Hank a lot as he tries to make clear about his motivation and his former comrades, who have their own goals as well. As they say, "the old is gone, the new has come". Keep on struggling and finding the ray of hope for another day.
And to think that I can screw the supporting cast aside, mainly Nancy, Liza Runecastle, the Coup de Grace army military team taking out the Incarnate "kingdom" aside, because as much as their convictions scream on-screen, what felt like iron was just close to a useless paperweight of strength. The problems with Nancy from the get-go, is that aside from what I've mentioned above, the other aspects of her being nothing but useless fodder sure compels me to write her off as such an obnoxious character, but as this series progresses, it redeems her heart of darkness into a heart of gold for Hank and the others fighting for a better cause, and that's characterization for you (I guess)? Plus the fact that Hank's comrades have each a one-off story to tell, it didn't resonate all that well, but that one message is repetitively clear: lives that are in need to rid the beast within them to be just like normal humans. What's worse is that as much as Captain Liza is a boobie monster, her fanservice really isn't needed, as much as she is a sensible aid to Hank and Nancy. The same can be said to the army military team (led by Cain's younger brother) whom solely exists as Nancy's former ambition to take down all Incarnates. Plus even Cain Madhouse and his supporting Incarnate mercenaries (which were once Hank's friends too) plus some manipulating others (to which the available story really isn't all that fleshed out) who are villains but actually not all that villainous.
And of course, knowing this with MAPPA at the helm, this isn't a show that can be talked about their prowess as well, keeping more on the safe side of things with decent animation quality in a dark, fantasy-esque military dramatic setting. Nevertheless, I'll give them props for handling such content that could be censored due to the horrific nature of the manga to anime adaptation on the small screen. "It was good while it lasted" is the best compliment I can only give to this show.
On the musical side of things, this is the 1st time I'm hearing Mafumafu's song, and I have to say, I kinda hated how awfully generic it sounded at first with the insanely screaming vocals that he was known for, but it grew on me and my final impressions are that it's decent at best. BUT, the ED was so well done musically, though the visuals were lacking, but getting the mood across was key, and it did. So...I'm gonna say that I loved the ED more than the OP, though now saying this too, the OST was severely lackluster.
If this got a follow-up Season 2 of sorts for continuation, it would be for the best as by now, the anime has only glanced the manga with whatever stories it could cook up, and considering that we've only touched the surface of the series. But of course, with time, I highly doubt that we'll be talking about this show even in future time to come. So with what MAPPA have had as their source to go on, they utilized it to the best of their abilities.
Otherwise, my pitch for this series is if you like some military drama to fuse with your compiling list of (seasonal) anime-only to watch, this is somewhat mediocre with more misses than hits. Just pass this up if this isn't your shtick.
Well... I can at least state that this was better then Fairy Gone. That's not really a good bar to surpass but it is a bar. To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts is one of those shows that has a lot of things going for it. A good animation studio, a solid premise and from the PVs, a way better version of what Fairy Gone was going for, but this looks a little less boring. Emphasis on 'little'.
The biggest problem for this show is apparent in the first episode in the series. It starts off mid-war where we see these 'sacred beasts' tackle an army fortress
and win it with ease. Our main character Hank Henriette (don't worry, the names got even stupider) is the commander of this squad and as we find out these humans can transform into the beasts and we get to know some of them in the first episode. In that same episode, we find out that the beasts can take over the humans minds and make them go rampant. After this, a whole bunch of stuff happens and the episode ends off with the war ending and Hank planning to kill his comrades after he is betrayed by a certain one.
This whole beginning episode is fine setup, but it runs into the same problems Fairy Gone has with it's initial premise. You have this cool idea with a cool world and you have this war with these awesome beasts creatures and you decide... to focus on what happens after it? This show is worse with it, because when we see Hank (or as I like to call him Hank-Hank the killing man) go on killing spree, they have to force flashbacks in because they didn't develop any of these soldiers until their premiere episode. It's a real detriment to the show and it's an important thing to get right.
The sad part is that the animation is actually solid for the majority of it. Yeah, it fairly standard, but MAPPA aren't being lazy with some of the shots either. The music is also fantastic since it's so easy to get hyped with it. It's not the best composition, but it does it's job of getting the viewer hyped (and the ED is really solid too).
Another big problem with the show is it's characters. Hank as a character is fine, but everyone else either lacks in interest. Schaal, who's supposed to be our secondary protagonist feels more like a minor character if anything else. She has 2 of the 12 episodes that's just her and yet she's overshadowed by a dumb twist and a way more interesting best, separately. They just do nothing to make her do anything interesting. You can tell the writing isn't the best when the penultimate episode has to remind you how close the main two characters are. Lisa and the dude that reminded me of the main character form Galactic Heroes barely add anything to the whole that is this show. However, the villains in this are something special man. Cain Fucking Madhouse (Yeah, his real last name is Withers, but he changed so his name is Madhouse to me) is a gem. He's an unorthodox dictator who is so quantifiably dumb that I can't comprehend. His companions include a demon loli and a dominatrix I believe (she does nothing, so who cares).
While the show can be fun when it goes stupid, especially towards the end, but it's overall just kinda boring. None of the episodes aren't very interesting and for the majority, I would just watch with usual sighs and blank staring. I could see people enjoying this, but not for me fully. I could watch a season two, but if it's more of the same then ill probably drop it.Did this show need this long of a review? No, but I decided to do that anyway.
Earlier this year there was an anime that came out called “Fairy Gone” which was largely panned by the anime community for one reason or another. Overall, it left a bad first impression on whoever watched it and word of mouth of its dreadful story spread through the community like wildfire. By this point you are probably wondering what does Fairy Gone have to do with To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts? Anime has existed long enough to the point where some begin to feel like copy cats or they have similar features. Almost like a sense of deja vu. MyAnimeList has a recommendations feature for
this very purpose. More often then not you will see these trends through the seasons. Because of this people will often love whatever came first and then write off whatever came after it as a cheap imitation. Or if the first one sucked then the person could just ignore the second one all together. By that way of thought, To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts is Fairy Gone’s copycat ripoff... or is it? (Warning: this review contains bad puns)
Story wise To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts has Fairy Gone best in that it is short, sweet, and to the point. It’s a simple story of revenge. The main character was wronged by the antagonist and then has to hunt him down along with his former comrades who are suffering from a terrible case of PTSD where they lose their minds and feel the need to go on murderous killing sprees. Rather than see his friends become monsters he decides to put an end to them while they are still human. To do this he basically has an exploding spear gun though most of the time he just hulks out into his beastly form. For as many times as he uses that form you would think it would take its toll and he would end up in the same state as his comrades but, he has this special power called being the main character.
As for the other characters there’s Cain Madhouse (yes that’s his real name) who I’m pretty sure is evil just for the sake of being evil who is being hunted down by the hero Hank White Fox (not his real name but he’s a white wolf so I think it should be and it would keep the studio trend going). Together they form the revenge crux of the story. A young woman tags along by the name of Ms Trigger (get it because she carries around a gun... I’m sorry I’ll stop now) who happens to look exactly like Hank’s former lover. And of course every anime needs a completely useless character for the audience to ogle at which ain’t a bad thing mind you. Oh and there’s this loli vampire because why not.
While it looks like I’m being harsh on this anime, I’m really not. It’s a straightforward actiony monster of the week type of show. It does nothing to offend nor does it do anything to wow. Art and animation is decent. I will give it some bonus points though for not making the beasts CGI. Both the OP and ED were a good listen and do not recommend skipping either if you do decide to check this out.
So, what’s the verdict then? Is this a Fairy Gone rip-off? Honestly, no. While Fairy Gone and To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts share a lot of similarities, fundamentally they differ in one key area. One knows what it is, and the other doesn’t. I know what it is. It’s an ok watch.
Well, what can I say about this anime? I would say, I was a bit disappointed with this one, based on the expectations I had for it before the season started. None the less, I don't think it was a horrible anime, just, for my money, got a bit repetitive? For a majority of the anime, it felt like things always played out roughly the same way in every episode, and because of this, I found there to be a lack of variety or eagerness in waiting for the next episode.
Story: I thought the story was okay. I think they started things off strong with
episode one, and had enough of a twist at the end of it, to make me excited for the next episode and beyond. However, after the first episode, the way things played out just seemed very stale after a while. Things got fairly predictable after a little while. Not to say I disliked it, I just didn't find myself yearning for the next episode every week.
Art: Honestly, I think the art was solid. Nothing insane, but, it got the job done. I think the character designs, and their incarnate forms, were all at least mildly interesting.
Sound: I absolutely loved the OP for this anime. I thought the voice acting was decent, and with the wide variety of incarnates, humans, weather elements, I thought they did an okay job with the sounds. From traversing a snow covered field, to walking through a stone dungeon, I didn't notice anything egregious as far as sounds went.
Character: I thought the character work was the most solid point of the show. I found myself enjoying the dynamic of Hank and Schaal. I found myself hating a certain character after the first episode. I also thought they did a good job of depicting the emotions that ran through Hank on his journey, as well as his fellow incarnates along the way. On several occasions I noticed myself feeling bad for the incarnates, I think this was because they did a decent job of portraying that they weren't necessarily evil, at least not on their own accord.
Enjoyment: Like I said in the story portion, I found myself losing enjoyment with this, because of the lack of variety between episodes. They always seemed to follow the same course, with the exception of some of the later episodes, for obvious reasons.
Overall, I give it a 7/10. Far from perfect, but was enjoyable to me none the less (for the most part). I will watch the second season of this, when/if they get around to it.
Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e is yet another disappointment of the season. Or perhaps it's not, since I never had any expectations to begin with.
The basic premise of the show is as follows: A war over territory and power is waged on a newly-found continent of Patria. The sides in this war are the North and The south. The North is losing, so they create a squad of mutant supersoldiers to turn the tides in their favor. And they do. But now the mutants, or as the show calls them "Incarnates" are losing their minds and are going berserk, so their former leader Hank
Henriette steps up to kill his former comrades.
Sounds interesting? Well, I got some bad news for you. The execution of this idea leaves a lot to be desired.
I'll start with the story, since it's already outlined previously. The show follows the Monster of The Week premise for the majority of the episodes. In each of them the MC finds, fights and kills one of the Incarnates, while Schaal, his frienemy, stands around and does nothing. Episodes lack substance, both visually and narratively. If you've seen one of them, you've seen them all. I can't stress enough how few surprises they actually pack. Will Hank kill that guy? Yes, he will. Will any other character do anything? No, they won't. It's like that for about 10 of the show's 12 episodes. The finale is underwhelming ever compared to the rest of the ordeal, cleary suggesting that there will be a sequel. Because of that it lacks any sense of resolution.
The protagonist Hank Henriette, who looks like someone's furry OC (don't steal) is the only one of them who actually does things. He kills all of the Incarnates, save for one (and even that is up to debate), he makes moral choices, he moves the story forward. He does so much, that this show could literally only have one character and nothing would've changed. That is not to say he's a good character. He's honestly decent. Compared to the rest of them, at least. Design-wise, his human form looks like your typical mid 2000s edgelord. You know the one. The coat-wearing, haircolor-changing, revolver-wielding sadboy, burdened with the loss of a loved one. I couldn't help but thinking that the authors were a decade late with this design.
The other protagonist is Schaal Bancroft. She's the worst character in this anime season, let alone this show. Throughout the show she does NOTHING. She is a daughter of one of Hank's pals he had killed earlier, so it's understandable that she despises him. Or should despise him. Upon meeting the MC she almost instantly forgets she's supposed to hate him, and follows him religeously instead, while sometimes saying that like "killing the incarnates is totally bad, maybe let's not do that?". And yet she does nothing to stop it. And when you think she's finally about to do something useful, syke, think again! Well, at least her design is nice, I'm really into it.
The others. I'm just gonna put the rest of the cast here, since they're equally useless, but not actively bad on their own. There's a big tiddy lieutenant and I think I have a pretty good idea of how she even got the rank in the first place. Outside of being a butt of most jokes, she does nothing. We never see her fight, and never even see her command the troops on the battlefield. Why does she even exist? Beats me.
Claude Withers, who is the main villian's younger brother, is yet another character only pretending to do something. And to be fair, a couple of times his actions led to some consequences. Not bad, concidering what show he's a part of. But most of the times he's led by the plot, and saved countless times by the one and only Main Character.
There are also two old dudes with mustaches, I can't differentiate between the two, so there's that.
Cain Mudhouse. Or maybe Madhouse, the sub isn't sure about that one. The antagonist of the story. He believes that the Incarnates have been had by the govt and in reality should be the ones who rule over the country. It's pretty standard stuff, but it makes sense. As a character, he's a mustache-twirling bad guy, with no redeeming qualities. If there's a puppy to kick, you can be sure he'll kick it. His abilities are (do not steal) teleporting behing you, exloding peoples's heads, mind control(?), turning into some kind of red mist, making copies of himself, being invincible, (except for when the MC hits him like really hard). He is utterly OP and yet we have no way of knowing the extent of it, making the fights lack any sort of weight, as the audience has no idea what is even capable of hurting him.
Sound. It's alright.
Animation. This is one of the ugliest shows of this season. The characters are often misshapen, they look like stickfigures when more than 5 feet away from the camera, sakuga is almost non-existent. The perspectives are often warped to the point that at certain times everything looks like it was drawn by a school kid. Not often, but it does happen. Oh, and the incarnates themselves look like they came out of a saturday morning cartoon, both design-wise and animation-wise.
So, is it worth watching? Hell no.
Is it worth watching ironically? Well, there's this one moment, when Schaal's father comes back from the war as a FUCKING DRAGON. She stares at him for maybe 5 seconds, he extends his claw to her, she touches it. And then she's instantly cool with the idea. Hell, she seems to be loving it. It was surreal. But outside of that one thing, this show's not even "so bad it's good". If anything, it's so bad it's bad.
I think it's an honest work. Well made and a lot of time were spent on it. The rate is little too low, even it's an isekai anime but not that type of what you usually expect.
The first episode is so great that it makes up for the damage that the 3. and 4. caused. That 2 was very meaningless.
As for the story, it's pritty cool. The problem is real and can be reflected to our sociaty.
The art is nice not that good but it's just like everyother in 2019.
Many charachters has high goal and they sacrafice everthing what gets in their way. So they
are not boeing at all. Maybe even the main ones have some interesting characteristic.
The opening is BEAUTIFUL, it's just so good, even this season had a lot more strong one aswell.
To keep everything in short and not to spoil anything, I can recommend To the abandoned sacred beast to anyone who is looking for some action, monster, adventure lovers.
I felt this anime had a ton of potential that it never lived up to, but let me preface with two confessions:
1. I watched this in the background while doing other things. It had about 65% of my attention. I did go back and rewatch parts if I was suddenly confused or lost. It didn't help. I don't know if this was a manga first (most are) and there was an assumption that we'd read it ... or what, but it was easy to get lost where it concerned character actions and motivations.
2. I didn't read the blurb about it before I started watching
it. I don't know if I would have watched it if I had. I felt that it started off fantastic. It was intense and unexpected and awesome. But because I hadn't read the synopsis, I felt it was misleading and was quickly disappointed when it changed direction.
***This review contains mild spoilers, nothing that you wouldn't figure out on your own after the third episode.***
Again, back to my first statement, this had a lot of potential that was never developed. The characters were static, each being more of an archetype than a full-blooded character. Yes, they gave snippets into the pasts of each incarnate, but not enough to make them sympathetic. The episodic nature made it difficult to get attached to anyone. That and [semi-spoiler], it quickly became apparent that the incarnate was going to die anyway so there wasn't any reason to get invested.
The archetypal natural of the incarnates and their motivations, including even the hero and the villain, ended up feeling petty and trite. It seemed this anime was trying to pose a philosophical question (I'll let you decide what that was), but it fell short. Or I'm just over this particular philosophical question because it's been done a lot. There's no answer for it and probably better ways to pose it.
Some character motivations were never explained at all and that was confusing and frustrating as well. In short, this was disappointing. It was episodic with not enough oomph to make me care about the characters and without that, I can't truly enjoy a story. It became just one battle of supernaturals after another. It was repetitive and predictable. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't really enjoyable either.