Mar 26, 2022
More accurately translated Fantasy Game Hunter, this show revolves around a virtual reality world that future Chinese citizens could plug themselves into via the BrainStation. It allows in-world purchases of food and other items that through some unknown mechanic allows the energy to be transferred to the body. In other words, it's not a game, it's a full-on double life. However, once in a while there are bad actors that use external plugins and viruses, and instead of engineers working around the clock, for reasons only the shounen audience could get around, they have a team of security agents that battle these unknown elements from
within the world interface -- the Fantasy Game Hunters.
The show starts with a team of said Fantasy Game Hunters who all have their own reasons for joining. Soon they uncover a conspiracy in which a number of people fell into permanent comas after plugging into a much rumored Brave Warriors Continent. In order to maintain public order, the Fantasy Game Hunters organization deleted all mention of it from the news cycle, transported all those affected into a secretive hospital, and hid all the related servers in a floor of the headquarters. Armed with nothing but a hunch that Brave Warriors Continent is actually a game, and the players would be released alive if only someone finished it, our team of heroes jump into the game themselves to release the fluct light -- wait, this isn't SAO, nevermind...
Actually, it's like the Chinese adaptation of SAO's Alicilization arc, maybe with a slightly more cohesive story and worse dramatization. I mean it doesn't try to explain the human soul with a bunch of nonsense technobabble, nor does it have any foreign military espionage chapters. What it does have is an organization that makes the borderline illegal decision of sending agents into a death trap without a plan.
Compared with the Underworld, Brave Warriors Continent seems to have simpler game mechanics, as in the leveling, class assignments, etc., are better defined, and there are no mysterious techniques that make Kirito over-powered for absolutely no reason. In fact, the characters, for all their talk and training in the real world, end up relatively weak in game. Given that there are 5 of them, and the show cuts between 3 of them every several episodes (forgetting the other 2 altogether), the pacing appears slow and unfocused. The characters are separated to several predetermined randomized starting locations that determine their races and class affinities, and they must each level up in order just to pass the test to leave the starting area.
Meanwhile, a laborious plot is already in motion, involving a dozen or so NPCs, 3 kingdoms, and a bunch of villains with boring motivations -- traits SAO fans might appreciate. The short episode lengths combined with the plot complexity, and the fact that the main protagonists are hardly there for the most of it just saps any dramatic tension. I appreciate that there are no random over-powered godlike accounts just lying around for randos to jump into -- the plot does make more sense than SAO. But it's still generic and lethargic.
Unfortunately, our protagonists barely advance in the first season, and like most donghua, the arcs aren't exactly planned ahead. So there's no semblance of an ending.
The graphics are 2D and the textures mostly plain, like a circa 2010 anime. The animation isn't great, with lots of still frames and still backgrounds. The music is the standard fantasy fare with no piece that stands out.
In other words, the show is pretty much mediocre all around. Maybe the hardcore VMMORPG fan could derive enjoyment from it, but I think it's skippable for most.
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