Souten Kouro's story is based loosely on the events taking place in Three Kingdoms period of China during the life of the last Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Cao Cao (155 – March 15, 220), who also serves as the main character.
The Three Kingdoms period has been a popular theme in Japanese manga for decades, but Souten Kouro differs greatly from most of the others on several points. One significant difference is its highly positive portrayal of its main character, Cao Cao, who is traditionally the antagonist in not only Japanese manga, but also most novel versions of the Three Kingdoms period, including the original 14th century version, Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. Another significant difference from others is that the storyline primarily uses the original historical account of the era, Records of Three Kingdoms by Chen Shou, as a reference rather than the aforementioned Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. By this, the traditional hero of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei, takes on relatively less importance within the story and is portrayed in a less positive light. Yet, several aspects of the story are in fact based on the novel version, including the employment of its original characters such as Diao Chan, as well as anachronistic weapons such as Guan Yu's Green Dragon Crescent Blade and Zhang Fei's Viper Blade.
A consistent theme throughout the story is Cao Cao's perpetual desire to break China and its people away from its old systems and ways of thinking and initiate a focus on pragmatism over empty ideals. This often puts him at odds with the prevalent customs and notions of Confucianism and those that support them.
Most adaptations of the Romance of Three Kingdoms portray Cao Cao as a power-hungry villain. Souten Kouro is a little different -- he is the hero in this version, and it makes for an interesting take on this ancient tale. The animation is really, really cheap at times but if you're willing to look past that, it's a great show.
The other thing that makes this show interesting is that it talks about a few things that most ROTK adaptations skip over or condense -- namely, Cao Cao's childhood, the fall of the Ten Attendants and the Yellow Turban Rebellion.
I wouldn't recommend this show as an
entry point into ROTK because it is very different from a typical adaptation of the novel -- see John Woo's live-action film Red Cliff and if you like that, give this show a shot.
If you dislike blood and graphic violence, do not watch Souten Kouro. If you demand fanservice, panty shots, etc. there are none to be found here. If you like historical dramas, this is a good show for you.
This anime is about as GAR as it is possible to be without breaking the fourth wall. (It doesn’t quite equal the manliness of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is so GAR that it defies reality, but it is completely serious about it.) If the viewer didn’t already know from the fact that it is derived from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the opening makes
it clear that this show is going to be about blood, death, and brotherhood.
Souten Kouro does not merely tell a Chinese tale; it tells a Chinese tale using some elements of Chinese storytelling techniques, mixed with modern film techniques. (At one point, there is even a lens flare!) Thus the show has a different feel from the average anime, even from the average shounen series. Music is stirring and suitably grand, and timed to match dramatic moments.
There is a fair amount of violence and brutality, along with social critique, the main purpose of which is to explain the main character Sousou. It presents his mindset, long vilified in literature, as a reasonable product of the times and certain formative experiences. Overall, Sousou is treated with great sympathy in this work, a fact which is sure to cause controversy.
Based off Luo Guanzhong's 14th century Romance of the 3 kingdom novel, which is considered one of the 'Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature', it's one of the most well known and most adapted stories in China.
If you've seen John Woo's Red Cliff, played Dynasty Warriors, or any of Koei's ROTK games and enjoyed them, i'm sure you'll be familiar with the character names in the description, but just in case you missed it, well, now you know. This is ROTK, and you will most likely also be interested in this. Not much more else to say really, it's one of the most
well loved and known stories of all time. I'm not too sure how far they will go with the story, but i really don't think they will do the whole thing in 26 episodes, seeing as i'm 9 episodes in and it's not even a quarter of the story told, and it is already moving quite fast. Time will tell i guess.
Overall high quality and unique style. I was kind of put off the first few episodes and i thought it didn't look realistic enough for such a historical title, but i got used to it soon enough and now i think that it lends itself quite well and fits the tone of the series, considering that some of the battles and scenes are especially over done to be epic and grand.
As of episode 9, fight scenes have been relatively realistic, especially when showing epic war battles with thousands of soldiers. Formations, tactics, strategies from Sun Tzu's Art Of War are all discussed and shown. Catapults, castle sieges, are all done well, with no ridiculous super powered individuals like in Sengoku Basara. If that's what you are looking for mainly, i suggest you go somewhere else. One major gripe i have is with the way they depicted Liu Bei, but i might be biased since i already have a pre-conception of how i think he should look. Also, one character in episode 9(where i'm up to) has shown signs of static electricity circling his body when he made an entrance, and i hope that that is the most 'shounen' it's going to get. I don't mind that so much because that character is meant to be powerful, and i guess that it's just artistic license since no one else so far is like that, but if it does change into a shounen wankfest, i will update this review to reflect it. Also, on the MAL page, it says R rated - Mild Nudity, but be warned. There is also quite graphic violence and plenty of blood flowing, as is to be expected.
OP: Screamo rock/metal, which i think is ok even if that is not my cup of tea, it suits the animation well.
ED: Some feel good pop song played over floating clouds, otherwise nothing memorable.
VA is fine, and music/score suits the battles and tense moments well.
Character: Based on real life figures, they are all heroes and based on larger than life figures. In fact, one of them is actually defied and worshipped as a god/deity in Chinese folk 'religion'(the main 'religion'), even in this day and age. Every chinese person would know this character. However, as of episode 9, it seems to focus more on one character, while it neglects the other two(or at least, for the moment). Also, i do not like how they portrayed Liu Bei, so purists be warned. Otherwise there is a huge diverse range of characters who all contribute in some important way or other to the story.
Enjoyment: What else can i say? If you can't tell by now, i'm a ROTK fan, and i'm also a historical swordfighting/samurai buff, and i also love fantasy. This combines them all into one neat package.
Overall: I would like to give it a 10 based on enjoyment alone, but i do have some minor gripes with it, and that is that it moves quite fast and is kind of hard to understand the story even knowing the story prior to watching since they gloss over some relatively important characters, and that the first few episodes were kind of slow, which might put some viewers off and make them not want to give this awesome series a chance. I think it really starts to pick up after episode 5/6 after it has done the basic character development, it moves into fast pace action epic mode.. If you enjoyed Legend of Galactic heroes like someone said in the recommendations, you would probably also enjoy this. This has more fights and is more violent, but both use quite a bit of narration and voiceover to keep you up to date with the current happenings, which is quite understandable to tell a story of this magnitude in just 26 measly episodes compared to 100+ for LOGH.
Considering how cliche and unoriginal Sengoku Basara is, i'm really disappointed that not more people are following this anime, and that is has such a low rating. I guess it's the same way for LOGH however, which is a damn shame since this is one of the best series currently running.
Ah, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is truly one of the classics of Chinese literature. It is an amazing story of war, bloodshed and honor. However, Souten Kouro seems to take this classic and make it much more uninteresting than it truly is. It stars Cao Cao, often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, as the hero of the story. After watching the first 11 episodes of the series, I truly know what the Chinese idiom "speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao comes," truly means.
MAY CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS
Story: The story begins with Cao Cao's early life. The story itself generally follows the
time-line of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but takes on a different tactic of telling the story. An example I would like to use would be the Alliance against Dong Zhou. The anime follows history precisely but throws on a handful of encounters that aren't 100% historical. It is true that Cao Cao refuses to become Dong Zhou's right hand man, but in no way does history point out that he does it in such an articulate way. The story makes Cao Cao reign supreme, while throwing Lui Bei in the background as the "villain" of the Three Kingdoms period.
Art: The artwork was very unimpressive. It was more like the manga was reproduced EXACTLY how it looks. They did not any special animation to the anime. When armies were slain, you'd only see blood splurting out of them, and no indication of how they were even cut. Surely production value could not have been so low for a manga that won the 22nd (22nd award every given to a manga, not 22nd place) Kodansha Manga Award in the general category?
Sound: Beautiful is the only word I can think of to describe the sound of the anime. The music was incredible and fit each situation to the fullest. Mind you, the OP and ED are not amazing, but the soundtrack during the fights, and during every scene were astounding. The music is memorable and that to me, is what really saved this anime.
Character: The characters were not very developed in the anime but what can you expect? It is based more on the history of the Three Kingdoms period than it is on Romance of Three Kingdoms. I will however give an honorable mention to Cao Cao's character portrayal. Throughout the anime, you can feel his character slipping slowly into the tyrannical warmonger we all know and love.
Enjoyment: I did enjoy this anime to a certain extent and I would have given it a 7 over the 5 because of it but the story itself progressed in a way that was a little boring. Mind you, if you love Chinese politics and the era of the Three Kingdoms in general, you'll want to watch this anime despite any review you see. However, it was not my cup of tea, and I lost interest very quickly.