Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is one tough anime to review. I started watching it without having seen the first season (I probably should have done that, but in the end I felt like I was able to understand the story without it) and had some mixed feelings while watching it. Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is an anime that starts out as a slice of life and fantasy type of anime and ends as an action and drama type. I'm having a hard time deciding if that was a good thing since it made it good in some areas, but bad in others. As stated before ... I have mixed feelings about this anime, and I will now try to share those with you.
Utawarerumono starts out with an extremely slow pace, extremely slow. Almost nothing happens for more than 10 episodes. The slow pacing is good in the sense that it introduces us to the characters and the world of Utawarerumono. The first few episodes are extremely relaxing to watch and easy to understand. As time goes on we gets introduced to character after character, that all gather around the main character. I can see why they all gather around him, I think he's a likeable guy with his casual lazy-type of personality. The characters around him get a fair bit of development considering how many there are. Too many for me to be able to count, and maybe not even remember. They each have some unique traits which make them avoid getting absolutely forgotten. But the side characters are too many to be able to genuinely contribute to the story, which is a shame since they also were likeable. All in all, the anime does a good job at introducing us to all these different characters, and sets us up for a promising ride.
After the characters have all been introduced you would think that the story would start progressing, but that is not the case. After the characters have been introduced and developed, either nothing happens, or even more characters get introduced to even more characters. The middle of the anime, after the characters have been introduced and before the all the action, the anime turns stale and a bit boring. Maybe it was to fill more episodes, but it doesn't work out very well. These episodes are just a composition of random events that does not progress the story at all. The episodes contain some sort of action, but it's badly executed with the characters fighting armies by taking on usually 1, rarely 2 or 3, opponents at a time. The different action segments are boring and meaningless since it does not progress the story nor offer very much to the viewer. It's a shame that the good build up was ruined by this sudden stop of progress.
Since the story of the anime stopped progressing, I had little hope that it would turn out good, or even decent. But at the end of the anime something finally happens, and it's actually something good and exciting. Since we get to spend so much time with the characters doing nothing, we are very likely to sympathise with them. When the story starts to unfold, we get to follow developed characters trough their adventures. This is great because we actually have feelings for these characters. Maybe not only good feelings, but we actually know these characters. The political twist (maybe not a twist if you've seen the first season) was nicely presented and executed. The power struggle was both fun and exciting to watch. The ending to this anime is great. It's bittersweet and definitely leaves an impact.
The animation of this anime is pretty good. It has a nice natural style which fits in nicely with the medieval type of universe. The background is detailed but at the same time it doesn't stand out too much. A fault with the animation is that it sometimes comes of as being lazily done. Mainly action scenes have too little going on. For example when armies are fighting, only a few people are fighting at a time. This makes the fights come of as unrealistic and genuinely bad.
The sound is not something that really stood out to me, all the openings and ending where decent, but not great. The soundtrack was also nothing that really stood out to me. Most voice actors where pretty good and the majority of the characters did a good job at impersonating their character.
I enjoyed some parts of Utawarerumono, especially the start and end to it. But the middle of the anime just felt stale and boring. All in all Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is an okay anime. Would I recommend it? I would if you like slow build up, a medieval type of universe and animation and/ or political disputes.