Legends speak of a show that is considered to be one of, if not the absolute worst show of 2015. A show with such incompetent direction and CGI that frame rates slow down in the very first scene. A show with such uninteresting characters that their deaths are a loss to no one in the audience. A show so edgy and poorly written that it can only cause "darkness-induced apathy".
You know what they say about legends. There's always some truth to them.
*Spoilers for Chaos Dragon*
When you hear about an adaptation of a gaming session involving the likes of Gen Urobuchi of Fate/Zero and Psycho-Pass, Kinoko Nasu of the Nasuverse (Fate/Stay Night franchise, Shiki + Melty Blood, Kara no Kyoukai), and others, you can't help but wonder how the hell it'll turn out. It's based on a game session but it's a session from rather popular figures in the realm of anime, even if they're not Hideaki Anno. Unfortunately, the writer and the studio ducked up beyond belief and managed to ruin most of the fun that could've come out of something like that, even if there was nothing necessarily indicating that this anime would be good. Its status is almost legendary as one of the worst of 2015 and even the decade, with more people having seen it and calling it shit than Mars of Destruction, even if it's not as popular in its awful reputation as say, Big Order. So, what happened here? Well, let's find out, shall we?
In some island, Nii Kamui is overtaken by D'Natia and Kouran, and the king's son is in an orphanage, but then after people die, he ends up finding this relic that somehow gives him the ability to subconsciously communicate with Red Dragon (because fuck creativity in dragon names). He also gains a really stupid curse: every time he wants to use dragon power, he must kill someone he has a deep connection with and use that soul to eradicate someone else. I needn't mention why such a power is stupid and only there for needless drama, especially since it makes it so that the MC (Ibuki) is always whining about "I love my friends and I won't kill any of them". Seriously, when Fairy Tail is more subtle about friendship, we have a problem here, and Fairy Tail is synonymous with "friendship trumps all". In fact, people have random curses as they're born, like Sweallow's which make him break any tool he touches, except that by the anime's logic, walls and ships are also tools (because while the power wasn't stupid enough, they're basically calling literally every single object a tool, except somehow for his clothes because fuck consistency). I'll touch in what pisses me off the most about the powers later. Also, there are apparently 7 dragons (one for each kingdom I suppose) but we only see two of them: Red Dragon and Black Dragon, which are for Nii Kamui and D'Natia. We don't even see the one for Kouran, or any of the other dragons.
So, an ever-expanding group of flat, poorly-written, and unlikeable assholes (sans a few that only fit the first two categories) join up on an expedition and while the MC wants to find and reason with the now maddened Red Dragon, everyone else (sans two members) wants to kill Red Dragon, which could've created conflict on its own between some of the members of this anime knew how to manage them. They also throw magic into the mix but the only time weever see magic that has a magic circle to clue us into the fact that it's supposed to be magic (since nothing is ever directly classified as such) is when one imperial from Kouran creates a poorly edited blockade. Before you try to classify those soul-sucking weapons (like the one Koukaku has in episodes 1 and 2 if you remember her, or the sentient one that Lou has) as magic weapons, it's never directly stated or even hinted at. Then zombies, or rather "returned ones" show up,and where we get another issue that compounds itself the longer the anime runs. The start off as literal zombies minus the brain eating, but then one of the people Ibuki killed is conscious and able to speak (somewhat), and by the end, the final antagonist is also a returned one but with full consciousness and personality as well as a complete ability to speak as well as she did before, and we never know why.
Characters often make really stupid decisions, like one character actually stabbing himself, gouging his eyes out (or stabbing them with his fingers), and pretending to be a returned one just to get Ibuki to sacrifice him for the dragon since only loved ones and close friends can be sacrificed. Now, this is stupid enough but the part that makes this especially stupid is the fact that he and the main character hardly know each other or have any semblance of a bond, which is mandatory. As you could guess, that plan obviously backfired (since it honestly would've been beyond stupid, even by Chaod Dragon standards to let the sacrifice work). When one f the characters is clearly dying and having a hard time escaping rubble while the final antagonist is causing havoc, Ibuki doesn't let her sacrifice herself, and while ultimately it wouldn't have worked since Red Dragon is under the villain's control, he didn't know that at the time and it just seemed like a lazy way to have justified his idiotic behavior her can't even count as properly sentimental. If he was told earlier that this power wouldn't work for a while or if he tried it and failed which should make his friend live a while longer, then it would've been acceptable. Also, when he tried to say that that same friend shouldn't just be a sword for him as she's asking him if she is his to use (since she really wanted that), he frames it ina way that shits her down horribly rather than what he intended (that she shouldn't think herself of just a sword but more of a closed friend), and unlike say, Lelouch, who often words things poorly on purpose to either take blame or turn people against him, here, Ibuki just fucked up, which is emphasized by the fact that he manages to actually say it right in the finale episode.
After a quick journey that could've been used to flesh it the characters, see then develop a bond of camaraderie with each other (but you know, that's what a good anime would do), it turns out that Ibuki's sister was alive the whole time. Yeah, remember the part where his family died and Nii Kamui was taken over and Red Dragon went insane, all before this expedition started? No? They only went through it every single episode after one scene in the beginning! Give other anime like Bakugan and Fairy Tail some credit; they do it at the very beginning before any OP or scene has a chance to occur rather than shoving a scene beforehand. But yeah, she survived and neither she nor Ibuki were reunited in 3 years since nobody had the bright idea to look, but that might be the leader, Agito's fault, seeing as he wanted someone to kill her after she made Red Dragon go crazy. Then again, seeing as how that required someone to have a contract with Red Dragon and assemble a team to stop her, why wasn't it done earlier? Oh yeah, because they died since instead of assembling a team to stop her, he wastes their time by making them go the volcano where Red Dragon was. He makes the current group do the same thing too, and D'Natia sends their weakest imperial warrior first and only two more powerful soldiers way later since while they went to kill Red Dragon, I guess they're a bit lazy or something. Also, yeah, that sister is the main villain and she revived the first person Ibuki sacrificed; his love interest, and she dies a lot until she dies for good.
Before we get onto the topic of the paragraph's discussion, the reason Ibuki's sister, Inori, can revive her is because she has another artifact of Red Dragon, by this one revives people. Now, remember those curses? Well, apparently, the one Swaellow has is supposed to be part of this bullshit Aesop meant to say that it's human nature to shatter things like object or connections but that new ones are often formed in its place and that he should stay with this power. My response: "Oh, FUCK YOU, ANIME!! You and your bullshit and inconsistently written curse BS that basically ruined a major character's life since childhood was to teach him an Aesop of human nature?! Fuck you, fuck whatever gave him the curse, fuck Black Dragon for not lifting it, fuck Swaellow for being a fucking moron and sticking with it, and fuck the writer for doing this bullshit!" Oh, I still stick by that. It's beyond retarded. Also, after more nonsense and generic trash stuff and one of the characters betraying some of her allies, Ibuki kills his sister and she's revived and Ibuki becomes king. Also, Lou, the one who killed some of the other expedition members, gains that other artifact and then she walks off. The end. Of course I can't really hit every oddity in the series' writing, like Lou's badly done and borderline blatantly telegraphed heel turn, or like god when Swaellow's attendant blocks an object she shot out, it manages to hit him anyway despite the fact that he is literally behind his attendant who blocked the shot. Ether way, this is mkre than enough to really show how awful the writing of this show is. Now, for those bad characters I mentioned earlier.
To return to the cesspool of blithering idiots known as the characters, let's start with Ibuki. This brat is one of the most infuriatingly whiny protagonists I've ever talked about so far. He always whines about losing and not wanting to lose people he cares about due to his new power, but he never thinks to use his sword regularly and train so that he can actually defend people with his regular skills so that he doesn't have to get to the point of needing to sacrifice them to kill an enemy. It's not excusable by the fact that he is a child because even then, children would've often tried to get stronger so that this never would've happened, or he just would've ran, and he doesn't do either. He just whines the whole time but never actually tries to do anything to improve his situation so that what he fears may never happen again.
Eiha is beyond insistent on dying for this loser, and for no good reason. Her bodyguard devotion to him is her only real trait aside from being discriminated against for being a "bounded one" or one attached to a beast. Lou is easily the least terrible and one that could've been potentially amazing, but her personality is basically "attractively creepy and badass" while having a truly terribly done heel turn. It's probably a coincidence that the best character was made up by Gen Urobuchi. Sweallow (who looks strikingly similar to Gunvolt from the Azure Striker Gunvolt games) is a complete idiot who happens to have that awful curse and still be a badass, but that's his whole character. His attendant (Meryl) is an infuriating character who basically derides him at every turn and hits him, almost like a trash tsundere. Everyone else is either just one-note and barely there so they're not worth mentioning (like Koukaku and Ulrica), or are just idiots who deserve to die (like Kai and Hien), so the only one left to really mention aside from the shitbag 1D dragons is the final antagonist, Inori. God, what a butch. I get that kids can be terrible to each other and to authority sometimes, but they wrote her character to be so unrealistically deplorable and incestuous that it's quite frankly pathetic and downright edgy. All she does is do things for her brother or just be a total monster, and not even the entertainingly evil kind either. I don't feel like anyone else is even worth a paltry sentence of mentioning, so I'll just leave it here. What a shit show of a cast.
Let's start with the character art. It looks like a weird, failed attempt to capture the art-style found in Studio Ufotable's adaptation of Fate/Zero and Unlimited Blade Works. Given that this isn't Ufotable, I'm right; it was done by Studio Connect and Studio Silver Link, the latter of which is mainly known for a few popular, if somewhat divisive titles like Chivalry of a Failed Knight, and WataMote. Then, we have the animation, which often looks like an animatic rather than animation given the number of frames that tend to be missing from many movements more advanced than walking. The choreography is awful too, especially in the early episodes. It sometimes becomes painfully obvious as to which scene was done by a different studio like in episodes 7 and 10 looking different in lighting and feel (as well as the wildly inconsistent sizes of Meryl's freckles). The characters often don't feel like they're connecting with the ground properly, especially when they end up rolling around via knockback, and it's rare when an anime gives off this vibe. Overall, actual animation is pretty poor at worst and mediocre at best, especially with the occasional reused footage which I thought died out this day and age, at least until two years later with a certain title that shall not be named
The CGI here is some of the absolute worst that I've seen in anime. Let's start with the goddamn Red Dragon. He looks like an animated version of some kid's over-designed action figure, and at times, they give him the ability to static out of existence. Every bit of movement has different frame rates as well, and it looks beyond ugly. You can apply a lot of this to Black Dragon as well. It's all hideous to look at, and the tentacle monsters summoned at episode 10 not only look terrible but when they die, they disappear into weird purple hoop CGI that fails miserably at being blood. Some backgrounds are literal live stock footage too, though that's surprisingly hard to notice. Still, it's unacceptable in any circumstances in today's time, or even two years ago when it came out. The CGI beetle-ship in the finale isn't any better. Hell, scene one of episodes 1 and 12 (since it's a repeat of the very first scene in episode 1) has a fugly ass CGI castle with abominable frame rate, and brings up memories I'd rather forget.
The OP, "ISOtone" by Natsumi Kon, is literally the only remotely noteworthy piece of music in this entire damn OST, and it's an alright OP. The ED isn't worth mentioning. Neither is the rest of this goddamn OST with how generic and forgettable it is. Worse yet, some of them can be repeated at nauseam, like the piano piece in episode 8 being repeated 4 times in that same episode. As for the dub, it's rather mediocre as well, and I cannot believe that they wasted Lanipator on this piece of crap show. Even Tia Ballard can't save this with how little her character appears, though it's not like these guys were doing that bad. It's just lame overall and the character models don't even feel like they work with the dub all that much. Also, some of these sound effects are goddamn awful, like with blood splatter sounding like when you get crushed and splattered in Happy Wheels.
This is easily one of the worst anime I've seen to date. It's not even memorably bad either; it's one of the most forgettable anime I've ever given such a negative rating to. It's terribly animated, the script is a mess, the characters are bland and/or idiotic, the CGI is fugly as hell, and nothing about this show is actually good; maybe a few things that are decent at best, but certainly not good. People were right in calling this dreck one of the worst anime of 2015. Well, with that said, I bid you adieu.