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Juuni Taisen – 01

「猪も七代目には豚になる」 (Inoshishi mo nana daime ni wa buta ni naru)
“Even Boars May Become Pigs After Seven Generations”

Picture this: You have an array of characters inspired by ancient lore tied to a death game where only one can walk home victorious. The winner gets the serum to a fatal poison they ingest at the beginning and one wish granted by a nefarious looking man. Sounds familiar, right? Well, how about all of this, except it’s written by NisiOisiN, the author of the Monogatari series and Katanagatari? Now you have Juuni Taisen!

As of the first episode, it doesn’t overtly resemble his other body of work. You’d be able to find shades of his clever writing peppered throughout the episode like the musclebound bunnyboy Usagi (Okamoto Nobuhiko) vehemently denying he’s responsible for the beheading of a contestant while he waves his bloody sword around, or how Usagi’s enthusiasm to join the pacifist group that Shuryuu (Hayami Saori) the Monkey proposes effectively discourages other contestants for wanting to join. Nonetheless, you’ll find that the first episode of Juuni Taisen has a lot more fun reveling in the violence, blood, and mayhem that is to be expected of a death game show.

On a visual front, the episode was effective in balancing out 2D and CGI with flying colors. Although some of the action uses 3D to render the physicality of the characters and their weapons, it all blends in so well that it never looks jarring or garish. It’s also a plus that they animate character movements smoothly while they use 2D. While the character designs of the anime don’t capture the unique qualities of the original LN illustrator Nakamura Hikaru of Arakawa Under the Bridge fame, the animation helps breathe life into their motion and actions as we are formerly introduced to the 12 characters, each representing a different animal of the Chinese zodiac.

A majority of this episode is told from the perspective of Inoushishi (Hikasa Yoko), but we learn so much about her within the span of the episode that it raised some strong death flags her way. Over the span of the episode’s time, we witness her backstory on why she became the contest’s representation of the Boar. Seeing her one-sided rivalry with her younger sister unfold as she encourages her to become addicted to murder as revenge for being chosen as the original Boar painted her an interesting choice for an unlikely villain protagonist. Even with her sister carrying around fox corpses, I couldn’t help but feel bad that she was far gone by the time she was coerced by her sister to fuel her desire to kill everything around her.

Though the competitive roughness of Inoushishi’s upbringing molded her into being tough and unsympathetic, her perspective also raises questions about what she knows about the other contestants. She has a high level of respect for veteran Ram Hitsujii (Cho) and Ushii (Umehara Yuuichirou), the Ox who is the favorite to win. She also has an unexplained contempt for Shuryuu and an unknown link to Nezumi (Horie Shun) the Rat. The plot enjoyed teasing us about why Nezumi and his voice are so familiar to Inoushishi, but the lack of details guarantee that we’ll learn why eventually.

That’s why it still came as a shock that she was fatally wounded so quickly when Usagi resurrected the corpse of the Snake to restrain her as he stabs her in the chest. Many viewers are already writing her off as dead, and from the looks of it, this just might be the end of the Boar. Glaring death flags aside, the mystery behind her familiarity with Nezumi lead me to second guess whether they were going through her backstory so quickly because they were going to kill her off or if they wanted us to get used to following her until she discovers who he is. If this really is the last we see of Inoushishi, we might just have to learn about her secrets from other characters.

As a result, this would be a great chance to shift points of view from episode to episode to keep things unpredictable as far as who is going to walk away with the victory. The standard death game anime tends to have the main character pre-designated as the victor, or at least the one to dissolve the game, but without a sole focus, it gives Juuni Taisen the golden opportunity to keep viewers completely in the dark about who’s perspective to latch onto. And if every character is as morally flawed as Inoushishi, it also begs to question which contestant would the audience be better off watching win? If someone must win, would there be anyone to really cheer for if they all have closets full of skeletons? What would a death game be like if there wasn’t a blank slate character who has their heart in the right place, and stands for positivity? Would we look at Fate/Stay Night or Battle Royale differently if there we didn’t follow someone who stood as the moral center of what the audience thinks about all the murder and carnage? Fate/Zero plays around with this premise, but Juuni Taisen is in just the right position to pull the wool over viewers’ eyes on who the winner will be, and who we want the winner to be. Usagi is growing on a large amount of viewers for his unusual personality and buff scantily clad appearance, but these contests often favor level-headed characters like Ushii. Shuryuu was the first person to call for pacifism which is usually either the traits of an MC or the first few to be eliminated, but it’s likely that she was planning a ruse given Inoushishi’s distaste. This could be a show where Inoushishi will either be saved and recover at the last minute, or be quickly disemboweled by Usagi. It could even be someone completely off our radar or visually unpleasing. The biggest pull of the series is in how unclearly defined details are at this point for a genre where the characters we’re supposed to love and hate are spelled out for us right away. There are many reasons you’d enjoy Juuni Taisen, but that alone will make the anime fascinating to follow up on weekly to see what they reveal next.

OP Sequence

OP: 「ラプチャー」 (Rupture) by Panorama Panama Town

Preview

October 4, 2017 at 8:45 am
32 comments »
  • October 4, 2017 at 8:55 amsosbrigade1991

    • October 4, 2017 at 10:24 amzztop

      The Killer Rabbit from Monty Python & the Holy Grail got one hell of an image upgrade.

    • October 4, 2017 at 1:01 pmSDFGS

      Why am I not surprised that the majority of art on pixiv for this show revolves around the rabbit?

    • October 4, 2017 at 1:27 pmChoya

      Juuni Taisen: Come for the violence, stay for the semi-nude bunnyboy

    • October 4, 2017 at 4:45 pmSouma

      Because bunny girls is to mainstream.

    • October 5, 2017 at 1:42 amSherrisLok

      Tokyo Ghoul?!

  • October 4, 2017 at 10:01 amzztop

    I’ve heard the source novel’s POV switches between each of the contestants. Plus it’s just 1 volume.

    • October 4, 2017 at 1:28 pmChoya

      That should be neat considering that it tells the story from different angles, and because it’s meant to be one self-contained novel, there shouldn’t be any details they’d leave out or put on-hold for later.

  • October 4, 2017 at 11:24 amKabble

    Good to know the Devil may be working hard, but Kaneki Ken is working harder…in a fresh set of heels

  • October 4, 2017 at 11:59 amLyfe

    They’d never kill off the protagonist in shows like these, which takes away some of the excitement. That and the anime is only a small snapshot of the manga or light novel(If it’s not an original work, in this case its a LN adaptation).

    I’d take a Fate like series with the main character dying horribly at some point before the finale and the bad guys fighting it out between them. It wouldn’t be a good end, but it’d be an unexpectedly cool one.

  • October 4, 2017 at 1:51 pmLittle Tangerine

    I just feel really bad for the snake guy.
    And all those born in the year of the snake who wanted to see what their zodiac character would be like.

    • October 4, 2017 at 4:28 pmChoya

      The poor snake dude never got ahead to the start of the game

      • October 6, 2017 at 8:15 amSherrisLok

        He should have been more headstrong.

  • October 4, 2017 at 2:01 pmValhern

    @Choya in accordance with the official sources, and magazines here in Japon, the main character is ”Nezumi”

    http://randomc.net/image/Juuni%20Taisen/Juuni%20Taisen%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2029.jpg

    • October 4, 2017 at 2:28 pmSeya-san

      I hope it is not a girl.

  • October 4, 2017 at 3:18 pmTrexler

    Before the contest offically began, it’s like she had dead flags written all over her. The level of hubris was certainly high to foresee her meeting her demise very quickly, too late in my book. I was thinking she was going to get injured or possibly die somehow during the Introductory session.

    Personally, I might be in the minority here, I just didn’t think Boar looked combat ready, from the wardrobe attire, weapon choice, gait etc only thing was her being very much aware of her opponents.

    Then again she might pull one heck of a Jon Snow comeback.

    • October 5, 2017 at 7:47 amChoya

      Part of me thinks that it won’t be the end for Boar, but they gave us so much details about her life within the first episode that it seemed obvious that they got everything out of the way so that they wouldn’t leave out anything in her past before they kill her off. I didn’t think she would be killed by example like the guy whose necklace exploded during the demonstration video in Battle Royale, but I didn’t think she would’ve made it out of her first fight with that much backstory revealed.

    • October 5, 2017 at 8:46 amEnan84

      Your spot on! Some details indicated that she has not been combat ready e.g. her father advised her to always keep an arm free in order to fend surprise attacks off, yet she fought this way:

      http://randomc.net/image/Juuni%20Taisen/Juuni%20Taisen%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2033.jpg

      She kept staying at the centre of the room. Very bad idea. Finally she was the very last one to react on the collapse.

  • October 4, 2017 at 4:11 pmMaou

    http://randomc.net/image/Juuni%20Taisen/Juuni%20Taisen%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2002.jpg

    She’s reminds me of the boss from mgs3:snake eater haha…blonde,white combat suit, expert cqc.

    http://randomc.net/image/Juuni%20Taisen/Juuni%20Taisen%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2035.jpg

    The most interesting is we can see something like a karma, the boar made her sister broken and urge her to kill herself with a knife, now the boar killed with a knife by a psychotic rabbit from hell.

    • October 5, 2017 at 7:51 amChoya

      I can see the resemblance with her training introduction. If only she shared The Boss’ penchant for flipping Snakes over her shoulders.

      There is some duality between her sister stabbing herself in a homicidal rush, and the Boar getting stabbed by someone in a homicidal rush. If there were a fox in the Chinese Zodiac, then it’d be even crazier given her sister’s love of killing foxes.

    • October 5, 2017 at 2:59 pmJayDrink

      The manner in which the episode ended makes me suspect that Boar may not be dead.. but I really hope she is. The way she was shut down was so incredibly satisfying.

  • October 4, 2017 at 4:19 pmHoTaRu

    From what I understood there at the end, Inoushishi will now become one of the resurrected minions of Usagi. Whether she will retain her own mind if this is the case remains to be seen. He did mention something about becoming friends with her, so I took this to mean she was going to be around for the foreseeable future.

    • October 5, 2017 at 7:53 amChoya

      It would make alot of sense given that Snake was resurrected, and he seemed overwhelmed with the idea that killing her would make her hate him. I’d imagine that anyone that is killed in Usagi’s path will fall victim to his necromantist skills, and join him in a zombie army against the rest of the contestants.

  • October 5, 2017 at 1:41 amSherrisLok

    That was such a fun episode. I loved the black comedy. Finally Okamoto has a chance to voice his favourite type of character!

    • October 5, 2017 at 7:56 amChoya

      I’m surprised how comical some of the violence so far has been. It has a sense of edge without being overly edgy, and it’s hard not to find the characters ridiculous as they have barely any sense of awareness of the violence or death around them.

      Okamoto is finally another insane guy. Hopefully, we’ll get his Accelerator hyena laugh, but Usagi seems less like the laughing type of crazy.

  • October 5, 2017 at 11:43 amSingerOfW

    『It was not my fault.』

    That and the Snake getting killed off-screen really drove home that this is written by Isin.

    While I’m at it, I’m pretty sure the Monkey’s name is supposed to be spelled as Sharyuu (at least on the official website). If nothing else, it sounds closer to Saru.

    • October 5, 2017 at 3:10 pmChoya

      As soon as I read someone mention that it was reminiscent of the dark humor Isin wrote around the Maniwa ninjas from Katanagatari, it clicked right away that this had his thumbprint on it.

  • October 5, 2017 at 1:18 pmarina1992

    That’s the opening song, not the ending song.

    • October 5, 2017 at 3:07 pmChoya

      That was a whoopsies on my part! The sequence looked like it would be an ED, but that’s definitely the OP. Fixed the title song to match its proper name. A huge thanks for the correction

  • October 5, 2017 at 2:49 pmChris

    I don’t understand, they partecipate at a fight tournament of their own accord and then they try to team up to avoid death?! Uh?
    Or was the Boar the only one aware that the tournament is to the death?

    And by the way it seem hinted that many contestants may have superpowers, how did the boar expect to win with guns?!

    • October 5, 2017 at 3:34 pmSingerOfW

      She does have a super-power: she never runs out of ammo. As in, she can shoot for days. It’s too bad they didn’t demonstrate it properly, but if she fights again as part of Bun-Bun’s team, we might still see exactly how strong it is.

  • October 9, 2017 at 9:35 pmdefunkt_bots

    So…in this deathmatch… there is a vetran…? and the previous winner was the boar…

    So I guess death is not exactly certain or a danger… from the offset… unless the rules have changed.

    whut?

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