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Juuni Taisen – 12 (END)

「どうしても叶えたいたったひとつの願いと割とそうでもない99の願い」 (Doushitemo Kanaetai Tatta Hitotsu no Negai to Wari to Sou demo Nai no Negai)
“The One Wish That Must Be Granted, and the Ninety-nine That Can Be Done Without “

The finale doesn’t make it a secret that Nezumi is supposed to be an underwhelming winner. Juuni Taisen thrived on the anticlimax of its fights, but the ultimate battle to the end is the internal war Nezumi faces as he mulls over the wishes he could have granted. Despite Duodecuple being one of the few wish-masters in fiction that allows you to wish for more wishes, Nezumi shot down so many of his own wishes that it took him away from his comfort zone.

Nezumi’s wish being to have his memories of the tournament erased is icing on the cake for the show’s dedication to anticlimax, but it is in-line with his personality throughout the war. His attitude throughout the outcome where he won was exhausted and apathetic to everyone around him, but his unluckier routes had him stare death in the face with terror and shock. He would have a traumatic breakdown wanting to forget all of this happened knowing that he is almost as traumatized by conflict as Uuma was. It is disappointing in hindsight, but the writers put more thought into the outcome and ending of the tournament than the war itself.

What made this episode shine was how in-depth it went into what Nezumi was able to gather from the experiences his powers give him. It went into some of the funnier results of his abilities like how he got rejected by a girl he liked in every reality he could travel to, as well as the results of some of his pettier wishes like getting rid of his classmates or flipping a girl’s skirt.

However, the most fascinating experiences Nezumi gathered from his powers was his memories from other timelines about the other combatants wishes from when he aligned with different people. It was interesting to get insight about the warriors selected for the war, and how normal most of their wishes were. Each revealed the true nature of the warriors such as Uuma’s insecurities causing him to want to seek out talent, the Twins lying about really wanting money over anything else, and Tora wanting to use her wish to be with Ushii. Some were out for self-interest such as Tsujii yearning for eternal youth now that he’s started to appreciate life, Inou’s hilarious wish for a harem of 3.5 billion men, and Usagi’s ominous wish to “be friends with everyone in the world“. Some hoped to use wishes to find inner peace such as Dotsuku wanting to take care of his adoptive daughter or Niwatori hoping for confidence in her own decisions, enough so for Nezumi to ask if she should instead wish for life away from being a warrior. We even understand from Nezumi’s initial ideas what his mindset is in that he regrets not having seen Misaki’s wishes for peace through, and contemplates bringing her back or using her wishes. What this episode does with flying colors is give depth to the warriors of the tournament, and offers some insight on who Nezumi is as a person.

Final Impressions:

Juuni Taisen most valuable asset is avoiding a main problem that aligns with most death game anime; the end game. For example, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School. As someone who enjoyed the series, every episode was a nail-biter, especially when the present day death game was paired up with the DR2 cast’s origin story. However, when you see the big twist around Episode 12, the entire show unravels and becomes a lot more disappointing in hindsight. Or Mirai Nikki’s transformation into wonky science-fiction territory by the time you get near the end point. So much investment is put into the build-up and twists in the middle that by the end of these kinds of shows, the ending is always forced, hackneyed, or sloppy.

Sometimes that’s the intention, like how the anticlimax of Fate/Zero’s ending is to evoke how much nastier this Holy Grail War is compared to the one that Shiro eventually takes part in for Stay Night, and how Shiro would come to prevent something like this from happening again. Nonetheless, Fate/Zero is probably one of the couple tournament stories where they have every right to focus more on the fights than the end game because that particular Holy Grail War was meant to be violent and relatively pointless in the long run. For other stories with similar premises, it plays off more like the writer didn’t put much thought into a proper ending.

With Juuni Taisen, it avoids this problem outright by placing Nezumi’s unexplained powers at the end of the finish line as a valuable pay-off for investing in the story. Throughout the show, they play with your expectations by scattering random kernels around to second-guess what you thought the outcome would be. Questions like “Will Nezumi use his powers now?”, “How is this person going to die?”, and “Is Nezumi not going to be the only person to make it out?” run wild.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, especially because the show still places its stakes much higher. As they give you the character’s extended backstory, it ties you closer to the characters, and makes it all the more painful when it’s their time to go. NisioIsin also helps to flesh out the lore of the world through the cast’s relationship with the world around them. Each of the competitors are shaped and molded by warfare, and all have their own experiences and ethos decided based on whether they were mediators, soldiers, generals, opportunists, or puppetmasters on the battlefield. In the process, it also made many of the competitors such as Misaki, Tora, and Ushii sympathetic and meaningful characters. Nezumi’s powers themselves open up another can of worms about the possibility of seeing timelines where we learn more about the cast based on how they interact with him. For instance, learning that Usagi would’ve been great friends with Nezumi adds more to his character as well as the idea that Usagi, Ushii, and Tora had won the tournament in other timelines, giving us the chance to imagine how differently thing could’ve gone with those three as the winners. The finale does this wonderfully by outlining how different the wishes of the combatants are compared to their outward appearances.

A big elephant in the room that throws a wrench in all of this is having the knowledge of exactly the outcome of the tournament. While it does conceptualize the idea of reprogramming the question of “Who will die” into “How will they die?” it also renders showing us the entire tournament meaningless. If you’re under the mentality of the journey being more worthwhile than the destination, this is not the show for you because the OP sequence and death order make it glaringly obvious what the outcome will be and why the rest of the characters are able to recognize Nezumi. People were predicting this very early on, and kept bringing it up as the episodes went on, but even though it makes the last episodes enthralling, there is no tension when everything is spelled out that soon.

Juuni Taisen was at its most clever around the beginning and end, but by the mid-point, it became obvious that they were relying wholly on Nezumi’s powers being explained as the end goal. There were still some great shocking moments around the early points where it wasn’t as obvious such as when Niwatori got her powers boosted by Dotsuku, or the stretch of time around Misaki’s origin story where no one died, but by the time Uuma got trapped in the burning building, it became apparent that there was not going to be a change in the formula, and we were still in for a padded out tournament to wade through to get to Nezumi’s big moment.

But despite the outcome being made inconsequential by the time you catch on to the pattern, there is still a lot of value in Juuni Taisen. As bloodthirsty as the cast is, they are made to be much more likable with the backstory they are given in this adaptation. As much complaining as there can be about the value on the mid-section of the tournament, it was nice to learn about what makes them tick, and gives them much more meaning than other tournament shows that couldn’t care less about who lives or dies other than the main characters. Making almost everyone the story’s protagonist at one point in time would’ve been effective at keeping viewers on their toes about whether they’ll make it out in one way or another. It was also cool to find out about Nezumi’s powers considering that it does toy around with our curiosity in how the tournament could’ve wound up in scenarios where Nezumi lost. There is a ton of potential with the series, and the sequel novel could contribute to fleshing out the universe and characters for future stories. It could possibly give us a chance to see how other timelines could’ve turned out, or create a Steins;Gate-esque work where we see how Nezumi’s power plays out in the 99 other scenarios he’s been through before he gets to the one where he wins. Although it could’ve been compelling if the anime didn’t constantly remind us of how the kill order aligned with the zodiac order, it doesn’t undercut how wonderful the cast and lore of Juuni Taisen ended up being.

December 20, 2017 at 9:21 am
21 comments »
  • December 20, 2017 at 9:37 amAki-Chan

    Yeah, I absolutely loved seeing the glimpses of the other characters in Nezumi’s other timelines, not to mention some of his deaths (he literally got eaten alive by Niwatori’s birds in one!!!!!!!). And I kind of did take an ‘journey not the destination’ approach to this whole series, but because of the fact that the anime making the death order obvious (and then also I acquired and read the original novel halfway through the series). Though maybe it’s that we’re defining ‘journey’ differently, because to me the journey was in seeing how exactly each death would occur when we came across it, who would inflict it, what would the battle be like, all that kind of thing. To make the analogy really weird, perhaps it’s like taking a specific bus route for the first time. You know where it’ll end, and where all the stops are, but not how the bus gets to each stop or anything like that. But yeah, journey/destination/predictability stuff aside, this series was great and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

    Another thing that was great about this episode was how it explored the problem of making a wish-that every single one comes with some kind of drawback or other hidden side effect, even the ones that seem to be simple or for a greater good. I think Nezumi is probably someone particularly prone to seeing all the sides of a situation, more so than the average person, but even so, it’s extra food for thought that makes the ‘what would you wish for, if you could have any one wish granted’ not quite as straightforward a question as it might seem.

    • December 20, 2017 at 12:24 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

      Exactly my thoughts on the concept of making wishes. Stuff like this, Nasuverse’s Holy Grail, the legend of the Djinn, and such really makes you stop and think about wish making in that it is nowhere near as simple as most may think it is; like Disney’s Aladdin simple.

      If you make a wish that is very broad or vague, the one granting the wish could easily (and intentionally) interpret it in the worst way possible for the wish maker. Like if you have ever seen the Wishmaster films, the second one IIRC has the main character wish for her friend’s suffering to end (as she was alive, but badly injured), and so the djinn antagonist kills the friend, and when the main character angrily yells at him that it wasn’t what she wanted, he immediately shoots back, “Hey! I ended her suffering. Maybe next time you should be a little more specific!”

      And even if you were to be as specific as you could think of with your wish, chances are you won’t be able to account for every possible negative outcome, and it is still no guarantee that it won’t somehow come back to bite you and/or others in some unintentional way because of missing even one possibility, much less guarantee actual happiness. Like, you could wish to be richer than the richest person in the world for specifically $100 trillion and even specify things like law enforcement agencies won’t be suspicious about it. The problem is that other consequences could include becoming a big target for thieves, con men, corrupt politicians, assassins, etc. which could end up getting your family and friends involved. Or you yourself could end up making a bad investment(s) that ends up costing you most, if not even all of that money, and so on and so forth.

      Or even if Nezumi did go for Misaki’s wish for world peace, well, HOW would that be done? For all anyone knows, it could mean erasing all of humanity, or it could mean everyone being tuned into mindless drones, or something.

  • December 20, 2017 at 11:14 amSDFGS

    One thing I got from the finale…Dotsuku is grade-A husbando/father material. But I do agree, the show was its strongest in the first 3 eps and final 3 eps. The middle 6….well….yeah.

  • December 20, 2017 at 11:44 amMelia

    I am very disappointed by the ending, his wish to be precise, he’s a god damn pussy.

    • December 20, 2017 at 4:33 pmKarmafan

      I liked this series up thru episode 10. Then with 11 and 12 it just limped to the end.

    • December 21, 2017 at 5:00 amSherrisLok

      His wish doesn’t even make sense. He will still represent the House of Rat in the next Juuni Taisen, so what’s the point of forgetting what happened to him?

  • December 20, 2017 at 4:12 pmlasttiwinfan

    He should at least revive Monkey

    • December 21, 2017 at 2:43 amMogar

      The thing about that is, and he explains this, is that because of how true Sharyu was to her ideals of world peace she may not agree with her being resurrected. The reason being, you could have used that wish for something more meaningful than reviving her. This is Nezumi thinking from Sharyus perspective.

      It makes sense. That’s why ultimately he chose to make a wish that is selfish (though he had to sift thru all of them to end with the one he chose).

      Not to mention his point of “Would they even be the same person from before they died”

      • December 21, 2017 at 3:26 amHalfDemonInuyasha

        For all Nezumi knew, they could come back to life as purely murderous psychos ala The Lazarus Effect, lol.

        The wish he made is probably the one that he saw had the fewest negative consequences to himself and others.

  • December 20, 2017 at 4:49 pmzztop

    The finale’s based on a oneshot manga of the same title written by Nisio; Juuni was written as a prequel to complement said oneshot.

  • December 20, 2017 at 9:06 pmzztop

    There’s a new sequel/spinoff novel called Juuni Taisen vs Juuni Taisen, which has the 12 Chinese Zodiac warriors battling 12 Western Zodiac warriors.
    http://j-books.shueisha.co.jp/news_newrelease/12taisentai12taisen

  • December 20, 2017 at 11:55 pmUrahara

    I regret watching this show

    • December 21, 2017 at 3:52 pmMami kouga

      You’ll forget you ever did by the next anime season so kudos for that

  • December 21, 2017 at 4:10 amChris hall

  • December 21, 2017 at 5:28 pmPuffles

    I felt like this show went out of its way to go against tournament battle anime standard procedure.

    - The order of deaths and eventual victor were visible from the start, following the Chinese Zodiac order.
    - Most fights were over and done with very quickly, rather than combatants having long, grueling, intricate battles with lots of flashy special moves and stunts.
    - The winner didn’t get much attention for a lot of the show. He wasn’t heroic either. Much like the Rat he was always nearby but usually unseen, and slunk his way to victory. He also didn’t really care about the prize.
    - Characters got backstories that were more detailed than the tournament events themselves, making this show much more about how the characters ended up at the tournament that killed them than being about the tournament itself.

    This approach actually appealed to me quite a lot. I can’t blame anyone for not liking Juuni Taisen, but I was into it.

  • December 22, 2017 at 1:34 amTrexler

    Spot on review, as you’ve said the very first initial episodes left an impression of wittiness and many more, whilst as the weeks went by, that was no longer the case. Getting similar flashbacks to Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

    One episode without the announcer saying “Everybody clap your hands”.
    After everything, I don’t feel like clapping.

  • December 23, 2017 at 4:36 amRin

    What a waste of time.

  • December 23, 2017 at 3:24 pmMatroid

    The ending is a big let-down. Mouse was set up as a seasoned warrior. Yet, the story turned him into a wuss at the very end just so that the writer can have him (and hopefully the readers) to “forget everything.” What a cheap ending!

  • December 23, 2017 at 5:15 pmhjerry

    I’ve known for some time that the ending of this series would be a disappointment, and, in that respect,

    it did not disappoint.

  • December 25, 2017 at 12:12 pmCraig A McLeod

    An ending truely of the caliber of the man who can spend ten pages rambling bullshit about an upskirt shot.

    Truely he is the King of the Trashcan Modelers.

  • December 29, 2017 at 11:08 pmHunter-Wolf

    What i loved most about the episode is that it wasn’t just about Nezumi, it was a wonderful send-off to all the cast of colorful strange characters involved in the tournament and an in-depth look into what motivated them to join a bloody violent and deadly event like that.

    And i never understood the outrage online about the order of the characters deaths being revealed, it changes absolutely NOTHING (not to mention has been done to death already in other battle royale anime/stories), the refreshing part here in Junni Taisen is that it’s not about “What” happened but rather the “How” and the “Why” it happened, the “How” we all got to see in the form of the fights between the characters and how they unfolded, and the “Why” was in the backstories and ultimately the wish each character wanted granted, it’s more of a character study than anything else (also when a book or a manga get adapted many people already KNOW EVERYTHING that’s going to happen down to the tiny detail and dialog yet somehow they are still thrilled to watch it, so how is Junni Taisen any different !!!?)

    And deep down inside i wished he either brought back Sharyu or at least fulfilled her wish for world-peace or something, and did i miss something or what!?, i didn’t see the part where he asks Sharyu what her wish was, i suppose we can guess it’s “World Peace” but that’s a bit strange i don’t remember that part at all (must be that goddamn Nezumi messing up with my memory).

    Also i have a lingering feeling that big grand wishes like “World Peace” would be achieved the same way impossible wishes are in old folklore stories, in a twisted and fucked up way (as in “World Peace” = nuking everyone into oblivion, or to be “Immortal” = you live forever but you still age and rot while being alive, zombies are immortal after all XD).

    Either way i really enjoyed the episode a lot (and the series as a whole) and it would be cool if we get more from Junni Taisen’s world, like some OVA or movie explaining or showing how the whole thing started, who is behind it and who was in the fist tournament (kinda like Fate/Zero but with it’s own twist)

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