OP: 「WINTERLONG」 by BEAT CRUSADERS    (Mirror 1, Mirror 2)
ED: 「かけがえのない人へ」 (Kakegae no nai Hito he) by 星村麻衣 (Hoshimura Mai)    (Mirror 1, Mirror 2)

The Chinese-influenced action show Juushin Enbu (獣神演武 -HERO TALES-) brings us pretend incest every Sunday night at 26:00 JST on TV Tokyo.

It’s been almost exactly 3 years since the supremely popular Fullmetal Alchemist ended its run on television, and now a new Arakawa Hiromu manga makes its debut in animated form. Producing is Genco, a company with such a wide array of titles that it’s impossible to make a guess at what we’ll end up seeing. However, it can be noted that neither the company nor director Sekita Osamu (Ichigo 100%) and his team had anything to do with FMA.

In an ancient empire lives a legend of seven great heroes known as the Hokushintenkun. They carry on their skin seven unique patterns representing the stars of the Big Dipper. While they all possess immense power, there are two who stand above the others: Hagun and Tonrou. These Nitenshinson are fated to destroy one another, while the remaining five Goshintoushi choose a side in the struggle. The story begins with an attack of the Rentsuuji temple, where the mighty sword Kenkaranpu is kept. A relic passed down from the very first emperor, it’s said to grant the power to rule the world to the one who can unsheathe it. Having disposed of the entire guard by himself, the attacker finally reaches his object of desire. This man is general Keirou, the show’s antagonist and branded with the pattern of Tonrou. His satisfaction doesn’t last long, as a young fellow called Taitou enters the hall to fight him. Realizing his fists are no match for the massive invader, Taitou grasps the sword and attempts to draw it. Keirou looks on, commenting on how this blade of conquerors is impossible for the unworthy to wield, etc, etc, you know the drill. It turns out that 16-year-old Taitou and protagonist of the show surprisingly carries the pattern of Hagun, which actually enables him to unsheathe the darned thing. Unfortunately, he’s completely new to this hero business, and Keirou wipes the floor with him, eventually departing with the sword and leaving Taitou in a bloody heap. Yet our hero is fortunate, for he has a cute younger sister to take care of his wounds, and to call him baka and blush, and no doubt she dreams of kissing him, because, you know, she’s not really his sister, so it must be perfectly alright!

Piles and piles of money have been spent on this first episode, because it looks stunning. The art is very similar to Fullmetal Alchemist and the animation by Studio FLAG is solid, so old fans should be happy. Music’s composed by Terashima Tamiya, whose previous work includes Ghibli’s Gedo Senki, and it sets the mood nicely without imposing. Perhaps the anime’s weakest point is its cast. Main character Taitou is played by Suzumura Kenichi (Shinn Asuka in Gundam Seed Destiny), whose voice always reminds me of a whiny teenager, but the real problem is his sister Raira, because I wanted to strangle her as soon as she opened her mouth. Kanda Akemi (Asuna in Negima!) usually sounds alright, and I even enjoy her work in Clannad, but here she manages to get so high on the squeak scale that my ears burst in clouds of blood. Not even my precious Sakurai Takahiro‘s (Suzaku in Code Geass) presence is enough to soothe me after Raira’s had a few lines.

Eight minutes into the episode, just as the cool Beat Crusaders OP ends, I was certain that this was to be the season’s absolute megahit, with proper superpowered martial arts and warriors of destiny, but then that horror Raira appeared and ruined everything. Not only does she sound like drowning kittens, she’s also the protagonist’s not-related-by-blood sister. Perhaps by a stroke of luck the anime producers will decide to deviate even farther from the original manga (which it already does, according to my secret sources) by letting her fall into a ravine and die instantly only to return in minor flashbacks, but I doubt it. Juushin Enbu also suffers from a ridiculous obsession with make-believe Chinese, and the episode is littered with dozens of names viewers have to memorize, even going so far as to have a massive glossary to help sort out this mess. Whether it will be enough to save this otherwise decent action series from complete incomprehension is too early to tell, but this is one title where I’d almost recommend waiting for the English dub.

Reminds me of: Fullmetal Alchemist meets King Arthur in China


  1. I didn’t think Raira was nearly as bad as you made her seem, and I saw a lot of FMA parallels (types of artists used for OP/ED, mangaka, anime not following manga), though it was missing some of the allure FMA had. Still a good show, and it might be worth following.

  2. “Whether it will be enough to save this otherwise decent action series from complete incomprehension is too early to tell, but this is one title where I’d almost recommend waiting for the English dub.”

    You know we’re all gonna call ’em “Main Character Boy,” “Annoying Sister,” and “Big Muscly Guy” among other things. We don’t need to memorize their names. XD

  3. Aww, I don’t think Laila’s so bad. She’s cute. I just hope they don’t go the Taitou/Laila route because that would be incredibly creepy (at least it doesn’t seem to be going that way in the manga).

    Also, all the differences between the manga and anime versions are intentional- the anime was probably being planned long before the manga, and I’m guessing they only chose to release the manga first to grab early attention since Arakawa is pretty famous thanks to Fullmetal Alchemist.

  4. Arakawa has nothing to do with the story, though – she just does the art. Using FMA as a good basis for the quality of the storyline is not a good indicator…

    I gave up after the OP; I loved the song and the animation, but Laila’s mere presence was enough to tell me I wouldn’t like the show in the long run, unfortunately.

  5. Arakawa has nothing to do with the story, though – she just does the art. Using FMA as a good basis for the quality of the storyline is not a good indicator…

    She probably had something to do with coming up with the general concept though. She’s been planning this with Studio Flag even before her debut as a manga author and she’s known for her love of anything Chinese.

  6. Heheheh, although I agree that FMA-anime story was really ruined, comparing on to how great manga it was, I still want to see how this ends up. I can really see this becoming the best anime of this year and I don’t really care about differences from manga this time, as i haven’t read it.

    Hopefully action scenes will be good enough and story will be decent. Char designs seem to be really good and first ep was interesting enough.

    Unknown Voice
  7. thanks alot man…!

    Looking forward to your summary on Renta Magica if you are doing it.(did i remember the name correctly…?)

    And hope that future links will have megaupload/badongo as an alternative.

  8. @naix
    OP Visuals are good. Although OP has lighter mood than the anime itself, its still good. Song is decent. Not the best and not my cup of tea, but it fits with visuals. Song reminds abit of FMA OP songs.

    Unknown Voice
  9. pretend incest … i find is so lame. Of course not !
    When you think bout it Al and Ed had quite a STRONG relationship as brothers, just coz Taito has a female sibling , bang you tag it as incest …
    I love Arakawa-sama work , the juushin enbu manga is not bad at all so far, and well you cant judge the series based on the first ep (fma first ep , creepy? anyone?)
    the only horrible thing in this show is …the opening song …god i hate beat crusaders
    /avoids rotten tomatoes and goes back hiding.

  10. did someone say INCEST!!!???? {0 0}! hahah ..well i’m guilty of banging a cousin myself..but anywho?? wow the style is so diff, or at least it seems so diff from fma..woulda never guessed, but snapshots aint much to judge from

    BROOKLYN otaku
  11. R/Laila’s voice is(terribly) annoying, but I think I can live with it. This is, after all,is the work of Hiromu Arakawa, who I idolize.
    So far, I really like the soundtrack and the mythological/Chinese references and influences(I’m a sucker for that sort of stuff). The fight scenes are nicely animated, and since I’ve read some of the manga, there are greater characters to come, so I’m not that hurt by Laila’s voice acting and Taitou’s loud presance. Like most of the other people commenting, I do hope the series won’t end up being Taitou/Laila. That’s just… ech. Differences from the manga are okay though, I can enjoy both the anime and the manga for FMA, and I think this show will be the same.
    Strangly enough, though I usually don’t like the Beat Crusaders, I do find myself loving the opening, it was stuck in my head today XD.

  12. Horrible visuals… Or should i say, the characters look really REALLY distorted at times, not to mention the character designs are ugly. Well, I don’t really hate the visuals that much. It’s just,… the visuals just doesn’t work for me. Makes me wanna grab my own throat and tear it to shreds. I’ll pass on this one.

  13. Haha! Raira, sounding like drowned kittens? Maybe, but I could’ve sworn, as soon as I heard the terrible, annoying squeaky voice, that this was the same voice actor as for Excel in Excel Saga. Turns out they’re not the same, but I’m sure anybody who has watched the Excel Saga in Japanese would agree with me.
    I just watched the first two episodes of Juushin Enbu, but I made the mistake of reading the first three chapters first. Being a bigger manga than anime fan (like those Harry Potter/Lord of the Ring/etc fans that always like the books better?), I found myself shouting through the entire first episode “THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN THE MANGA!!!!!!!” as I did when watching FMA for the first time. So, for those who like manga better, watch out. ^^;
    However, putting aside the extremely fake looking characters compared to the awesome backrounds, this looks like it’ll turn out good. The plot is pretty nice, even though the names are annoying and hard to remember, and I feel comfortable with the almost-Hiromu-Arakawa art. Though the colours /are/ blinding.


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