OP: 「銀閃の風」 (Ginsen no Kaze) by Suzuki Konomi
「戦場の風姫」 (Senjou no Fuuki)
“Wind Princess of the Battlefield”
Confident and unabashed—that’s how I would describe Madan no Ou to Vanadis. Whether it be the action, the character’s personalities, or even the (occasional, and light) fanservice, it’s suffused with a confident air of people who live simple, dangerous, and sometimes short lives—but do so without regret. A solid start to an interesting fantasy series.
Fantasy Western Europe
The setting of Madan no Ou to Vanadis is Western Europe, loosely. As I said in the preview for this series, “it’s medieval Europe, and countries are attacking each other for all the stupid reasons medieval European countries were always fighting (glory, pride, resources, grudges, boredom).” Which I like, because there’s an unapologetic facet to the wars they fight. They’re not atrocities, they’re just something that happens, something to be dealt with, not stopped. That’s horrifying to live, but interesting to watch. You can see this in the first battle scene where the titular Vanadis Elenora “Ellen” Viltaria (Tomatsu Haruka) appears—it doesn’t feel horrific as she mows down the Brune soldiers, it’s just what’s happening. It’s her job. This was enhanced by the blood splatter, which blessedly wasn’t there. Compared to Terra Formars, which was all but ruined by its blackout censorship, I prefer how this series went about it, even if it’s less “realistic”. Realism is overrated.
I like how confident all of the characters are. Count Tigrevurmund “Tigre” Vorn (Ishikawa Kaito) is the best example, because we’re so used to cowardly male leads, and he’s not. Getting the same seiyuu who did Tsumugu and Ledo was wise, for he fits the role well. Tigre uses a bow because it’s a good weapon and he’s good with it, no matter what idiot nobles say. He even stands firm when the enemy commander is riding over to run him through. Only a naked Vanadis or talk of love are able to fluster him, though hearing that the enemy commander fell in love with you would confuse me too, even if it was a misunderstanding.
But it’s not just him. All the main and secondary character exhibit this kind of confidence. Ellen has it in spades, and the power to back it up. Limalisha “Lim” (Iguchi Yuka) does as well, as do Tigre’s attendants. It’s nice to see people who aren’t floundering, who know who they are and what they do—and true, it’s born from a violent world where they’re strictly limited in their choices in life, but it is fiction. I’d hate to live there, but I’m enjoying stopping by once a week.
After having read some of the manga to preview this show, I can speak (to a limited degree) on how well this is being adapted so far. (Though that’s an adaptation of the original light novels, so take this with a grain of salt.) The answer: pretty well. There have been some suboptimal choices so far, some pacing and reordering problems. For instance, the pace of the opening fight between Tigre and Ellen was wrong. Hitting the horses should have been quick, causing the other horses to panic giving him a shot at the Vanadis while her horse threw her. It was her leaping the dying animals on her mount that made me go “Whoa … she’s sort of a badass.” Here it just looked like Tigre wanted to kill a couple of horses. It was also too slow, lacking urgency.
That’s by far the worst of them though, and it wasn’t bad. A better example is when Tigre was shooting the crappy bow at Ellen’s request. Having him say that he’d gotten a feeling for the bow after the second shot ruins what’s going to come next … though only if you know what’s coming next. So it doesn’t ruin it, but it would have been better if he explained how he was able to do that (with a thought, like he did before) either right before he shot or afterwards. So it was suboptimal, but not by much. If I were to grade adaptation faithfulness based on my limited experience with the source, I’d give it a solid B so far. There are some odd bits, but it shouldn’t detract from the anime-only viewer’s enjoyment of the series.
Fanservice That Reveals Character, Not Just Character’s Bodies
I’m not sure how I feel about the unnecessary skin-barring fantasy outfits that Ellen and Lim were sporting. They feel unnecessary, because these ladies would look great no matter what they were wearing. But if that’s all I have to put up with, that’s fine, and aside from the occasional (very occasional) suggestive camera focus, that’s about it … and most of those can be put down to where Tigre was looking anyway. He’s a young man, after all.
But the scene of Ellen bathing is another matter entirely. That’s fanservice in an only-sort-of-partially-fanservice show—this isn’t looking like a true fanservice show, though it appears to be fine with using it on occasion, almost entirely from the Vanadis—done right. To trot out one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut quotes, from his rules for writing a [short] story:
4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
Most fanservice does neither. It’s there for titillation alone, and while I’ll tolerate a certain amount of that—stories are meant to be entertaining, and different people take their entertainment from different things—I can’t call it good writing. But this actually revealed character. It revealed how, though Ellen was indeed embarrassed, as a maiden might be, she kept her composure because she’s a war maiden, a Vanadis, and she can’t go around acting like a modest maiden. That’s the confidence I was talking about, and also an admirable pride in who and what she is. I can’t help liking her even more for that, and for her, not just her body.
Looking Ahead – Attack on Alsace
The biggest question I have is whether (or how) Tigre will agree to stay with Ellen. He turned down her offer of being a Count (his current title) under her, and now his village is under attack by a fellow Bruneman lord. I’m hoping that Ellen rides out with him, saves his town, and claims it for Zhcted and her duchy.
I don’t know if I’ll be blogging this series—I enjoyed the first episode, but I’m already blogging Log Horizon on Saturdays, and they’re my second least favorite blogging day anyway, so the air date may nix the possibility here—but I’ll definitely be watching it. Feel free to check in with me on twitter if you want to talk about the show, and I’m sure it will be included on the monthly impressions as well.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Confident characters fighting an unabashed war. A solid fantasy series, & the first episode started things off well #madan_anime 01
- I guess the fingers in his mouth was an appropriately surreal way to snap him out of the flashback. Mostly it just made me laugh though!
- At first I wasn’t sure why they decided to intersperse the flashbacks among what was happening now, but it worked well. They got to the cliffhanger ending without it feeling rushed—in fact, the needed a little more speed in that first battle. But overall, it worked well. Director/writer/series composition/everything to everyone Satou Tatsuo has done a good job so far.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Five movies on a plane, Remarkably lost, What comes first: world, narrative, or characters?, and Comments re-enabled.
ED: 「Schwarzer Bogen」 by Harada Hitomi