For some reason, I feel like playing Risk.
An entire civil war in one season. If only the real ones passed as quickly … though I would’ve liked to have spent more time with this one, so we could really get to know these characters and this world.
I’m of two minds about this series, and it all comes down to adaptation speed. The pacing, from everything I’ve heard, was breakneck—they churned through five (I believe) light novels worth of material in order to get to the end of the Brune Civil War, and much was lost in the process. It’s another example of what I’ve begun to think of as Highlights Adaptations, or series which hit all the highlights, but never delve into the rich detail of the source material enough to stand on their own. Hitsugi no Chaika and Date A Live belong to this group, and like them, Madan no Ou to Vanadis was a partial success. It was somewhere between Chaika’s first and Chaika’s second, where the lack of character development and the occasional missed detail (world building, primarily) took its toll on the narrative, but it never stopped being interesting, more or less. We got the highlights reel, and the highlights were pretty good, but they never made me feel for the characters or taste their world, so it threatened to lose me mid-season. Not because it was bad, but because it wasn’t as good as it ought to have been. As a tool to sell more light novels, perhaps it was effective, but as a story in and of itself, it pales in comparison to adaptations like No Game No Life, which treat their anime viewers with enough respect to give them all the details.
Here’s what I can’t decide—should they have gone slower? I usually say four episodes per light novel is about right, which would have put them at three for the season, ending it right after Tigre’s final battle with Roland. Which would have been a terrible place to end the season on. Four LNs would have been no better (end of the Muozinel arc), so they did five, putting it at roughly 2.5 episodes per light novel. And like I said, it did work, even if it lost the richness I’m told there is in the novels. I’m forced to say that they picked the right spot. Perhaps, if they had more episodes … but alas, I don’t think Madan no Ou to Vanadis is a high enough profile series to bend the rules and get a 20-episode run.
I realize I haven’t talked about the content much. It’s war, baby, lots of war, with every episode a new battle. Many were good, though by the end I realized that they all came down to victory by 1) clever ruse, usually involving decoys, 2) fancy Tigre trick shot, and/or 3) overpowered Vanadis and/or Tigre energy attacks. Which might work better in novel form, when you don’t see them so back-to-back as to make the similarities glaring, though that’s a relatively minor complaint. The massive armies sometimes required a heavy dip into CG, for better or worse—taking care of a charging column of cavalary with CG is encouraged, but the flailing Muozinel infantry late in that arc were hilarious in the worst way—and the whole thing had the … I want to say grimy(?) sheen of a Satelight-animated show, which of all the “house” animation styles, is among my least favorites. It wasn’t a looker animation-wise, is what I’m trying to say.
The unnecessarily skimpy outfits on the Vanadis + Lim (+ the princess in that last battle … all the women but Titta, basically) were totally unnecessary. Not unpleasant to look at, mind you, but I still maintain that Lim wouldn’t have gotten poisoned that one time if she didn’t go around exposing so much skin. A shirt and leather vest like Tigre is much more reasonable. Tigre himself was generally a pretty good character—he got flustered over women at times, and his unnecessary boob gropes were totally out of place, as was, arguably, the obligatory harem—but at least he didn’t mope, and he acted decisively for the good of all. As for the other main point of contention, Tigre’s crazy trick shots … well, you just have to accept those to watch the show at all.
In the final summation, this series was decent. Good, but it didn’t stand out. I don’t know how much of that is a function of the adaptation speed and how much is straight from the source, or even whether a more evenly paced adaptation would have held my interest better. If you like your wars with plenty of casualties, but without the “War is hell” ethos of the modern era, Madan no Ou to Vanadis has it in spades. It does that at least pretty all right.
I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Mind meld, Interview with Little Red Reviewer, Sneak Peek: Wage Slave Rebellion prologue, and Action Politics—a FREE short story.