OP: 「LEADER」by MY FIRST STORY
「覚悟 ～カメリアとの戦い～」 (Kakugo ～Kameria to no Tatakai～)
“Resolve ~The Conflict with Camellia~”
Well, here we are, barely three days into anime’s 2021 kickoff and we’re doubling down on the fantasy. Yes, even though the real fantasy fun doesn’t start until next week I’m counting Hortensia Saga as doubling down since it certainly isn’t trying to hide what it’s all about. If you wanted vanilla you’re in the right place, because oh boy has this one mastered the most sincerest form of flattery.
Given the RC Preview effectively summarizes what Hortensia Saga is all about, there isn’t much to add to it: this show is a full-blooded high fantasy of swords and magic, evil demons and other monsters are commonplace (complete with flying talking magical Happy cat mascot thing), and you could pick the plot out of a jar even with a negative luck stat. Makes sense it’s an adaptation of a mobile game, right? Right. As highlighted in the preview, Akatsuki no Yona is a pretty good reference for Hortensia Saga’s gist, albeit with Princess Marius (Horie Yui) pretending to be a boy and not (yet) aiming to reclaim her kingdom’s throne (younger brother already took care of that) as much as crushing the upstart duke and friends who created this situation. Where this exactly leads story-wise no one knows – too early for that just yet – but you can make some well-informed assumptions considering the antagonist duke can apparently turn into a werewolf and the inkling of a good old-fashioned party is at the ready. Oh dime a dozen fantasy, may you never change.
In terms of characters and execution, however, Hortensia Saga looks to at least have a leg up over the likes of King’s Raid. Animation and art are surprisingly on point here, with fight scenes and character design being the most noticeable. Take the 3DCGI during the larger scenes for example, it’s obvious, but (at least for me) unobtrusive and suggests this adaptation has received a good bit of funding. Likewise comes the main cast duo of Marius and Alfred (Hosoya Yoshimasa). Both are blatantly milquetoast, but I do appreciate the touches like Marius being unable to effortlessly overpower her opponents and Alfred not being a total pushover in a fight. Not sure if it’s enough to overcome the humorous inability of Alfred and Nonnoria to see the bishoujo in the bishounen (particularly when it currently appears to be not be treated as an in-house joke), but I’ll take what I can get. There’s some inklings of fun buried under the usual fluff, even if it’ll take some serious effort to let the light shine through.
While I wouldn’t expect too much from Hortensia Saga in terms of fantasy perfection – let alone any genre defying ingenuity – if you’ve been missing some conventional high fantasy anime and got burned by King’s Raid last season I’d consider giving this one a shot. It won’t be the best, but it stands a pretty good chance at being good enough.
ED: 「夜想と白昼夢」 (Yasou to Hakuchuumu) by Mafumafu