First Look: Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

Light Novel Adaptation by Graphnica
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Twelve warriors named after the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac assemble for the twelfth Zodiac War: a battle royale that occurs every twelve years, granting the winner anything they wish.

Jel’s verdict: I’ll give it one more episode (out of 12)

Maybe I’m just old, but this feels like it’s channeling the type of grimdark, hyper violent, over sexed anime I would have been watching bootlegs of in the mid-90s. It doesn’t quite get there as it doesn’t take itself seriously enough. I mean, there’s a psychotic Chippendales dancer with bunny ears decapitating people, and there’s a built in plot device to potentially bring everyone back in the end and cancel out all the bloody murdering. So I don’t feel like the stakes are particularly high on this one.

Personally I think that’s a good thing as a touch of camp, some cool action scenes, and the genuinely unexpected twist at the end made me think this could be the type of Quality Trash™ I developed a taste for with last season’s Kakegurui. That might not be the highest ceiling to aim for, but it could make it entertaining enough to watch. Also, shockingly, despite being written by Monogatari series author Nisioisin, there is not much standing around talking about semantics. My only hangup is that I don’t personally enjoy watching graphic violence. I can understand, maybe even appreciate, that they are not pulling their punches in that department, but glorifying decapitation and stabbing people in the throat makes me a bit ill. Your mileage may vary.

Artemis’ verdict: Potentially Entertaining Trash

That was… well, not that bad actually. I mean, it was bad in that it was trashy as hell, in much the same way as the previous season’s Kakegurui was trashy as hell – ridiculously on-the-nose characterization, every single cast member likely being either a legitimately terrible person or a total psychopath (if not both), exaggerated character designs, plenty of close-up boob shots, etc. etc. In fact, we even have the same lead voice actress, which struck me as pretty amusing. That said, also like Kakegurui, this ended up being fairly entertaining.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Juuni Taisen will turn out to be entertaining enough for me to get through more than a couple of episodes; it may well be that I end up getting bored with it quite soon, since I expect little in the way of either subtlety or originality. Even aside from being so fanservicey and in-your-face, the whole battle royale-style plot just isn’t that imaginative (Mirai Nikki, Deadman Wonderland, or the actual Battle Royale, anyone?). That said, I do like how the main character is proven right away to be by no means infallible, or even necessarily as smart/bad-ass as she seems to think she is. The story might even be a little more original than much of the premiere indicated if it ends up showcasing not one single main character per se, but instead one character per episode. I’m probably curious enough to wait and find out.

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