The Guin Saga

Title:The Guin Saga
Guin Saga
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: ASANUMA Shintaro
YONAGA Tsubasa
In a single day and night of fierce fighting, the Archduchy of Mongaul has overrun its elegant neighbor, Parros. The lost priest kindgom's surviving royalty, the young twins Rinda and Remus, hide in a forest in the forbidding and wild marches. There they are saved by a mysterious creature with a man's body and a leopard's face; a man who has emerged from a deep sleep and remembers only his name - Guin.

The Guin Saga is an epic heroic fantasy in the same vein as Robert E. Howard's Conan, the Barbarian (wiki). With more than a hundred books strong, Guin's saga has sold more than twenty-five million copies in Japan. (sourced from ANN)

For more info, see Wikipedia Entry.
R1 manga has been released, see Amazon.

Animation by Satelight.
Series first aired April 4th '09.
26 TV Episodes (~24min each).

3+min Streaming English Promo - GuinSaga Web Site
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 9 9 9 7 8 8 Ggultra2764 [series:1893#1552]
An animated adaptation of the decades-long medieval fantasy-adventure novel series, Guin Saga focuses on a leopard-headed man named Guin with no memories of his past and finds himself tasked with having to protect the young twin heirs in line of the throne to the kingdom of Parros, Remus and Rinda.

Guin Saga is a series that many older anime fans may reflect back to older medieval fantasy-adventure anime titles like Record of Lodoss War and Berserk with its storytelling and characters. For an older series, Guin Saga offers a rich world that it takes the time to explore dabbling into medieval elements, magic, and supernatural creatures. Many key characters within the series get a good deal of dimension and depth that help make them more interesting and defined beyond whatever character types they would have typical for fantasy-adventure titles that include Guin having a tactical mind when confronted with battles, characters like Remus and Istavan feeling inferior in their quests to gain acceptance or power, and the Mongauli general Amnelis shown to have her vulnerable side she reveals to those close to her. The plot for the series is also an engaging one having its twists and revelations revolving around the struggles that Guin and his allies have against the Mongauli forces, Guin attempting to learn more about his past, and other parties shown to take advantage of the conflicts between the Mongauli and Parros armies for their personal gain.

Praises aside, Guin Saga does carry some issues that hurt its quality at points. It can get a bit melodramatic at points in its first half that mostly focuses on Guin aiding the Parros twins, resorts to deus ex machina fairly often to resolve some major storyline conflicts, and some major characters are a bit underdeveloped compared to others. Also, the series is left intentionally open-ended as there are hints of events yet to come involving major characters within the series like Guin, Remus, and Istavan that are left unresolved.

Visually, Guin Saga was above average in quality when it aired in 2009. Character designs are given a good amount of detail while retaining the traditional anime aesthetic, while Guin's design sticks out as a rather unique one thanks to his leopard head. Scenic shots feature vivid color and a good amount of detail applied to the show's diverse settings that include castle towers, caverns, and dark forests. Animation is mostly fluid with characters having smooth movements and action scenes having decent choreography in situations that include traditional sword fighting and occasional unique abilities coming from enemy threats.

While having some hiccups in its storytelling, Guin Saga is otherwise a mostly solid title that offers an expansive world, mostly fleshed-out characters, and an engaging, complex plot revolving around classic story elements of old-school medieval fantasy-adventure titles that fans of the older genre are likely to have interest in checking out.

Last updated Friday, September 08 2017. Created Sunday, October 09 2011.
Rent Jan-Chan [series:1893#967]
Rent+ or BUY-

In the same vein of any of those classic swords-n-sorcery stories, this one is definitely over the top with evil sorcerers and massively muscled heroic main characters. IT IS GREAT!!! Just don't expect more than an over the top story. Yes, a couple of corners have been cut in the story just to keep things moving, but the end results are a fun fast moving adventure story.

If you liked this story, then check out Claymore or Utawarerumono.

Back before Dungeons & Dragons and RPG computer games, there was a golden age of fantasy stories. Ask any kid today and they will tell you that the terminator-Arnie is ‘Conan’. Mention the name JRR Tolkien, and with a bit of prompting, they can tell you all about the Fellowship of the Rings Trilogy (the movies of course!).

But they probably didn’t know that Robert E Howard wrote his Conan stories in the late 1920’s, the Hobbit was first published in the 1930’s and the Ring trilogy was published in the 1950s. Who still remembers the stories of Lord Dunsany? Forgotten in the current multimedia visual blitz are a number of other classical Swords-n-sorcery authors such as L Sprague de Camp, ↗Fritz Leiber, ↗Lin Carter and many others. (Were you aware that there are 20+ stories devoted to the Conan character ... and not just two movies? And that the Red Sonja and Krull movies were also based on Howard's writings?)

Sure... these authors all wrote fantastic pulp fiction stories that were sold in penny (and dime) novels, but these were the classical sword-n-sorcery stories of monsters, burly swordsmen, sorcerers and dark magic that spawned years of interest and imitations. And amazingly enough, most of these stories are still in print today!!

And this series, the Saga of Guin goes back to those roots. So one can expect an over-the-top, somewhat cheesy and (always very) bloody story on pare with any of those classical Conan stories.

Last updated Monday, June 07 2010. Created Monday, April 20 2009.

Watch Stretch [series:1893#628]
(Watch+ or Rent-)

(All episodes watched):

My first impression was that Guin Saga seemed to have a much more interesting story than the usual fantasy series, which would probably just be an RPG converted to anime anyway. The premise of two teenage members of royalty on the run encountering a strange leopard-man who has lost his memory was neat. On the other hand, the dialogue and acting seemed wooden and unconvincing. The opening scene, which took place amid a desperate scramble to escape from a palace which was being overrun by invaders, seemed strangely unemotional and unfrightening. Rinda and Remus seem to shake off their feelings of mourning for their slaughtered parents before the first episode is over. Also, Remus is a whiner with an annoying personality—though it turns out that this is intentional. With names like "Remus", "Argos" and "Mongauls", this story seemed to borrow a good deal of terminology from mythology and history. The animation, however, is wild and imaginitive. So, my impression was of a show which was very good in some ways and rather bad in others. But I would say that the good parts outweighed the bad ones.

The strange mix of good and bad parts continued in episode two. After being captured Guin knocks a guard off a precipitous bridge, to certain death--to which their leader remarks that he's an "interesting" fellow (?). On the other hand, the fight between Guin and the "Gray Ape" was exciting, realistic, and well animated. The way Guin literally beat a man into the ground in episode one was startling and definitely set him apart from most anime heroes. But I don't know if I would liken him to Conan (I read a number of the books long ago); Conan seemed to indulge the crude fantasy of what if you could kill anybody you didn't like and have sex with any woman you pleased. Guin, on the other hand, seems to have a sense of restraint and will not harm anyone unless provoked; and he is acting as a bodyguard for Rinda and Remus without being promised any reward. His goal seems to be to recover his identity rather than satisfy more base urges.

One thing I like about Guin Saga is that it manages to keep the action fairly plausible; for instance, when Guin finds himself fighting a gigantic "Big Mouth" in episode four, I was thinking that there would be no way that he could possibly survive in a believable manner, yet they pulled it off (he got a little help). In episode seven, "The Battle of Nospherus", I was glad that an attempt was made to depict an entire large-scale battle, but there were problems. Apparently an army of 15,000 men could only summon eight or ten crossbowmen, and an equal number of spearmen to engage the Sems (they should've tightened the frame so that we only saw eight or so men, but there could have been any number of additional ones out of sight). Guin managed to gallop into their midst and raise hell, somehow without catching an arrow or being overwhelmed by force of numbers. Still, I'm eager to see what sort of trick Guin has come up with to rout the mighty Mongaul army.

Guin goes to recruit reinforcements to turn the tables on the Mongauls; he does it in a way which seems typical of sword & sorcery tales, yet kind of cool anyhow. This is fun, but are we wandering away from the main questions of the series, i.e, who is Guin and how did he become like he is, and what will become of Rinda and Remus? The twins didn't even appear in episode nine. The thought occured to me that this must be a 26-er, because not a whole lot of progress had been made towards answering those questions yet. Some things could be made more clear, like why did Guin specify that the old man general of the Mongauls should be bushwacked? I thought that the campaign in Nospheros dragged on longer than it needed to, perhaps because it didn't seem all that plausible anyhow. If all else fails, go find a tribe of super musclemen to shift the balance of power. Afterwards, however, things became interesting again as the story shifted to the spying and plotting needed to overthrow the Mongaul occupiers in Parros. Remus' personality seemed to have turned 180 degrees all of a sudden.

Episode 18 was startling as a pair of assasinations are carried out. One was almost certainly a fake, since the victim was too important to lose, but the other was completely unexpected. It's not often that almost everybody's attitude is suddenly altered by a tragedy--whether it's something truly tragic or something which they've been tricked into thinking was tragic. It's no longer possible to say that the Mongauls are the completely bad guys and the people of Parros are always the good ones--which makes this show intriguing. As the story neared its end, it was difficult to keep track of all the varying motivations and loyalties of the characters--but that's infinitely preferable to a simplistic and predictable plot. Remus steps forward to take command of an invasion meant to re-take Parros; even Guin is impressed. But Remus' ruthless new personality will surely come at a cost. Again, little progress had been made towards explaining Guin's situation--maybe that is being saved for a sequel.

And, just when the excitement starts to rev up, the story begins falling to pieces. All of a sudden the feared and vaunted Mongaul Empire seems little more than a house of cards. It reminds me of the Imperial Stormtroopers in Star Wars, who seemed so frightening in the first movie yet couldn't even handle those damn teddy bears in the third one. You know something has been done wrong when you start feeling sorry for the bad guys. And who the hell is this "Sid" guy? He accuses Guin of being an incarnation of pure evil, but that claim doesn't hold a lot of water when Sid has been behaving in a despicable manner while Guin has done nothing at all wrong. And then Guin escapes from him thanks to an extremely unlikely coincidence, without us learning much of anything. After this episode (24) I can only shake my head and repeat the comment which one-man fansubber Frong made: "Well, that war sort of ended with a thud".

I had to doublecheck my belief that Guin Saga would end after 26 episodes (it did), because as late as episode 25 rather than the story winding down (as one would expect) instead new subplots were taking off. There wasn't nearly enough time to handle them, and I began to fear that what we'd be given was yet another incomplete story with a hackneyed conclusion. It seemed that the end of the war with Mongaul would have been an excellent stopping point (had it been done well), but not so. Sid is still in action, and still annoying me. He is pure evil but has no rationale to him, he just makes wild accusations. He attempts to possess Rinda then expects her to believe what he says after he fails. If he really had any solid evidence to back up his claims they would be intriguing, but he doesn't.

Sure enough, Guin Saga turned out to be not a self-contained, complete story, but just several arcs of a massive body of writing--a saga. All sorts of subplots remain unfinished after 26 episodes, and the unwritten, unspoken message which we get is "to be continued!". Still, I must admit that the final episode did a pretty good job of providing a pleasing preliminary conclusion and yet making it clear that the bulk of the story remains to be told. It had a sort of poetic feel--that's the word that comes to mind--which seemed indicative of the writing talent behind the original story. Therefore, I didn't feel seriously frustrated, even though there was a major unresolved cliffhanger regarding Remus. I guess that right to the end Guin Saga remained a strange mix of high quality bits and pieces mixed with average ones, a mix which hadn't been stirred all that much. I'd gladly watch another season if one came, but wouldn't cry if it didn't.

Last updated Sunday, May 30 2021. Created Sunday, April 19 2009.

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