Alexander Senki

Title:Alexander Senki
Reign the Conqueror
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Madhouse
Prince Alexander, son of King Philip, and heir to the Macedonian empire, must fend off political sabotuers, assassins, and the jealousy of his own father to ascend to the position of king. Once there, he begins his quest to conquer all nations and become known as the Great King, though an ancient prophecy fortells that he will be the destroyer of the world and forever remembered as the Devil King.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

13 episode TV anime that aired from September 14 to December 7 of 1999.
Animated by Madhouse
Formerly licensed by Tokyopop.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 7 7 7 6 7 8 Ggultra2764 [series:2866#1552]
Reign the Conqueror was one of the few shows on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block I never had a chance of seeing in its entirety over a decade ago. Being a loose take on portraying the life of famous Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, Reign adds in supernatural elements, steampunk and influential philosophers of the time period to explore the struggles of Alexander coming to grips with his destiny to conquer the known world. The anime features Alexander gathering allies, conquering various parts of Europe and Asia and trying to make sense of the supposed destiny he has had since birth where he would lead the world to its destruction with his attempts to conquer all known lands.

The major elements that make this series stick out for quality are its excellent integration of metaphysical themes and ancient philosophical figures that were renowned around Alexander's time that influence his conquests throughout the course of the series. Alexander is blessed with a high degree of luck and charisma in his conquests that gets explained as being influenced by the fate bestowed upon him by an ancient artifact capable of algorithmic manipulation of reality that he seeks out in later episodes of the series to find meaning to his supposed destiny. This makes his existence threatening to several cults influenced by differing philosophical schools of thought who attempt to assassinate Alexander throughout the course of the series and influential Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Diogenes serve to either guide or hinder Alexander's quest to conquer countries and come to terms with the supposed destiny he has. The assumptions of Alexander's destiny made by many throughout the course of the series are not what one would assume on the surface, which is hinted to at points earlier in the series and the title's finale. On top of the show's creators shown to have done well in their research of Greek philosophy and supernatural lore for their spin on Alexander's life, they also make their own unique takes to major feats that Alexander accomplishes such as his taming of the wild horse Bucephalus, his encounter with Diogenes and his cutting of the Gordian Knot. These nice touches make the exploits of Alexander's character for this adaptation of the series all the more pleasing to see unfold.

When it comes to other characters in this series though, the series is a mixed bag in their focus on them. Some characters get enough focus to have defined personalities and developments that show what beliefs or loyalties they have that lead them to either be loyal or opposed to Alexander's pursuits. Others that have major roles in the series are either quite underdeveloped or shallow in their characters that make them difficult to connect with. The series also appears to have been left open-ended as Alexander is still alive and well following his journey in the title's finale, yet is still intent on pressing forward with his quest to conquer the known world. However, I think this might have been intentional by the show's creators since the series was more about Alexander trying to come to terms with himself instead of an actual focus of his entire life.

The presentation for this series certainly sticks out from standard anime fare. The character and setting designs for Reign the Conqueror were done by Korean-American animator Peter Chung, whom some folks may recognize as the animated talent behind the American animated cult hit Aeon Flux. On the plus side, many character designs are drawn to be quite lifelike with realistic details for muscle tone and facial features, settings that are faithful to their intended historical settings with occasional elements of steampunk tossed in for technologies employed, subdued color tones that make for a nice touch to the dark mood this series gives off and decent use of CG animation for some of the complex animations seen in the series such as a glimpse of the universe seen when Alexander enters the barrel hut of Diogenes, armies marching and the elaborate "world of destruction" seen in the finale of the series.

On the bad end, many of the major characters in this series (mostly the men) sport very revealing attire like tight thongs, shirts that expose midriff and formal attire that look like women's bathing suits that give the series somewhat of a homo-erotic feel and are obviously not faithful to Alexander's time period. Plus outside of the CG animation, the hand-drawn animation to this is mostly subpar with animation shortcuts and tricks employed to give off a sense of fluid animation that doesn't look convincing in many instances.

The soundtrack to the series sports tense and dark insert tracks that do their part to compliment the serious mood of this series, though don't particularly stick out. The original opening song for Reign ("Anata no Kiss wo Oshiemasho ~You Were Mine~") sports an upbeat, optimistic mood and lyrics that go against the intended mood this series wishes to give off. Yet in a occasional case where changes done by an American distributor are done for the better with a series, Tokyopop created a new opening song for their English dub of the series ("Worthy of your Soul") that sports a melancholic mood and lyrics that both better accompany the feel of Reign.

Overall, I'm actually fairly surprised with this series. I was expecting a dud thanks to much of the negative reception that this series received from anime fans. But I think this reception was exaggerated thanks to Reign's attempts to be different from the norm. Granted, the homo-erotic attire of the characters will turn away some fans and there are a number of characters I felt could have been better developed. But the series does do well at integrating supernatural lore and unique spins on major elements of Alexander's conquests of the known world. It's not perfect, but I think the reputation of this series as a supposed dud is greatly exaggerated.

Last updated Saturday, February 15 2014. Created Saturday, February 15 2014.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2866#628]
Oh yeah, I remember this show. I think it was shown on Adult Swim at one time, maybe ten years ago. I recall that it was loosely based on the story of Alexander the Great, but all sorts of magic and supernatural touches had been added on. It was a little too weird for me; but then I'm the sort who would have preferred an accurate, animated history of Alexander. I don't think it interested me enough to watch more than a couple episodes.

Last updated Saturday, February 15 2014. Created Saturday, February 15 2014.

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