|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Quan Zhi Gao Shou (S1)
(All episodes watched--at least twice):
Here's a show which I knew very little about--at the time, there was no mention of it in the ANN encyclopedia--but the one thing I did know was that I was excited by it. It seems to be a Chinese rather than Japanese anime; I was surprised how I could tell that the characters were speaking in a language other than Japanese, even though I don't even speak Japanese myself. It quickly became clear that this was a very professional and high quality show. Ye Qiu has been screwed over by his former employer, and must basically start from scratch in the world of professional video gaming. Will his goal be revenge against Jianshi? He doesn't seem all that angry; he seems like a laid-back guy who doesn't get excited, which is one thing you can like about him. I didn't know where this was going to go (which was probably a good thing), but I knew that I had had great fun watching episode one and was eager to learn more. This was without doubt the one anime of the Spring 2017 season (right?) that I started off most enthusiastic about.
Damn, this show is fun! Ye Qiu (now known as 'Lord Grimm') gets to work building a new Glory character, and his ass-kicking skills enable him to advance rapidly. He makes a frenemy of a guy who thought he was awesome and had planned on taking advantage of inexperienced players in his raiding party. The animation of combat is wild and exciting. Quality everywhere is high. The fact that four or five different flamboyantly named studios (like 'Tencent Penguin' and 'Bili Bili') took part in making this show makes it seem like the effort expended was enough to make a movie rather than just a TV show. I quickly came to view episodes of this show as a precious resource that must be treated with care--that is, don't watch them when I'm exhausted or in a bad mood, because I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy them. Watching each episode twice became standard procedure, and that is a definite sign of a show I really like.
Jianshi announces that Ye Qiu has retired, which breaks the hearts of countless fans of his. Little do they know that he has in fact just been sent back to square one and has restarted his career under a different name. A plot point like this being included in the story at all encourages me to think that a clever and sophisticated work is underway, not just a show which gets viewers by flattering video game otaku. If all that's going to happen is fighting our way to the final boss and defeating him, such a step wouldn't be necessary and wouldn't be taken. We get a fun mix of alternate reality adventures and real world machinations. In the real world an expert female gamer turns up, and is thrashed by Ye Qiu/Lord Grimm is one-on-one matches. She vows that someday she will beat him. His not so diplomatic comments to her give us a hint of how much he cares about 3D girls (to be fair, she badmouthed Glory). On the other hand, I can't help expecting that Mucheng, the girl from episode one and a fellow Jianshi employee who sympathized with him, to turn up again at some point (a romantic triangle?). In fact, Ye Qiu doesn't seem to care all that much about anything other than playing Glory--he's content with what's little more than a bed in a closet as his room. Yet he doesn't seem addicted or psychologically messed up. He just has his priorities and doesn't want to be distracted from them. It's all delicious. This quickly became my favorite new anime of the Spring 2017 season.
Lord Grimm advances steadily, scoring 'first kills' of fearsome virtual monsters and setting new records for the amount of time needed to clear a stage in Glory. The experts take notice of this mysterious person and the notion that he might actually be The God of Battle, playing on his own time, is put forward. People who don't like Ye Qiu/Lord Grim attempt to infiltrate his raiding team in order to spy on him and discover what new tactics he has invented, and then use them to outperform him and make him seem less of a hero. Then they try even more overt methods to sabotage his efforts. Animus between real world people is being played out in the virtual reality of Glory. I don't really know where this is going, but I know that it's always fun. In the real world, a couple of the protagonist's former underlings at Jianshi (one of them drunk) happen upon him at his new job. The mix of virtual reality and real world is effective and cool. But Ye Qiu is clearly nobody's fool. This is a show which is so cool that it leaves me giggling after each new episode--that doesn't happen often. And a joke in episode seven was laugh out loud funny.
What's kind of odd is that this is a show which makes no claims that the characters are trapped in virtual reality or might somehow get killed in the real world if they get killed in the virtual one. Glory is just so realistic that we learn as much about the characters from what they do and say there as we do from what they do and say in the real world. The fact that names seem to continually change, from Chinese to English translations to something else at a different fansubber, can be confusing. The translation is not perfect, and the dialogue flows so rapidly in Chinese that there's little time to read subtitles, so what exactly is going on is sometimes unclear. It's hard to keep track of everyone's bizarre name, and which bizarrely named Glory team they belong to, as these teams jockey to answer the challenge that Lord Grim has made to their prestige within Glory. It's also hard to understand what tricks and tactics Lord Grim is using, since I have never played Glory myself. I wish I knew what it meant to 'aggro' (some sort of video game fighting tactic, apparently) and stuff like that. It sounds like Glory is a real game, based on the comments that the fansubbers include in order to explain unfamiliar terms. That is a little disturbing, because it opens the possibility that QZGS is ultimately an elaborate commercial for the game. But there's a definite plot underway here, much of it taking place in the real world, so it couldn't have just been lifted from the video game (could it?). Still, I find myself starting to wonder where this is all going as Lord Grim fights off repeated challengers who would like to humiliate or outperform him for one reason or another. Will the story really reach a climax of some sort, and resolve a serious conflict? With only twelve episodes (if I understood correctly) something has got to happen soon. Still, even if we never get anywhere, the ride is fun. Even if I don't completely understand it, there's clearly a fun story being told here and I enjoy my imperfect conception of it.
Ultimately he story doesn't reach any sort of real conclusion, it just goes on hold after twelve episodes as we are told that a second season is in the works. Grim and his comrades are racking up all sorts of achievements in Glory, which is fun to watch, but the longterm plot is in limbo and I have no idea if the show will ever pursue it at all. That is, will significant events still occur in the real world, or will the story take place more and more in the virtual one? Ultimately, I think QZGS needs a longterm, real-world plot just as much as it needs virtual world action, and I hope the makers were aware of that. After stumbling across the second season, specials and a movie, I rewatched season one to refresh my memory and it was as fun as ever. The swearing and gossip in internet chatrooms made me laugh repeatedly. This is a show which can spin a sophisticated and fun plot full of colorful characters even if most of it is happening in virtual reality.
Last updated Tuesday, February 09 2021. Created Sunday, April 16 2017.