Jūni Taisen

Title:Jūni Taisen
Zodiac War
Keywords: , , , ,
The 12th Twelve Tournament gets held every twelve years. Twelve brave, strange warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls.The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

Fall 2017 anime that premiered on October 3, 2017.
Animated by Graphinica.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 9 9 8 5 5 5 Ggultra2764 [series:3422#1552]
Juni Taisen mostly relishes in the spectacle of its main plot on 12 assassins in a competition to kill one another for the opportunity to have their wish granted. Each episode shifts focus between the competition and devoting focus on one of the assassins taking part in the competition, each of whom having their own motives for taking part in the Juuni Taisen. While the backstories help provide fleshing out of the characters involved in the competition, it mostly plays out as fluff for the main attraction of the series in the form of the competition. Each of the assassins have their own unique abilities they exploit against their foes, having varying degrees of effectiveness to aid in their victory. Some of them are able to efficiently rely on their abilities to get by in combat, while others have to be more tactical in getting their victory due to limitations connected to their ability. Fights between the assassins are nicely animated with fluid movement, a great amount of detail put into character designs and scenic shots, and great fight choreography milking use of the various abilities and weaponry from each assassin. While the spectacle is nice to see unfold, there's little else of interest to see in Juuni Taisen as the characters don't have much to show in regards of dimension and the outcome for the competition came off feeling a bit anticlimactic for this viewer. Still if violent action titles like Deadman Wonderland and Future Diary grab your interest, you are likely to have more interest in Juuni Taisen than I do.

Last updated Tuesday, December 19 2017. Created Tuesday, December 19 2017.
Rent Stretch [series:3422#628]
(All episodes watched):

A show about twelve flamboyant assassins/martial artists, each with a unique fighting style and set of weapons, could easily be rather shallow and passé, with plenty of fighting but little else. But Juuni Taisen managed to keep me fairly interested, perhaps because we get to know each of the competitors and they turn out to be fairly likeable people (except for one) rather than soulless killing machines. In fact, you can't help wondering why some of them are taking part in this fight-to-the-death when their goals are to save lives rather than take them. Some of the fighters seem very un-combative and would rather just negotiate a truce. Apparently it's not uncommon for them to cooperate early on, by forming little teams, even though this will ultimately be a last man standing contest. It must be the fabulous promise that any wish--any--will be granted to the winner, so presumably killing a few people would be OK if millions were saved as a result. Everybody gets a fairly involved background story which tells us who they were before the Juuni Taisen, and while these could sometimes get a little boring I think it was a good idea and largely worked. The characters are so wild as to be fun and intriguing, but not so wild that they cross the line into absurdity and become impossible to take seriously. I was surprised how moralistic and admirable OX turned out to be, since he had seemed distant and frightening at the start. You kind of wonder why these people are trying to kill each other, since most of them aren't so bad after all. One by one they fall, and it sort seems like a waste that they won't be around for a sequel. They were fun people and I wouldn't have minded spending another season with them.

It took a little while to get used to the distorted rules of what is physically possible in this show. For instance, the notion that wild acrobatics can make a person impervious to bullets, even at point-blank range. Or that the entire population of a major city has been eliminated somehow to give these twelve fighters an urban battleground in which they can run wild. Or, of course that the winner will have 'any wish granted'. What sort of organization could possibly be behind such a thing? Early on, I had some trouble suspending disbelief and wondered how seriously I was supposed to take this show.

My first impression was that one of the twelve competitors would act as our guide as she shared her thoughts with us, but before long about the last thing I was expecting happened to her, and it became clear that the fight would be seen through the lenses of all twelve combatants. There seems to be a trend to this show (possible spoiler): any character who seems to be ascendant, who seems to have figured out how to defeat his/her opponents, and who we get to know fairly well--that character doesn't have long to live. It's actually kind of neat, though it sort of gives away a good deal of where the plot is headed (also, don't pay too much attention to the ED sequence, because that may act as a spoiler as well). We get to know each of these colorful characters then have the rug yanked out from under us. It isn't just fighting either; for example, 'Monkey' and 'Rat' debate whether there's any point to trying to prevent conflicts or if one should just let them play themselves out. This show became more intriguing to me with time, which doesn't happen often. In fact, I would now say that it was one of my favorite anime of the season (and I watched the first episode of almost every new one).

One would think that the final episode would be where the last two competitors fight it out and we reach a rip-roaring conclusion. But surprisingly, the contest has already been decided at the end of the next-to-last episode and the last one is entirely about the winner agonizing about what wish to have fulfilled as a reward. I liked it; this served as the person's background episode, and we get to know the winner as he/she intelligently debates what to ask for (and we learn what each of the losers wanted as well). I was guessing that the wish would be that the Juuni Taisen be ended once and for all, but that didn't happen. The series ended well with a strange sense that everybody is at peace now. I was very skeptical going into this show, but it greatly exceeded my expectations. The personal background stories were sometimes dull but the contest itself had me on the edge of my seat and I expect to rewatch it someday. I hope the show does well enough that soon we can time warp forward twelve years to the next JT. In general, the characters are colorful, the plot is unpredictable and sophisticated, and I was always wondering what would happen next.

My favorite line: "Everybody, clap your hands!"

Last updated Tuesday, January 02 2018. Created Sunday, October 29 2017.

Other Sites
Official Japanese Series Web Site http://12taisen.com/

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