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Ulysses: Jeanne d'Arc to Renkin no Kishi
(All episodes watched):|
The award for the historical figure that most enthralls writers of manga and anime must surely go to Joan of Arc. My first thought at seeing the title of this new series was that it would almost certainly be yet another mediocre show that claimed a piece of the Joan or Arc legend but made little or no attempt to be historically accurate and instead injected so much Harry Potter type nonsense into the story that if Joan's name hadn't been present you wouldn't have guessed that she had anything to do with it. But the first episode was actually sort of fun. I guess I liked things like the one-for-all-and-all-for-one pact that four friends make as teenagers; or the risky business of trading your allegiance--perhaps even your soul--for temporary superhuman powers. This struck me as a sort of a cross between Full Metal Alchemist and the usual Joan of Arc tale. Perhaps the fact that Joan herself had yet to appear after one episode helped, too. The supernatural premise of the show is complete balderdash, but somehow all the weird touches--like fairies--had the effect of making it sort of intriguing when you would think it would fall to pieces. It was like the author hadn't been worrying about making sense or being accurate, but had made a serious effort to generate a colorful, unusual tale with interesting characters. He/she just risked everything that this outlandish tale would be fun, and after one episode it largely was. It might still collapse (are the English being depicted as some sort of devil worshippers?), but for the moment I wondered if Montmorency would be able to keep the vow he took. I guess the question would be whether novel concepts would continue to flow in episode two or if we have already seen everything unique there was about this anime.
Montmorency fell under a sort of spell in that he lost all track of time as he obsessively pursued the study of magic and alchemy, and as a result seven years slipped by before he realized what had happened. In that time the fortunes of his friends have gone to pot and they need his help. He meets Joan of Arc, who once some sort of magic is applied to her (I didn't completely understand just what happened) alternates between a sweet and naive girl and a fierce and deadly warrior. Again, weird and almost inexplicable, yet kind of fun. The plot does make some sense, in that Montmorency will try to use the skills he learned during his seven years in the wilderness to save his old friends, and, via Joan, to save France itself. How exactly they will do this isn't crystal clear; stuff happens, the occult is intimately involved, and following the plot and keeping track of the characters becomes confusing and difficult. The plot didn't seem to keep focused on one question which must be answered, instead it wandered about and women with tremendous busts are common. It becomes sort of a harem anime. As the show neared its end it gradually became clear that I had largely lost track of what was going on, what was important, what was at stake, etc. My brain didn't detect much of a pattern, so it didn't bother to remember all sorts of little events which presumably have something to do with the story. What is a 'Ulysses', again? I have little idea. At one point it seemed as if the story was veering into science fiction. Episode twelve seemed rather incomplete, and I wondered if there might be a 13th or even a second season to come (in the latter case, I decided I wouldn't watch it). Everything seemed muddled and confusing at the end; I could give you only the most extremely vague and loose summary of what happened. I didn't quit because there were some interesting touches here and there, and perhaps the manga tells a better disciplined and focused tale than the anime does. So, to make a long story short, we're still waiting for a good anime based on the story of Joan of Arc.
Last updated Friday, January 11 2019. Created Tuesday, October 23 2018.