Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Arata Kangatari
In my spring preview there were two series that I was going to try based on the recent success of the animation studio involved. One was Hataraku Maou-sama because of White Fox and it’s success shows why picking series by animation studio can be a good thing to ascribe too. The second series was Arata Kangatari. As the latest work from Satelight, will this anime go the route of Hataraku Maou-sama or will it go in some other direction?
Arata is a good-looking and kind high school student who is bullied mercilessly to the point that no one is willing to become friends with him from fear of being bullied as well. In a moment of despair he wishes he was never born and at that moment his mind is transferred to another universe and into the body of a boy also named Arata who had just entered a magic glen. The other Arata then has his mind transferred to the Arata on Earth. The Earth original Arata finds out that the other world Arata is wanted for the murder of ruling princess, though he’s being framed for it. To keep his freedom the Earth original Arata is facing very strong opposition but one thing will help him – he can summon a powerful, ancient god’s powers, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a long time, while wielding a ceremonial sword handed down through the other Arata’s family line.
The Fine Print
I see the potential in this series, even now, and that made me want to initially blame, for the anime not being immediately great, the anime adaptors for trying to fit too much of the source material into each of the first two episodes. (Basically going too fast, the exact opposite problem I felt the first episode of Aku no Hana had.) The problem with this conclusion is the first two episodes of Arata Kangatari adapted 7 chapters of the manga, which isn’t overly fast. With no easy target I went back to the drawing board.
The next most likely culprit, I feel, is the time required to set the show up did not leave enough time to adequately build up the characters and the setting. The evidence for this is, so far, the characters conform to stock character types and have not expressed much in the way of individuality. Even the other world where magic exists feels like a generic alternative world where magic works. And the work to set this series up is a bit more complicated then the average anime series, as evidenced by how complicated the story section above sounds. This problem isn’t a death sentence for Arata Kangatari because the foundation for the series has been adequately laid and should allow for the opportunity to build a good and interesting anime series.
I say “should” because this series is giving off epic fantasy vibes and epic fantasy series normally need a bit of time to reach their peak potential and the anime for Arata Kangatari is only slated to be 1 cour long, I think 12 episodes to be exact. That isn’t much time and I’m worried how the anime adaptation will play out. If I had no faith in Satelight I might just drop this anime right now but I do have a fair amount of faith so I’m sticking with it for now.
Outside of the potential I see in this series, I’m finding it difficult to find some facet to truly speak positively about. Take the animation, for instance. Objectively, it’s above average animation but, the moment I remember Satelight is animating it, I remember the standard they’ve shown in such recent series like Aquarion Evol and AKB0048 and Arata Kangatari feels like a distinct step down in quality. Maybe I should pretend JC Staff is animating Arata Kangatari. If I could, I’d be thinking how JC Staff has finally shown some improvement in their animation capabilities.
This inability to truly speak positively or even negatively about Arata Kangatari supports the conclusion that the first two episodes, taken as a whole, have been an average experience.
Rating for episode 1 – 6/12 B-
Rating for episode 2 – 6/12 B-
Animation: 3/5 – Good
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 – Average