Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Arata Kangatari

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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?

The Story

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

arata_kangatari05429To answer the question above, Arata Kangatari has not been the run away success that Hataraku Maou-sama was but it also hasn’t been a failure.

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.

[Anime-Koi] Arata Kangatari - 01 [h264-720p][C7C9057D].mkv_snapshot_17.46_[2013.04.18_20.54.45]

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 16/12  B-
Rating for episode 26/12  B-
Animation: 3/5 – Good
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 – Average

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[Anime-Koi] Arata Kangatari - 01 [h264-720p][C7C9057D].mkv_snapshot_09.48_[2013.04.18_20.49.26]

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3 thoughts on “Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Arata Kangatari”

  1. I’d give the two starting episodes somewhere around a 3 or 3.5 star of 5.

    The setting is interesting though the setup is rather complicated. Two main perspectives, with various mysterious back story strings flying around still.

    Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince
    Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru.

    From this season looks good so far.

    Problem Children Are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They?
    High School DxD

    http://www.anime-planet.com/anime/k-anime

    From previous seasons were the surprise hits. All of them I pretty much watched because I was bored and the 3 ended at episode 13 just about, but all had great endings and exciting battle mechanics.

    The things they should keep in mind for modern short anime series is that 1. don’t introduce antagonists, protagonists, or plot crucial characters at the end of the arc. 2. Don’t spend resources or time in the beginning with a series that only has 13 or less episodes, otherwise one lacks the resources to do the ending. 3. Take extra time and effort to understand the battle mechanic and show the details of how it affects victory/loss.

    Yahari Ore isn’t a combat anime, so their goal is to project interesting conversations from the characters to the viewer.

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  2. @ymarsakar: I like the third episode of Arata much better, maybe because Arata has started staking out the hero role he’ll have to play.

    I’ve been meaning to catch Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince but haven’t yet. Is there anything about it that stands out when compared to the other SF/mecha series this season?

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  3. In reply to the question of difference, I would say that the premise and setup is different. Most mecha series take things from shounen shows and utilize samurai 1v1 duels. Even Code Geass by Sunrise did a lot of that, even though their plot was about grand political chicanery. Ginga Kikoutai is about a team of 5, with of course the hero being one of the various personalities, but not the only one.

    The 4th episode actually portrayed most of the viewpoint from the instructor’s angle, that of an adult guardian, so the material is different because it works with different people and setups.

    The classic mecha story is always about individuals, often times very quirky anti-social ones that can’t even work with their allies, let alone make peace with their enemy/rivals. By adding a team orientated element, it changes the focus.

    The themes have a different priority, thus it feels different. The characters have a tightly knit team spirit, so that changes the nature of the conflict from a 1v1 to a sort of team sports analogy. The graphics, of course, are very uniquely recognizable, given the character designer. So they “look” very much alike to older mecha like shows.

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