Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is the latest entry into the Highlander-styled battle royale trend currently sweeping anime.
The series gathers twelve Chinese Zodiac inspired warriors and throws them into a grim, dark tournament. Each contestant is poisoned and told that the lone winner will receive an antidote along with a wish.
The premier’s setup is very basic, but it stands out with killer animation and a detestable point-of-view character. We see the premiere through the eyes of The Boar and are treated to flashbacks to learn how she was chosen to participate in the tournament. (Spoiler: she mind breaks her already psychotic sister.)
Throughout the episode, we learn that each Chinese Zodiac has a “familial lineage” and every 12 years they pick a participant for the Juni Taisen tournament. We only see The Boar, but it’s hinted that all of the characters are pretty twisted – especially bunny boy.
However, the premiere is bogged down with loads and loads and loads of inner monologuing. Seriously, The Boar interjects her thoughts in almost every second of the episode. That style may have worked in Nisio Isin’s light novel, but it’s repetitive when put into an anime.
Luckily, the animation carries enough pop to distract you from the downsides. The series is directed by Naoto Hosoda, who worked on The Future Diary. It’s good to see his sequences are being put to good use – every fight was smooth as silk.
While not groundbreaking, Juni Taisen: Zodiac War has the makings of a solid action series. Hopefully, they’ll dial back on the monologuing, but fans of straightforward action will be entertained.