Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is the latest entry into the Highlander-styled battle royale trend currently sweeping anime.

Juni Taisen

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.)

Juni Taisen

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.

Juni Taisen

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.

Juni Taisen

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.

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I grew up traveling around the world with my parents who practice and teach medicine. We spent 6 years in South Asia, including Japan, and my anime obsession began there. Sports, horror, and Seinen are my favorite genres. Favorite quote: "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." by William James
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