Panning the Stream: Lord Marksman and Vanadis, In Search of the Lost Future, Fate/stay night

Well, so much for “keeping these posts shorter”…

It’s possible I was just in the right anime-watchin’ mood yesterday, but all three of these shows are getting full Meet ‘n’ Greets, because while only one of them is pretty much a sure thing (Spoiler: It’s Fate/stay night), all three of them had at least enough of a spark to keep me on the fence. I wouldn’t give a full thumbs-up to either of the other two just yet, but, well… hit the jump and read on for details.

Lord Marksman and Vanadis (Madan no Ou to Vanadis)

Studio: Satelight
Based On: The light novel series by Kawaguchi Tsukasa
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada), Crunchyroll (Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, excluding the Nordics, UK, and Ireland) (listed as “Lord Marksman and Vanadis”)

In a Sentence: In this medieval fantasy, Count Tigre is made a prisoner of war by Ellenora Viltaria, “war maiden” and leader of the Silver Meteor Army.

How was it? I wish it were a radio drama.

Here’s what I liked about LMV: It’s a high fantasy set in a world where women (called “war maidens”) have agency and power and even rule some of the lands.  Both the male and female leads seem talented, intelligent, and capable. The “romance” is based on prowess in battle, and the more cliche moments (“boy walks in on girl bathing”) were at least handled with dignity (no screaming, punching, bloody noses – both characters acted like adults). The fantasy world has at least some potential to grow in political complexity as well.

And here’s what I really didn’t like about LMV: That the war maidens’ outfits are lacking in all armor and a good deal of fabric. That the staff spent so much time on thigh-tastic camera angles and making boobs bounce. That a script that treats its characters like actual people could have such objectivizing animation to go along with it. I watch a lot of anime, so I’m not surprised. Just… just disappointed.

Did it make the watchlist? I have a sneaking suspicion that the writing is going to devolve to match the animation in a hurry, so I doubt it. But. I may… may give it another episode. Depending on how the rest of the shows this week shake out. We’ll see. I guess. Rrrgh.

In Search of the Lost Future (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete)

Studio: feel
Based On: The visual novel video game by Trumple
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada) (listed as “In Search of the Lost Future”)

In a Sentence: The astronomy club prepares for the school festival, until a freak accident changes everything.

How was it? Felt like a prologue, so it’s hard to say, really. It’s my least favorite of this trio, but it’s not uninteresting, at least…

I spent a good portion of this premiere shouting “Get on with it!” Monty Python-style. Not that it was bad – it was a totally fine if not slightly bland high school romance about the five members of the astronomy club (in the three-girls, two-boys format that has become pretty much standard since The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya got popular) – and I actually kinda liked the characters and their relationships with each other. But it was aimless to the point of being dull, and the only reason I stuck around until the end was because I knew SOMETHING was going to happen. I just didn’t know what. And, well…  something did indeed happen. So now here I am, writing this full Meet ‘n’ Greet instead of a one-paragraph “I dropped it” post.

Did it make the watchlist? No, but I’ll give it another episode, just so I can see what the hell is going on and if it’s something I want to watch for an entire season.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Studio: ufotable
Based On: The visual novel game by Type-Moon
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (North America, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland) (listed as “Fate/stay night”)

In a Sentence: High school student and mage Tohsaka Rin summons a Heroic Spirit to help her battle for the right to obtain the Holy Grail.

How was it? A little slow and exposition-heavy early on, but it built to a gorgeously animated fight sequence and set the stage for some potential greatness.

I considered confusing you with some backstory about the whole Fate franchise, but it doesn’t really matter, because you can come into Fate/stay night with no previous knowledge of the series (although I would recommend watching the prequel, Fate/Zero, at some point, as it’s epic as hell and pretty darn good to boot). I came into this one cautiously optimistic – I really liked F/Z, but given that the main characters this time around were teenagers, I was worried it would be a lot of fanservicey high school shenanigans. And that may still happen, but for now it seems that ufotable intends to continue with the darkly epic tone they brought to their F/Z adaptation, as there’s a heavy sense of foreboding even in the earlier, much lighter moments.

Outside of the art (beautiful), music (fitting), and animation (“Look at all that money!” I shouted at one point), I also quite like the dynamic between Rin and Archer. They fluctuate between being business partners, rivals, and even father-daughter at times, and it makes their interactions unique and engaging. Rin herself is working very well for me, too: She has a teenager’s brashness and vulnerability, but she’s also smart and driven with a strong sense of justice, and you get the sense she could be a real contender in the upcoming battle. So far, so good.

Did it make the watchlist? Fate/stay night would have to make some truly impressive blunders for me to drop it. I think it’s safe to say I’m committed to this one.

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