Savor it while it’s…not rotten.
Some quick observations about Madan no Ou to Vanadis:
I do like the OP. The animation feels rather genuine, as if someone actually cares about the product they’re putting out. (Or maybe it’s comforting because the last battle ballad we had here was in Blade and Soul)
So far, Vanadis has been holding its harem cards pretty close to its chest. The cliche elements are still there, but they aren’t as obvious as in Inou-Battle, so that’s something.
The horses in this series are ENORMOUS. Jeez.
So we open on prologue. Skipping that. We meet our hero, Tigre, most skilled archer in the land. He’s the lord of this province, Alsace, and for whatever reason is fighting a battle against one of the Vanadis, Ellen, of Zchted. I’m gonna be throwing around a lot of names here, because it’s…well we have to learn this Japanese overnight. Alsace lies in the kingdom of Brune, and it’s really unclear why we’re having this little war yet, other than the penile compensation reasons.
Tigre is captured in the battle and brought to Zchted. Yeah I just skipped a lot of opening exposition. It hurts my brain. Ellen wants to take Tigre on as a hostage, it seems.
Now, I know that the protocol for such relationships is very different from the concept of a POW today, but I really find it odd during all this stuff that Tigre, not once, really considers that by teaching Zchted soldiers how to be better archers, he’s ultimately making them more efficient at killing his countrymen.
We have some harem anime antics involving Tigre catching Ellen bathing and her daring him to look, because all women secretly want to be watched while they bathe by strangers. But one of Tigre’s retainers, Bertrand, arrives quite suddenly to tell us the bad guys are invading Alsace. And they are ARE WE SUBTLE ENOUGH IN BEING EVIL bad guys, too! Because if there’s anything that tells engaging storytelling, it’s arbitrary black and white sides.
In a moment that actually works, as Tigre tries to sneak out to defend his homeland against the invaders, despite his “contract” of sorts as a prisoner, Ellen confronts him, and he begs her to allow him the use of her forces to defend his home (which, right now, is across international borders). Ellen is so amused by his audacity, she consents. And I admit it’s a pretty good moment for Ellen. And she quickly turns it around on Tigre that he must swear Alsace over to her banner. So essentially, from her end, she’s setting out to conquer it before the BAD GUYS do, and for Tigre, he wrests an agreement from Ellen that the people of Alsace will remain relatively self-determinant, only the international border will now be crossing them.
So, the bad guys, Thernadier, seem to be doing pretty well for themselves, marching through the countryside unopposed. In a nice bit of complexity, the villagers hide within the temple as no one wants to incur the wrath of the church. The “prince” here seems to imply it won’t always be that way, but for now it’s too complicated.
So Tigre has a twintailed maid guarding his house, because of course. And even the evil prince can see she gets wet for Tigre like a proper harem heroine. Not sure if that’s self aware or just them reading the casting call sheet for filler… But it’s okay, before we have to hear Titta say “Tigre-sama” for seventh uncomfortable time, she’s saved from the attempted rape by Tigre and Ellen!
Five bucks. Who wants to guess the conversation? Does it involve Tigre telling his maid she should be safe, and her rebuttal that his dick is too big for her to run away and do nothing? You, good sir/madam, are a winner!
Well, she’s actually protecting the family legacy, the Black Bow. Tigre picks up the weapon, time for badassery!
Five bucks. Who wants to bet Ellen says “it’s okay we won’t annex you” next time? Anyone? No? You’re right, guaranteed losing bet.
Right now the exposition salad is the only thing saving this series, sad as that is. In having to establish the political relationships between the various factions, Vanadis isn’t giving itself time enough to hover around the trite harem cliches. But they are there, and once we get a handle on this universe guaranteed they will rear their ugly head.