Assassins Pride – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Merida’s family hires Kufa to tutor her in hopes that she possesses dormant magical abilities. What the young noble doesn’t know is that Kufa is secretly a ruthless assassin under orders to eliminate her if she fails to manifest her mana. (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Assassins Pride kicks things off with an over the top fight, that displays our male lead, Kufa and his unfathomable swordsmanship, capable of taking down even entire squads of armed gunmen. While Kufa’s swordsmanship and his strange name, Kufa Vampir, are a bit cliche by anime standards, Assassin’s Pride boosts its novelty by featuring a rather unusual world where cities exist within lantern like structures connected by railway tunnel tubes, all of which come together to form the facade of a candelabra. This gives the series a unique, almost otherwordly setting that feels less derivative than other fantasy based anime. However, the show stumbles as it introduces us to the lowest ranked versions of its villainous monsters, Lacanthropes. Yes, Kufa points out that they are low leveled ones but their design and behaviour in this episode make them come off more so as comical bullies than one of the major sources of trouble in this world. It’s not a huge issue but it definitely isn’t the best way to introduce a subsection of the big baddies of your series. Not to mention that the show clearly didn’t put in too much effort into coming up with the names for its characters and villains.
Tom: What’s frustrating about Assassins Pride is that the series bungles a fairly compelling plot, with such lackluster execution that it now feels dull instead. The basic gist of Assassins Pride is that Kufa, a powerful assassin, finds himself tasked with executing a young girl of royalty, as she was born out of an affair, rather than a true heir to her father’s noble line. But Kufa takes pity on the girl, choosing to try and teach her to harness her mana, and obfuscate the truth as to her ‘tainted’ origins. It’s definitely not something we see in fantasy anime everyday. But a few big issues really damage Assassins Pride’s greater appeal: First Kufa is a wet blanket. Kufa is as dull as leads come, hindered by a visual design that pegs him more so as a rip off of Kirito than a unique character on his own. Beneath that Kufa also just isn’t that charismatic and interesting a lead. He’s so serious, dour and unemotional that his shift to aiding our young royal girl, Merida, feels out of nowhere. The series doesn’t attempt to justify his shift in allegiance. There’s no flashbacks, no teases of similar hardship from his past, her reminding him of a sibling– nothing. His decision to abandon his assigned task and take to her aid feels unearned. It’s surprising seeing as the rest of the show has the opposite problem. So much of the dialogue is way too on the nose with its exposition, often crafting something that is more often unintentionally funny than the emotional gut punch it’s intended to be.
Linny: For as much as the show makes a big deal about Kufa being an assassin whose true mission is to assassinate Merida if she fails to activate her mana, that issue is dealt with relatively quickly and within the first episode. The whole question of whether he will stay true to his mission is answered in the blink of an eye and despite the show trying to inject some threat about their continued future, the series of events already make it pretty obvious which way he will lean when it comes to picking sides. I will give Assassins Pride some credit for making Merida a sympathetic character with some resolve of her own and for not filling the screen with long pandering shots of our young female characters. As a whole, Assassins Pride feels pretty middle of the road. There’s enough to enjoy here that you won’t be gritting your way through it but not enough that it could be lauded as the best of anything in its season. And while there are unique aspects to the show, there’s also a lot, especially when it comes to characters, that feel like ‘been there, seen that’ for viewer who has sat through their fair share of anime. If you like shows that feature young girls and their bodyguard hero, you might find this a watchable series but it’s not something that has much appeal beyond that.
Tom: Assassins Pride is simply an interesting idea not done to justice. The writing feels rough and too stilted to expect much from this Fall series, but Assassins Pride is hardly bottom of the barrel. If it can at least keep introducing a few ideas here and again, and maybe tighten up its dialogue, I could see it coming out as one of Fall’s more modest offerings.