Big Order – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: April 15th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Hoshimiya Eiji lives in a world that’s nothing like our own. The world we live in, the society we have, is gone, forever changed after a global catastrophe left society in tatters. Recovering, the world believes that those who are designated as “Orders” caused the catastrophe. Orders are people who possess bizarre powers. Eiji is an Order and he believes it was his wish, ten years ago, that caused the destruction of the world. Eiji has remained quiet, seeking to take care of his sister in the hospital, his only remaining family member from the cataclysm. However, his life is changed when a girl transfers into his school, Kurenai Rin. She’s actually an assassin sent to kill Eiji, as she knows the truth: She knows he’s the Order who almost killed us all.
Mid Season (5 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Big Order is a highly flawed show, suffering from what I feel is a distinct lack of thought put into the minute details surrounding Eiji’s or really everyone’s various Order abilities. To put it mildly, Eiji is too overpowered, yet ridiculously inept when the show finds the need for it. The audience is never given a proper definition or concept of how Eiji’s power works, exactly what it does, its strengths, or weaknesses. We’re kept in the dark all so Big Order can introduce limits to Eiji’s power, or surprise come backs, whenever the need arises. Often one episode to another contradicts Eiji’s limits and the same goes for the other characters. At times it’s as if Eiji, already a fairly ho-hum character with little original nuanced personality, is unstoppable, but then other times his, supposedly world conquering/destroying, ability is pathetically undone by someone else’s lesser power. Eiji suffers a downgrade whenever convenient whether it flows with the established continuity or not.
Linny: Welcome to yet another jaded loner protagonist who is secretly hiding an immense power and a dark secret. And for the cherry on top, he has a sweet and sickly little ‘imouto’ to be his sole companion, inspiration and motivation. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who can enjoy this premise thanks to not having been burnt out by watching a million and one shows with the same premise before this. But if you’ve seen this formula one too many times, Big Order isn’t going to be the one to change your mind or rejuvenate your dead passion for this genre/ storyline.
Tom: Eiji’s sister is abandoned early on, only making a fleeting reappearance during episode five, and becomes little more than a plot device. It’s probably for the best as what we’ve seen indicates she’s your generic, not actually related by blood, totally has a thing for her brother, character that many fans have grown sick of over the last few years. The assassin girl, Rin, becomes a main stay. Her tsundere persona becomes tired very quickly, and her budding interest in Eiji is seen so far in advance that Big Order becomes a painful wait for the predictable outcome of this relationship. Despite Rin’s dark desires of murdering Eiji in revenge for the deaths of her parents, Big Order treats her as nothing more than comic relief once we’re past the rapey conclusion of its premiere episode.
Linny: What’s also frustrating is how people seem to be constantly switching personalities and loyalties. Sure you can argue that it keeps the viewer on their toes because you never know what is going to happen next but when almost every single character is suffering from what seems like a multiple personality disorder, it starts to feel more chaotic rather than a gripping twist every time they do something that completely negates or opposes how they were acting or what they were saying seconds ago. One could even say it was comical but it certainly doesn’t help that almost every big baddie that Eiji faces off seems to devolve into a cliche super evil villain that’s doing their utmost to come off as evil as possible.
Tom: Big Order boasts a surprisingly large cast, one that with just ten episodes this season, most likely will go largely undeveloped. We’ve gotten to know a handful of the generals that have aligned themselves with Eiji, but beyond their Order abilities, or a brief glimpse into the basic kind of character they are, we really know nothing about them. Episode four and five expand a bit on these cast members, namely Iyo a priestess girl who can get pregnant at the drop of a hat, and Kagekiyo who’s perhaps a bit too similar to Rin in her quest for ultimate revenge. (Maybe that’s why they make her a raging pervert in episode 5.)
Linny: The first two episodes feel a little shaky as the show keeps juggling and changing its tone and direction with my personal takeaway after those two episodes being that this is a story about an overpowered main character who wants to take over the world. An example of the show’s constant switching would be that the show keeps making numerous attempted murder jokes and plays them extremely comical in the second episode, even though the intent to murder was played as super dark, brutal and serious in the first.
Tom: Big Order cannot settle on its tone. Initially the series opens with a dark, somber, edgy take on Eiji’s life and the aftermath of his ill chosen wish. Heck, that episode even ends with an uncomfortable rapey vibe that became the talk of the online community. Oddly, Big Order pulls back from this darker interpretation and injects more and more comedy to the point where I almost wondered if we were even watching the same series from when we started. When the show does shift back to a more dramatic, morbid tone, it generally feels hollow thanks to the series’ inability to clearly define the limits of each Order’s ability. After a heavy fan service sequence that screams for a Big Order ecchi spin off (Let’s not) the series jumps back into its brutally dark and violent tone. But by this point the abilities of our heroes and villains are so unrefined, so haphazard in their depiction, it becomes more confusing than gripping as you wonder why Eiji’s ability is suddenly so useless and incapable (with surprise restrictions placed on it) or as another character’s ability turns out to be so powerful it calls into question why he’d even need Eiji’s assistance in the first place. Big Order’s internal logic and workings are a complete and total mess.
Linny: The fan service is even more random and unexplained than you’d expect. Our first offering consists of Rin in a jail cell with only her lingerie, with never any reason given for it. Hell, she herself even asks why she is naked and then she is given her clothes back almost immediately. After 3 episodes with that as the only major fan service, episode 5 explodes with an extended boob groping scene where Kagekiyo goes around vigorously mauling every female character’s tits until she orgasms (GIF above completely related). As someone who can brush aside most fan service, this all felt more confusing than offensive but it could still be an issue for some viewers. My main concern is how the show keeps fluctuating, one minute our hero is shown to be almost God-like in power, the next he is but a mere helpless pawn at the mercy of everyone else. But even more aggravating, a lot of the ‘issues’ our hero and gang face have such ridiculously convenient fixes that one wonders why they made it sound like the end of the world in the first place. Some may argue that it was done for the sake of building tension. That’s all well and good but when you then supply a solution that is so absolute and easy, one can’t help but feel like the issue was hammed up in the first place and it then becomes harder and harder to take the next problem at hand seriously when you keep getting ridiculously overpowered solutions every single time. At one point, a pregnancy plot is introduced solely for the sake of ensuring that our hero is in a pinch and then completely dismissed by the next episode. Once again you could argue that you need all these random events, dire threats, loyalty switches, etc for the sake of keeping the audience on their toes.. but when it happens at such a rapid and constant rate, it starts to lose the impact it could have had.
Tom: Another divisive point with Big Order is its reliance on shock value. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but know there’s quite a bit of blood spewing across the screen in any given episode and the series isn’t afraid to chop a few limps and heads off while it’s at it. Jarringly, CGI is used to portray a number of the Order’s abilities and it doesn’t blend all that well. Finally as Linny mentioned (and seen above), as if the series didn’t have enough shock/exploitation going for it, Episode five goes into a elongated fan service sequence (heavily censored with copious amounts of white light streaks to cover all the nipples and jiggling boobs) that should prove for an interesting uncensored Bluray release. It’s as if Big Order was built to try and be as offensive (or more likely edgy) as possible.
Linny: The show has a dark colour palette for the most part in order to depict the dismal condition of the world after the near complete destruction event it barely survived. It also employs a kaleidoscopic effect to depict Eiji’s power effect area which makes a nice contrast against the dark surrounding. The combat is CGI heavy and Eiji’s creature, depicted in the series, remind me a bit of the IBMs from Ajin. The CGI does tend to stand out though and for some it may make for a flashy look while others may dislike the jarring difference.
Tom: Big Order didn’t impress nor grab me with its edgy premiere. In fact, I found it extremely off-putting thanks to the rapey final sequence that’s retconned at the start of episode 2. I’ve begun to suspect that the entire purpose of the rapey conclusion was for pure shock value. It’s job is to goad the audience into returning based on this edgy nature, rather than enticing viewers with truly gripping and engaging writing. Big Order is big, broad and lacking in any significant thought over the more minor details. It’s tone varies wildly between dark, edgy, brooding and a more light-hearted absurd nature jumping between these two tones whenever it feels like it. Because Eiji is so overpowered, yet his limits ill defined, it’s tough to become engaged when danger rears its non-threatening head. And if there’s no palpable danger: why keep watching?
Linny: If you are in the market for a show that will have you constantly guessing thanks to its ever switching tone, randomly imposed limits and insanely overpowered characters, then look no further. If you haven’t been jaded by these heroes that use their limitless powers (but limited when the plot needs it to be) to take over the world, then Big Order could still be a fun experience for you as you watch Eiji overcome a million and one different issues thanks to his allies or his own insurmountable power. However, there’s also a good chance that the show’s constant need to be shocking without proper planning and execution will ultimately drive you away.
Big Order is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.