JUNI TAISEN: ZODIAC WAR – Anime Preview
Synopsis: The record of the bloody battle between the twelve proud warriors— The 12th Twelve Tournament that gets held every twelve years… Twelve brave warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls. The participants are twelve very strange warriors: “Rat,” “Ox,” “Tiger,” “Rabbit,” “Dragon,” “Snake,” “Horse,” “Goat,” Monkey,” “Rooster,” “Dog,” and “Pig.” The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be. The one wish they want granted— Who will be the final survivor? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Juni Taisen offers bleak, brooding and violent visuals. There’s a dark atmosphere here that gets quite brutal, but not in a grotesque way, more an over the top, absurdly violent approach. As long as you’re comfortable with blood spurting violence, you’ll likely appreciate the crazy character designs and over the top visual mayhem.
Linny: It’s brutal and it’s action packed and it’s going to definitely entertain those of you who like their shows to be extremely physical with plenty of bloodshed and mayhem in the first episode itself. Juni Taisen is also visually stylish with its action scenes and settings. There are moments when the animation could have used more fine tuning or budget but those moments are far in between enough to not ruin the episode itself.
Tom: Juni Taisen is basically the poster child for edgy action anime, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You get the sense that the series is fully aware of how absurd it is. We’re piled on with over the top, sadistic, absurd backstory and character personalities that sell the complete over the top nature of this series.
Linny: It definitely does get a bit heavy handed when it shows us the sadistic past of one of the cast, throwing in abusive parents and a younger sister who gleefully delights in killing living things such as a fox and its little cubs. We’re even shown a mental breakdown in the first episode that feels rather paper thin, clearly included in the story for plot purposes but poorly built up to. Clearly, Juni Taisen isn’t something one checks out for convincing character drama.
Tom: Introducing us to the tone of the series, the first episode is primarily told through the eyes of Boar, one of our twelve fighters, and furtive glimpses into her backstory. While perhaps sometimes a tad forced, or lacking in components needed to fully sell the absolute absurdity of Boar gradually turning her sister into a crazed loon, it does a solid job of selling exactly what kind of series this is. It’s over the top, violent, and insane.
Linny: Something extremely noteworthy about the show besides its over the top violence is its eye catching character designs. The 12 people engaged in battle each represent one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals and the show does a great job of taking that as inspiration. Each character has a memorable look and the first episode manages to really sell the personality of most of them through their behaviour and the observations of others. It’s also revealed that the fighters each have a unique power, though we’ve only seen two of them use theirs so far. This builds up the audiences’ expectations and promises some interesting showdowns in the future.
Tom: Interestingly, Viz.com has a manga version for this series, as they’re both based off a Light Novel. Yet the manga is surprisingly different from the anime, offering an alternate telling of events that make not-insignificant changes to Boar’s backstory, and even introduces other characters in different ways. So it’s unclear how much liberty has been taken with the anime or the manga when adapting the Light Novel. Ultimately however, what Juni Taisen offers isn’t perfect, but god is it fun. If you’re into balls to the wall absurdity and violence, Juni Taisen offers up its brooding, edgy, gruesome world with plenty of violent bravado as 12 crazies in animal attire attempt to rip each other to shreds.
Linny: Juni Taisen is another good example of how crazy and stylish anime can get with violence and battle royales. For those familiar with such stories, you may already have realized that Juni Taisen is all about style over substance. It’s a show you pick up to watch for over the top battles and a complete lack of logic in some cases. It’s no masterpiece but it doesn’t need to be. It’s here to entertain you with its cool character designs and supernatural powered battles and if that isn’t your thing, you best just move along.