Katana Maidens ~ Toji No Miko – Anime Preview
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Synopsis: Since the ancient times, the Kannagi priestesses have used their swords, or Okatana, to exorcise the creatures known as Aratama that brought chaos upon the world of man. These maidens were known as Tojis, a special task force within the police allowed to have their Okatana on their person because they are government officials, but they mostly consist of school girls who go to one of five training schools. This spring, the top Tojis from five schools across the country have been gathered for a customary tournament where they will use their abilities and fight for the top position. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Although Katana Maidens kicks things off with a giant monster attack, the animation and execution make it feel rather ho hum and bland, like something you have seen and forgotten many times before in other such shows. Thus when the episode then shifts to depicting the school life of two of our leads, it only makes everything feel all the more mundane. In fact, when the episode shows two of our girls engaged in practice battle at school, they barely seem that skilled in combat, making them come off less than impressive. It’s unbelievable that either of these girls is the best of the best, even at their own school. This is probably to help show their growth as the show progresses but since the series summary mentions that only the top Tojis get to compete in the tournament, it makes you wonder just how bad everyone else at their school must be for these girls to be the out and out best.
Tom: We’re only on episode one and the animation hardly does the ‘badassery’ justice. The battle against the giant monster that opens the episode is underwhelming, with stilted character models and barely passable CGI blending. The problems continue throughout the rest of the episode, with only some of the action in the back half getting the animation quality needed to really make things look impressive. What’s more concerning is the random usage of CGI outside of some of the more action heavy moments. CGI is often used at this point to cover for action heavy sequences that would’ve taken too long to animate traditionally. But here CGI is being used even in long shots of our characters doing relatively mundane actions. It’s jarring, obvious, and concerning. I don’t think Toji No Miko is going to be this season’s visual prize pig.
Linny: Katana Maidens feels plagued by trope after trope, constantly feeling like yet another cliche ridden anime about cute girls battling giant monsters. However, to its credit, the story eventually throws in a few twists and turns during the tournament that help it develop a more unique personality and increase its chances of winning over viewers. However, even one of its big developments/twists is given laughably thin reasoning, making it clear that Katana Maidens isn’t a show you should watch for a strong and convincing story.
Tom: Toji No Miko seems to ride on that “sword girls battle monsters to save Japan” plot. The problem is that it’s a narrative that’s so overdone now, so overused and hardly innovative in and of itself. There needs to be more, and this first episode doesn’t showcase anything of the kind. After we’re introduced to the basic premise, the episode kind of plods along. We hit all the generic beats introducing us to our two, hardly original, main characters. It’s only once we hit the tournament that Etou Kanami and Yanase Mai, our boisterous and quiet leads respectively, that things pick up, even if only for a little bit. The animation gets a tad more impressive, and the pacing quickens, making for a more engaging, if brief, segment.
Linny: Likely to add to the feeling of deja vu for older or well versed anime fans is the fact that the two girls focused on in this episode fall under yet another very popular anime trope: the carefree and boistrous Kanami Etou paired with the reserved and hesitant Mai Yanase. However, their pairing is already broken up by the end of the episode and the reserved Mai Yanase is replaced by..an even more closed up and reserved character. On a positive note though, the episode uses the tournament to introduce us to a variety of girls with different kinds of personalities that, while cliche and familiar, ensure that the viewer might take to one if none of the main girls win them over.
Tom: That all too common, boisterous girl paired with a reserved girl, is very prevalent here. In fact, many of the other sword girls, showcased through the briefest of cameos, seem to share that same pairing dynamic. It doesn’t help to make any of the characters stand out and feel unique. Further likability problems ensue when, who I presume is our main character, Etou Kanami makes an altogether baffling decision with the slimmest of reasoning possible. Linny mentioned it above, but her actions at the end of episode one have the flimsiest of reasoning and ensured I have almost no interest as to where Toji no Miko goes from here.
Linny: Even if you’re a fan of anime about cute high school girls defending Japan from giant monsters, Katana Maidens feels like one of the weaker entries in the genre. What twists and turns it manages to embed into its premiere should entice fans of the action but might turn others away with its paper thin reasoning. Katana Maidens is most likely going to entertain you if you’re a big fan of battles between high school girls, giant monsters, and if you tend to favor action/character design over plot. Anyone looking for a meaty, well spun story and deep characters though will most likely find this show is not for them.
Tom: Ultimately Toji No Miko is an easy pass. If you’re a fan of these types of “girls with weapons defends Japan from horrible monsters” it hits all the major points expected of such a tale. But if you’re looking for something more, something that makes Toji No Miko stand out, it doesn’t showcase anything worthwhile in this first episode. Couple that with animation that already has me worried for the series’ visual quality going forward, and I think this anime is best passed over.