Lost Song – Anime Review

Synopsis: War looms over the kingdom of Neunatia, where two young women are both burdened and blessed by the power of song. (Official Netflix Synopsis)

Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):

Lost Song toys with a number of fun ideas and one big twist, but often fails to stick the landing, crafting everything with such uneven execution that it’s perhaps one of the 2018’s strongest examples of pure mediocrity.

Lost Song tells the story of Rin and Finis, two young women blessed with the power of song, which in this world carries magical properties. Separately the two find themselves the target/pawns of an evil prince and a conniving general bent on turning the power of song into a deadly weapon. Each is set on their own journey, aided by one Henry Leobolt, a dashing noble knight eager to put a stop to the dastardly plans of Mad man Prince Bernstein and the ruthless General Bazra.

Lost Song has a fairy tale feel to it, at least early on. The whole concept of music, and the power of song is played like fantasy magic and spells. Add in a dashing knight, a damsel princess, and band of merry heroes traveling across the land and everything comes together as a series seemingly aimed at a younger audience. But Lost Song takes a number of violent turns, with visuals that seem a bit too graphic to recommend as something for children, which puts Lost Song in this odd place where I don’t think the story is tight enough to actually appeal to an older demographic.

It doesn’t help that the vast majority of our characters are clearly defined as good or bad. There’s no grey middle ground, no wavering of morals. Rin, our youthful, inspiring lead bubbles with kindness and love. Finis, our ditsy, yet kindhearted princess oozes with good intentions and Henry Leobolt, the dashing knight charged with protecting the lovely Finis, is the spot on visualization of a heroic and charming young man. The bad guys are equally one note, so comically evil and dastardly that their straight villainous actions are often so stupendously evil that it’s hard to take them seriously. It doesn’t help that one of our baddies, Prince Bernstein, produces a mid series scene that’s so contrived, so ridiculously villainous that what should be a harrowing reveal borders on laughable. There’s nothing wrong with clearly defined good guys and bad guys, but things can be taken to such extremes that it actively damages the drama.

Other aspects also get in the way of taking the story seriously. While Rin’s design screams young, pure hearted heroine, the kindhearted Finis sports an incredibly ample and revealing bosom that feels a tad unnecessary in a show that never actually toys with sexuality. Still, Finis is otherwise another generally well designed lead, as is the dashing Henry Leobolt. But when we transfer attention to the secondary characters one can’t help but be distracted by Pony Goodlight, a traveling minstrel, who wears a bodice so tight her breasts are literally spilling out of it. The design is ludicrous that it transcends overtly sexual and right into the absurd, making her an ever distracting component.

Lost Song boasts essentially three leads. Rin, who sets out on her journey to the capital in order to learn why her village was attacked. She’s joined by a number of other characters, who vary in levels of importance. That band of characters, save for Pony Goodlight’s design, is a generally decent group to watch, although much of the comedy they produce borders on banal. Henry Leobolt is another decent lead, and while perhaps limited by his inherent and unwavering just nature, is someone you can root for as he battles evil princes and corrupt generals. Finis however is where the series drops the ball. While she’s a kindhearted princess, wrapped in innocence, her central characteristic, is her inherent idiocy. She’s terrible with directions, and that’s played to an extreme, easily making her more annoying than relatable. This is especially damaging later on, as Finis becomes the one character to undergo a major shift in personality. Events happen related to the series’ major twist that cast Finis in a whole new light, but that early focus on making her more a joke that a heroine actively damage what’s attempted later with her character. It’s hard to talk about seeing as I don’t want to give the game up, and Lost Song’s greatest boon is that twist. Without it, the series feels exceedingly dull.

Early on attentive audiences might realize that something doesn’t add up. Lost Song’s first half is riddled with elements that don’t connect well, characters transporting abruptly from one area to another. While all this eventually makes sense and is in service of Lost Song’s shocking twist, it’s not handled as well as it could and runs the danger of being more confusing than enticing. In fact I could see audiences becoming actively frustrated, as it’s almost possible to believe the series is just that under/poorly written. But if given a chance that early disjointed nature makes sense and ties in directly with Lost Song’s most important element: Its shocking twist.

This twist, while a total game changer, isn’t terribly original for long time anime fans. Many 90s anime toyed with the idea, particularly using it as a component to their final episodes. Lost Song uses it here as a mid-way development and much more in line with some of Go Nagai’s work, particularly in relation to follow ups to his much lauded series: Devilman. While not terribly original, the concept is interesting and definitely perks up potential flagging interest, assuming you reach Episode seven for all the explanations. That said, Lost Song’s realization of this game changing reveal begs you to not think too hard. The concept makes sense only so far as thematically. Once you try and apply some actual logic, things really fall apart, and the series makes increasingly less sense.

But that’s okay in my book as Lost Song isn’t trying to win you over with logic. It’s a show about heart, emotions, and the power of music. It’s more about the emotional struggle of its leads, and instilling hope and ‘feels’ in the viewer. It’s really a series crafted for a more emotionally driven audience, and when viewed as such, I think it generally works. It helps that much of the music is on point, and stands as a highlight in the series, often helping to elevate material in desperate need of it.

I don’t think Lost Song is a bad anime, although I have had little praise for it through this review. That’s mostly due to all these little nagging elements that damage an otherwise fun concept. In truth Lost Song is okay. It’s not great, nor terribly memorable, even with a twist that really shakes things up. It’s perfect for audiences who are fans of light fantasy, and seek a little something to really shake things up halfway through. If that’s your thing, Lost Song is a solid watch, but for everyone else who’s less enamored with the core premise, Lost Song isn’t at all a highlight of 2018.

Take it or Leave it: Lost Song’s interesting premise and shocking mid-series twist are hindered by a lack of logic, absurd visual designs, and banal comedy.

 

 

 

 

Lost Song is available for streaming via Netflix.

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