Sirius the Jaeger – Anime Review
Synopsis: In imperial Tokyo, a group calling themselves “Jaegers” secretly hunt the vampires seeking the Ark of Sirius. Among them is young werewolf, Yuliy. (Official Netflix Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Let’s get the good and the obvious out of the way. Sirius the Jaeger looks great, has a really catchy opening and ending theme, and is sure to please anyone who likes their animated shows looking sharp and consistently on point. Even as someone less eagle eyed at gauging animation quality, I can say with confidence that Sirius is a visually appealing anime. When it comes to plot, Sirius manages to inject some new life into what tropes it contains by mixing it up with a few twists and plenty of action. Every action packed battle between the vampires and the Jaegers makes for a thrilling watch. Unfortunately, this is where my praise for Sirius the Jaeger comes to a full stop.
Sirius the Jaeger’s plot is something I strongly believe can only be enjoyed by someone new to anime or by those who can ignore and forgive plot in favour of solid visuals. Not only is the story overflowing with cliches, particularly regarding its protagonist, Yuliy but it also does a terrible job of giving its other characters convincing, well fleshed out personalities or motivations. While Yuliy himself isn’t exactly one of the most original or compelling protagonists out there, his supporting cast, mainly his immediate teammates, seem to exist solely for action scenes or to facilitate Yuliy’s journey, never growing and experiencing their own character development. It makes you question why the show even bothers writing some of them into existence as their absence would have made little to no difference in the overall story. Every contribution they make seems so negligible and insignificant. Even the ones who get a bit of backstory and, what a more kind person might call a ‘character journey,’ ultimately get shafted as their narratives get forgotten or completely abandoned. Phillip, Yuliy’s English teammate is a prime example. We learn that he has a tragic past loosely tied to Yuliy’s, which gives Phillip reason to view Yuliy as untrustworthy, yet nothing ever comes of this. Philip seems to easily, quickly and completely trust Yuliy even though the show makes a limp attempt at trying to make something out of it for a blink and you miss it moment. There’s no big moment, with the reveal made almost as a throwaway mention, rather than a significant plot point.
Which brings me to my next major gripe; things just seem to happen or develop without any proper build up or explanation. Yuliy’s journey feels very empty and fake. He comes to huge decisions and declarations out of the blue with never a line of dialogue or poignant build up to explain exactly how or why he came to such a conclusion. I’m keeping it vague to avoid major spoilers but towards the very end of the show, Yuliy makes some big declarations about his late father’s dreams, ambitions and promises Yuliy himself made to said late father, yet we never see the exact moment such promises were made even in the few exposition laden scenes we get. It often feels like we are shown a scene and then someone will speak like something happened in that scene that was never mentioned or appeared onscreen even once. I’m not talking about missing out on implied information, but rather something akin to being shown an apple then later being treated like what we were shown was an orange and not in some clever misdirection style of storytelling. It comes off feeling like an poorly fleshed out, hurriedly put together story where plot points are forced in one after the other. It’s not even something that one could blame on translations because while the English dub does take some major liberties with the dialogue, the original Japanese subtitles make no better sense of things playing out on screen.
To its credit, Sirius the Jaeger tries to have some interesting extra players and elements beyond Yuliy’s crew and their devoted quest to eradicate vampires. We have a super suave military officer get involved and other groups come into play like a puritan Japanese group that wants to keep Japan exclusive and sheltered from any foreign interaction. Each plays a role in the overarching story. And while the military officer ends up an important role in some parts, the puritan Japanese group is a sorry attempt at a red herring, one that ultimately feels pointless and instead proof that Sirius the Jaeger’s ‘clever and ambitious’ writing, lacks the foresight and chops to properly execute its story or utilize all the various themes and characters it’s shoved in. It tries to have strong female characters such as Dorothea, a skilled Jaeger and Ryouko, a young girl who’s a bit of a tomboy, more interested in improving her combat skills as the (next) head of the family than allowing herself to play the docile young lady who goes to college as per her father’s wishes. Yet Dorothea gets the ‘boob window’ outfit and no character development besides ‘fights well’ and ‘comes from rich family’ while Ryouko reveals herself too often in need of rescue for the sake of comedy or action/suspense for a fair amount of the show’s runtime.
To wrap up, I want to address my biggest issue of all; the show’s failure to deliver on one of its biggest plot points, the Ark of Sirius. The entire plot of this show boils down to the search for this Ark of Sirius and the attempts to keep it out of the hands of the wrong people. Almost every major character in the series cannot stop talking about this amazing item that is described to be a major source of power, one so powerful and amazing that you cannot even begin to imagine it…and so it remains through the very end of the series. While it isn’t a cardinal sin to leave an artifact a bit of a mystery, Sirius the Jaeger fails to pull it off. It fails to sell this magical thing even though it makes such a big deal of its power and abilities. It ends up feeling like the show couldn’t decide what to really do about it and how to showcase it after talking it up so much, ultimately relegating it to just another notch on Yuliy’s character journey. Which could have still worked if Sirius hadn’t made the Ark such an integral point. Yuliy is such an uninspired and poorly built protagonist that by turning the Ark into little more than a McGuffin for his character journey it makes the Ark’s lack of proper usage in the series doubly souring. Unless you enjoy anime solely for the animation itself, or you’re still fond of popular anime tropes such as a ‘orphaned/sole survivor’ hero, Sirius the Jaeger can safely be kept off your watch list. That said, if you’re dying for dubbed anime to binge during this holiday break and like fast paced, action filled shows, you might be entertained enough to overlook the story’s significant shortcomings.
Sirius the Jaeger is available for streaming via Netflix.