The Magnificent Kotobuki – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Combat is part of life. The talented members of Team KOTOBUKI use their impressive aerial fighting skills to help defend and transport goods across a desolate wasteland. For the right price, they’ll take on any enemy that comes their way! (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The Magnificent Kotobuki merges WWII-esque imagery, such as fighter planes, with more fantastical elements like steam punk clothing for its aesthetic. It’s an interesting look and lends the show style to help it stand out. It also employs a lot of CGI, decent CGI that won’t bother those used to it but at the same time, won’t win the medium any new fans either.
Tom: There’s a weird blend between animation styles, where the main girls are all depicted with CGI, and most of the other characters get 2D animation. Surprisingly it holds up pretty well, as do the visuals for the air battle, keeping a lengthy air fight at least moderately entertaining. The bigger issue is the writing, which tries to be clever via witty dialogue and banter, but often feels unimpressive and lacking characterization that would make the girls feel endearing. By episode’s end I don’t feel like any of our lead characters are any more interesting or deep than when we first began.
Linny: The first episode spends way too much time showcasing the air battle, which means if you’re someone who has no interest in them (like me) you will find yourself struggling to care. It becomes all the more boring to watch once it is plenty obvious that in true anime style, our lead characters are ridiculously skilled at taking down enemies and their counterparts are merely chumps to help further show off just how talented our leading ladies are. You KNOW the girls are going to emerge victorious, after all this is only the first episode so we need to set up their magnificence since it is right there in the title. So to the less interested, this just becomes a drawn out, predictable segment. I’ll acknowledge that the episode has one of the girls hit a bit of a snag but it still ends with her completely safe and sound..thus basically getting a typical supreme victory end result.
Tom: Not only is everyone a terrible pilot compared to the girls, but even the gunners aboard the main ship are terrible shots. It’s one of those series where the writing pins everything on the girls, making them the only capable characters. Heck even when the girls get hit with gunfire it’s somehow less effective than when it eviscerates everyone else.
Linny: Topping it all off, Kotobuki decides to end its first episode with vague exposition normally meant to flesh out the setting. It almost comes across as if Kotobuki is trying to be a little philosophical but the attempt instead generates voice over that is anything but deep. The lines do nothing to help sell or establish the plot and setting and are likely to make anyone already unimpressed just roll their eyes harder. That said, I am certain this show will still win over those who enjoy seeing pretty anime girls kick everyone’s butt especially if the viewer is predisposed to enjoying air ship/fighter plane battles. But for those not intrigued by the setting or the designs, there’s nothing that exceptional to make The Magnificent Kotobuki worth a try.
Tom: That vague exposition dump at the end of the episode really hampers things, keeping the whole concept behind Kotobuki so vague and ill defined that it’s hard to grow attached to anything in this first episode. Couple that with thin characters and a requirement that World War 2 fighter plane battles are your jazz, and I think Kotobuki is too under written and niche for any kind of recommendation.
The Magnificent Kotobuki is available for streaming via HIDIVE