To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts – Anime Preview
Synopsis: The democratic nation of Patria was created on the continent of Patria. Because of economical disputes, the country split north and south, creating the Northern Union of Patria and the Southern Confederation of Patria and they waged a long civil war. With their numbers dwindling, the North decides to use forbidden technology in order to defeat the South. This technology turns humans into monster-like soldiers, giving them almost godlike powers. And with those powers, the long war came to an end and peace was restored. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts offers a modest start to the season. On the surface the series boasts eye-catching monster designs for its soldiers turned beasts, depicted with stunning, detailed animation for a number of entertaining fight sequences peppered throughout the episode. There’s some worry as to how the visuals will hold up, seeing frequent use of static montage sequences in this first episode alone, but that could also simply be a stylistic choice.
Linny: Abandoned Sacred Beasts is based off a rather popular manga (published in the west by Kodansha) and readers will notice that the anime takes an immediately different approach to introducing its story. Whereas the manga starts through the eyes of the female protagonist, Nancy, in the anime, she barely makes an appearance, only popping up towards the very end of the 1st episode. Instead we meet Hank, his band of soldiers-turned monsters, and the tragic origins that eventually force him into meeting Nancy. While this change may work for those who prefer background and foundation story material presented up front, it also dooms the premiere to feeling cliche and very early on telegraphs the tragic ending of the episode. This further makes it feel like this all could have been easily covered over several, spread out flashbacks rather than fully depicted throughout the entire premiere episode.
Tom: Indeed Abandoned Sacred Breasts’ is riddled with cliche. Tropey elements threaten to damage an otherwise exciting glimpse into the dramatic story of soldiers used in hideous experiments and tossed aside when their usefulness is done. It’s not particularly unique (Heck last Season’s Fairy Gone is not dissimilar) But a fun concept all the same. It’s the execution that makes it difficult to swallow, particularly as Linny said: shoving all this backstory down the audiences throat, barely touching on the meat of main narrative (Hank and Nancy working together), isn’t the best way to introduce would-be fans. Because we’re crunching in so much, there’s ultimately a ‘who cares?’ element to the show’s atmosphere, since we never manage to bond with any of the characters on screen. Even Hank feels oddly dull, even when the series tries to force in a little comedy to liven things up.
Linny: It does not help that a lot of the plot elements and character development also come out feeling trope ridden and poorly executed. Some characters switch their personal goals and personalities so quickly and suddenly in such a cliche manner (such as bursting into a maniacal villain laugh) that it makes the entire episode feel lacking and rushed.
Tom: One thing I’ve seen picked up on is the show’s re-appropriation of American Civil War elements. It’s not totally overt, with Sacred Beasts never naming the country where this war is taking place, and the reasons for the battle have little to do Slavery. Outside of the loose similarities in the concept there’s also the visual style, with a number of army uniforms looking distinctly 1800s America in design, or how Nancy is dressed in an almost ‘Southern bell’ type outfit. Attempting to read anything into this however, is silly, as Abandoned Beasts comes from a fairly long line of Anime and Manga, where elements are included more so because they’re ‘cool’ rather than deeper meaning. It’s a lot like 2019’s The Rising of the Shield Hero, where the author instills the setting with potentially controversial elements, not because they have a stance, but because it makes for a more ‘complex’ setting.
Linny: The concept of human weapons of destruction being turned upon by their creators and having to either fight for survival and/or trying to retain their soul isn’t all that unique. Nor is the conflict that arises out of these creatures going rogue on losing their sanity. Most seasoned anime fans will see those developments coming up the second the form changing soldiers are introduced. The bad news is that this first episode just doesn’t do enough to make its take feel unique or refreshing and thus will struggle to impress anyone long tired of or soured by the tropes. The good news is that the story still holds enough promise to win over those who are enamored by the concept and willing to watch it for the emotional beats, regardless of uniqueness or execution. Depending on which group you fall into, this show will either be a must try or an easy skip this season.
Tom: To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts isn’t the worst way to start a season. It’s got action, visual flare, and yes, a tropey/cliched narrative, but a fun one. Abandoned Sacred Beasts has time to improve, particularly since this episode was all set up and backstory, barely giving a glimpse into what to expect week to week. If it can work on its comedy, improve pacing, and offer up characters with a bit more personality to latch onto, it might be come out ahead from its ho-hum premiere.
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.