To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts – Mid Season Anime Review
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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts is a fine concept: soldiers turned into monsters by war (literally) must be put down by their former Captain, partnered with the daughter of one such soldier. It’s potentially gripping, fraught with emotion and, if executed right, absolutely poignant. The trouble is that Abandoned Sacred Beasts doesn’t achieve the execution required to make this anime all it could be. The series is dragged down on multiple fronts. First the series boasts anime original content designed to bolster the manga’s backstory. But this effort to fill in the gaps backfires, starting the series on poor footing as audiences are asked to wade through an episode and a half of limp backstory that feels too thin and direct to add anything meaningful. Even when adapting from the manga, the end results still feel surprisingly thin. Events play out in a near formulaic manner, lacking depth, personality and deeper characterization to make this kind of story worth watching.
Linny: The episodes dealing with the ‘abandoned beasts’ aka the transformed soldiers are where the show could have really shone had it managed to make each soldier’s plight and past seem poignant and deep. Instead what we get is a very thin and basic repetitive ‘wash, rinse and repeat’ approach to each encounter. We get such a small and quick glimpse into the turned soldiers’ lives and personalities that an emotional bond doesn’t have time to form and thus, the tragedy of their lives and death fails to land as hard as it could. Instead of a moving journey each episode, the audience basically sits through another round of watch the male protagonist take down a new beast while the emotional beats the show tries to inject fall flat.
Tom: Without greater depth and understanding to these characters every episode feels uninspired. It often feels like Abandoned Sacred Beasts is simply going through the motions rather than trying to impart an emotional tale of pain and sorrow. Part of the trouble stems from the series’ urge to cram each encounter into just one episode. Episode 2 sees Hank, the former Captain of the Incarnates (the soldiers turned monsters) paired up with Schaal, daughter of one of the Captain’s former comrades. Within that episode Hank disposes of one former alley. Episode 3 expands the hunt of our next incarnate to a full episode, as do Episodes 4 and 5. But even a full twenty-three minutes doesn’t feel like enough time to explore these poor soldiers, burdened and corrupted by their powers, and successfully turn them into truly sympathetic villains. The formulaic nature of each episode is an issue of itself, but with little time devoted to exploring who these men and women used to be, Hank’s connection to them, and the tole murdering his former allies takes upon him, the emotional weight of the series feels entirely absent.
Linny: The show not only fails to explore and sell the tragic one-off stories of the former soldiers turned mindless, crazed beasts but it also fails to convincingly portray the character and emotional journey of its protagonists who appear almost episode. Even though Schaal is one of the main characters, Abandoned Sacred Beasts has her go from hating and loathing Hank, determined to kill him for murdering her father and his former comrades to quickly being on his side to the point where she seems to have forgotten all resentment and bitterness. Yes, it resurfaces from time to time but she also acts a lot more attached to and genuinely concerned about Hank without the show ever really giving us a chance to understand why. It also happens far more quickly than one would expect making the change feel all the more rushed and confusing. It’s as if the anime is ticking off plot points that need to happen for plot sake but without checking to see if each development has been given enough time to breathe and grow convincingly.
Tom: Abandoned Sacred Beasts forgoes character development in favor of sheer plot progression. Without deeper characterization events often ring hollow, and action scenes fail to impress. It goes beyond any kind of visual failing. Abandoned Sacred Beasts’ narrative is brimming with potential emotion, something audiences would expect to see as Hank is forced to put down former friend after friend. It’s in this way that it becomes clear Abandoned Sacred Beasts has no intention of diving into all its story could offer. What Abandoned Sacred Beasts really offers, very simply, is big giant monsters going at it. Wolf-men swiping at dragons, and Rhino men screwing their foes. Minotaurs building fortresses, etc. It’s all superficial, without an ounce of interest in taking any of these ideas to a deeper level. Lip service is paid to the Minotaur soldier being afraid of war, explaining that building a fortress is to hide from those fears. Or how one dragon soldier wanted nothing more than to see the ocean, hence why he marches without care through town after town. These are fine ideas, but get so little screen time compared to laying out the plot that they feel like their inclusion was an afterthought, added at the last minute to justify the cool ideas that came first.
Linny: What first attracted me to the series was my curiosity in seeing how interesting and unique its ‘beasts’ would be and how the show might employ them to tell some heart-wrenching stories or deliver some eye-catching and innovative action packed showdowns. But since a lot of the beasts early on die within the episode itself, they quickly become obsolete and that could disappoint anyone watching it for the beasts specifically. As for action packed showdowns, the animation often fails to make the fight look as impressive and engaging as they could be. Finally, the presence of a couple of skimpily dressed ridiculously large chested female characters means this is something highly likely to irk female viewers, given how clear their role as fan service sex objects is made throughout the show, even having a young male character rip out the breasts of one of the women or how Schaal, the female protagonist, is stripped of her clothes in another episode. It’s a real shame that the anime adaptation of Abandoned Sacred Beasts has all these flaws because at the heart of it, it has some solid concepts and themes that could have made for an extremely powerful and moving story. But this anime adaptation seems to lack the animation quality and story telling chops required to tell that tale. However, because there is definitely promise and intrigue contained in the premise of the show, those still interested in checking out the series might best find entertainment in the original manga.
Tom: For a series that lacks depth, the visual component has to then take top spot, but Abandoned Sacred Beasts rarely offers truly impressive combat. The deeper we get, the more often fights feel mundane and uninspired. Frequently the series somehow turns battles between dragons and wolves into increasingly dull affairs. In fact by Episode 6 a massive battle between Hank and a dozen or so other incarnates feels impressively sleep inducing, lacking even a hint of the tight direction and captivating animation seen early on. To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts is a disappointment, as the series could have been so much more. As it stands it can’t even qualify as a junk food anime. If this story still intrigues you though then I echo Linny’s sentiments about jumping over to the manga. Not only does the manga’s art retain flare and dynamic framing, but the writing feels ever so slightly meatier. It’s not without flaws, but it’s a damn sight better than the anime’s offering.
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.