Born of destiny in smoke and fire!
|“The needs of the many, outweigh…the needs of the few–or the one.” This is a line that any Trekkie worth their salt, knows by heart. But it is a brutal lesson that young Crown Prince Ibuki must learn as he is thrust back into a war he has inherited, that he neither wants nor desires, and yet he must fight and he must win. For the sake of his people, and for the sake of those loved ones that have both lived…and died by his side.|
|Did you know that Chaos Dragon and Creative Differences have the same initials? That is not a good sign.|
|It may or may not be the best of signs, if this premiere episode is anything to go by. So let’s dive into the obscuring smoke….see if this dragon really has any fire…|
Samsura: Calling Chaos Dragon a mess would be generous. This show is falling apart every which way, and we just barely passed the starting line! Amazingly stupid outfits, lame fight scenes, and equally lame CG effects that are EVERYWHERE; because you better believe this is a low budget effort. Just to be clear, I am someone who is easily tricked by limited animation and so I rarely notice off modeling. That said this show still gets through my idealized defenses and shoots poor production missiles directly into my exhaust pipes.
skylion: I have to, in part, concur with my tag partners. I will give credit to the outfits, some of them are pretty nice, however the weird legs of the 5000 Commander aren’t’ doing the viewers any favors. But yeah. There are low credit marks enough to go around. The combat sequences either had no or very poor storyboarding, and made little literal sense while they went on. I will say that I didn’t find much to ding the CG on, only that they didn’t feel well molded into their scenes. And you would have to be generous to say the character modeling was passable most of the time. Characters sometimes went from having full and proper weight in one moment only to devolve into paper thin figures pulled around by key frame the next.
“I’ve made my decision, after being forced to kill my friends. I now know what I have to protect”
Ibuki, a descendant of the royal family of Nil Kamui. Created by Simadoriru. VA: Marina Inoue
For the rest of the cast..Show ▼
IreneSharda: I know nothing about the background of this story, but even I could tell from the beginning that it seems to be based on some kind of game. There are quite a host a of characters, with our main one being the prince who doesn’t want to become king, Ibuki. At first, Ibuki got on my nerves. I’ve never been a fan of pacifists in anime, especially ones that think that if they, themselves, don’t fight than that will somehow eventually end the war. Also on top of the fact was that the boy happened to be the prince of the nation.
His father is dead, and so he’s technically king, but he would rather fade into obscurity so that it won’t give an excuse for war to occur again. One can immediately see the flaw in Ibuki’s reasoning, and that he’s unconsciously putting his head in the sand. It’s understandable, since he seems to be rather young for all that responsibility to be dumped on him. However, like the audience, Ibuki’s childhood friends also know that one day he will have to face his destiny. One decides to take initiative and force the prince to face facts, while the other will end up giving her life in order to give him the power to change things for their captive people.
…a nation’s reluctant king…
Samsura: Hopefully we all know that the shows gimmick is that some famous writers got together to make their tabletop gaming sessions an anime. I don’t know why this wasn’t a warning sign for me earlier. Not only do you have creators with completely different styles of storytelling trying to make one cohesive plot, you have the added bonus of some of those writers not being very good to begin with IMO. What this means is that the show keeps cramming more and more information down our throats at almost every moment there isn’t a boring fight going on in this episode! Oh, and did you see the Funimation subs during the break? That was just bad.
This is not Funi. Thankfully we have fansubbers to the rescue! Click for larger image
skylion: As I said during the summer picks, my more than 30 year interest in the table top role-playing game hobby makes this gimmick an eye popper. Now, as any hobbyist could tell you, pretty much all gaming sessions are created and presented by a Games Master, Dungeon Master, or Referee, whatever you choose to call the role. So I’ll go out on this one limb and not give full credit to the five creators for coming up with the whole plot. Their job, when sitting down to play the Red Dragon TRPG at the gaming table, was to create characters and interact with each other and the situations as presented by the game’s leader (creator of Rentai Magica and this series’ scriptwriter) That is TRPG 101.
As it goes, some digging around shows that the games were played back toward the end of 2011. So…given that, the whole affair isn’t something that we the fans are privy to…so I won’t kibbosh the gimmick out of hand. I might or might not like all the work these writers have ever done, but I have to admit, that would be a fun table to roll the dice on, and trade table talk. Something a little good could happen, something a little bad could happen, maybe a bit of both…
“Red Dragon! Hurry and save Mashiro”
…destiny is unkind to a kind king…
IreneSharda: I knew from the moment the dragon spoke of wishes, contract, and pacts, that this wasn’t going to happen like Ibuki thought it would. However, the scene of him killing Mashiro was still a striking and shocking one, even if you saw it coming. A brutal and sorrowful scene, and yet it accomplished it’s goal of feeding a spark within our young prince, a spark that will grow into an inferno as he has finally decided to fight for his kingdom, to become the king he was always meant to be.
Samsura: What I want to focus on is the last act of the show, when the rebels start attacking the army of Kouran. After the initial assault, there is fire and explosions and everyone is dying left and right. Ibuki, the main character, is leisurely walking through the dying and what not, and just happens to come across some relic that apparently is both for stopping dragons and giving people dragon power. skylion: And he didn’t even mentioned the orphan baby of no consequence…
Anyway, said weird relic gets stuck in his chest, and stupidly dressed army dick shows up and insults Ibuki’s crew. So plucky orphan kid is all like “what you say about my people? Why don’t you say that to my face!” He has no weapons and just runs straight up to a giant asshole whose sword is larger than the orphans body. I timed this, there are maybe ten seconds between the time that the boy runs in front of army dick and OTHER GIRL GETS SLICED!!! She doesn’t even get a shot of pushing the orphan boy out of the way, army dick just decides to cut her open!
Herp! Derp! Who needs a storyboard!
And that leads to an even worse scene! So Ibuki somehow gets the nearly bisected girl to a random church, and makes a deal with the
devil dragon. In return for a sacrifice, Ibuki gets the power to be a king. Of course the sacrifice is the girl. What ticks me off is that everyone but Ibuki knows that she has to be sacrificed. “Thank goodness I got to die for you Ibuki!” Having just killed his long time friend, Ibuki gets into a lame fight with army dick, with a completely out of place J-Rock song, and then episode over.
…it’s never over until the crying is done…
“A covetous and greedy nation”
Evil to the West, Meh to the East, and Tiny Island carved like a pig down below…
skylion: So the basic plot is fairly easy to break down. Kouran, a land to the West, as characterized by Ibuki’s narration, is a greedy nation. They invade his island home of Nil Kamui, and begin setting themselves up as the ruling power. D’natia, the island’s ally to the East does little to stop the invasion, and only shores up it’s own walls and defenses as a response.
This would be a terrible scenario by itself, but Nil Kamuai’s Guardian Deity, the Red Dragon, goes on rampage and sets all sides to it’s dragon flame. In the ensuing chaos, the Ruling Family of the island is broken, and the heir-apparent, Ibuki, is forced to go into hiding. He seems to be doing well for himself, making a decent life in a temple’s orphanage, caring for his peers. But all the while he is denying his birthright, and destiny is never far behind. And for this show, that means an incredible deal of railroading….
Shimadoriru, “Don’t I get a roll vs. this?” GM, “Nope, it’s a plot attack”
I’ve mentioned the power the Game Master has over the gaming table. Ibuki’s development is a prime example of what I would, or could, call an abuse of that power. I kinda feel sorry for his player, Shimadoriru, if said abuse is truly the case. The boy had very little choice in the matter, and was set up from start to finish in fulfilling this role of becoming a new king, an act that demands he sacrifice those closest to him. It could be the start of a great arc, as the rest of his story is untold. But beginnings are important, and a player has to have agency in a game, just as much as a character has to have agency in an anime, or any, narrative. I felt for both him and Mashiro, but at the same time the creator’s fingerprints felt to heavy…
But in moving on to the overarching plot. There are many factions involved with many understated or poorly stated agendas. It’s quite a bit to unpack in 22 minutes. We have the Kouran invaders, a counter-revolution that likes to use obvious subterfuge (plot derp) on a 14 year old boy to start revolt, magic monster people, magic monsters, magic rulers with hidden yet clearly visible magic swords, and hidden but harshly presented destinies, and at least two other characters shown that we know next to nothing about, but had to have two cents in anyway. Then add to all that the fact that the biggest resource the East and Western nations are vying for is the Red Dragon, itself.
All of which tots up to the exposition choking on itself at nearly every turn. Before any situation is resolved, a new character, or bauble is tossed in, keeping the show going all tuckus over elbows in it’s pace. Top with railroading the main character, and then seal off with a tragic forgone conclusion and that’s the last gasp. I don’t find any or many particular facets of either the characters or the story bad in and of themselves. But this capital is spent in some very sloppy fashions. It could be worthy of a second look for most, if not all, of the people in the audience. It might have come out better in the game sessions, where players and GMs are able to rewind or go over presented material again.
I’ve always loved hero’s journey stories, and while they can be a little generic because we see them so often, that has never really mattered to me. I am interested in seeing Ibuki’s journey, as well as getting a chance to see all the other characters that have been introduced here as well.
He has a hard journey
I’m guessing that we’ll also see other pledges as well, as there are 7 dragons in total. I also love the world building here as well, in regards to origin of magic in this land, and how the prince is the last of his kind, having a power of his own. The villains so far are really campy, but I don’t think it’ll be long before we get some worthy adversaries for our heroes. I’m very interested in seeing where this goes next, and how Nil Kamui will win its freedom from its oppressors.
I would be feel unfulfilled if I left out the clear ego stroking going on in this show. Going back to the famous creators and their characters. In the somewhat cool opening shot, you see the characters all atop a building as the camera spins. Next to the characters appear introductions… of their creators. The intro doesn’t actually name the characters, just their authors or designers. That is pure ego stroking, vanity stuff, that doesn’t belong in any type of show. If that doesn’t scream “Look at ME! IMPORTANT GUY RIGHT HERE!!” than nothing will. I also assume that’s the reason Urobuchi and Nasu’s characters appeared in the episode despite being of no use; really just existing to set a precedent was part of the ego stuff here.
I’m a dragon…grrr….arrr…
Don’t watch this show. Its messy, stupid, not well constructed and poorly directed. If you want a good fantasy show this season, go watch Rokka. There is nothing to recommend and 50 reasons to step away. The only good thing is that Chaos Dragon isn’t hiding its poor quality from us and telling the viewer up front you are in for a mess….Which means there is a 40% chance I will review this show in the end.
So, as I said in my introduction, there is an awful lot of smoke obscuring what little fire the production is able to bring. Silver Link (I know nothing about Connect) is not this bad a studio; thou they’ve done clunkers the same as any other. So it could be: a weak budget, a rushed schedule, a committee treating it as just one arm of a franchise machine (there is a smartphone game based on the TRPG property, produced by Sega and EA for both Android and iOS) that wanted to get in and get out quick then cash the checks, or some combination of all the above. The direction definitely needs work.
Can a LOLi fix it?
But as I do point out, there are some rather good sparks here and there, and I can see the tinder that gave birth to the fire. I like Ibuki’s story in the most general of senses, as his reluctance towards the crown and the counter-revolutionary’s zeal are good measures and can span epic stories.
But things are played out in such a lulzy manner it doesn’t get the time it needs to breath. Mashiro’s sacrifice is telegraphed well in advance with some subtle clues here and there, but what she really fell victim to was poor direction and a tragic death for the sake of a final act shocker. Ibuki should have had agency, as his hand being magically forced to do the dirty work was horrible on many levels.
Now, I’ll go out on one more limb and say that I like the story, just not as presented. I’ll give it a few more episodes to see if the cooks can sort out the recipe, and blow away the overwhelming smoke coming out of the kitchen. If the next episode improves, that improves my chances of watching more, and perhaps further coverage.
But the complementary after dinner drink leaves a lot to be desired….