First Impression – Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Madan no Ou to Vanadis Header

The 2nd best show to feature an archer servant this season.

Fall season is upon us, and I have the distinct pleasure of bringing you our first impressions of the hotly anticipated Madan no Ou to Vanadis (also called Lord Marksman and Vanadis). Wait, you’re saying I was mistaken? There was literally no one looking forward to this show? Come on, it’s got all the hallmarks of a great show! It’s based on a fantasy harem light novel, just like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, so this one is likely to be just as good, right? Right? *Sigh* alright let’s get this over with.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis - 01 (40)

I sure wouldn’t mind taking some history lessons from her (click image for stitch).

So as mentioned, we’ve got yet another fantasy harem fanservice light novel adaptation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I knew what to expect. Character tropes and cliches flow freely back and forth in the world of anime, especially within the light novel space which isn’t particularly known for its creativity. So I knew I shouldn’t be surprised if the characters weren’t particularly original. But I wasn’t expecting the main girl and her attendant to literally be Erica and Lily from another fantasy harem fanservice light novel adaptation.

Well, that’s putting it too simply. Eleanora may have Erica’s perky confident charm, but her hair is white, not blonde. And Limlisha’s ponytail is on the side of her head, not the back, and also she’s not in fiery tsundere love with the main character (yet). But even with these significant differences, these characters and others don’t really catch my interest, part of a larger problem of this show being generic as hell.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis - 01 (16)

In case those evil soldiers laughing evilly about the noblemen’s evil deeds was too subtle, here are the noblemen in question evilly looking down at their subjects.

To be fair, medieval fantasy isn’t and has never been my thing, so I may be being overly harsh here, but I can’t get excited at all for the story. The setup is familiar, dumping us into a war between 2 kingdoms, the protagonist Tigre’s – sorry, Tigrevurmud Vorn’s – own homeland Brune versus the apparent main love interest Ellenora Viltaria’s Zhcted (Zexceed?). The show goes out of its way to paint Brune as an Evil Empire, mixing in interactions with snooty noblemen and psychopaths laughing about other noblemen raping and pillaging their own subjects in a clumsily placed flashback. Zhcted, meanwhile, is presented as much more fair, with an exceedingly reasonable troop leader who gives an awful lot of rope to her prisoner of war. And even the footsoldiers treat Tigre awfully well after just one look at his impressive bow skills. Gee, I wonder if our protagonist will face internal conflict as his loyalty to his country clashes against his innate sense of justice?

Speaking of justice, can we stop it with the chaste shameful man business already? It’s nice that Ellenora got that out of the way already with her extremely rational perspective on nudity on the battlefield, but of course Tigre was too pure not to cower in fear of teh boobz. Come on, these are grown adults in a medieval fantasy land; their attitudes don’t have to approximate those of high school aged children growing up in modern Japanese society.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis - 01 (44)

A bathing woman! My only weakness! How did they know!?

Of course, our protagonist wouldn’t be the protagonist if he wasn’t super special, and Tigre delivers with his Robin Hood-esque archery skills. That’s just part of the conceit, and it’s needed to kick off the entire plot. But the show could have done a heck of a better job actually showing that to us. The few shots he got off at the start looked impressive enough, but they also looked fairly standard. Not exactly holy-shit-now-I-must-have-his-babies-him level. His footshot after becoming prisoner was indeed at that level, but the way the scene was choreographed and framed – namely that Tigre couldn’t have seen his target from his position below the wall – made it look more like Tigre was a cocky shot who just got really, really lucky.

Not being too familiar with Satelight, I’m not sure if I should have expected more. Sapphogear is the only point of reference I have for that studio, and that show featured some very terribly animated but surprisingly well choreographed and directed action. The opposite was the problem here: what action scenes there were had good animation, but the direction was either clumsy or just plain boring. The showcase of Ellenora on her horse cutting down opposing soldiers was well animated and could have looked good, if not for the camera being zoomed into her body, resulting in only a soldier or 2 entering the frame at a time to be cut down.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis - 01 (6)

Animation – 9. Art – 5. Choreography – 4. Cinematography – 1

All that said, to its massive, massive credit, Madan no Ou to Vanadis actually had things happening in its 1st episode, which is a Very Good Thing. The flashback whiplash at the start was a bit sloppy, but the story showed Tigre getting captured, explained significant motivations of the main characters, and it even set up the hook for the next episode. It could have easily settled for leaving things open ended after Tigre’s capture and integration, setting things up for Wacky Harem Hijinks as his elite archery skills make all the women – including even those unnamed maids – wet and more than a few men uncomfortably erect. But it didn’t. Instead, as soon as he got comfortable in his new prison home, he had to break out, with the big boss Ellenora herself in the way. So despite the generic characters and generic setting, as far as first episodes go, I have to say this one was pretty good. And you know what? Might as well quit while you’re ahead while the show is still Pretty Good rather than waiting until it’s Godawful like you and I and everyone knows it’s going to become.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis - 01 (18)

Man, Yuka Iguchi not playing yet another flat-chested loli is pretty jarring. Also, is that standard uniform in the Zhcted army, or did Ellenora and Limlisha have it customized due to their rank? If so, why? How long does it take them to squeeze into those each time? What function do the arm sleeves serve?


A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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44 Responses to “First Impression – Madan no Ou to Vanadis”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Ooops, mixed up Chlammy and Steph. Chlammy counts as flat-chested.

    So… as an even shorter summary: This is Seirei Tsukai with even bigger bobbies.

  2. Highway says:

    I was expecting something a little different from the preview information, but actually found that I liked the premiere of this show. In particular, I liked Ellenora’s straightforward intent towards Tigre. To me, that made the show a lot more interesting, that hopefully it will cut off some of the Wacky Harem Hijinks in favor of “This guy is mine.”

    Satelight has done a few shows that I’ve really enjoyed: Mouretsu Pirates, White Album 2, Log Horizon‘s first season.

    • skylion says:

      …also AKB0048…

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        And Galaxy Angel Rune.

        And the Aquarion series.

        Also, one cannot forget the most epic space opera series’ latest incarnation: Macross Missiles Frontier!

        • Highway says:

          I said shows I really enjoyed. Macross Frontier was ok, Aquarion I watched a couple episodes of and bleh.

    • lvlln says:

      What were you expecting from the preview information, and how did this differ?

      • Highway says:

        I was expecting Ellenora to be more of the king of the region, and a lot more high-handed. Her personality turned out to be a lot more down-to-Earth than I thought it would be, and made me like her character a lot more. I was expecting more “Ice Princess who needs to be thawed by the main character” kind of thing (and I don’t really think that Lim fills that category either). Also a lot more “I’m now ruler of this land” kind of stuff, rather than “Yeah, I won the battle, now back home.”

        What it boils down to is I liked Ellenora’s character.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    But I wasn’t expecting the main girl and her attendant to literally be Erica and Lily from another fantasy harem fanservice light novel adaptation.

    Hahaha!! Nice try covering that up. I didn’t even open the link but it was clear you’re mentioning Campione by those two names.

    For a starter, I liked it and the premise was straightforward. Idealistic noble lead gets picked up by an ambitious princess out of fascination and as a means to stave off boredom. The likable thing about Ellenora is she isn’t plainly forcing her will on Tigre but is instead trying to appeal to him in order for him to accept her offer. That and she’s understanding. It’s a safe bet he’d accept her offer in exchange for her help defending his homeland.

    That was some wake-up call Limlisha gave Tigre. Hot girl or not, I wouldn’t want to be woken up like that. I can see she’ll harbor animosity against him for some time. Mostly for her wounded ego as she probably prides herself superior on the battlefield and after being taken down, especially in front of her master, she’s ashamed and angry.

  4. belatkuro says:

    Well, Tigre and Ellen are 16 years old even with those mature looks. Limalisha is 19 btw.
    Tigre is Alsacesexual has had little exposure to women as well due to being busy handling his town Alsace. His only interaction would be with her maid. Not giving excuses but just saying.

    They pretty much crammed more than half of the first volume in this episode and cut out some significant character developments. It’s not bad but it’s not that good as well. I’ve certainly kept my expectations low even though I’ve read the source material so I’m not that disappointed. Just wish it could have been done better.

    • lvlln says:

      Hm, this being a medieval setting, I feel like 16 is plenty old enough. But even if not, the fact that this society has such shame based views with respect to nudity is really boring. I’d like to see some fantastical values in a fantasy story. Doubly so if that can allow us to avoid these “Boobies, no!” gag scenes.

  5. skylion says:

    I’m still on the fence about this one, for many of the reasons you’ve outlined.

    But, it’s not like we have a dearth of fantasy anime to choose from this season. I’ve got my sights still set on Bahamut and Seven Deadly Sins…both are pretty darn tootin’ good.

    • lvlln says:

      I’ve long been curious why medieval fantasy seems so popular in Japanese media, despite it being based on Western history and lore rather than Eastern. Every season, you can expect at least 1 or 2 such shows. Usually they have some twists here and there, but they all pull from the same overdrawn well. Of course, there are plenty of works based on Japanese history, and you can bet on some Oda Nobunaga character every season too, but I think the medieval fantasy is more prevalent. It just does nothing for me. I’d much rather the author come up with something new rather than making just slight tweaks to the decades-established formula. That’s why I tend to like far-flung scifi a lot more.

      • skylion says:

        I have a feeling that if I could answer that clearly, I could swiftly move into that market and profit. My guess is overly simplistic; it’s not Japanese, and they might be wanting something different. How this plays out in any particular story is…well, left to a great many devices.

        I have a feeling they might have sucked the Nobunaga well quite dry by now.

        And as a litmus, is far-flung sci-fi drawing from a well that risk an overdraw? If fantasy has the Tolkieneaue aquifers a runnin’ does science fiction have the Claksian, Assimovian space fountain blastin’?
        Or are they looking at newer sources, Scalzi, Vandermeer?

  6. Takurannyan says:

    I don’t know if you did check out the LN or not. But the LN is pretty solid, and big on tactical/politics. The illustration are undeniably ecchi, but the ecchi part takes like 2-3% of the LN at most.

    The characters all are pretty good, they know what they are fighting for, what their priorities are, not losing their heads over some romance. Far from being generic.

    -End of fanrant-

    As for the episode itself, it was , yep, a disappoinment with how they squeeze too much into one single ep (almost 80% of vol 1), which cut off a lot of character development. It still delivers the main points but meh.

    Battles also lacked the urgency and was badly executed.

    Can only hope they get things together for next ep.

    • lvlln says:

      Wow, I had no idea that this episode had adapted that much of the book. I did get the sense that things were happening extremely quickly. Anyway, that Satelight is so willing to be flexible with the adaptation is encouraging. More than almost anything, I hate adaptations that suffer poor pacing due to trying to cram everything from the source material in.

      Sounds like there’s promise in the source material! I don’t mind fanservice – in fact, just the opposite – but it needs a solid foundation to support it. We’ll see if this show can manage. Unfortunately, from ep 1, there isn’t too much in the plot yet to grab onto.

  7. zztop says:

    I wonder why most LN illustrators use the underclothed armour look for the ladies. 
    The exception I recall was the illustrations for the Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (the Demon King and Hero) LNs, where the designs were mostly historically and nonrevealing. Not even the Demon King’s large chest dimished the classiness of her dresses, and the Victorian maid getup of the sister maids blended in quite well with the setting.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Disclaimer: I still use old edition D&D rules where negative AC is better so there.

      Because, bikini armour has a lower AC than fullbreastplate armour. It’s a rule that the less you wear, the more protection you have. 😛

    • lvlln says:

      The simple answer being, of course, that the artists like the looks, and they’re not constrained by pesky things like physics or practicality. You see this everywhere too, not just light novels. Like, look at Ivy’s costume in the various Soulcalibur games. Or any Western superhero, actually. You can even count Girls und Panzer’s school uniform-based uniforms in this category.

      A shame, because I do prefer armor and uniforms that at least look practical. Not because these skimpy outfits are “problematic” or other such BS, but because these stripperific outfits just take me out of the setting. I don’t really find it hot if it’s pushing in your face that it’s pandering to you (there are better times and places for that :). Also, practical, comfortable, efficient clothes on women is hella sexy.

      • Highway says:

        This reminds me of early World of Warcraft, there was a plate armor chest piece with +Nature Resistance that tanks had to wear for certain bosses. On male characters it was just an ordinary shirt, but on female characters it became a skimpy top that we called “Nipple Clamps of Nature Protection”.

    • belatkuro says:

      Quoting Haimura Kiyotaka, Toaru Majutsu no Index’s illustrator, on his comment on why he designed Othinus wearing a sort of bikini witch costume: “Truly strong people do not need excessive equipment. By exposing her body and casting aside anything to protect her, she is showing that her enemies’ attacks and hostility mean nothing to her”

      • skylion says:

        ….I see someone is being charitable with the word “costume”….Well, better than Nude Beach’s “equipment”…

      • BlackBriar says:

        That sounded epic and could actually sell. Of course there’s also a guarantee most people would twist that statement around and say it’s an elaborate excuse to force scantily clad outfits on women for the sake of showing skin. *sigh* Honestly… The unnecessary effects political correctness is having on the world today.

      • HannoX says:

        Sort of like the Viking berserkers and some early Celtic warriors. That said, just for a change of pace and as a concession to reality I’d like to see a show with female warriors wearing armor that’d actually provide reasonable protection. I personally would like a mail (inaccurately called chainmail) coat covering down to the knees and long sleeves. But a cuirass with mail skirt and sleeves would also work and if she’s busty then the cuirass could come equipped with breast cups.

        They can save the sexy skin show for after the battle when the armor comes off and she’s wiping the sweat off. And she could also be wearing a more revealing outfit when protection isn’t an issue.

  8. akagami says:

    I really enjoyed it so far – what you disliked, I found worked for me. But I find my tastes tend to run contrary to most of the blogging community, so, well, I don’t suppose it counts for much.

    But I enjoyed it so far, as I haven’t had any good medieval setting action shows in a while, since Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon and Oda Nobuna no Yabou in summer 2012 (damn, has it been that long? Had to look back to see when I last enjoyed a medieval setting action show). It’s like giving a thirsty person some water. I’ll lap up every single drop.

    • skylion says:

      Oh, I do miss that time in 2012 and Oda Nobuna…

      But I find my tastes tend to run contrary to most of the blogging community, so, well, I don’t suppose it counts for much.

      …Wow. Please don’t think this…Please convince me.

      • akagami says:

        Well, some of it aligns, but, off the top of my head, some shows that I highly enjoyed that almost were universally panned by blogs:

        Fate/stay Night (original)
        Buddy Complex
        Asura Cryin’
        Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini
        Druaga no Tou: the Sword of Uruk

        Actually in reviewing my rated anime, there’s less than I thought in my higher rankings, though I’m sure there are lots that I rated as a good/decent watch that were hated on.

        Granted, I’ve watched a lot of anime and I have pretty open tastes (besides horror), so there have been a lot that fits with others’ preferences.

        I generally find what the blogsphere tends to nitpick on, are points that I don’t mind or rather enjoy (shrug). That’s just a generalization though, which is why I don’t follow many blogs (six, of which Metanorn is one of two that are regularly updated). That and they also spoil too much, and I’m not usually current on the most current episodes except for maybe a handful, as I’m usually plowing through my backlog.

        • Highway says:

          Actually in reviewing my rated anime, there’s less than I thought in my higher rankings, though I’m sure there are lots that I rated as a good/decent watch that were hated on.

          I find with this that a lot of people who blog shows have no public ‘middle’ ground. There are very few ‘great’ shows, most shows are in the middle, but what a lot of writers do is either pick a couple shows to boost and the rest to pan, or just pan the whole slate, preferring to compare to some ideal great show. The truth is that most seasons don’t have any great shows. And every season has a lot of fun shows that keep people entertained and enjoying what they’re watching. But for a lot of people who put their opinions out there, it’s hard to say something that basic. So they go for that wobble that I’ve mentioned before: X is great! Y sucks!

          So don’t get discouraged if people are hatin’ on shows you like! Just do what I do and stop reading them. 🙂 But don’t stop coming here!

        • HannoX says:

          If you enjoy a show, watch it and to hell with anyone else’s opinion about it.

        • AllenAndArth says:

          actually it depends on the person and the realm they’re a part of, see most people on blogs try to take a lot of animes of all kinds of themes some of them know of a type others don’t, it all comes down to experience and personal style, sometimes the anime is good but you can’t bring yourself to like because of the art for example, Space Dandy is really good but i hate the art so much that just couldn’t see it, on the other hand, buddy complex has a horrible story was also horrible developed…but i liked…the fights were great, and some characters just resonate with you.

      • akagami says:

        I think it’s more opinions – points I find interesting are detractors to others, and vice versa. Or at least that’s the feeling I get over the past few years, which is why I don’t really actively participate (besides Metanorn, and even then it’s somewhat limited).

        It’s hard to have a conversation when you’re sitting on the other side of the fence ヽ(´ー`)ノ

        • skylion says:

          My opinions are typically based on storytelling and those sorts of things, and I have my share of detractors….but it’s fun to lob things over the fence and vice versa…it’s all about context.

        • BlackBriar says:

          There would be people on your side of the fence who share your opinion as well. So no need to feel discouraged.

          • akagami says:

            Noo, this side of the fence is all mine! Mine I say!

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              *starts up the bulldozer to run down the fence*

              To summarize my thoughts: (only tagged here because I just wanted to run a bulldozer through 😛 )

              Watch whatever you want but at least know what the negative points are. Then at least you can say “screw you detractors, I’m still watching it.” It’s much like defending a thesis.

              To use two contrasting examples:
              1) Love Live – wtf is this show about? shiny schoolgirl “escorts”? I fail to see the value of this show despite the gazillions of creepy otaku it attracts. Next we will have JK Idols: The Animation.

              2) Seirei Tsuki of Boredom – ranks poorly in terms of everything including the storyline. The art is better than the LN version though (surprising isn’t it) and the music is okay but as I have summarized about the show before: read the LN instead. YET I suffered through this show, all for the 5 minutes in total worth of Scarlet, the only redeeming feature. (Nyaa! :3)

            • akagami says:

              poor fence-kun (。_°☆\(- – )

              I enjoyed Love Live, I thought it was a cute warming story about girls trying to become idols. But I do like idol shows, so I’m biased.

              I agree with Seirei Tsukai, the main two characters just didn’t click for me, and the rest wasn’t that interesting to me, so I pulled out early ^^. Sounds like it was a good choice~

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              See? Complete opposites of opinion. (Though the only thing that made the differnce was Scarlet.)

              When you realise how the actual 3D idol industry works, the 2D version can be best described as a hallucination.

            • akagami says:

              That’s ok, I’m going with entertainment, not reality ^^

            • akagami says:

              To be honest, I don’t know if I would ever really want to meet a real idol. I don’t get what the appeal is.

  9. AllenAndArth says:

    this show…this FREAKING show…is the best of the season in my opinion…i’m sorry i can’t fight long haired girls with silver hair…it’s too powerful

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