This anime has an odd feel. It’s almost as though it was intended to be a strategy game, rather than an anime. This anime does some interesting things, but, ultimately is fairly bland. With that in mind, it’s useful for some mild entertainment.
Purpose: Decent. You can tell there was a little bit of wavering on the part of the author. He wasn’t sure if he wanted it to be purely a strategy-type political drama. The anime also flirts with some harem elements, pun intended. Aside from some random elements being thrown in there, they stayed more or less on track.
Characters: Decent. Some characters had some character development. For the most part, the characters were fairly subdued, even in spite of some slight attempts at levity. That’s not all bad. The serious tone of the anime was even carried through to some of the fan-service scenes. The main issue with the characters was that they felt, for the most part, to be set-pieces of the world. Part of the problem is that they didn’t even really keep characters’ relations consistent at all. They also didn’t really spend time building the characters. Certainly, they threw in a little bit of moral dilemma and a sprinkling of greater things, but those parts were given very little real estate. Honestly, it felt like the characters were mostly like a 2d image with scrolling text like you’d find in games like Fire Emblem. Maybe that’s just me.
The character designs were slightly misleading. Based on the costuming, you’d believe that it was more of a fighting girls-type anime. Indeed, the war-maidens all had a variety of skimpy attire at all times. Not that I find it something to generally complain about in anime, just in how it was used in this one. The war maidens’ costuming was contrasted with a non-war-maiden attendant who would don armor, when appropriate. Yes, I get that they are a light version of magical girls, but it was a tad out of step for the tone of the anime.
World: Decent. For a strategy-esque political-type drama there was an awful lack of politics. Sure, you’ve got some guy doing bad things, and you have some talk of protecting the land, little bits of betrayal and a random poisoning thrown in for good measure. The setup isn’t far off a standard game. What I mean is that the various standings of the actors in relation to each other, especially the War Maidens’ home country, weren’t really explained or explored. I mean, you’ve got some quasi-magical powers and some dragons. But they only really came out when convenient to add life into things. Sure, some things were cool, but they didn’t really have an established place in the anime. I get that they don’t need to explain everything, but it usually needs to be enough to provide a hook. That’s what world building is – grounding your interesting things into the world in an internally consistent way.
Plot: Decent. The plot was little more than a pretext for throwing different strategic situations at the protagonist for him to beat . Sure, you got some branching paths, potentials, but not in a meaningful sense. It really was a standard game setup – Do A or B. Interesting plots present clever and unique challenges for the character to overcome through the application of the character’s skill, knowledge, experience, and personality. But these plots were more like a railroad, taking you to a particular destination. It was beat enemy A. Oh no! Enemy B appears. Enemy C is marching on your castle! Very linear and, thus, rather bland.
Storytelling: Decent. Many of the same complaints voiced above apply to the storytelling as well. However, there were some helpful elements they added. Often, they would have a short narration on a map, which would quickly explain the situation. This was helpful in a couple ways – it provided geographical context to the actions happening and gave the viewer a sense of what was broadly going on. The other interesting thing was to use the same map-type explanation to depict the general tactics or strategies that were happening while our heroes were slaying enemies. While it does help accessibility for some, overall it seems as though it would take the anime into a bit of a niche audience. While I can appreciate the finer points of a pincer attack on a column or a flying column’s interception of the enemy, I don’t exactly know too many people that would.
That aside, lots of stuff was presented suddenly, without explanation or appropriate buildup. Sure, it wasn’t entirely necessary, but still… The result was that the storytelling often left fairly sizable gaps in the goings-on.
Pace: Good. Not too much to say other than the pacing wasn’t really a problem. It steadily made progress to the conclusion. Sometimes, the explanations and build up was very quickly touched on before we get our characters to the battlefield.