Sentai Filmworks // 2009 // 325 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // April 17th, 2011
Leopard man! He slices! He dices! He kicks sword and sorcery butt all over the place!
You don't see too many sword and sorcery epics in anime. When they're done well they can be entertaining, if a bit predictable. Yes, Record of Lodoss War, I'm looking at you. But most of the time we get fantasy series based on Chinese mythology, or ones that inject laser guns and giant robots into the mix. So I was pleasantly surprised that Guin Saga keeps to its sword and sorcery roots in this collection.
The story begins in the land of Parros where we meet Rinda (Emily Neves) and Remus (Blake Shepard), twin children of the King of Parros. Unfortunately their city is under siege by the power hungry Mongauli army and their deadly knights. As the castle burns, Rinda and Remus are sent far away via an ancient magical device. Alone and lost in the woods, they are hunted by the black knights of Mongauli and they eventually meet Guin (David Wald).
Guin is a mystery. He awakens with no memories of how he ended up in the forest. The only thing he does remember is the word Aurra. Oh yeah, and he has the head of a leopard! As the twins are finally surrounded by the black knights, Guin springs into action. And boy, does leopard man know how to fight. He tosses the knights around like they are toys and uses a dropped sword with deadly skill. It's obvious that Guin was a master warrior at one time.
Guin befriends the twins and helps them in their quest to escape from their pursuers. Along the way they meet a dashing mercenary named Istavan (David Matranga) and a cute monkey girl named Suni (Hilary Haag). Arrayed against them is the beautiful but ambitious Lady Amnelis (Elizabeth Bunch) and the the entire power of the Mongauli army.
This series is based off one of the longest running fictional series in the world. Author Kaoru Kurimoto was working on her 130th volume at the time of her death. What we see here just scratches the surface of the story, but the volumes provide a rich amount of detail that the animators used to their advantage. Guin Saga sports some lovely animation, with the colors popping off the screen. The design of the settings, costumes and characters looking like some serious thought was put into them.
One of the best things about the series is the fully animated action sequences. Too often in anime we don't actually get to watch the battles, and when we do they look half finished. But Guin Saga shows us all the action, and rarely uses freeze frames or cuts away to show to specks fighting in the distance. Guin gets into all kinds of scrapes and -- hey -- what the hell?
Hi! I'm Hobbes. I'm a cat and I love this show. It's the best show ever. The leopard man is the best. He is very strong and very brave. He fights all the time and the stupid humans that get in his way are beat into jelly or cut into slices and dices. Then all the humans either worship him, as well they should, or they run in terror from him, as well they should. He is the embodiment of all things CAT and therefore the bestest character in the whole world. I highly recommend that any cats reading go out and buy this series. It's very good and has lots of action with leopard man always kicking human butt.
Jeez Hobbes! Move over, I need to wrap this up.
Overall the production is well executed, the story is engaging and the music by famous video game composer Nobuo Uematsu fits the series like a glove.
I did notice a couple of odd things. For all the slicing and dicing going on there is little blood. The romance is strictly the old fashioned type. Compared to something like the classic Conan stories by Robert E. Howard, they are a lot tamer. In a way this makes the series suitable for younger viewers around 11 or so. Some of the demons or undead might be scary, but young fantasy fans will enjoy the action and nonstop adventures.
For all that, the series shifts gears after the huge battle in the middle of this collection. It adds more characters, and gets into political intrigue. Guin and the twins who were the focus of the story, get put to the side for a bit as we focus on Lady Amnelis and her kingdom. Guin still gets face time in each episode, but it does slow down the pacing a bit.
Then there is the script. The language is written in a formal high fantasy style. This means you get characters saying lines like "By the shadow sword of the great god Abbazabba, who lords over the realms of the dead, I can not go with you for fear of betraying the trust of a woman I did love once, when youth was but a flower in the eye of the goddess Yoyo and her flowing locks of shimmering gold." Not only is this a mouthful for the voice actors, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making everyone sound wooden or bored. This is probably keeping true to the original script which was keeping true to the novels. It causes lots of unintentional humor, which pulls you out of the show.
Sentai gives the first half of the series a three disc set. Thirteen episodes are spread over two discs. You can watch with the English dub or the Japanese with subtitles. The last disc of extras is pretty packed. It provides interviews with the Japanese voice cast, an interview with the editor of the novels, a look at the premier of the series, a collection of Japanese trailers for the show and clean open and ending credits.
Anyone thirsting for sword and sorcery action will enjoy this series. It looks like it's building up to something epic, so I'm interested in seeing the second half. And heck my cat loves it, so if you have a feline in your house, I think you just found their favorite show.
Watch the leopard man show! Its the best show!
Can't argue with Hobbes. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Sentai Filmworks
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Open/Close
* Japanese Trailers
* Wikipedia: The Guin Saga
* Anime News Network -- Encyclopedia: Guin Saga