Judge Steve Power fears the army of talking cats; he fears it with every fibre of his being.
Destroying the world solves everything!
The epic adventure role-playing game for the Nintendo DS is now an animated series, Sands of Destruction: The Complete Series; courtesy of Sega, Funimation, and acclaimed animation studio Production IG.
Facts of the Case
Morte wants to destroy the world, and in her possession is a powerful artifact called the "destruct code," which just might give her the means. Along for the ride are are Kyrie, a young human who holds the key to the code, and Toppy, a beastman who looks an awful lot like a walking, talking teddy bear with some ace combat skills. At their backs is the World Salvation league and its anthropomorphic animal rulers, beneath their feet is an ocean made of sand.
Anime is one of those wacky mediums that is often misunderstood or outright befuddling to those who are unfamiliar with it. Of course, there are some traits associated with the medium that boggle and confuse many of us who ARE familiar with Anime. Sands of Destruction is one of those shows. There is one thing you should know immediately; first and foremost, this show is loaded with "Furries." For those who are uninitiated in the inner circle of anime weirdness, "Furries" are people with animal traits, like cute widdle kittie-cat ears, or wagging tails, or doggie noses. They have taken on something of a unique subculture unto themselves, reserved for the scariest of otaku and social outcasts. If the presence of such subjective material bothers you, cash out now.
For those still around, I've emphasized the "furry" presence just a tad for dramatic purposes as they generally scare the crap out of me. There's more to Sands of Destruction than animated cosplayers, there's also a smattering of talking, vaguely humanoid animals called "beastmen" who rule the world and treat humanity as their working class slaves (ok, so as far as cats go, Sands of Destruction might as well be a documentary). We have the tough-talking girl with a storied past, the earnest but stupid boy, and the stoic hero; all lined up to do or die against the foppish or psychotic villains who pursue them tirelessly. What makes no sense whatsoever is "Why?" Why the hell are our characters traveling across the ocean made of sand to end the world? Why doesn't our heroine just activate her "Destruct code" and wipe out everyone in the first ten minutes? Why the heck are those cats talking? Why is the stoic hero a talking teddy bear instead of an elderly bad-ass? Why does same bear end every sentence with "Kuma?" Why the hell are the oceans made of sand anyway? The answer to all of these questions is the same…"It's anime!"
Sands of Destruction isn't plotted or scripted, it simply exists to fill a 13 episode void in your free time. Each episode is just another chapter in a long, pointless journey that never really amounts to much in the way of satisfaction, fulfillment or originality. Every so often some fun or cool moments will rear their heads, poking out of the sand just long enough to ensnare you again, but then those damn talking cats come back.
Some of the character designs are actually pretty solid, and Production IG animates the hell out of this thing, but for every cool looking or visually interesting character, again come those damn talking cats and their permanent grins!
The Rebuttal Witnesses
While the writing in Sands of Destruction leaves a lot to be desired, and the character designs are all over the map, one certainly can't fault the animation. Production IG, who gave us the animated sequence in Kill Bill, and the stunning Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2, turn out work that's up to their usual standards for series work. No, it won't pass for theatrical, but it makes good use of visual tweaks and effects, moves smoothly, and remains consistent.
Funimation's handling of this set is also on par with their better efforts. The transfer is solid, if a little muted, which is more likely a design decision on the part of the creators. The English 5.1 track is more or less a front loaded affair, but the English voice actors turn in fine performances. The Japanese stereo is equally competent, and a little more boisterous. For extras you get the standard textless opening and closing songs, and for a goof, some interviews with the cast members. Avoid these like the plague on your sanity that they are.
I'm not at all familiar with the game upon which this series is based, and with a total sales in the the neighbourhood of 50,000 copies in North America (and currently holding a whopping 65% average on Gamerankings), I doubt there are many out there who would be. What I can tell you is that Sands of Destruction is about as straight forward and typical as Anime gets. The plot is anemic and nonsensical, and while the animation is top notch for series stuff, that isn't enough to save it. Also, talking cats!
Oh so very guilty.
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