As someone who enjoys binge watching whatever I can get my hands on – there are some shows I simply just forget about. This anime was one of them. When it was initially announced I was excited. An anime that was within the same realm as Mirai Nikki. (Well, they’re immensely similar but different at the same time.) Usually when an anime is announced the actual release is months away so naturally I stored this one away so I could go back to it. And I did – once it was completed and watched it all in one day. Now here we are.
Original Creator: Nisio Isin
Animation Production: Graphinica
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War revolves around 12 warriors who essentially represent the Chinese zodiac. They come together once every 12 years to fight to the death in an attempt to reign supreme. The reward? To be granted a single wish – no strings attached. It can be absolutely anything that you desire.
Now, it sounds pretty dumb if you think about it. Risking your life for a single wish? And sure, you can ultimately ask to have 100 wishes or 1 million but YOU’RE RISKING YOUR LIFE FOR IT. Then again, anime isn’t supposed to make sense so who cares, haha.
This anime was insanely fun to watch and not what I thought it was going to be. Every character represents a different animal from the Chinese zodiac. If you’re not familiar with the animals they are as follows: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. You’re able to see which character is which from distinct features on them or what they’re wearing. By the anime not being what I thought it was going to be – there are characters who have LITERAL animal traits. Which is fine and all but I couldn’t help but wonder how did they live among humans whilst having actual horns/fangs/claws, etc. Of course, having these distinct powers is part of the reason why they were chosen to be part of this competition to begin with.
Why this competition exists, it is never explained. Nor how these families adopted these powers and so on. Some of the characters were adopted into certain families so I’m not sure how they really qualify but you know, nothing is explained in that aspect either so I left it alone.
Every episode focuses on at least two characters and you are given their backstory. Most of them are just downright depressing. Some are…questionable, one is beyond messed up and one is never explained.
Before the competition begins everyone is to swallow a jewel. The objective is to collect all 12 in order to win. The twist is that the jewel is full of poison. So while they’re running around trying to kill everyone time is ticking regardless because poison is slowly entering their bodies. What a fantastic way to add more pressure. Die from having someone rip your head off or from poison you had to ingest. They only have 12 hours to complete the task . Oh, I should also mention they are doing this in an abandoned city. While I say abandoned I’m pretty sure the 500,000 people that lived in the city they are fighting in were all murdered in order for this event to take place, no big deal.
On the flipside there are people who are watching these warriors fight to the death and are placing bets on who they think is going to win. Think about The Purge: Election Year or even Hostel 3. Wealthy people pay to watch people get slaughtered as a form of entertainment.
The ending is kind of left to be desired. Who wins the competition was my least favorite character but his method can’t be argued and it plays into his special ability (which remember is why these people are chosen to begin with). Overall, I would recommend this. It’s only 12 episodes, it’s fairly paced and easy to follow and the animation is good. My one complaint, which has been mentioned when talking about Inuyashiki: Last Hero, is the CGI. Nearing the last episodes, the Ox, Tiger and Rabbit all fight, and the entire thing was in CGI and I wanted to claw my eyes out. There were instances in a couple of episodes where CGI was placed but it wasn’t anything too noticeable. But an entire fight with CGI when every other fighting sequence wasn’t upset me. It may not bother some people or some might think I’m being too picky but it’s hard to sit and enjoy something when the style changes completely for the sake of a fight that lasts for more than one episode. Aside from that Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is an anime worth checking out if you’re wanting something short to watch.
Also, those who aren’t a fan of blood and gore – this isn’t for you. The first episode is also….well, it would be hard to watch for some. One of the characters wasn’t chosen to participate the Juni Taisen but her younger sister was. What does she do? Manipulates her sister into thinking that killing is the only way to be strong and to go about life. By that I mean, she pushed her to kill people until it got to the point where she had to do it in order to function but it chipped away at her soul every time. Crying to her older sister for comfort when it’s her behind this treatment the entire time. She was ultimately locked away in her household. Her sister comes to “visit” and she leaves with a knife within reach and her younger sister commits suicide to fulfill her need to kill. And thus her older sister took her place to compete. So, fair warning. As mentioned earlier, some of these backstories are pretty depressing/dark/messed up.
Have you watched it? What are your thoughts? Any anime you think I should take a look into?