Shining Tears x Wind
Hot on the heels of student disappearances, Souma and Kureha is taken to an alternate world by a mysterious girl with cat ears. There, he learns that he's one of the fabled "Soul Bladers" and his destiny is to save this world from an ancient danger.
Back when Soul Link came out, there must have been a lot of outraged fantasy anime fans. Why should they feel left out when sci-fi fans could parttake in a tale of total incomprehensibility, lovingly adorned with tepid, generic characters reciting lines that makes a grown man (or woman) cry? Why should they be alone in experiencing stale character art and cheap animation? Why, why, why?
Well, do not despair, fantasy fans, because Shining Tears x Wind is here to answer your prayers.
Those of you who are familiar with the PS2 games this show is based on will probably recognize the characters as being based on art by game CG artist Tony Taka. And while I do admit that the game artwork is pretty nice for the most part, it does not translate well to anime. But don't take my word for it; let's go meet the main character.
Holy crap, it's Marilyn Manson!
Ok, not really, but you're going to have to get used to this one, as it appears in every single opening animation, accompanied by a truly atrocious opening theme; a poppish soft-rock tune which represents what in my opinion is the worst thing Japan has ever unleashed upon the world as far as music goes. It's a soul-draining mockery beating out OP songs where people sing off-key and the music is generically dance-ish garbage.
The show might not even feel all that bad the first five to ten minutes, but the setup is rather blatant. It starts out with the student council discussing the disappearance of fellow students at the same time as one of the members brings along a book which mentions vague facts about a parallell world of sorts.
DURRH I WUNDER IF DIS WILL COM BACK TO HAUNT THEM LATUR IN TEH EPISOUDE?!
Indeed, later on, the school is assaulted by a wolfman -- yes, a wolfman. Not to worry, though, because a girl in a leotard and a woolen cap she doesn't really need enters the scene to do battle with him. With the help of Souma and Kureha, the wolfman is defeated, but not without him conveniently uncovering the girl's head, unveiling a pair of cat ears, which somehow really makes Souma and Kureha do a double take. YOU FOUGHT A WOLFMAN JUST SECONDS AGO, YOU NIMRODS!
Anyway, as I'm sure you've all guessed, the catgirl's relic for getting back to her world takes a hit, which eventually causes Souma and Kureha to be transported to this new world as well. There, they are attacked by some level 1 goblins and level 2 demons/gargoyles, and Souma nearly gets his ass handed to him. However, thanks to him accidentally figuring out that Kureha has a hidden sword in her chest, they make short work of the adversaries. And no, this is not a boob thing. The whole thing is accompanied by some semi-halfassed magical effects, and you'll later learn that just about all the girls (and some of the guys) have swords hidden in their chest. Which means what? That this world is inhabited by walking sword hilts, most of them with boobs?
Enough digressions, I think. After the two defeat the monsters, they head off to search for a city or at least someone, to find out what's going on. They eventually end up in a rather large town, where they meet up with this fellow...
If you immediately think "villain" when you see this guy, then congratulations; You have just passed the idiot test. Now, I know you shouldn't judge someone by the way they look and/or behave -- in fact, I love it when people are made to obviously be heroes or villains, then later shown to be the exact opposite -- but this is apparently a lesson the creators of Shining Tears x Wind haven't learned yet. At least not in a way that makes any sense.
Either way, Souma and Kureha sees NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER in trusting the fellow, even if he's asking them to go kill off someone. (Souma, mind you, being the guy who would later say that "it's better to be an idiot." In all fairness, he said it was better to be naive than never trusting anyone, but even so...) So Souma and Kureha run off, and in a TOTAL SHOCK TWIST, they meet their friends there, who are fighting for the opposing team. Being emo teenagers, though, they of course have to duel with soul blades. Some more random crap happens, and the fox-dude is quickly revealed to be a villain, so I guess he's not one of the major ones.
For the record, I'm not one of the people who demand originality in everything I watch. if it's well written enough, I can deal with random cliche's and the anime having that "old-school" feel. Many shows, however, have a nasty habit of thinking "originality = lots of random plot twists", and Shining Tears x Wind is certainly no exception. I can hardly accuse it for being slow paced or anything, but the completely random nature of the show itself is nothing but aggravating, especially in light of the story irregularities. Case in point; Souma test his "worthiness" of being a Soul Blader and for being worthy of Kureha's love (whom he has a crush on.) He quickly gives up and heads off into a wind-swept desert area, where he eventually collapses from dehydration and exhaustion. Then, he suddenly just arrives at the tower where Kiriya and his gang are doing a rescue mission. WHO SAVED HIM? HOW THE HELL DID HE GET THERE? Get used to asking questions from this show, that's all I have to say.
Later plot twists seems to include a third classmate ending up among the dark elves, where he dons nazi regalia, renames himself "Trihart" and plans to rescue the world by basically beating them into submission and taking control. Souma, on the other hand, is chosen by a guy named Zero, who has one white and one black wing and has a dark past™. Then, even later on, one of the dark elves goes truly insane when an artificially made elf girl dies when she throws herself between a soul blade duel between two of the Earthlings. (Because she was made from the big blueprint of his sister's genes, see?) While that happens, Trihart is apparently forgiven for blowing up an entire countryside, killing several people and generally being a huge-ass villain up to that point. It's really, really groanworthy for the most part, because there's absolutely no common points and no good segues between each segment. You're basically taken on a wild ride with some rather sharp and sudden turns, so I hope you've fastened your seatbelts, if nothing else. The ending, if you ever make it that far, is truly ludicrous.
Back when the Shining Tears game came out in the US, I was fairly irritated over the fact that there seemed to be no plans for a European release. I had, after all, picked up and enjoyed the original Shining Force games for the Genesis/Megadrive, and the fact that the newer games were more action oriented bothered me little. However, if the anime is just an example of the kind of utter crap that can be found in the games, then maybe it's just as well neither of them made it.
As mentioned, it's the fantasy world's answer to Soul Link. That should tell you all you need to know. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: This show was meant for the console gaming crowd, which means there's some light fanservice, some light, substandard RPG violence, and nothing more.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Shining Tears x Wind © 2007 SEGA, Studio DEEN.
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