To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts (Season One)
The Northern UNION of Patria and the southern CONFEDERATION of Patria are fighting a CIVIL WAR. The North is on the losing end until it deploys the Incarnates, monster soldiers created out of ordinary ones by the miracle (?) of science. But even when the war is won, peace proves elusive, for the Incarnates are finding their bestial Ids taking over their minds, and the one person who might have been able to restore their humanity is apparently slain by one of the Incarnates, who happens to like what's happening to himself and his comrades-in-monsterdom. The leader of their squad, one Hank Henriette, vows to kill all of them while they're still "sane". He's usually a bit late, though...
Yes, the Patrian "North" is also mainly into manufacturing, but the show's painfully obvious attempt to use the U.S. Civil War as a model for its setting founders on the "southern" part- here the South's economy is based on "miners" rather than agriculturalists (who "feel exploited" for whatever reason), and there's no mention of human bondage at all. If you're not going to use the core issue of the REAL war (slavery), then why make this world's war resemble THAT one at all? The answer seems to be that the manga's creators thought the uniforms and equipment of the American Civil War looked "cool" (though the uniform colors ARE changed). But the story doesn't even consistently keep a U.S. 19th-Century "look" either, as we'll see soon. Honestly, as Civil War fantasies go, even Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was better- at least it (sort of) honored the spirit of the thing.
This inconsistency is as obvious as (and perfectly illustrated by) The Boobs Of Liza Runecastle. She's an officer with "Patria Union Military Intelligence", but the fact that she's a female officer in the 19th Century isn't the show's worst offense against the norms of the period; the worst is her uniform. Let's face it, with its short skirt, and most of all her Double D's always threatening to spill out of her ridiculously low-cut blouse, that outfit might have been cause for arrest even in a brothel; there's no way she would have been tolerated for five minutes on the street that way, much less in the Army. I was also wondering how she kept the ends of her long hair in such geometrically perfect whorls, but the breast exposure was such an outrageous anachronism that Liza's every appearance became a continual barrier to the suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy something like this.
But the show's actual principal female character is named Schaal. She dresses much more authentically to the period, in a dress that covers her from neck to ankles, but since the show HAS to have its fanservice, you just KNOW that some way is going to be found to make her naked at some point. Schaal watches Hank kill her own father (her father's Incarnate form is a dragon), but she wants to "understand" why Hank did this, and so she somehow ends up trailing after Hank through most of the show, toting a long gun that the Wiki article identifies as an elephant gun. The show may indeed bring Schaal to an understanding of Hank's actions, though in a very ham-handed manner.
Most of the show's drama with the Incarnates involves their personal idiosyncrasies and obsessions turning to evil deeds as their complete transformation into "beasts" progresses. I mentioned in the Synopsis that one of them seeks to become their new leader against the humans. He's called "Cain Madhouse", and at first I thought that recruiting someone for your forces with a name like that might have been ill-advised, much less trusting them, but the "Madhouse" part turned out to be a nom de guerre; his real last name is Withers, and his brother Claude is an Army officer who heads a special anti-Incarnate detail called Coup de Grace. (Liza tags along with them, we HOPE not as a "camp follower", but she DOES flirt with the troops a lot, Claude in particular.)
The Coup de Grace troops are also of the Memorable-But-Not-In-A-Good-Way sort. They travel around on skates (!), with steampunky rocket packs on their backs (!!), as a kind of Earthbound (and unspeakably ridiculous) answer to Attack on Titan's Tactical Maneuvering Gear. And there's the issue of their battle tactics, which usually involve encircling Incarnates and then loosing automatic fire on them. (Portable automatic weapons are another anachronism in this period, but never mind.) Now I've heard the expression "circular firing squad" in the context of group self-immolation, but this show thinks it's literally a great idea. Do I REALLY need to explain the problems here? Fine, I will: (1) automatic weapon fire is not that accurate, and you might well hit someone on the opposite side of your encircling ring; (2) despite those movies where Schwarzenegger uses dead bodies as shields, bullets in fact CAN go through bodies with very little of their force dissipated- and again hit your buddies on the other side of the ring; and (3) at least some of the Incarnates are bulletproof; the bullets merely deflect off their hides- and, again, into the bodies of the other troops in your circle. I'll also note that one of the other Northern generals gasses one of his own platoons in the hope that it'll take down one of the Incarnates. With tactical brilliance like this, we begin to understand why this world's North needed the help of the Incarnates in order to win the war.
A few other comments:
-Besides the obligatory fanservice, the show also boasts a Goth-Loli character named Miglieglia. I keep wondering if these things have some sort of quota of Otaku-Friendly Tropes they have to include...
-There's also a spider-woman character. I've seen a number of spider-women in anime, but I have to say that THIS one has the most awkward visual design I've ever seen.
-The show's not over this season, oh no: it's promising us a no-holds barred continuation (whether series or OVA I don't know), with MUCH tougher Incarnates to bring down; but the setup seemed to me to also leave open the possibility of some sort of "happy ending" for Hank, despite the number of his fellow soldiers he's slain. I'm really not sure how I feel about that...
The Stupid is strong with THIS one. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: I'd go R (16+) mainly for the blood soaked violence, though most of the victims are poor redshirt soldiers. As noted, there's also nudity, and from Liza quite a bit of sexual innuendo. Oh, and I didn't mention that there's a shower scene- with a suspiciously modern-looking shower.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll
Review Status: Full (12/12)
To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts (Season One) © 2019 Mappa
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