Juni Taisen (Zodiac War): Season 1 – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Juni Taisen - Duodecuple
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Juni Taisen (Zodiac War) is the ultimate showing of a program peaking too soon and then nose-diving off a cliff.

Summary

The Juni Taisen tournament. A contest performed every 12 years in which houses that represent the Chinese zodiac put up warriors which compete for various government entities. All to, per episode 5, seemingly decide on how the world will be mapped and controlled. Yet, like many aspects of the show, we don’t really get that deep into the particulars.

In fact, for most of the show what you’ll experience is what feels very formulaic. We are introduced to a character, get some background, and usually, they die the same episode. This formula got broken up about halfway through the season, but then promptly returned. Also, for those aware of the Chinese zodiac, you’ll also notice the deaths pretty much come in order of the zodiac.

But, digging a bit deeper, what you’ll get out of Juni Taisen is largely the story about a bunch of misfits, some with strange and not fully explained powers, who all compete in order to get one wish. Of which, some of the wishes are sweet, like Dotsuku just wanting to be able to take care of this kid he inherited. Yet, there is also Toshiko wanting a harem.

And ultimately, all that Juni Taisen leaves us with is a great amount of potential in the beginning, as Toshiko’s backstory really shocks and leaves you in awe, but then, death by death, so dies the potential and your interest.

Highlights

It Started Off So Good

Toshiko thoroughly degrading her sister’s mental state until she was broken, and how all that was animated? I thought to myself, “I’m in love.” Not with her, but how screwed up this show was going to be. Also, while the outfits were a bit eyebrow-raising, there were also those like Usagi who did very much give off a WTF! kind of vibe, yet it also drew you in.

But, then things began to change.

Low Points

Uninspiring Battles & Your Indifference to Character Deaths

Juni Taisen (Zodiac War) Season 1 Episode 5 A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - Uuma

Truthfully, calling any of the characters warriors seems to be giving them a bit too much credit since more so they are assassins. From what we see, none of them are really that good at dealing with a prolonged battle and with the way the animation is, it makes it so there isn’t much in the way of tension either. Plus, when it comes to death scenes, by the time we’re halfway through the season, they are no longer exclamation marks.

Reason being, you stop getting developed backstories. I’d argue after Niwatori’s, in episode three, we don’t get a noteworthy backstory until Tora’s in episode 9. Then, after she dies, we’re back into a dull existence.

We Never Got The Backstory of Usagi

Which could have been handled just by giving us Usagi’s backstory. In the intro, or outro, we see him as a child and once Niwatori died, he pretty much became the most interesting character on the show. So for him to, from then on, pretty much just lurk in the shadows and us never really get to know him was so frustrating. Especially while Sharyu got multiple episodes to be focused on and honestly bore the absolute hell out of us.

On The Fence

The Ending

Never mind Nezumi winning the Juni Taisen by the slimmest chance. The issue for me was the entire last episode focusing on him choosing his wish. Now, let me note Nezumi is an interesting fellow. This teenager who, for reasons we don’t learn at all, somehow qualified to compete against these seasoned, internationally traveling, soldiers. You’d think they may dig deeper into his life to help fill in the gaps since he, like Usagi, kind of disappeared and wasn’t really given his rightful dues.

However, that isn’t the case. We do get to see some of the world lines he fathomed and get to learn what others would have wished for but ultimately, the ending is very unsatisfactory. Especially for an action anime.

Overall: Negative (Don’t Watch)

Juni Taisen: Season 1 - Ushii

Juni Taisen (Zodiac War) is probably one of the biggest disappointments of 2017. One of the top reasons being, it starts off so damn strong and thanks to Tora, there is a reminder it could do better. Yet, instead, it decides to skate by on weak combat, not even creating compelling backstories for each character, and ending more so with a whimper than a roar.

I mean, to put some things into perspective, this show is the reason I don’t categorize first episodes anymore as Positive, Mixed, or Negative anymore. For this was labeled positive and now it has done a complete 180. It made categorizing pilots an obsolete gesture.

Has Another Season Been Confirmed?: No, but the source material is getting a sequel.

 

Episode List

Episode 1
With it being October, it seems only right to find a twisted anime like Juni Taisen: Zodiac War. However, I don’t think I was truly prepared for what I just saw.
Episode 2
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War continues to keep us on our toes as the ones who seem like the favorites continue to get eliminated by their own sheer stupidity.
Episode 3
A very unfortunate pattern is forming in Juni Taisen, though at least the backstory of this episode was more interesting than the last.
Episode 4
The cycle is broken! We get to know a character, to a point, and they don’t die!
Episode 5
While the sheep is introduced properly, unfortunately, the action promised in the last episode turns out to be lackluster.
Episode 6
Juni Taisen tries to make up for its recently uneventful episodes by basically going back to its old way of handling characters’ deaths.
Episode 7
The twins become the focus and honestly, you are left seriously wondering why they deserve to be in the Juni Taisen.
Episode 8
We dive just a little bit more into the backstory of the Tsumita twins and while at first, it seems there may be more to them than it appears, we are shown we couldn’t be more wrong.
Episode 9
Tora, or Kanae’s, backstory is gone into and while better than the twins, it doesn’t inspire much loyalty or sympathy.
Episode 10
Juni Taisen tries to go deeper, bring about some emotion and really make a death count. But is it too little too late?
Episode 11
To some surprise, we won’t have to wait until the finale to learn who wins the 12th Juni Taisen – it’s in this episode.
Episode 12
And so Juni Taisen ends and just as most of the season has been anti-climatic, so is Nezumi’s wish.

How Would You Rate This?

Negative Mixed Positive

3 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t much like the first episode given I left it knowing not a single character (that hadn’t just died) and because I had no reason to care about why they were fighting. I kept watching hoping that over the next few episodes I’d get to know the cast and their motives and the reason behind the tournament… but, well we’re now finished the series and I never did find a reason to care about anything in this show. It is a shame because this was one of a few titles I actually did have some hopes for and is another fine example of why going into a show blind and not watching promotional videos is probably a good idea.

    • I’m really at the point of wondering, what is a gory action anime? Gory horror, I’ve seen your list and agree with quite a few of them. As for gory action? I can’t recall anything which wasn’t reliant on trying to be freaky or weird more than story driven.

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