Anime Meta-Review


Arc the Lad


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-14
  • type: TV
  • grade: watchable
  • Series state: Can't find any more to watch.
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Tue Dec 5 19:39:12 EST 2000
  • mod: none

Originally I had great hopes for this title. The opening track and first two episodes promising exciting adventure. Having seen a bit more, i'm no longer so sure. I probably got a bit hopeful at the possibility of a conversion from a computer game (a fact they at least acknowledge in the opening) that didn't outright suck.

The story opens in some strange alternate world. This world appears to have a brutal mixture of technology levels. For example there are jet aircraft in the opening, yet the main mode of transport is dirigibles and we meet characters still wielding swords (it seems only the bad guys have guns). Then at the same time there's high level biological experimentation, super technology and also the existence of elemental magics. In any case we open the story following the a bounty hunter called elk, who seems a pretty cool case. While fighting it out onboard a hijacked air-boat he gets himself into all sorts of trouble. The villain is no longer human, the result of some terrible experimentation he's desperate to escape. In addition there's a strange `hostage' girl on board who seems to have strange powers of her own. And, finally, there's the `men in black' who are there to kill the villain, recover the girl, and kill any observers. Before he knows it Arc has made enemies of what seems a fairly powerful and undoubtably evil conspiracy. Although, to him, it's simply another obstruction in the part of his life ambition...which is to hunt down and kill Arc the Lad, the person he regards as responsible for the obliteration of his birth village (and most of the occupants).

At first it seemed the world was very rich, probably because it can draw on the rich heritage of the original game. Indeed it has magic, legends, tough characters, a conspiracy (with a horde of monsters) and lots of cool toys. But after the first episode it starts to dole them out slowly and the cracks begin to appear. For example why does Arc fight with a spear, or are we supposed to be thrilled about his `fire' power, when the bad guys have tanks? Likewise exactly how does the economy of this place work? While it grows more complex it doesn't grow more coherent. We meet military and political forces, but it can be hard to see where they fit into this world.

Then there are some problems with the characters. What appeared to be `cool and strong' for elk turns into being a far more shallow and obsessed character than at first appeared. Likewise his mentor, Shew, is too cool but not clever enough to plan or slap elk around the head when he's being an idiot. However the main problem, and a symptom that has been seen elsewhere, is that we are following Elk in a series called `Arc the lad'. Why? because Arc himself is way too cool to actually be challenged by much. Thus when we meet arc, his seemingly invulnerable airship, and powerful companions, they enter the story with a force at deity level. One guy beats up the army, one chops up tanks and Arc appears to be at an even higher level. As a result they're way too cool to hang out with the main characters. But, having seen this, we get to realise how minor the main characters are.

Likewise, while the opening episodes have some nice, imaginative, action aboard an air-ship the pace slows dramatically after that. It remains quite watchable mind you. And it does have a suprisingly good feel for character and dialogue at times. However since the characters are largely pushed around by circumstance, barring Elks tedious and improbable revenge thread, it can be hard to get drawn into their quest. Which combines with the lack of a strong story direction, and some confusion at to the nature of the world, to provide a somewhat reduced experience.

The animation is lovely in the opening credits, but somewhat less impressive once you're into the body of the series. It's basically fairly clean but not overly complex tv quality animation. The monsters are very silly looking, technology and environment are variable (once again pointing to some failings in world design) and action is quite abstracted and simple. It sometimes seems that certain character appearances have been decided by the game, and can thus look quite out of place with the rest of the world presented here. For example Shew has some weird sort of ninja outfit, Arc has armored boots, which look wildly out of place when you see normal people wearing modern clothing. Voices are alright, the opening music an agressive energy piece (full of nice brass and epic sounds) promising adventure. The background music didn't all itself to my attention.

Have to take my word for it, because none of the sites I source from has a review of this series...


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009