(Oh god, in order to let the search engine find this article faster, I came up with such a lame ass title! XD)
Yes, I can hear your screams; “DEEP STUFF? NO, REALLY?” I guess I’m being Captain Obvious and you heard this one coming a mile away. But yes, this show is deep and interesting.
I was skeptical as first regarding the mix of comedy and seriousness, which works well for Gintama. But for this kind of show with fantasy elements, it would be very easy to go over the edge into silly humor, or become way too serious by taking itself too seriously. One of the most successful fantasy shows that I watched was Scrapped Princess (what a title, eh). It was serious, tightly paced with a focused plot that was slowly unraveled. The characters and plots were interesting enough. I don’t remember any of the seiyuu names but I remember they had good chemistry. I enjoyed the show a lot. It did take itself too seriously.
As for this one, it’s certainly got emotional depth. The stuff about exploiting kids is a sure draw for sympathy but it’s not over done. As for the 3 main characters, I find Sion the most interesting of the 3.
As the political center, he needs to master enough trickery to fend off these nobles while keeping himself in power. He’s partially controlled by a clan that eye’s the situation from afar but really holds the most power in the empire – the clan can kill him if he fails to meet its expectations. So there is a sword above his head, which creates tension within him. He’s desperate for good but he has to be crafty and constantly work with evil. He keeps secrets from all his advisors and friends in order to perform his balance act and pretend to be supportive of the nobles. However, as the reality sinks in, he blames himself more and more for any failure, including the death of a trusted servant and friend (that was quite heart-breaking to see). Hiring the guy who controls the shadow could very well be his first step into doing evil. He’s struggling with how much he wants to control. In order to bring good to all citizens of Roland and not have to worry about other nobility-controlled nation invading, it seems that he has to try to take over the entire land, after all. But that would ultimately put him in the same place as many dictators and nobles before him. He set out not to be like them.
He sends his friends on a secret mission but allows the dark advisor to clash with them. He then hides the truth about the identities of either side from either side. Things untold often becomes the downfall of good friendships.
Make no mistake, what Sion faces is a vastly tangled situation set in the mire and there are enough temptation to walk into and stay in the darkside. Perhaps it’s necessary, after all, he has talented people who will help him either way. Or does he? His promise to Ryner is to do good for the people. But as his domain as well as the amount of trouble grows, will he stay true to his promise or will he take the dark path for the sake of achieving the goal in his life time?
Like Captain Obvious said, this is deep stuff. I’m simply surprised that they schedule something so intelligent and intriguing in the summer line-up. I say it’s a must see if you like intrigue and all.
You could watch this on Funimation or Hulu. See opinions on it in the Crunchyroll forum.