Giant Beasts of Ars Review: Dark Horse Anime of the Season

Directed by Akira Oguro

Produced by Asahi Production

Streaming on Hidive

In my previous reviews, I may have granted too great a share of my attention for the influx of romantic comedies this winter season, because we have also been subject to a variety of top-tier fantasy anime.

In the world of sequels, Bofuri and The Misfit at Demon King Academy have both returned for more goofy light novel shenanigans, and you know I’m always down to simp for Danmachi. As far as new anime go, there is Ayakashi Triangle, and unfortunately, watching that killed too many of my brain cells, so we’re going to go ahead and talk about Giant Beasts of Ars before a second dose finishes the job.

I love a lot of different kinds of anime, but I hold a special place in my heart for the obscure show I go into with no expectations, only to be blown away. I’ve seen basically no one talking about this show, and that’s a shame, because it’s probably my favorite of the season.

I knew a remake of Trigun by Orange was going to be good. I’ve been looking forward to Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible since I read the manga. But Giant Beasts of Ars has given me something that is an increasingly rare commodity; it showed me something new. I could tell you it’s Attack on Titan crossed with the traditional JRPG of your choice, but that’s underselling one of the best action adventure anime I’ve seen in a long time.

I mention Attack on Titan, but the titular giant beasts of Ars are more similar to the Angels of Evangelion, with their bizarre and eldritch designs. These creatures are the byproduct of a pact between humans and the gods, divine retaliation sent down to punish mankind for eclipsing their creators.

Humanity’s last defense are the clerics, incredible sources of magical energy, liable to explode if left to their own devices, and their paladins, the warriors who harness that energy to battle the beasts. We follow Kuumi, a cleric military experiment on the run, and Jiro “the Already Dead”, a paladin whose cleric died years prior. He’s very much the archetypal reluctant type who had his chance to play the hero, and buries a desire to make amends under a deep layer of cynicism and regret. She’s a genki girl. You’ve seen an anime before. Enough said.

There’s big, bombastic fights between Jiro and Kuumi and the beasts, or desperate chase scenes to flee the military, but the real star of the show is Myaa, the catgirl merchant who speaks exclusively in cat puns. I don’t care what you say; this show is perfect.

So far, the show has taken a slow and deliberate approach to introducing us to its world. I aptly compared it to a JRPG, because while there’s smatterings of an overarching plot, it bears a strong resemblance to the typical starting town prior to the inciting incident that sends our hero off on their quest. This might come down to personal preference, but I love this style of world building; it shows the audience just enough to spark your interest, and feeds you the information you need at a steady and manageable pace.

As much as I love anime, I’m not blind to the flaws of the medium. Fantasy anime tends to be bogged down in derivative dialogue, a perilous pace, and egregious exposition. That’s a problem that fantasy faces as a genre, but the industry is so competitive that writers feel the need to cram the entire world, a dozen characters, and the central conflict into a pilot episode.

In Giant Beast of Ars’ first episode, I know three main characters and their personalities, the backdrop of clerics and paladins fighting the beasts, and that the military is trying to recapture Kuumi. That’s all I know, and really, all I need to know.

My favorite fantasy stories, whether they’re Re:Zero, Mistborn, or The Witcher, leverage the strength of their world building to inform the audience about their characters and conflicts, while giving you the bare minimum of information you need to understand the story at this very moment. It’s difficult to get right, but the strength of it is demonstrated in tight plots, consistent character writing, and ensuring the audience doesn’t get lost.

I’m not going to tell you that Giant Beast of Ars does all of that, because I’m reviewing it as of seeing its third episode, and this is an original anime, so the remaining episodes are an unknown quantity. However, I will say that bearing a resemblance to any of those stories this early in its run is a good sign.

If you are a fan of fantasy, then you really owe it to yourself to watch Giant Beasts of Ars. Not enough people are watching it, and I am hereby proclaiming it my obligatory “original anime of the year that I liked too much and will not shut up about”. If you’re unaware that this was a thing I do at all, go watch Tokyo 24th Ward, come back, and thank me.

So for my last review of the winter season, Giant Beasts of Ars earns the distinguished Neutral Fantastic. I could see it going into either the Boring or Entertaining categories depending how the remaining episodes go, but I’m content to place it here.

If you liked the review, then might I suggest following the Otaku Exhibition for a notification of when more reviews and essays go live. I’m going to verbally eviscerate The Irregular at Magic High School soon, and everyone ought to want to watch me pour some gas on that dumpster fire. If you prefer your notifications with me rambling about Genshin and the manga I’m reading, then check me out @ExhibitionOtaku on Twitter. Until next time, thanks for reading.


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