Netflix has had an incredibly diverse track record when it comes to the anime they either distributed and/or produced. They have really ranged the gamut. From incredible shows like Beastars and Devilman Cry Baby to the uneven B the Beginning, to the congealed mess of traits that made up the energetic Cannonbuster and parody Neo Yokio. However, none seem to compare to the barest or bare bones, the recently released Idhun Chronicles.
The series, a Spanish production based on a trilogy of Spanish novels called The Idhún’s Memories, follows Jack. When he comes home one night to find his parents dead and himself about to be killed by the intruders he’s saved by a seperate factions of magic users and taken to a space between worlds. There, Jack finds out about a world of magic called Idhun, and a group of assassins sent from that world to earth in order to kill all magical refugees. Jack takes up arms to protect himself and avenge his parents.
The series is rough, clearly done on a tight budget, and poorly written. If I was someone who cared more about concise speaking than anything I could end it there. No additional words could describe the mind numbing process of watching the poorly animated and stiff looking production. The art direction and characters design for the whole series is barebones at best, and inconsistent at worst. For example, when one shot will have a piece of jewelry in one location but cut and it’ll be in a different location on the person and it does that constantly, that’s a minor problem when compared to what the show does.
All storytelling regardless of story, medium, and theme is all about a give and take. Anime, and anime inspired series like this one, are a prime example. They leverage consistent art and often limited animation for bigger payoffs in more key scenes. This series seems to have all the limitations with none of the payoffs or rewards. The animation and art doesn’t suck in some scenes but get good during fights. It is just always of low quality. Same with the dreary and lifeless voice casting.
I always watch in English if I have the option. Similar to the animation trade offs, in aware that I am getting the convenience of understanding at the cost of the translation not being accurate and the acting being lesser from time to time. However, based on posts by the author of the original book series and one of the head writers, the voice acting was a problem in the original cast as well. The only good proof is that the series has Johnny Young Bosch and Erika Halacher in key roles and they both are muted, boring, and stiff. Which seems impossible when they, JYB specifically, have more expressive lines and deliveries with less dialogue in Persona 5 than this series. It’s almost impressive they could tune them down to nothing.
It should be impressive, but they also don’t have anything to work with in terms of characters. Jack is the only character with a personality. Saying that being impulsive is a personality is woefully overstating him as a character. He wants revenge and to generically help, but that is it. Everyone is more flat than that 2D world they live in. This goes for the villains as well. The team might think that they are just posturing and menacing. Villains of few words and mostly actions. Instead they have no personality. They just appear, kill whoever and then disappear with I’ll defined magic.
Shocking, I know, the magic system and mythical world is at once over explained and needlessly complicated while also not being explained well enough, coming off as vague instead of anything concrete. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the incredibly fairy tale world the characters come from, but other than a bad case of the Dark Lords and magical oppression there isn’t anything unique. Something, after doing base reading on Wikipedia shows it’s an adaptational issue over a source material one. The world of Idhun seems kind of neat and has interesting lore that is dropped on us instead of being the story we are watching (a problem lots of fantasy stories have).
This is to say nothing of the story we are watching. It is bargain basement portal fantasy. That’s not bad alone, but it’s executed with all the skills of person finding out about portal fantasy for the first time. Every episode is a slog. The show has no energy, and the dialogue boarders on being a parody. Two characters jump from a high wall and one says that it felt like they are flying… I mean, have they never been on a trampoline before? So awkward, and not even purposefully so. Completely by accident. That makes it almost endearing if that wasn’t the high point of that episode. Because, overall, it’s a lifeless story.
To give one positive, I enjoy that this ostensible kids show does have a lot of blood and death used incredibly casually. Cuts and stabs produce blood and that was surprisingly mature.
This is a series who I don’t know the audience for it that couldn’t watch a better version of this story on the same platform. Its not told well enough to be a good starting point, not creative enough to be for veterans, not epic enough for those wanting a big fantasy story, and not well drawn and animated well enough for starving anime fan in need of new content. It’s cheap, not well told, and dull. All the worst things a show can be.
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