At a Glance: MÄR
Intro & Summary:
MÄR is a fantasy shounen anime where Ginta, a teenage Japanese boy, is transported to a magical world he had seen in his dreams before. The name of the show comes from the name of this fantasy world, Mär (for those who don't know, that kind of 'a' is pronounced like 'ae', making 'Mär' pronounced like 'mare').
It's a standard fantasy kingdom, complete with witches, princesses, and magical objects known as 'ärm'. Ginta finds Babbo, an ärm that is remarkable because it talks and appears to be sentient, which is a property not found in any other known ärm. He has to save the world from some standard bad guys, he teams up with other characters, has to train to get tougher, and has to fight in a tournament for the fate of the world. Oh, and there's the standard fantasy prophesy predicting Ginta as the chosen one. Yay...
Manga by Nobuyuki Anzai
Nintendo DS games (2)
I started out liking this one. The characters are cute and likeable. But an 'At a Glance' review is the first 20% of content (rounded to the nearest whole episode of an anime or volume of a manga). This show has 102 episodes. So I had to watch 20 episodes of this, and I noted from that experience:
- The plot is one of the worst I've seen. It's the standard shounen fighter formula, mixed with the standard Hero's Journey/classic fantasy plot formula. Knowing this meant a majority of the episodes held no surprises for me.
- It's agonizingly simple as a plot. It was wake up in fantasy world, find weapon, train with weapon, fight a couple small fry bad guys, get into a fighting tournament, beat the bigger bad guys working your way up to the Big Bad, repeat. There were no real surprises or twists here. I kept waiting for something really unexpected to happen, and it didn't. Compare that to something like Hunter x Hunter, which always keeps you guessing, and you'll see how dull this anime is in comparison.
- There's a certain lack of artistic flair or uniqueness to these characters. For one, some side characters are fairy tale references, like Jack being based on Jack in the Beanstalk, the princess Yuki being based on Snow White, and so on. But this theme isn't carried through with all characters, and its inconsistent application, not to mention how cliché fairy tale motifs are, makes it seem like lazy writing.
- The magic system. Ärm seem to vary in power, but also their powers vary depending on the bond they have with their owners. But, this means you can't really devise rules that make any kind of ärm fighting tournament fair. There's no equivalent to weight classes in wrestling. Plus, it's more a lack of a magic system, as the ärm have powers that are vaguely defined and murkily explained. This is probably just so that they can plausibly do anything that the plot needs them to do.
And just like any sunny-side shounen, the main characters will always win, and you know they'll win, because FEELINGS. Eugh. I like these characters. But I'd really prefer to see them in a better story.