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EP. REVIEW: The Twelve Kingdoms


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timber



Joined: 12 Dec 2014
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 2:46 pm Reply with quote
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the premiere feel almost like a horror story


I have not read the original novels covered by the anime, but had he occasion to read fan translated versions of some of the other novels and they really tend to the horror fantasy side, especially the one that covers the young back haired kirin's reappearance in Japan.

Quote:
typically these adventures are solo affairs


Well, IIRC from the director's interview at the time, the 2 classmates are an addition made in the anime to broaden a little bit the palette of reactions to being transported into another world and act as a counterpoint to Youko's story.
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 4:53 pm Reply with quote
timber wrote:
Well, IIRC from the director's interview at the time, the 2 classmates are an addition made in the anime to broaden a little bit the palette of reactions to being transported into another world and act as a counterpoint to Youko's story.

I know Sugimoto's role was expanded in the anime adaptation. Asano is anime-original.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Twelve_Kingdoms_characters#Yuka_Sugimoto
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Top Gun



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 5:02 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
Why though? It means very little, as in it's just a very loose narrative structure. The main character was transferred to another world, and that's all they have to have in common. if Escaflowne and Alice in Wonderland can both be Iseka despite being nothing alike, the formers high fantasy medieval mecha. Than so can Shield Hero and a Boy and the Beast.

It's more of a personal bias than anything else, but the term has extremely negative connotations to me, given the trends present in most of the works of that type being produced today. However, I've read multiple compelling write-ups that make a good case for there being a clear break between the "to another world" series of the 90s and early 2000s, and the current isekai wave. For one, the earlier series almost always featured female protagonists, whereas the current ones (by and large) focus on male protagonists. (I think that's where the Alice comparison has at least a bit of merit.) They were also far more heavily inspired by classic high fantasy or mythology, as opposed to being more of a take on RPG-esque tropes. And they didn't really revolve around wish-fulfillment: as an earlier post pointed out, Youko spends the first several episodes desperately wanting to leave this world.

Then again, the 90s did give us Garzey's Wing, buuuuut we don't talk about that. Laughing
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Key
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 7:24 pm Reply with quote
^
The Garzey's Wing comment aside, this is an interesting debate to get into because it depends a bit on what you're pointing to as inspirational material. John Carter is by no stretch an isekai protagonist who dates back to the early 20th century - after Alice, but before most other world-hopping stories. The '80s and early '90s saw multiple fantasy isekai stories released in the States, including Barbara Hambly's "The Time of the Dark" trilogy (eventually had both male and female co-protagonist world-jumpers) and another by Harry Turtledove called The Misplaced Legion, which features a whole Roman Imperial Legion world-hopping. I'm sure there are others that I am forgetting. So there are definitely other potential influences for early isekai anime/manga besides just Alice, and they definitely weren't all (or even mostly) girls.

I will agree that 2010s isekai titles are largely a different animal from earlier ones, but I don't see that as a problem. It would hardly be the only case in anime (and related content) of a long-standing genre undergoing a radical transformation over time.
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 9:05 pm Reply with quote
Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is the earliest I know of. Though it is framed as spoiler[the final hallucinations of a dying man].

I think the real problem it the tendency to apply a label to various types of shows and then tar them all with the same brush. Even the current shows have the good the bad and the downright ugly. It is everyone's privilege to decide they do not like a specific genre of shows. However you should keep in mind that you may miss something good that way. If a show you would normally pass gets a lot of favorable discussion you might want to check it out.

Regardless, given how easy it is to try stuff now that most shows are streaming, you shouldn't bad mouth anything without trying it first.
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lossthief



Joined: 14 Dec 2012
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 9:47 pm Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
Even the current shows have the good the bad and the downright ugly. It is everyone's privilege to decide they do not like a specific genre of shows. .


Honestly I think part of the problem is treating "isekai" as a genre rather than a storytelling trope. "A character gets sent to another world" is just an ingredient, and it can be used for any number of purposes depending on what the creator(s) wants to do with it. In terms of just storytelling application, I've found the biggest shift in isekai series between the 90s/00s and today's series is in how the hero and audience are meant to perceive being transplanted to another world.

In most (not all, but most) series contemporary with and prior to 12 Kingdoms, the transplant is something that the protagonist seeks to reverse. Whether they do or not, often their longstanding goal is to find a way back home, because they're often faced with enormous danger in this new world and have a fondness for home that they don't want to abandon.

Meanwhile in most isekai these days the transplant is treated as a stroke of fortune - the hero is given a new world where they're often more powerful and savvy than they were in the "real" world, are surrounded by companions/romantic interests, and generally their life is presented as being better because even the life-threatening dangers they face are cool and impressive. If the chance for a return isn't handwaved immediately by hero being reincarnated into the new world, it's often not brought up at all because it's supposed to be a fantasy where the otaku protagonist gets to live a better, happier, wish-fulfilling life that the presumed otaku audience can enjoy vicariously.

So I get Top Gun is coming from there. Even setting aside strict definitions of genre, Old-school and nu-isekai are usually (not always, but usually) diametrically different beasts.
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Key
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 1:41 am Reply with quote
^
While I agree with you in general, lossthief, there's one caveat to what you said: relatively often in reincarnation scenarios (about half the time in my experience), the protagonist is not at all happy with their new circumstances. Rather than otaku wish fulfillment, those cases tend to more have the theme "play the hand you're dealt as best you can." Strong examples of that would include Saga of Tanya the Evil, the current My Life as a Villainness, and especially the supposedly-still-upcoming So I'm A Spider, So What?

Of course, there are also plenty of reincarnation isekai which are exactly what you said, with recent examples including Wiseman's Grandchild and arguably 8th Son (despite the protagonist starting in crappy circumstances, he's living the high life a few episodes later).
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 6:49 am Reply with quote
@lossthief

I probably shouldn't have used the word genre. I agree that the idea of lost in another world is just a story feature. What bothers me is the tendency to lump shows together based on some aspect and assume they are all the same. The current outcry over isekai is no different than the people upset about the prevalence of "moe" or CGCT anime that was supposed to destroy anime.
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Mr. sickVisionz



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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 12:53 pm Reply with quote
I really enjoyed this series a lot. I loved how entangled and connected all the arcs ended up being and how each of them, in some way, contributed to the MC spoiler[accepting and settling into her role as Queen]. It's fantasy, but I think they found a way to execute that (growing into her role) in a way that felt more realistic than most.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:22 am Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
It's more of a personal bias than anything else, but the term has extremely negative connotations to me, given the trends present in most of the works of that type being produced today. However, I've read multiple compelling write-ups that make a good case for there being a clear break between the "to another world" series of the 90s and early 2000s, and the current isekai wave. For one, the earlier series almost always featured female protagonists, whereas the current ones (by and large) focus on male protagonists. (I think that's where the Alice comparison has at least a bit of merit.) They were also far more heavily inspired by classic high fantasy or mythology, as opposed to being more of a take on RPG-esque tropes. And they didn't really revolve around wish-fulfillment: as an earlier post pointed out, Youko spends the first several episodes desperately wanting to leave this world.
That's sound reasoning, and thanks for being honest about being biased. What you say about female vs male leads in Isekai is interesting, as Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, which I realise is probably Isekai, has two lead characters of both genders. The boy wants to stay in the fantasy worlds, as a form of escapism and to revel in his hobbies. And the girl wants to return to the real world where everything makes sense and the people she knows live.
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Gonbawa



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:42 am Reply with quote
"12 Kingdoms" is in my top ten "best series ever" list. The chara-design, world-building, storytelling and music are top notch. And I can't thank ANN enough, because 16 years ago they are the ones that let me discover this series : I didn't like the 1st episode at all and didn't want to watch more (in the 1st episode the MC is as annoying as Evangelion's Shinji), but ANN reviews were so full of praise that I bought the first batch of dvds. It was an unforgettable experience, on par with "Crest of the Stars", at the start of the 2000's.
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Key
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:03 pm Reply with quote
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Then to top everything off Youko's now being stalked by a spectral gremlin of a man who constantly taunts her with her deepest fears and traumatic memories.

Very slight spoiler for the reviewer and newcomers: the "man" isn't a gremlin, he's a spoiler[monkey]. That distinction will help understand a language-related reference which comes up later on.
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Fluwm



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:12 am Reply with quote
So some quick bulleted points since I can't be arsed to organize my thoughts properly:

<> My understanding is that the anime wasn't canceled, so much that it simply ran out of material to adapt. The novels themselves went on "indefinite hiatus" for reasons that I've never seen properly explained. The author, Fuyumi Ono(?) went on to write several other things so perhaps she simply ran out of ideas?

<> While the officially licensed English release was never completed, AFAIK all of the remaining novels have (excellent) fan-translations out there.

<> I literally lack the words to express how much I adore Twelve Kingdoms. I won't even try. All I can say is that I've seen so much anime, and read so many books that I'd be hard pressed to come up with a "Top 100" list, by medium or genre, but if I had to name my absolute favorites you can damn well guess Twelve Kingdoms'd be near the top. Really looking forward to these reviews and our ensuing conversation!

<> And maybe it's improper for me to say this (someone lemme know) but just in case I miss the actual review, I just want to say I am REALLY looking forward to the "crow" scene. Easily one of the most impactful and impressive bits of animation I've ever seen, right up there with *that* scene from the first Patlabor movie (you know the one) and the colony battle in Gundam F91. Really amazing stuff, complemented by and complementing the story, characters and music perfectly.

<> Also, wow. Time for me to start my 12K rewatch! These early episodes can be rough--for those familiar with the novels, the anime deviates quite a bit from the source material, but ultimately I think these changes result in a much better story. This is one of the few cases I can think of where the adaptation genuinely improves on the original (you'll see what I mean by the end of the third arc!). These early episodes can be pretty harsh, but they ultimately pay off masterfully.

<> And if anyone has mixed feelings on these early episodes... just be patient and wait for Rakushun.

Gonbawa wrote:
"12 Kingdoms" is in my top ten "best series ever" list. The chara-design, world-building, storytelling and music are top notch. And I can't thank ANN enough, because 16 years ago they are the ones that let me discover this series : I didn't like the 1st episode at all and didn't want to watch more....


I agree with all of this, and would love to hear what your other top ten titles are. I can definitely relate to not liking the first episode, too. My first encounter with 12K was, iirc, the first episode being included as a "free bonus" with some other random anime DVD. Back in those horrific days where you'd pay $20-30 USD for a single disc with 2-3 episodes on it (what a time).

And good god was that a dumb decision. The first episode is a confusing mess and isn't even remotely indicative of the rest of the show... it turned me off completely. Years later, when I gave the show another proper chance, it skyrocketed up to a place on my "best anime of all time list" and it's been there ever since.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:42 am Reply with quote
Fluwm wrote:

These early episodes can be rough--for those familiar with the novels, the anime deviates quite a bit from the source material, but ultimately I think these changes result in a much better story. This is one of the few cases I can think of where the adaptation genuinely improves on the original (you'll see what I mean by the end of the third arc!). These early episodes can be pretty harsh, but they ultimately pay off masterfully.


So I definitely would agree with the first few episodes being rough, but I have no idea if it's for the same reason other peoples would say that. Pretty much all my complain boil down to Yuka and the other guy being both useless story wise and pretty obnoxious characters. Do they ever leave the show, preferably soon?
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Zefram



Joined: 02 Oct 2019
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:42 pm Reply with quote
Fluwm wrote:
So some quick bulleted points since I can't be arsed to organize my thoughts properly:

<> My understanding is that the anime wasn't canceled, so much that it simply ran out of material to adapt. The novels themselves went on "indefinite hiatus" for reasons that I've never seen properly explained. The author, Fuyumi Ono(?) went on to write several other things so perhaps she simply ran out of ideas?

<> While the officially licensed English release was never completed, AFAIK all of the remaining novels have (excellent) fan-translations out there.


While the author did go on hiatus with her books there were at least 2 more novels and 1 collection of short stories based on different kingdoms. The novel called Shore of Twilight the Sky at Daybreak is direct continuation of the Sea of Wind, the Shore of Labyrinth and the Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn arcs. Plus there is a novel about Empress of Kyou.
I believe the official reason series was cancelled, is because they made it too Youko oriented and other stories had very tenuous if any connection to Youko. For example the last arc, was self contained Shouryuu and Rokuta of En story with zero connection to Youko/Rakushin.

New novel concluding Shore of Twilight was released last september. It's called Silver Ruins Black Moon. Its giant 4 volume beast. I hope another season will happen now.
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