Anime Expo 2018 News Roundup: Day Zero, One, Two Headlines
Anime Expo 2018: Sirius the Jaeger Premiere Report
by Bamboo Dong,
It's 1930, Tokyo, and there's a war brewing between vampires, vampire hunters, and at least one werewolf, Yuliy. He belongs to an international team of vampire hunters called Jaegers, who have arrived in Tokyo on official monster-hunting business. There's been a spate of murders in Tokyo, and while local law enforcement has their own list of usual suspects, the Jaegers have their own leads. They soon clash with a “Royal” vampire who strikes a blow to their ranks, but provides them with a hot new lead on the real reason the vampires have come to town.
Over the years, P.A. Works has created quite the name for themselves, known for their meticulous attention to detail, exacting animation standards, and backgrounds so lively they feel like secondary characters. So it was with anticipation that I watched the world premiere of the first two episodes of Sirius the Jaeger, a gory foray into multi-national vampires and those who hunt them. It also comes packed with an all-star roster, including direction by the superbly talented Masahiro Ando, who's lent his directorial vision towards works like Under the Dog, Snow White with the Red Hair, CANAAN, and Hanasaku Iroha; original character design by Gundam Reconguista in G designer Kinu Nishimura; animation character design by Food Wars' Mai Matsuura; and a soundtrack by Masaru Yokoyama, whose credits include Your Lie in April and Fate/Apocrypha.
Before the screening, special guest Kenji Horikawa, founder and CEO of P.A. Works was on hand to answer a few questions about the series from the moderator:
In what way are you involved in Sirius the Jaeger?
Horikawa: The animation industry is changing drastically. Streaming is now the main outlet. P.A. Works is also changing. Before, I would have an idea and we would just create it. Now we're trying to have the younger staff come up with stuff and bring in ideas from outside. With Sirius, we're doing just that. I am just supervising, while Ando is taking the lead.
You worked with Ando on Hanasaku Iroha and CANAAN. What's your impression of him?
Horikawa:Before he started directing, he was well known for his action animation, and was a very highly respected person in the animation industry. It was understood that if you got chosen to be on his staff/team, it was a big honor. Because Ando has a high bar for quality, people feel that it's both a challenge and an honor to work for him.
If you had to pick a thing about Sirius you want fans to notice, what would it be?
Horikawa: You'll notice that the music, story, and animation are of the utmost quality. But at the same time, they are tackling difficult themes, such as what the image of a hero is, and a complicated story.
Do you have a final message to fans?
Horikawa:Please stick with it, because all of the staff really respect Ando and are doing their best to meet his expectations in creating this show.
Stories of vampires and vampire hunters have been a heavy staple in anime for decades, but Ando and the talented team at P.A. Works still manage to put their stamp on Sirius the Jaeger. The setting is 1930 Tokyo, and the backgrounds are a slick match. Bedecked with stately buildings and wide streets, they look like newspaper photos from the era, simultaneously grandiose and glamorous. Reflecting the architectural trends of the time and mish-mash of styles, the streets look like they could just as easily be in Paris as Tokyo, which gives the setting an extra allure. But beneath the shiny veneer, there's a covert battle raging.
Enter our heroes, the Jaegers, an international team of vampire hunters who arrive in town hot on the heels of trouble. There's been several murders around town, but the police already have their primary suspect, a man named Kuradake. We quickly learn that he's being framed by the vampires, who need a convenient cover for their activities. The real culprit is a vampire named Agatha, who uses her innocent appearance to throw off the cops. Before the end of the episode is through, though, the groups end up clashing. Yuliy, our main protagonist, goes after Agatha, but gets shot down in the process. It's a fairly standard episode, notable mostly for the things P.A. Works tends to excel at—gorgeous animation, beautiful composition. The dialogue is slightly clunky at times, especially when new lore terminology is lobbed in.
The second episode is where things start to get interesting. Yuliy wakes up to find himself at a kind stranger's house, who happens to be a doctor. Despite being sniped at close range, he's healing remarkably fast, though how much of that is due to his being a werewolf or how much of it is due to a mysterious “Arc” power is unknown so far. While he's recuperating, he meets the doctor's daughter, a quiet little girl who tends to a backyard tomato patch to remember her deceased mother. We learn that she passed away from heart complications, which has consumed her father with guilt and an obsession to make sure no one else will ever have the suffer the same fate.
It's a much tenser and higher-stakes episode than the opener, but the multiple pay-offs are worth it. The first is the eerie reveal of the doctor's life work; the second is Agatha vs. Sirius round two, and the discovery of what the vampires are actually doing in Tokyo. It involves a little hand-waving soft science, but it does pique my curiosity for the episodes to come.
Truthfully, I wasn't entirely gripped by the story until we started learning about the doctor's work. Up until then, the vampires versus hunters felt a little well-tread, even with the cool retro setting, but the introduction of the invention and its involvement in the vampires' motives perked me up again. As a fan of Ando's previous work, I'm willing to strap-in at least for the short haul.
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