The Winter 2022 Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Rusted Armors ?
Community score: 1.1
What is this?
The story focuses on the relationship between the gun-toting Magoichi — who is the leader of the Saika Ikki mercenary group — and the Sengoku era warlord Oda Nobunaga.
How was the first episode?
So this is just how it is now, huh? Every season, along with the generic isekai, the idol series, and the media-mix project, there's going to be at least one series animated with PS2-level computer graphics. We had EX-ARM, we had Tesla Note, and now we have Rusted Armors, a generic historical action fantasy set in the Sengoku period.
Wait, was that Deku's voice actor? What did you just say while promoting tourism in a live-action segment while wearing a terribly insufficient mask? Rusted Armors isn't just ugly CG, but also a media-mix project? Why, today must be my lucky day, getting to watch an anime that encapsulates two annoying production trends! Thank you for bringing me these wonderful tidings! Good day to you sir!
No character epitomizes the issues with Rusted Armors better than Ageha. She's explicitly a trans woman, but the other characters all treat her like a man in drag with responses ranging from, “Disgusting,” to, “I wish [s]he were a real woman!” She's pure stereotype, with no personality other than dressing feminine, flirting with straight men, and constantly reasserting that no, she really is a woman. The costume designers decided it would be great to dress her up in flowing robes, revealing her flat chest, with flared sleeves that move like… well, they don't move. There's no drape or flow, because they're all stiff 3D rigs without any kind of physics engine to, say, make fabric affected by gravity.
When she takes a blow, she does not bleed or really show any reaction other than putting her hand on her arm that the sword just bumped into, I guess? It's not like the impact moved her arm or cut her flesh or even the fabric of her robe. She appears entirely unaffected because they're all animated like plastic action figures instead of creatures of flesh and blood. Nothing feels alive, nothing feels organic, it's all artificial and ugly and blatantly obviously so. It's just bad.
Here's everything you need to know about what it is like to watch Rusted Armors: I kept having to rewatch chunks of this premiere because, whenever I would turn off the subtitles to find screenshots to use for this article, I would forget to turn them back on again for minutes at a time. This is yet another CG anime that looks so hideous that my brain simply blocked out the fact that there was even dialogue that I needed to follow. Just trying to keep up with the incomprehensible editing and artistic choices was enough work to fully overload my cerebrum.
Don't worry, though: I'm not about to tell you that Rusted Armors' story is actually worth enduring the godawful visuals for; it is also quite bad, although in a much more generic way. After the nonsensical opening action scene, we're treated to a bunch of short (and unfunny) sketches that introduce the half- dozen or so samurai boys that protect the hidden gunsmith village of Sakai. There are other, regular people in the village as well, but you know they don't really matter because all of them are half-assed 2D models that don't even get the dignity of being animated.
In any case, it isn't like the “real" characters have any more personality than the literal paper cutouts that they are apparently honor-bound to protect. Every last one of the Sakai warriors can be boiled down to the one or two-word description that you could glean from a single glance at them: There's the hot-tempered one, the one who likes to hammer random metal objects, the boring amnesiac one, the muscles one, the feminine crossdresser/transgender character who is the butt of a bunch of lame jokes" one. Riveting stuff, truly.
Really, though, the completely inconsequential characters and story shouldn't distract you from Rusted Armors' visual failings, which are all-consuming and absolute. I'll give the show credit in that it's stylized 2D backgrounds might have worked to better blend with the 3D models, if only they weren't colored piss-yellow half the time and drawn with all of the detail of a lazy 3rd-grader's refrigerator. If you decide to watch this ugly dreck for the ironic lolz, then don't ever say that we didn't warn you. Rusted Armors will bring you nothing but misery and sorrow.
This is a joke, right? A jape? A mischievous little prank you all got together to make to “celebrate” the anniversary of EX-ARM? Because that's the only reasonable explanation for why we would have something looking like this show does, a full year after that barely-animated embarrassment became the punching bag of anime fandom. So fess up. Which of you hired some animators to put a purposefully awful-looking pilot episode together for some cut-rate Sengoku Basara clone?
Seriously, what am I going to say here? That this show is bad? You knew that the moment you saw the trailer or key visual. The quality of the CG models alone is poor enough to tell everyone in their right mind to stay away. Your decision to not watch this thing isn't going to be somehow intensified from knowing its writing is bare-bones Sengoku-era fantasy nonsense with a bunch of boring characters, terrible action, and some dull, transphobic comedy surrounding the token effeminate character. Unless you're being paid to watch it or being held at gunpoint, you weren't going to spend time on this even if you're a fan of the original stage show.
Honestly, it's not even fun to joke on these disastrous CG productions anymore. EX-ARM was funny when it was a novelty, but now that we're seemingly getting one of these every season it's just depressing. I know for certain that nobody working on this project wanted it to look like this, and they likely know that the best they can hope for is that it's forgotten quickly enough to not become a laughingstock. This is barely a show, mostly just a reminder of the increasingly untenable conditions of anime production in the current licensing bubble, and that's not even a little funny.
Ah, so this is our 'EX-ARM' of the season. That should honestly tell you all you need to know.
Oh you want more? Okay. Rusted Armors is a visual disaster across the board. The character designs are uninspired. The backgrounds are simplistic and ugly. The rigging is terrible. And despite being 3D animation, the models are rendered at a lower frame rate than normal for television, making them move in a clunky, unnatural fashion.
Of course, it's not just that it's badly-rendered 3D CG animation; it's that it uses every single budget- saving animation trick imaginable. Long shots of characters talking with no camera movement? Check. The same few frames of animation looping over and over? Check. Zooming in or slowly panning across a single establishing shot? Check. Having only a single character model per character so that none of the damage they take is visible? Check. Flashing back/reusing character animations from mere minutes before? Check. Turning the background into speed lines during fight scenes? Check. Cutting away at the moment of impact to avoid having to animate it, instead showing a black screen with a flash of light? Check and check.
But what about the story? Well, this first episode is basically a rip-off of The Seven Samurai—seven warriors defend a rural village from a much larger band of attackers—except, you know, terrible. Also, there are gunblades. I don't know how exactly that fits into the whole situation, but they exist in this version of “feudal Japan.” I was honestly laughing too hard at the ineptitude on screen to give it much thought. If I were forced to give the show a single compliment, it would be that the opening theme song isn't half-bad.
While I don't know if this is included in the streaming release, the Japanese broadcast version of the episode ended with a live-action behind-the-scenes segment where two of the voice actors go to a shrine to pray that this anime will be a big hit. I've got bad news for them: not even divine intervention is going to be able to make this one any less of a joke.
And then they all died. It was a short series, but thanks for your support – damnit, inexplicably shirtless guy, why did you have to come in and save Magoichi instead of letting the bad guys kill them all off? Now there'll be more episodes! Oh well. Rusted Armors is this season's ghastly CG nightmare show, and it's definitely giving EX-ARM a run for its money in the ugly department. That's kind of too bad, because there are elements of the story that could have been interesting, but they're buried under a slew of named characters and poorly-explained plot. Really, the animation is just the icing on the cake.
The general conceit – that a village somewhere in Japan during the warring states period makes guns – isn't revolutionary, but it does take into account the fact that not only the men would be working, and I liked the detail that the women work the bellows. Of course, such a village cannot be left alone to do its own thing, so the unnamed bad guys (the only ones in full suits of armor, because everyone knows villains in armor are still more vulnerable than heroes with vital areas exposed) want to destroy it. We knew that this would be at least partly successful the minute someone mentioned “what will you do when the war is over” at the ill-timed party the night before the attack, although whether the heroes, the only important members of the community, are mostly dead remains up in the air. There is an attempt to give the characters personalities, with Magoichi being the most successful because he's got amnesia and therefore has an excuse for this cursory attempt to not have worked.
I will give Rusted Armors this: its plot does make a bit more sense than it could. It isn't brilliantly executed and I enjoyed the two-minute segment at the end where the seiyu for Magoichi and Deku go on a trip more than the twenty-one minutes before it, but it isn't completely hopeless. But you have to get past how it looks, to say nothing of the deliberate consistent misgendering of a trans character, and those may not make it worth sticking it out. Sabikui Bisco also involves rust; better to wait for that.
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