Of the two major non-isekai fantasy shows airing this season, I know which one I’m more inclined to watch.
Hikari no Ou / The Fire Hunters
On paper, Hikari no Ou was probably one of the most intriguing shows to me as I was looking through this season’s offerings a few weeks back – and it does for the most part live up to those expectations, even though I’m still only curiously optimistic at this point rather than all in. Granted, it’s a low bar to set; simply by dint of being a non-isekai fantasy title based on a series of literary novels, it sets itself apart from the pack from the get-go, although happily, that’s not all there is to the show. Both narratively and visually, Hikari no Ou is a rather unique anime, and while that may not translate to popularity, I would encourage anyone getting a bit sick of more traditional, tropey fare to give it a look.
I won’t give too much away about the plot, but what I will say is that the worldbuilding is top-notch, with little in the way of clumsy exposition to dampen its impact. I feel relatively confident in saying that every piece of dialogue, every story element introduced to the general narrative, has a purpose, either now or to be paid off further down the line. However, perhaps above anything else, this strikes me as very much a mood piece, by which I mean its tone and atmosphere do just as much heavy lifting as the story itself, if not more, to drive the show’s appeal. If that tone isn’t your kind of vibe (and be warned that said vibe is pretty heavy – not so much explicitly violent as it is bleak and depressing), this might not be your cup of tea.
For me, it’s leagues ahead of the far messier and more stereotypically old-school high fantasy stylings of Giant Beasts of Ars (which I quit after Episode 2 because cat-girl was annoying as hell), but it’s mileage will very much depend on whether you feel like sinking your teeth into something this pervasively gloomy.
Bonus: Trigun Stampede
Yes, I finally watched it. It’s fine. The CG is mostly fine. The reimagining of the story is okay (even though not including Milly Thompson is basically a crime). Go watch it if you’re curious enough – it requires no prior knowledge of the franchise. My only major gripe (other than the lack of Milly) is that it also lacks the rough edges of the original. Sure, ‘90s Trigun was by no means a looker in the traditional sense, but it was exactly those raggedy imperfections that made it so atmospheric, while new Trigun is too clean-looking to have that same kind of impact. That being said, this is a perfectly competent effort, so rest assured that if you do go in, you won’t have a terrible experience.
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