Tales of political intrigue and fantasy warfare are all the rage these days thanks to Game of Thrones’ popularity. Not even anime can escape the inspirational grasp of George R.R Martin’s books. Just like the aforementioned novels, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is rich in medieval battles, dragons, rulers who partake in skulduggery and boobies (the real reason why most blokes tune into the HBO television adaptation.) Set in a magical land, loosely modelled off historical Europe, Lord Marksman and Vanadis chronicles the adventures of Tigrevurmud Vorn – a young count who must use his archery talents to protect the tiny nation of Alsace from foreign invaders.
In Lord Marksman and Vanadis’ opening episode viewers are able to observe Tigre’s pinpoint accuracy with arrows, as the army he fights for clashes against forces loyal to a War Maiden named Eleonora Viltaria. Unfortunately for the crimson haired bowman, the side Tigre is on is powerless against both Elen’s troops and the enchanted blade she wields. When the dust settles Tigre is captured, but he need not worry because like all male anime protagonists he is irresistible to members of the opposite sex. Elen is so smitten with the count that she even agrees to help her prisoner defend Tigre’s homeland after word reaches them that Alsace is about to be attacked by a hostile neighbour.
At first the plan is simple enough. Tigre, with the assistance of his beautiful captor’s soldiers, fends off the attackers before taking the fight to their home turf. Actions however have consequences and it isn’t long before the Tigre/Elen alliance is targeted by other kingdoms, whose leaders are wary of a foreign military marching within close proximity of their borders. Complicating matters even further is the poor mental health of the monarch Tigre is loyal to. The king is nuttier than Charlie Sheen and therefore is easy to manipulate by corrupt advisors who conspire to have Tigre assassinated. The fate of the entire region will rest on the outcome of Tigre’s campaign, which spans across thirteen action packed episodes.
My rating for Lord Marksman and Vanadis is a four out of five. I must say that it is refreshing to see a series were the guy is a bowman and the female companion brandishes a sword. It’s usually the reverse, especially since movies like Brave and Hunger Games have made female archers so fashionable. This animated take on Tsukasa Kawaguchi’s light novels is enjoyable thanks to the epic cavalry battles and the harem comedy that occurs in between skirmishes. Vanadis’ action sequences are brought to life using CG effects, which don’t look too bad as the combatants are decked out in full plate armour. A narrator explains the tactics of each assault, detailing things like formations and flanking – although in the end strategy matters little. Much like a game of Dynasty Warriors, what the regular grunts do is inconsequential. Victory is usually determined by who triumphs whenever the super-powered heroes and villains duel.
One thing I disliked about Lord Marksman and Vanadis is the wafer thin plot, which boils down to endless battles. Although I haven’t read the books, I suspect that a substantive amount of content must have been annexed to squeeze five novels worth of story into a single cour. Some extra scenes of diplomacy would have been nice, but we at least get humour to break up the continuous moments of slaughter. Most of the jokes are of the fan service variety featuring Tigre and the well-endowed War Maidens who pledge their allegiance to him. Accidental boob grabs and walking in on bathing ladies is the order of the day, along with a clip were Tigre needs to save one of Elen’s lieutenants by sucking out the poison from her chest! Hmm, I suddenly have the urge to visit Australia. The country is saturated with venomous creatures and gorgeous women. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to give Elle Macpherson some lip-based first aid.