Pierre Brown takes a look at another new series: Juni Taisen: Zodiac War.
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is an anime I had literally no knowledge of until I scrolled upon it on Crunchyroll’s Fall releases. Pleasantly surprised by the general aesthetic and dark tone of the first episode, I knew I’d be tuning into this weekly.
The plot revolves around 12 warriors subjected to a battle that happens every twelve years. This battle happens on isolated ground and they all must fight until there’s one person standing. The last survivor gets a wish granted.
Episode One makes it seem as though Ino Toshiko is the protagonist. Her life before the game takes up majority of the episode and it is revealed that she wasn’t the first choice her family selected to participate in the battle. When her younger sister is selected instead, Ino drives her younger sister to murder relentlessly. She murders her classmates, friends, and more until Ino eventually gets into her head so deep that the girl commits suicide. Her death makes Ino the participant however, she is the first to die and is placed under a spell that makes her a zombie under the control of Usagi, a mysterious participant.
Episode Two follows Dotsuku, another participant who kills with his venomous bite. While attempting to find a suitable hiding spot he is instead confronted by Niwatori, a warrior who kills by pecking her enemies. She suggests that they team up but he thinks she’s an idiot even though she reveals she uses birds to do her bidding and can locate enemies. Meanwhile, Uma finds Ushii who initially said he aimed for peace and no bloodshed. Uma thinks he can relax but Ushii draws out his blade. As this is happening, Nezumi and Yuki hide in the sewers to avoid battle and truly win without bloodshed.
Episode Three begins where Episode Two ended, Niwatori gets bitten by Dotsuku but the particular venom he unleashed heightens her abilities instead of killing her so this made it all the easier for Niwatori to kill him. Wandering around to where the birds lead her, we also get a flashback to her life before the game where we learn she was adopted by a family deep in the art of deception, espionage, and murder. Still sticking to their peace stance, Nezumi finds Niwatori as he’s getting food and leads her back to their hiding spot. Will she kill two more participants of the game, or has something changed within her? Elsewhere Ushii battles Uma until its bloody end and one of these people are on the hunt to kill more.
Borrowing elements from other horror/survival action anime like Future Diary and Magical Girl Raising Project, this anime still manages to be a fun experience. Characters have cool backstories to make them seem fleshed out before they die but I really was hoping for more screen time with the lovely, yet demented Ino who died very early into the show.
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Fans of Future Diary will find something to love here and each episode makes me anticipate the next. Excellent character designs and animation production far superior than anime with similarities to Juni Taisen absolutely sets it apart from other horror anime of this season.
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episodes 1 thru 3 are streaming now on Crunchyroll and new episodes are released on Tuesdays. –Pierre Brown
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Crunchyroll