Anime Review: “Guin Saga” – A Journey of Moderate Proportions

Written by Alex Bowman August 21, 2014

Gui Saga

When it comes to adapting an established body of work, I personally assume that the most difficult part is the condensing of material. We all know how some writers try to condense a large body of work to the density of a thin wafer mint (cough* “Dune” *cough), or try to add more content that doesn’t exist in the source material just to stretch out the run time (cough* “The Hobbit” *cough). Competent writers are the ones who know what to keep and what to throw away when it comes to adapting a huge story to a smaller medium. So does the anime “Guin Saga,” which is based off of a series of novels that has been ongoing since the late 1970s, do a good job of providing an entertaining series without creating a half-assed adaptation? Let’s find out.

Meeting of Fate

The story takes place in a fantasy world that, apparently, doesn’t have a name. The kingdom of Parros is attacked by the Mongaul army so the king and queen use magical teleportation to save their twin children and heirs to the throne, Rinda and Remus Farseer. They end up in a swamp and, what a coincidence, are attacked by Mongauli scouts. They are rescued by a mysterious warrior with amnesia named Guin who, oddly enough, has the head of a leopard. He saves the kids, and decides to be their guide and protector while more people join their group. Together they get into shenanigans in each episode.

Guin Saga

A New Destiny

One of the things I really like about “Guin Saga” is the animation; the artwork is so beautiful and pleasant to look at. Even when characters are just conversing or standing around you at least have something pretty to look at. The world feels vast and expansive, and the story does help in that department as well. Within the first few episodes of the series you will start to notice that this isn’t just a story about a couple of albinos and their kitty-headed body-guard. The plot soon develops into this politicking, cloak-and-dagger story that doesn’t really deserve to be the sub-plot for all the effort that is put into it.

Guin Saga

The characters feel really fleshed out and entertaining while still exhibiting some cliched qualities. Istavan and Guin feel the most fleshed out amongst all the characters despite their skin-deep personality traits. Guin is suffering from amnesia, and we never learn why because the plot-writing for his back-story is weak. Istavan Spellsword – known as the “Crimson Mercenary” – is the Daryl Dixon of the story and holds the most attention throughout the run-time. He actually exhibits the most change in character throughout the series by wearing the most masks, and provides a really nice twist towards the end regarding his motives and relationship with Guin.

Mirage

“Guin Saga” may be pretty decent, but I still have to take points away regarding some issues. First, this anime seems really confused. The plot summaries would have you believe this story is about Guin guiding and protecting the twins; however, the sub-plot seems to to be the most fleshed out, and the director feels no shame in forcibly reminding us that this is what we should be focusing on. “Guin Saga” needed to have its story and characters all woven intricately together as opposed to this weird focus largely placed on the events of the sub-plot. Also, the character Suni, a member of a warrior tribe of monkey-barbarians, is so FUCKING ANNOYING. Remember that time in the late ’80s and early ’90s when sitcoms thought it would be a good idea to add in a little kid to garner more viewers because they were so gosh-darned cute? Well, this show certainly held onto that nugget of a theory and it just doesn’t work. We already have the Wonder Twins to worry about, we don’t really need a third wheel.

Guin Saga

Underneath the Many Stars

Despite a confusing story and some really obvious cliches and design choices (the names are a dead giveaway for how dated this whole story feels), “Guin Saga” still surprisingly holds up. The director and writers do a good job of taking over 40 years of story and condensing it into a solid 26 episode run time that doesn’t really feel condensed or stretched out at all. I wouldn’t say its the best anime out there but its colorful cast, rich fantasy atmosphere, and beautiful artwork will certainly be enough to grab your attention from start to finish. I highly recommend it to any one looking for some stylish fantasy adventure.

My Rating: 7/10

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