Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eki

February 13, 2016

I thought it was going to be another one of those average fantasy animes based on yet another RPG game. But after reading how it was ‘highlighted’ that the series has characters designed by famous writers and novelists that made superb animes such as Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Kara No Kyoukai, Baccano and Durarara, well, I thought how awesome Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eki is going to be. After all, when you have such talented people gather and pooling their ideas together, you’re sure going to come up with something epic, don’t you think? Furthermore, the character designs in this series are all designed by them so sometimes you might catch their familiar trademarks in a certain character. I know sometimes it can backfire and go the other way too but let us keep things positive. To add to that awesomeness of everything, I also read that when these authors gather to brainstorm for ideas for this RPG game, they came up with so much material that it was enough to make a story out of it. And even animate it! I hope they didn’t come up with those ideas because they were drunk… ;p.

Episode 1
As narrated, the little island country of Nil Kamui was suddenly invaded by Kouran and 1/3 of the land became under their control. Nil Kamui’s ally, D’natia only defended its base and kept silent, taking the other 1/3 of the land. To add to woes, the Red Dragon which was supposed to be the island’s guardian deity went berserk and destroyed villages. Currently, Koukaku and Kouretsu are leading Kouran’s Red Dragon expedition. Ibuki whose family was once the Imperial (royalty) of this island, is helping his friends Mashiro and Kai oversee an orphanage. Ibuki doesn’t want Fugaku to train him in wielding the Ryugatou sword because he believes this island doesn’t need a king anymore. Fugaku wants him to at least take the sword with him. Ibuki and friends head down to the market where they bump into Swallow Craftsvalley and his assistant, Meryl Sherbet. Seems Swallow is here to join the Red Dragon expedition and bear their mission. The liveliness of the market is ruined when Kouran army passes by and announces to the crowd about their expedition to rid of the Red Dragon and save the people via this Dragon Eye they are transporting. The Dragon Eye starts to resonate with Ibuki in making a contract with it. Koukaku spots Ibuki with his sword and based on Kouran’s rules, weapons are not allowed to be carried no matter the reason. Mashiro doesn’t want Ibuki to discard the sword but it looks like he is willing to do it. Even so, Koukaku is about to kill him when Fugaku leads his rebels to attack the Kouran army. Kouretsu gives orders to give everybody so the civilians also get slaughtered. Ibuki thinks Fugaku planned this rebellion when the Dragon Eye gets stuck on his chest. Mashiro gets killed when she tries to protect Kai from Kouretsu’s strike. As expected, this becomes the catalyst for Ibuki to change. Flashback shows his royal family were killed in the last war and that’s why he thought if he became king, he would bring about war again. Looks like he’s wrong. The Red Dragon bugs him to make a contract and in exchange will have his wish granted. Ibuki wants to change the world but in order to seal the contract and achieve his desire, an equivalent price must be exchanged. This means, Ibuki is forced to kill Mashiro. His hand is moving on his own. She is happy to give his life to him and hopes he will be a good king. Against his will, Ibuki kills her to complete the contract. Then he powers up with the dragon’s power to kick that fatty’s ass. In the aftermath, Ibuki is confronted by one of the rebels, Eiha of the Bounded (a human joined with a beast). She confirms Mashiro is dead and Ibuki confirms himself as this country’s king.

Episode 2
Ibuki blames Fugaku for knowing this would happen but Kai blames Ibuki, the Child of Contract for killing Mashiro. When Ibuki is with Fugaku and his men discussing about the rebellion to overthrow their invaders, Swallow and Meryl waltz in. He is a Black Dragon knight from D’natia and was selected to be on the Red Dragon expedition. Meanwhile in a prison in Shuka, the imprisoned Agito Isurugi who is the rebel leader is being accused of starting the fight between the Kouran army and Nil Kamui’s rebels. His plan was to make Ibuki open his eyes and have him join the expedition which is represented by a great warrior from each country. The great sacrifice of both sides is written off as an unfortunate event but Setsuren warns never to let this happen again. Koukaku learns about that farce and won’t heed orders to return as she seeks revenge and wants the Dragon Eye back. Swallow is ignorant of Nil Kamui’s plight. He thought the country is good friends with his until Meryl explains the Seven Year War that made Nil Kamui accept a treaty for a complete surrender. News of Kouran army attacking the nearby village so the rebels get ready for some action. But instead of wasting their lives, Swallow goes to fight them all alone. Meryl explains his technique that all weapons he used will break down but at that point, the weapon unleashes its greatest potential. Ibuki realizes the orphanage is under attack by Koukaku who is trying to lure him out. He has Eiha fetch him there via riding her winged beast, Val. Eiha fights to distract Koukaku while Ibuki saves the orphans. But she loses and the kids are in danger. Ibuki calls for the Red Dragon’s power but he wants another sacrifice. You mean it is not just one time? It’s going to happen all the time if he needs power? Kai is willing to lay his life for him but Ibuki hesitates to kill his friend. But Kai dies to protect him from Koukaku’s attack. Even without Ibuki doing the killing, that was enough for the Red Dragon to accept that sacrifice. Saddened by the fact that he couldn’t save him and is the same as killing him, Ibuki powers up to burn away that spider woman. In the aftermath, Ibuki agrees to join the expedition because if he stays, he will lose more of those precious to him. Besides, he wants to meet the Red Dragon. He has Fugaku take care of the orphans. Part of Koukaku sneak attacks Ibuki but was quickly destroyed by Lou Zhenhua. She is Kouran’s representative and she hugs Ibuki, hoping they can be friends.

Episode 3
Swallow wants to chill with the rest but the Nil Kamui counterparts have something else to do. I guess he’ll have to do with Lou. Meryl isn’t pleased not because he seems like flirting with her but rather he needs some money for drinks. Swallow is interested in this coffin weapon/tool Lou carries considering his plight he cannot hold one. She mentions about people not choosing the tool. It is the other way round. Meanwhile Fugaku visits Agito who wants him to continue supporting Ibuki. The expedition has them leave for the journey south to the town of Haiga where they will have to find a wealthy merchant named Kaguraba Raihou Gramstahl AKA Undead Merchant for information about the Red Dragon. Meryl has discovered Lou’s identity as an assassin. It isn’t good for the expedition but since she isn’t against them and Swallow has his own orders from Black Dragon, they’ll close an eye. Ibuki treat Eiha like any other human. The Bounded are treated like scums by society. Because Eiha sees herself as Ibuki’s weapon and would die for him, this does not sit well for the kid because she is saying the same things like Mashiro. In that case he doesn’t want to be her friend anymore. Several Kouran soldiers corner Lou and want to kill her for killing Koukaku. She opens her coffin containing a talking sword that is also her master, Qisha Tianling. It hypnotizes them to kill each other. The expedition team is at the outskirts of Haiga. They receive information that Kouran and D’natia forces are going to clash due to Haiga’s neutral stance and rumours of funding the rebels. This means they need a plan to get into Kaguraba’s place. Lou believes she is enough to do the job. Ibuki wants to follow so she takes him. They’re friends, right? Inside his creepy mansion, the ball head machine appears before them and wants them to join him for breakfast.

Episode 4
Kaguraba’s servants, Sol (a bounded) and Shadi (a Mixed – human-monster half breed) meet Swallow and the rest and are to bring them to the merchant. I’m not sure if Kaguraba’s idea of breakfast is a parade through town where all the expedition members join him. A Kouran general, Gakusho realizes Kaguraba had been fooling her by sleeping the entire month so when he is in sight, she snipes a head shot. Felt good, huh? But Sol and Shadi repair a new head for him back at the mansion. Kaguraba explains Gakusho’s grudge on him for raising gunpowder prices. A war is inevitable at Haiga. Ibuki suggests negotiation so Kaguraba agrees to this and if he pulls it off, he will deem him worthy for the Red Dragon information. Lou whispers to Kaguraba about Ibuki’s power. This is of course to make Ibuki use it and to understand the power further. Kaguraba then gives Ibuki an apology letter to be handed to Gakusho. Meanwhile Swallow and Meryl meet the D’natia counterpart, Ulrika Ledesma in hopes of buying time for Ibuki’s negotiation. When Ibuki hands the letter to Gakusho, she is so mad hearing his name, she rips it without seeing. It dawned to Ibuki that Kaguraba had expected Gakusho never to read his letter and the need for her to be killed to stop the war. Which means he must use the Red Dragon’s power. His only friend around is Eiha. She bugs him to kill her. Red Dragon is bugging him too. Must he really kill? Gakusho is hesitant because she is well aware of his power. If Eiha dies, so will she. Ibuki thinks and remembers Gakusho thinks Kaguraba is dead. The path might be changed if she is told he is still alive. She is shocked to hear so and when she reads the letter which is actually a peace treaty, she agrees to stop the war. Kaguraba agrees to let Kouran occupy Haiga and cover all their expense. An offer she cannot refuse. Kaguraba is impressed Ibuki stuck to his ideals that led to this very hard outcome. He is worthy for the Red Dragon information. But he notes that Kouran won’t be the only one stationed here as D’natia will also have its ambassador here. With both sides here, the power balance can be kept. After Kaguraba gathers everyone but before he reveals the information, he wants Eiha to explain her background. She was part of the revolutionary army’s first expedition to destroy the Red Dragon. Unfortunately they got decimated when the Red Dragon went berserk. She never talked about it because she wanted to forget it.

Episode 5
Eiha narrates they never got a chance when the Red Dragon attacked and thus it will not save them. Kaguraba now knows what the Red Dragon told him then. The Red Dragon knew he would greatly change. He wanted Kaguraba to meet him at Ogani Volcano as it will be the only place left where he can maintain his sense of reason. The discussion takes a break when Gakusho wants to go take a bath. Swallow is visited by the military’s bishop, Father Enumael Meschwitz and is given a Black Dragon Scale. It is believed to tip Nil Kamui’s land magic powers that are under the Red Dragon’s control to the Black Dragon’s. Who cares what happens to the harmony of the land of this forced switch, right? He believes Swallow will do a good job in furthering D’natia’s interests here. Later when Ibuki bumps into Gakusho, the latter advises him never to use that power again. Or is there something he is willing to gain by losing everything? The team prepares their expedition to Ogani and they will stop by Fort Rosweisse which is located near it. Along the way, Kaguraba learns of Ibuki’s power. He reveals the rumour that royals like him also had the power to revive those he killed. They are known as Returned Ones. However they come back from the dead to assault others. Gakusho and her Kouran army are receiving many villagers fleeing from Ogani. They claim they have encountered the Returned Ones. Gakusho catches Lou in the act of ransacking her tent. Seems Lou is interested in the Gold Wedge that is believed to shift this land’s magic power to Kouran. Gakusho lets her keep it but since she also knows Lou was the one who killed her comrades, she won’t let her go. Qisha hypnotizes her. As Lou strikes, Gakusho is able to defend herself seeing she placed a counter spell on it. However Qisha tells Lou to forget about her since her soul is paltry. He wants her to go for Ulrika instead. At Rosweisse, Ulrika plans to go ahead and investigate further after hearing rumours of the Returned Ones appear. That night, Ibuki’s team is assaulted by the Returned Ones. They seem to be Kouran soldiers. Ibuki is in shock to see Gakusho has turned into a Returned One.

Episode 6
Ulrika and her team investigate the ruins of Gakusho’s unit. From the lone survivor, he told how the Returned Ones attacked the camp and turned everyone into the same. Like how Gakusho was killed and then went on a killing spree to turn the rest into Returned Ones. Ibuki’s team are now facing hordes of Kouran’s Returned Ones. Thanks to Kaguraba and I figured he played enough zombie games to deduce that destroying their brains will permanently take them out. Ibuki calls upon the Red Dragon. As she considers Gakusho her friend, he is willing to kill her so that her killer can be burnt by the flames. Because her real killer is Lou and she is willing to take on the bet to be incinerated since Qisha could feel the Returned Ones having some sort of connection with the Red Dragon. Unfortunately before Ibuki could make his move, Gakusho is killed off by Hien, one of the rebels sent by Agito to protect Ibuki. He is definitely not amused of this especially when Hien constantly reminds him he shouldn’t be showing mercy to Kouran, etc. Eiha picks him up and tells him Hien cannot be his friend. When Ulrika returns to report her findings, they fear that those who were killed in the first expedition were the culprits in making a domino effect turning others to Returned Ones. Ibuki still feel the need to make his way to Ogani so Ulrika informs that another Black Dragon knight leader, Simeon Taslikov is on his way to meet them at the volcano. Later Hien talks to Ibuki and knows about his power. He wants Ibuki to kill him to kill Simeon and reclaim Nil Kamui’s glory. However Ibuki is not going to do so as he has got the wrong idea of his power. Swallow now also knows about Ibuki’s power. He confirms Ibuki wants to rid of it, the reason he wants to become king and end the sorrow. Although Swallow thinks he should hold on to that power when he becomes king, nevertheless for now he agrees to help rid of that power. At the foot of the volcano, the Returned Ones rise. As they are from the first revolutionary army, Hien and his men decide to fight and put them to rest. Then there is also that Bounded big rock guy, Izun. He was the leader of the first expedition, sacrificed himself to save the rest and now revived as a Returned One. There is a claw of the Red Dragon stuck in him. Qisha can sense great power and wants to be fed. Lou suggests attacking Izun from all sides but Ibuki wants to confirm its sanity first. Swallow has decided to lay down his life for the expedition and has Meryl give him the Black Dragon scale. He wants Ulrika to stay behind so at least she can help those kids escape since she is strong.

Episode 7
Swallow remembers his past. He was born with this curse so naturally his parents feared him. He thought his parrot was his only friend. Then a stupid cat ate it! That is when he realized tools and lives can be broken or lost even if he doesn’t touch them. That is why he joined this expedition to part ways with his absurd fate. Ibuki tries to reason with Izun but to no avail. Swallow drops the Black Dragon Scale into the lava and the entire land turns black. The Returned Ones stop moving. Swallow further remembers a Mixed was brought to him as his attendant. She was later kidnapped and on the verge of death. Swallow saved her. The Black Dragon was impressed and shifted her wounds onto him. Lou attacks Izun and tries to get her master to feed on it but was blown away by its might. Eiha plans on killing Izun and then follow him shortly. Ibuki fears she would turn into something like him. Hien then attacks Ibuki. Fearing he might have turned into a Returned One, Ibuki kills him only to realize that it was just a ploy. Hien knew Ibuki would never use his life if he hadn’t taken drastic actions of stabbing and blinding himself! However after his sacrifice, nothing happens. Swallow believes his life wasn’t considered to be an equivalent exchange. I guess now it’s Swallow’s turn to do something. Further flashback shows his family fell from elite into bankruptcy ruin and all the mansion’s assets were confiscated under the Sherbet family. So be careful not to touch all those stuffs. Then he went to see the Black Dragon to rid of his curse. In exchange of that, the Black Dragon wants him to kill the Red Dragon who has gone berserk with his own hands. The scar on his leg that he saved Meryl is seal of their contract. Now Swallow unleashes the Black Dragon’s power to destroy Izun once and for all although he was supposed to save this move for the Red Dragon. Qisha is impressed and wonders how he would use him but Lou feels threatened since her joy is to feed him with all the living blood that flows through her. The Red Dragon’s claw now rightfully belongs to Swallow and should be a clue to what the Red Dragon left behind. Kaguraba then receives a message from Shadi that something is happening back at Haiga. It seems Enumael is proclaiming to the people that Inori will be queen. Who is she? Ibuki’s younger sister.

Episode 8
Eiha remembers Mashiro once told her to help protect Ibuki because she can’t do it on her own. Ibuki thought he was the only survivor from the royalty but it looks like he thought wrong. They return to Rosweisse so Lou can seek treatment after being gravely injured. The volcano has erupted and may pose a threat to the fort. Simeon makes his debut as he uses his awesome Black Dragon power to divert the lava flow. When the gang return to Haiga, the siblings are happy to see each other. But even more shocking, Mashiro is alive! For real? Fugaku as explained was the one who brought her here. When Fugaku visited Agito, he was presented with Inori whom he had hidden away from public eye because he knew Kouran would act if they found out 2 Imperials were living. He had to hide her till the time is right to make Inori their queen and free this island. Of course some suspicions still hang around the air because for those who witnessed Mashiro’s death, they wonder if she is now a Returned One. Lou shows Kaguraba the Gold Wedge. He agrees to work out a deal with in exchange for her to get a replacement artificial arm. Eiha is still suspicious of Mashiro and Inori so she sees Kaguraba to look through his security spy cameras at what they are doing. Seems they’re getting along fine. Meanwhile Simeon tells Ulrika about their orders to guard Enumael and Inori. He has the emperor’s personal cavaliers to help out with this. Eiha confronts Ibuki to tell him that Mashiro is dead. Because Ibuki doesn’t mind not being king anymore, she tells him even if she has been resurrected doesn’t mean he can break the promise. He will be king and she will be his sword to see it through. That night, Eiha calls out for Mashiro to talk. Suddenly Mashiro kisses her! Is it yuri time? However Eiha isn’t lesbian. More importantly, she realizes Mashiro does not have her memories and orders Val to attack. Next day she calls everyone to gather to prove that Mashiro is a Returned One. Because last night she killed her. Now, this doesn’t mean this series is turning to fanservice when Eiha wants Mashiro to take off her clothes. This is to prove the scars that Ibuki and Val are there. Thankfully there is security footage from Kaguraba to prove that Val indeed killed her. As being a Returned One is the only logical explanation, Kaguraba can’t turn a blind eye seeing such beings pose a danger to his town. That is when Inori comes in to confirm Mashiro is a Returned One. She doesn’t bat an eyelid to explain since she is precious to Ibuki, she raised her from the dead. Got a problem with that? You bet. See how shocked everyone is?

Episode 9
At the end of the Seven Year War, Agito offered to save Inori who was trapped inside the castle. But he is the biggest culprit that brought the fall. His soldiers were ransacking the place and he wanted the Dragon Eye. Inori is upset at the turn of events but Agito killed her and made her a sheesh kebab along with her attendant. That is when the Dragon Eye resonated with Inori as she made a pact with the Red Dragon to revive. Now the expedition team are discussing about Agito’s move in such a way that it allows him to support the new king and also maintain his revolutionary army. Inori talks to Ibuki alone (after smashing all of Kaguraba’s spy cameras) and tells him not to trust the combined expedition as their objective is to destroy the Red Dragon. When they return to the rest, Enumael is not amused with all this ‘filth’ so he has a word with Inori. Swallow could feel his scar burning. He remembers talking to the Black Dragon after unleashing the Dragon Scale. Soon Nil Kamui’s will drift further away from the Red Dragon and to the Black Dragon. Swallow is assured that the citizens of the land will merely lose their magic and the discrimination of Bounded and Mixed will be gone. As a reward, Swallow is given a temporal protection against any blade dubbed as Black Curtain. Ibuki is still in a dilemma to support Inori as she wants him to come with her. The plot to be D’natia’s puppet is just a ploy as she plans to rally the rebels to kick both countries out of their land. Ibuki accidentally comes into contact with the Black Dragon. He knows his wish to have this land returned to where it was once but from the way things are heading, there will be blood and loss of lives. The only choice is to side with D’natia and he promises Nil Kamui’s citizens will not be harmed. It is also a good deal for him since the Red Dragon will lose his power and in turn rid Ibuki of his curse.

Ibuki is still in a dilemma on what to do with Mashiro who is now taken away by Enumael’s attendants back to the embassy for interrogation. Despite being a Returned One, she is still precious to him. While Ibuki walks around town, he feels like he doesn’t want to bump into Swallow and runs away. This makes them bump into Hakuei who is the new representative of Kouran and Gakusho’s replacement. Ibuki makes his way to the embassy and he sees the attendants’ dead bodies. He is not happy that Inori will just revive Mashiro again if Enumael kills her. Inori then suggests to kill the rest of the expedition team and starting with Lou because Qisha can prevent reviving Returned Ones. Ibuki feels sad that Inori seems to think the Red Dragon went on a rampage on her behalf. Could her madness also be under his control? At this rate she will kill everyone. Ibuki agrees to go with her but wants to go see Agito and free him considering D’natia won’t support them anymore. When he goes to see Mashiro, looks like she just killed the fatty father. Fugaku explains that Enumael was persistent in wanting Inori to rid of the filthy Mashiro. Mashiro then went berserk and killed the attendants before the father himself. Inori just sat there silently watching. Ibuki then calls for the Red Dragon. Looks like he is going to use Mashiro as a sacrifice. Despite being a Returned One, she is still precious to him. Red Dragon agrees with this exchange. Ibuki uses the flames to incinerate every bit of Mashiro’s soul so that she will never rise again. Ibuki’s last words to her are he still remembers the promise to become a good king.

Episode 10
As Ibuki treks through the forest with Fugaku and Inori, they notice the effect of D’natia’s magic affecting the lands. They need to hurry to Shuka. When the D’natia side goes to see Enumael, they find his dead body and of course Ibuki is missing. So the Kouran and D’natia side discuss with Kaguraba that Agito is plotting something sinister by controlling the Imperials for his own purposes. As for the combined expedition, it seems there is no reason to have it since the revolutionary leader has been plotting behind their backs. Inori ambushes Eiha who has been tailing them. The Bounded has been weakened thanks to the shift in the land’s power. Inori approves of the Red Dragon going berserk and killing everybody because they did nothing and allowed the invasion. She further mocks Eiha’s useless role and numbered days. She is so willing to die for Ibuki so that she could have the satisfaction of living and dying as his sword and friend. Because Ibuki only sees her as an attendant, her life is of no value and will die meaningless like Hien. This affects Eiha and she seeks Ibuki’s confirmation. He has to bite his tongue and say her he doesn’t consider her as his blade and wants her to return to Kaguraba. This is the only way he can protect her.

Swallow and Lou meet and they realize the expedition was just a ploy to buy time for all the political posturing behind the scenes. They still want to go ahead with their mission but it seems both have a different mission in mind. Swallow wants to save Ibuki while Lou wants to find the Red Dragon. Qisha is interested in staying with Swallow because he will get to feed on other Black Dragon knights. This makes Lou jealous as she vows to be the one to kill the Red Dragon. Later Hakuei sees Lou and talks about the rumours how she got that sword although she dismisses them as just rumours. He has orders from Setsuren that she is to take the Red Dragon’s life, even if she has only one life left. Swallow and Shuka prepare to leave for Shuka. Ulrika offers to help out and she warns Lou is an evil person. Ulrika loads the Red Dragon’s claw onto her ship. Lou ambushes her as she wants the claw. Ulrika unleashes her Black Dragon power and summons some sort of Hydra from the depths of the shadows to counter attack. When both sides clash, naturally Ulrika is tempted by Qisha. But when Lou lands the killing blow, she couldn’t kill Ulrika outright because her Holy Spirit is protecting her. Consider it as an extra life 1up. The pain has Ulrika freed from the hypnosis as she captures Lou. But Lou taunts Ulrika’s ideal that she will never get Swallow to even touch her. Then she drops her Gold Wedges to shift the power to her side. After finishing off the Hydra and Ulrika’s Holy Spirit is destroyed, Lou kills her. However they realize they have been had because Ulrika was the decoy. The box supposedly containing the claw is empty.

Episode 11
The bodies of Ulrika’s doomed expedition are retrieved. Simeon can only guess Ulrika’s body because her head is missing! With Kouran and D’natia side on the verge of killing each other, Kaguraba intervenes and then disbands the expedition. Knowing Ulrika’s intention for the expedition for all sides to join hands and save the Red Dragon, he vows to carry out her will. Swallow and Meryl seem to be travelling with Setsuren. She hints to Swallow she knows what he is looking for and can give it to him. Before they get suspicious of her, she leaps off the carriage. Lou finds a weakened and dying Eiha and the latter is still stubborn to make Ibuki the king. Lou gives her a Gold Wedge that would neutralize the pain in her body but she will only have a few more days to live. At Shuka’s capital, the provisional governor, Kurama Kazusa has decided to execute Agito without trial since they discover his plot to place Inori as the false queen. Setsuren is also here and she wants Swallow to not harm the Red Dragon. As he is in contract with the Black Dragon, killing the Red Dragon means the Black Dragon will absorb that power. It will be a problem for her. In exchange for that, she can lift his curse. She tries to get Meryl to persuade him but maybe she went too far by suggesting she could touch him all she wants. Meryl slaps her. Swallow seems not to mind his curse now because he realizes with everything that breaks, something new is born. He threatens to even test this on her. Ibuki goes into the prison alone to speak with Agito. To his surprise, Agito is supporting him to be king. Is he playing double agent? Furthermore, he wants Ibuki to kill Inori. Inori knows she has been set up by Agito when the D’natia cavaliers and revolutionary army team up against her. Agito reveals that it wasn’t Inori who went mad because of the Red Dragon. Because of her, the Red Dragon went berserk. When she was hiding in a village, the villagers realize who she is and killed her in fear of Kouran’s retaliation. But that only made it worse. The Red Dragon appeared from inside her mouth and burnt down everything. And right now it seems the Red Dragon is doing the same. How the heck does that big red thing hide in this little girl? Yeah, he’s burning down the entire prison too!

Inori now remembers that Agito was the one who killed her parents. Agito doesn’t even hesitate to admit that. Because the king was planning to give false security to Nil Kamui by offering the land to Kouran and D’natia, he could not accept this and killed him. Agito tells Ibuki to kill her and he will be known as the king who defeated the Red Dragon. The slabs fall on Agito. I guess execution came early. Fugaku saves Ibuki from a similar fate. He wants him to use his life to stop Inori. However Ibuki cannot hear the Red Dragon’s voice. Inori kills off Fugaku. When Lou and Swallow meet, she seems to want to face off with him despite knowing their powers cancel out each other. Knowing that Swallow has not learnt of Ulrika’s death yet, Lou uses it as a trump card to surprise him by throwing her head at him. However he coolly dodges it and continues fighting as normal. He is so used to see precious things destroyed so there is no time for him to look back at things that are already broken. The Red Dragon takes the fight to the capital. Simeon shows his double contract by summoning the Black Dragon to cut down the Red Dragon. Ibuki is undecided whether to kill Inori. Eiha flies into the scene to stab Inori so that Ibuki doesn’t have to get his hands dirty. Ibuki reminds Eiha she is not her sword but in fact his most precious friend. However Inori and the Red Dragon revive and continue their attack thanks to their contract to each other. The Red Dragon lives as long as Inori lives and since no attack can reach Inori due to the divine protection of the Red Dragon, it’s like they are an immortal pair, huh? Eiha seems determined to sacrifice her life as she sings her song to attack Inori (turning Val into some giant cone?). She wants Ibuki to use her life. He has now decided.

Episode 12
Eiha lost. Shadi brings Swallow the claw. But Swallow mentions about the Red Dragon’s immortality so defeating him with this is also meaningless. Therefore the claw might just be a key to restoring the Red Dragon’s sanity. Then the person who should wield this should be one related to the Red Dragon, not Swallow himself. Lou starts using her Gold Wedges and attack the dragon and Qisha is totally loving the taste of life. Swallow and Meryl go to see Hakuei to request his help to use Kouran’s ultimate floating vessel, Qilin Chuan. Although Setsuren’s orders were specifically for Kouran’s escape, he can’t let innocent people die and agrees to let them use it. As Ibuki searches for Eiha, the Red Dragon contacts him. The Red Dragon mentions about his consciousness is about to be swallowed by Inori’s anger. Her flames of wrath are burning stronger. From Qilin Chuan, Swallow tosses the claw to Ibuki. Ibuki then finds Eiha amidst the rubbles and vows not to make her become a victim of this. Inori plans to kill Ibuki and revive him as a Returned One. That way, he will be the same kind brother she always knew. Kaguraba’s sturdy body protects Ibuki from the Red Dragon’s flames. As Hakuei is having a hard time controlling Qilin Chuan, Swallow takes over. Hakuei is not happy he is going to destroy something that his clan created for 100 years. So? What’s the problem? Build it again! Somehow the sight of Swallow just pisses off Lou. Instead of letting Qisha feed on the Red Dragon, she rather go fight with him. The duo fight until Qilin Chuan crashes into the Red Dragon. Lou is going to kill Meryl. Swallow uses his Black Curtain to save her and takes the hit.

Despite the Red Dragon gone from the kamikaze crash, Inori can still summon him. It just felt comical that Eiha and Val charge and bump her away. She still wants to become his sword till the very end. Realizing how weak Eiha is, Ibuki allows himself to be devoured by the Red Dragon. Because of the claw in hand, it returns the Red Dragon to his sanity. He couldn’t be more grateful. But of course, Ibuki must still offer an equivalent exchange although he has decided to live with this curse and want to sever this sad chain of events. Ibuki will offer him his most precious thing but wants him to promise something in return. When Inori tries to summon the Red Dragon, he ignores her. I don’t know. His ignoring grunts felt funny. Like as though it’s his way of saying “F*ck you”. Now we have Ibuki eyes opened. He realized everyone had sacrificed their precious things to move forward while he tried not to lose them. This only meat he could continue to live while taking something precious from someone else. Now he knows which friend to kill and protect. Kaguraba offers himself but Ibuki chooses Eiha. After he kills her, the Red Dragon’s flames burn Inori to a crisp. Swallow still lives. He sees the Black Dragon who is satisfied with his good work. However Swallow has changed his mind about his curse. He has accepted it as part of his life. Swallow regains consciousness and Meryl couldn’t be happier to see him. As Lou searches among the rubbles, she finds Inori’s Dragon Eye. It now becomes attached to her chest. The pair relish in the fun they’ll have again. A month later, Kouran and D’natia has sat down and work out some roadmap. They have officially approved of the new king who is no other than Ibuki. But the coronation has to be delayed since Ibuki isn’t around. He is running through some desert heading to a place where Eiha will be reborn. The promise made was when Ibuki offered Eiha’s life, he wants the remains of Val’s life to be placed into her. So this mixing and merger of life is also possible? Although this means a new Eiha will be born with a new soul, memory and mind. Ibuki doesn’t care if Eiha is different or does not remember him as long as he lives. Now she is reborn as the last Dragon Shrine Maiden. But somehow her body feels like she needs to go see someone and travel with him again.

It Takes Lives To Take Lives
Rushed ending? It can’t end like that, can it? Probably they didn’t figure out all the materials in time yet and still sorting out the finer points. That is why sometimes I feel the storyline and the plot direction is a little too chaotic. As seen, most probably we have not even begun much and just scratching the surface. Yup, I feel that there is much potential left for the series so I’ll give the production team the benefit of the doubt that they’re still working the rest of the materials out and put on hold some of my unanswered questions. Well, assuming if they do come up with a sequel.

The plot and story sound simple and typical enough about a future king and his ragtag team trying to restore order to the land. Then like in any other Japanese-like stories, there needs to be some sort of flashbacks, plot twists, revelations and other distractions to fit into a single season. That’s why I did say the story was a bit chaotic and this sense if you’re not really into it and obsessed in finding out more (by playing the game?), you’re going to feel a bit lost. Although, surprisingly it was interesting enough to keep my attention till the end, even with the turn of events of making Inori the end villain and final boss of the season.

With a myriad of characters, it is hard for the series to keep focus on one as I noticed it isn’t entirely on Ibuki as it tries to even out the screen time for the expedition members. Due to the short duration and single cour of the series, therefore most of their flashbacks and character are not properly fleshed out. So far we only go in-depth with Ibuki and Swallow and it would be interesting to know about Lou and Kaguraba as well as Eiha. So in the case of Ibuki, he is like a typical protagonist in many Japanese stories. A kid with a tragic past, lost his parents to war, has some sort of power-cum-curse but at the same time is a good person. Hardly exciting, no? It feels like too late he made his decision but I guess it is better than never. He tries to avoid the issue at hand thinking it would save lives but eventually they die and he loses them. Now that he is resolved, I feel it doesn’t make any difference because the war is still ongoing and not over by a long shot so the only reasonable deduction is that better the people die at his hands rather than some unknown and make him go traumatic whatsoever. Yeah, that. Eiha was the case of trying to live her pitiful life and being useful to Ibuki. She tries to look out for him but ultimately she thinks sacrificing her life is the only way she’ll ever be useful to him. Each time an opportunity for her to lay down her life, she bugs him to do kill her. Well, theoretically she is dead. The old Eiha, that is.

The relationship between Swallow and Meryl is pretty amusing. It is like her role of existence is to constantly remind him of something. Because Swallow is the kind of ignorant guy he is, each time he opens his mouth about asking something, Meryl will have that sort of retort in her voice that screams “Oh my God. Come on. Please don’t tell me you don’t know. You should know this kind of things!”. From time to time despite running down Swallow as a good for nothing, sometimes it feels like she is just being tsundere. I think she is. Because she was crying the hardest and still scolding him at the same time after that epic final battle that could have taken his life.

Lou is as near crazy as mysterious as she is. She has this sense that she will be the traitor of the group seeing that her biggest goal in life is to feed her master with the life of others. Now that she has the Dragon Eye in possession, can she summon the Red Dragon herself in the future? Then I figure it will be doom for everybody because she’ll just kill everybody to feed her master and the Red Dragon. I am also intrigued to who Kaguraba really is. Besides having a merchant-like mind to deal with the sticky situations as it usually pacifies all parties for the time being, his very strange bulky exterior that looks like an old diving suit would raise eyebrows of what is underneath it.

For the rest of the side supporting characters who survived for this season, it felt like they were a big miss. Because characters like Setsuren and Simeon had quite the minimal impact and as though their character was there just as introduction. Like Setsuren who hints she is some legendary 1,000 year old ruler and Simeon is just reduced to flashing his super power, that’s about it. Hakuei came into the scene a little too late and Agito who has been the greatest mastermind behind the events of everything so far and the person whom I thought would be the greatest threat, culprit and villain in the future is disposed of. But you can’t say that he is dead for sure because it isn’t like he is on Ibuki’s friend list and since he is very good in hiding and deception, there is even more likely for me to have suspicions for this guy that he isn’t really dead for good. And I mean if in the even he comes back alive, it won’t be as a Returned One.

I thought it was pretty interesting to have at the end of each episode what I called a ‘friend kill list’. It is a picture of Ibuki and his ‘friends’ and those who died whether directly by his sword or killed by someone/something else will be strike off this list. Thus you can call me a sadist for looking forward to each episode to wonder who is going to die next. However it wasn’t the case of a character dying per episode and as the series reaches its end, I was somewhat ‘concerned’ that there were still ‘many’ characters left standing. Heck, I thought they were just going to kill everybody off in the final episode or something. Friend or no friend, everybody should just die. Heh. Regrettably, the list of who goes next is quite predictable (because I think at the end of the opening credits animation might be a big hint of those who would last till the end). I mean, you can’t have characters like Swallow or Eiha die so early, right? And despite like in Eiha’s case she is always ‘threatening’ to die for Ibuki but eventually it was just a big troll that she still has her life in the end. And then when they kill her off but not really because she revived as a different but somewhat similar being. I hope they don’t troll us by bringing back the dead. Every single one of them.

So it makes me wonder what happens if Ibuki runs out of friends? Does this mean he cannot use the Red Dragon’s power anymore? Does this mean as king he will be useless if he cannot use this ability because it seems this is the only ability that he has and it is the most powerful and fearsome of all others. Can Ibuki also take his own life when such case arises? One last final desperate attempt to fix things right. Well, you are your own worst enemy and best friend, no? Thus I suppose for Ibuki to be freely use his move, he needs to have plenty of friends around as ‘stock’, right? Theoretically if he becomes the nice and good king, all the civilians are treated as his friend, then there is no shortage I guess. Yeah, the irony, huh?

Another interesting segment is the mid-screen intermission. As you know Japanese RPGs and even ‘normal’ stories itself are laden with full of terminologies and jargons. Of course to a person like me it is good and bad. Too much of it and it might get too complicating. Such terms are necessary to delve deeper in the background and stories of the world. Thus in this series, the mid-intermission proves to be an interesting insight as they explain some of the terms like Holy Spirit, Qilin Chuan, Magic, and Dragon. But something of this mid-intermission bugs me. The Japanese explanation is one long ass detailed description covering the entire screen. But the translated English text seems to be only a few lines. I mean, is that all that is being said? I wonder if they have condensed it or cut out a lot of the other stuffs. Sometimes it feels like lost in translation. Heck, even to note that the font size for the English words are considerably bigger and easier to read compared to the Japanese’s font in which you need to squint your eyes to have a better look. Also interesting to note that the episode titles take after numbers which translates into idioms such as Shimensoka (surrounded by enemies), Shichitenhakki (ups and downs in life), Hachimenreirou (perfect serenity) and Jisshiisshou (narrow escape from death).

I thought it was getting kinda boring and irritating since the first half of the series after a little while starts repeating the narration of the events of Nil Kamui. You know, how the small island of Nil Kamui got played out and conquered by the great Kouran and D’natia and how their great guardian went mad right before the opening theme song starts playing. I wanted to shout, “Yeah, we get it already!” but after halfway, they perhaps saw what was coming and changed this narration a little. Instead of the first half from Ibuki, the second half has the other characters do this narration from their point of view despite the main ingredients of the 2 super powers and the maddening dragon are still in the narration but somewhat slightly modified although no such narration for the final episode. They just jump straight into the opener.

The other thing that I thought was a little funny was the map of Nil Kamui. I believe the colour shading is to show the occupied spots by the other countries. So when you have the red shade of Kouran in the west and the black shadow of D’natia in the east while the unconquered neutral parts of Nil Kamui as white in the middle, coupled in the fact that Nil Kamui’s island is a little squarish, doesn’t this look like some European flag? I mean, doesn’t it look like the flag of Belgium or more closely the flag of France upside down? Holy sh*t! Didn’t realize that, did you?

The action parts are a hit and miss. While they are fairly entertaining, however at the end of it you wish that more could have been done. For example, it is interesting to see Swallow using his seemingly unlimited supply of tools (I don’t know how he replenishes them from his scabbard after every use) but other than him hacking and slashing, there is nothing more to it. Eiha is just using her Val to bite and attack, that’s all. Ibuki doesn’t really fight unless he summons the Red Dragon’s power and only in that short spell he is epic firing his flames. Maybe Lou is a little interesting since she is a little crazy and daring but it is game over once she gets her sword out.

The art and drawing are pretty okay for a fantasy action adventure. CGI is also used but very minimal and mainly employed on the dragons (which in a way makes them look a bit odd and ‘stiff’). So which character design do I really spot? Actually I couldn’t. The closest would be from Fate/Zero but even that I am taking a guess. As this series is produced by Silver Link, perhaps you could see some of its trademark in its previous works like Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya series and Cube x Cursed x Curious. Initially I thought one of the authors for this series did High School DxD because the dragons reminded me so. Especially the Red Dragon which looks almost similar that that Dragon of Dragons, DxD. Turns out the author of High School DxD didn’t have any hand in this series. So did the dragon design copy off DxD? Although unrelated, something makes me feel this series is almost similar to the Blazblue series. Maybe it is the close designs of some of the characters.

Normally I wouldn’t have any qualms about the voice acting. Till I hear the Red Dragon’s voice. Personally, I don’t think Houchu Ohtsuka voice fits the character. Not to say he is bad but I thought his voice wasn’t suitable for such a menacing and going-berserk creature. Because hearing his voice just reminds me of Arakawa Under The Bridge’s Shiro and Naruto’s Jiraiya, which his voice definitely suits characters like these. I thought perhaps an even lower voice would be better portrayed for the character. Something like how Jouji Nakata was behind the voice of the Black Dragon. Now this one sounds more convincing. There are a host of popular veteran seiyuus that I was supposed to recognized but unfortunately couldn’t (must be my failing hearing). For instance, Marina Inoue as Ibuki. I don’t remember if she sounds like this when she voices boys’ role (refer to Wataru from Hayate No Gotoku to know what I mean). Miyuki Sawashiro was behind Eiha’s voice. The character is quite soft spoken so I didn’t realize it was her till I did my research. Come to think of it, she sounds similar to Rozen Maiden’s Shinku. The rest are Ryoko Shiraishi as Setsuren, Tomokazu Seki as Qisha, Aoi Yuuki as Shadi and Unshou Ishizuka as Kaguraba. Well, at least I could recognize Keiji Fujiwara as Simeon and Sayaka Ohara as yet another cool crazy villainess as Koukaku.

For the rest of the line-up, they include Souma Saitou as Swallow (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill), Maaya Uchida as Lou (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Haruka Terui as Meryl (Kobeni in Mikakunin De Shinkoukei), Kenji Akabane as Fugaku (Arashi in Triage X), Chika Anzai as Inori (Chaika in Hitsugi No Chaika), Aimi Terakawa as Ulrika (Kazumi in Futari Wa Milky Holmes), Kouichi Yamadera as Agito (Ryouga in Ranma 1/2), Eriko Matsui as Gakusho (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Nozomi Furuki as Mashiro (Yukari in The Rolling Girls), Takuya Eguchi as Hien (Hikigaya in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Come Wa Machigatteiru), Atsushi Tamaru as Hakuei (Mochizou in Tamako Market), Ryohei Kimura as Sol (L-elf in Valvrave The Liberator) and Haruo Satou as Enumael (Teillagory in Le Chevalier D’Eon).

The heavy rock opening theme is ISOtone by Natsumi Kon. The ending theme is Delta Decision by the trio of Miyuki Sawashiro, Haruka Terui and Maaya Uchida is also another heavy rock piece but this one is ‘heavier’ than the opening theme. Just short of the girls screaming like heavy metal punk rock stars which the song seems suitable for. Yeah, if it was me, I would want to scream out hoarsely the lyrics. There is a special ending theme for the final episode, Sleep Without A Memory by Natsumi Kon is a slow-moderate rock outfit. I would not have noticed the background music of this series but if there is one that stands out, it is that fight between Ulrika and Lou. It is freaking bizarre for a classical piano to be entirely played while they engage in battle! It is just so out of place. Usually this kind of piece playing to this kind of scene only evokes some sort of bad omen. Like somebody is going to die and performing his/her final thing. Don’t get me wrong. The piano piece is quite good but just the question of whether it was suitable for that kind of scene.

I read many comments out there, they weren’t too kind about the disappointment in this series. Terrible story writing and characters are the main culprits in bringing this series to its knees. Even with notable writers pitching in, sometimes maybe it is that super high and great expectations that really brings everything crashing down in reality. Personally, I wouldn’t say that this is a bad anime. Mediocre anime? Maybe. Interesting? Yes, a little. But not for the entire aspect of this show. Recommended for people with low expectations and really like the action adventure fantasy genre very, very, very much. Otherwise, having a main character kill off friends to kill super powerful enemies doesn’t really quite cut it these days. Especially with so much hate and animosity going around on the internet, everyone who is like Ibuki will not hesitate to sacrifice ‘friends’ for the pettiest manner. Yeah, speaking of which, if Ibuki had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram friends, can he really do that? Hopefully those writers would take cue from these people to sit down again and brainstorm with better and fuller ideas. Or people would just start killing friends just to eradicate this mess. Boy, the Red Dragon would be so ever busy burning down the world…

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