- Titles: ORIENT
- Genre: Action, adventure, fantasy
- Episodes: either 24 or 12×2
- Studio: A.C.G.T.
Musashi and Kojirou have been friends since they were kids. More than friends, brothers really. After Musashi lost his own family, Kojirou’s father took him in and raise them both to become kind, upstanding, and brave young men who will protect those in need. But life isn’t that easy. Kojirou’s father is gone now. Kojirou himself is a descendant of Bushi which marks him as an outcast to be reviled by those around him. Musashi himself is only given a bit more consideration. And now the two might have to go their separate ways. In a world where all men aspire to serve the Oni gods, there is no place for anyone with bushi blood, those ancient oni killers. If Musashi wants to have a chance at a good life, he will have to put his adoptive family behind him. But what are the Oni really? Are they truly gods? If so, how could they be killed? And why would the bushi do so? What secrets lie beyond the walls of the city? And what is this mysterious power Musashi feels inside him from time to time?
Some of you might remember that I read the Orient manga a little while ago. I actually just read the first volume and put it aside when I saw an anime was announced. I thought there was a lot of potential for impressive animation. Let me tell you how that worked out…
Orient was created by Shinobu Ootaka, who is also behind Magi. I’m telling you this because the character designs look a lot alike. I actually loved them, just like I liked the ones in Magi. In fact, I will say it was my favourite part of the production aside from the voice acting. Here’s the thing though. This is one of those anime where the art was great, especially for the characters, but the animation was not at all.
Action and fight scenes would often use stills, the movements were jagged and whenever characters were off in the distance they lost all detailing and started to move oddly. The physics were sometimes off as well making any suspension of disbelief you might have mustered up, pretty much impossible to keep up. But it was and is a rather pretty anime in my opinion. I put a lot of screencaps up on Pinterest and they are super popular for what that’s worth.
As I said, the only other notable part of the production for me was the voice acting. Which was super fun. It brought a whole lot to the series! I looked it up and both lead voice actors have had some fun roles. More importantly, they’ve played off each other in a couple of series before and I think that’s why you can hear the chemistry. There’s a camaraderie there that comes from familiarity and can’t be faked.
Story & Characters
Oh boy, where do I start? Orient is a somewhat convoluted fantasy epic. It takes place in a world kind of like our own past but there are magic swords and demon-aliens that eat rocks. It’s actually a pretty standard fantasy epic formula. The orphaned hero with a brother/best friend who seems to be straying into a different moral path. A world overrun with powerful monsters that are not what they seem to be. Heroes of legend that turn out to be disappointing at first glance. The whole shebang. It’s the type of story you have heard before and the type of characters you know well.
Orien does throw in a few twists that are to put it kindly, silly. To put it a bit more bluntly, stupid. For instance, even though the setting is analogous to preindustrial earth, there are magic motorcycles and one guy has a magic helicopter. It looks exactly like a modern helicopter with crystals coming out of it. Why? You can have dragons in this world you know? Heck, you could just have characters that teleport. Why does the one guy need a helicopter? It looks super out of place.
It’s also generally a pretty unsophisticated story. If you were to tell me the author wrote it for little kids, I would believe you. The characters are all pretty much one note and the story evolution is basic. By any objective metric, I can judge Orient, it’s an average at best anime. There are elements that are not good at all and some that are decent. That’s about it. So why is there more to this post?
That’s because I really liked Orient. A lot. Even as I was watching it, on more than one occasion I thought to myself, wow, this show is not very good, I am having so much fun. Let me be clear, I don’t think Orient is so bad it’s good. I didn’t have fun at its expense I enjoyed it genuinely for what it was.
Sure it was facile and the characters are shallow. Sure there are things that make no sense at all. But I had fun. The pacing is great. The voice acting, like I mentioned, really makes you feel like you are watching two old friends biker. The visuals are pretty. There’s a whole carefree atmosphere with just enough intrigue to make you wonder what’s going to happen next without ever asking you to get too invested in the story.
I realize this is an unpopular opinion. On AniList out of the people that I know that have watched orient, two of them dropped it in the first 12 episodes and another two gave it in the 60% range. But the last person adored it and gave it a near-perfect score. I obviously acknowledge that there is a lot wrong with the anime. I can’t bring myself to score it that high. But if we’re talking pure personal enjoyment, I’ve had more fun with Orient than a lot of other shows lately. It made me want to go pick up the manga again.
You might like this anime if:
I’m really not sure. If you liked Magi I guess. Maybe just give it a try
My favourite character:
This is actually really tough. I loved Kuroko Usami’s character design the best. She’s also a badass tactician so that’s tough to beat. On the other hand, Naoe is a dork which gives him a lot of points, and he kind of looks like Killua. And then you have Shiro who is an actually threatening antagonist. Even in a show like this one he managed to make me scared for a bit that the good guys might lose. See? It’s tough.
- Every time anyone says “bushi” – take a sip of water (staying hydrated is important)
- Every time a kishin shows up – take a sip
- Every time we see Kojirou’s dad – pour some out
- Every time Musashi gets excited – calm down
- Every time Naotora is so damn cool – take a sip
- Every time Tsugumi brings out her weapon – take a sip
- Every time anyone cries – oh no!
- Every time an Oni wants Kojirou’s sword – take a sip
- Every time we see little Kojirou or little Musashi – take a sip
- Every time a sword breaks – take a sip
- Every time Kojirou is grumpy – give him a sip
- Every time the goddess shows up – respect
- Every time we see Naoe’s eyes – take a sip
- Every time anyone ends up naked – oh my!
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.