Also known as The King’s Avatar, the show that took Asian and later worldwide anime watchers by surprise when it was first aired on the 7th of April.
To the details!
Type: Original Net Animation (Series)
Genre(s): Action, Game, Adventure, Comedy
Source of adaptation: Novel
The time it was aired: Spring 2017, April 7 to June 16
Studio responsible: G.CMay Animation & Film
Right, before I get on with my opinion about this piece of work, let me pull your favorite synopsis from MAL:
Widely regarded as a trailblazer and top-tier professional player in the online multiplayer game “Glory,” Xiu Ye is dubbed the “Battle God” for his skills and contributions to the game over the years. However, when forced to retire from the team and to leave his gaming career behind, he finds work at a nearby internet café. There, when Glory launches its 10th server, he throws himself into the game once more using a new character named “Lord Grim.”
Xiu Ye’s early achievements on the new server immediately catch the attention of many players, as well as the big guilds, leaving them to wonder about the identity of this exceptional player. However, while he possesses 10 years of experience and in-depth knowledge, starting afresh with neither sponsors nor a team in a game that has changed over the years presents numerous challenges. Along with talented new comrades, Xiu Ye once again dedicates himself to traversing the path to Glory’s summit!
Just under one minute and fifty seven seconds, I was already brought into a pile of hyped up nonsense.
Nope. I’m not kidding. It really was bull crap.
But then again, this kind of intro worked before so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work the hundredth time. Early attention grabbing is the key, especially when the world of anime viewing stooped down to the three episode rule.
Please, believe in me! This will not be a three and a half thousand word rant post!
I can’t go on about this show without doing a comparison because let’s really face it – this anime isn’t by any mean original in most parts of the concept and the part where it gains originality is averagely done.
Let me go over that beginning scene again:
130 million players worldwide, 9 servers with the tenth opening soon after.
One player singlehandedly downed a ‘100-man raid boss’.
Even if it has been weakened to its last one percent hit points, I was not inclined to believe any of it. The boss was so strong its abilities forced other players to run like hell. A one percent wipe has happened in an online RPG game and it’s a hilarious torture to be in the raiders’ shoes.
Another proof of my false deduction would be of how other players were running away for their lives.
Wait, running for their lives? This wasn’t Sword Art Online where they would have died in real life had they die in game.
It’s something you’re guaranteed to see in anime that are not taking their genre seriously, i.e. One Punch Man.
So, already in less than two minutes I was given a clear sign to not take this anime seriously. God forbid I do what other people say, though. If anything, it’s hard to not be taking this show seriously.
From this scene alone, I could have come attacking the importance of this show from either an anime or an MMORPG aspect. And of course, the only MMORPG that’s relevant enough to have this anime compared to is no other than the world-famous World of Warcraft, which doesn’t even have half the player count as Glory. Dungeon Fighter Online would have been a great comparison but since we’re talking about a 100 man raid, this anime is taking the concept of MMORPG to the next level.
I won’t come off as passive aggressive in this wonder. I’m also sure that it has been said more than a million times by millions of different people, “they don’t have to be of good quality for you to enjoy them.”
And hell, I do enjoy this anime. Calling it guilty pleasure would have been an exaggeration. But if I take this piece, hold it up high and show it to others while telling them that it is absolutely worth their time then I don’t think I’m doing anyone a favor, less so than doing it with Sword Art Online.
Earlier in my status update post, I mentioned that The King’s Avatar is a Sword Art Online clone. Though, that was initially meant to come off as a dark humor, it became even darker when I went onto MyAnimeList to read some of the reviews for this anime. One of them said something along the lines of, “Anyone who remotely compare this to SAO should have their brain scanned, cause they clearly have a problem.”
Ouch. He got me good.
He then went on to pretty much list the flaws of the anime, oh the irony. The dude then got a shit ton of backlash on his profile from the show’s vivid fans. This is the point where I really want to defend him because it’s this kind of people that make anime community horrible; they are blinded by their love for things, by things that make them feel emotionally reactive even if it is for a while. FYI many shows do that on seasonal basis. Remember the last time Re:Zero was a big talk around everyone during its season? Now I guess you’ll only see/hear two things on a weekly basis – Rem is the best girl and Emilia is trash (right?). That blindness causes them to tunnel vision on opinions – only the ones they agree with can live on the surface.
From a massively multiplayer online role playing game’s aspect
As I mentioned earlier, in less than two minutes I was brought into something that will never, ever be achievable without hacks in a live server MMORPG – taking down a 100-man raid boss in half a minute.
While I can lightly forgive the show’s take on RPG gaming aspect because you know, it’s the tenth server of the exact same content being opened. That’s equivalent to a private server hosting legacy content; it will be raided by experienced and inexperienced players together. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since its Burning Crusade days and this anime only served to diss what I would call dear memories of an MMOPRG.
Look, I get it. It’s the tenth server and given that Ye Xiu has ten years of experience under his belt, he shouldn’t be surprised about getting server first kills. The show got even less convincing when his teammates weren’t being overjoyed by the kills and instead stood there like fools, acknowledging the wow factor that is Lord Grim.
Once again, I’ll be using World of Warcraft as a comparison. A world first, let alone server first kill should have some, if not huge amount of excitement after such a massive feat/achievement. Server first kill is a race; it takes dedication, time and more importantly the players’ competence with massive learning curve along with skills. If you want to watch an anime that nearly perfectly portrays the concept of dealing with a boss then Grimgar will sit in the exact right spot for you, otherwise The King’s Avatar pretty much revived Sword Art Online‘s cancer.
Now, for what is really the hype behind a server first kill, skip to the 17th minute or watch the entire thing if you’re vivid fan of WoW, love a badass boss fight (because it’s the freaking Lich King!) and crave a great nostalgia.
I still get the chills every time I watch this. Blizzard really have outdone themselves for Wrath of the Lich King.
If anything, nearly every time when Ye Xiu logs into the game or starts a duel, that very last second of the real world to game world transition is literally (unintentionally?) ripping off World of Warcraft‘s Rogue poison sound effect.
In the first episode’s fight with Midnight Phantom Cat, the boss has an enrage sound effect which is clearly ripped off from World of Warcraft‘s Warrior enrage sound effect. I wasn’t even watching this part but instantly noticed it with my ears; I main a warrior in WoW, holy shit. I also don’t think that Blizzard can actually sue them since they are both one second sound files. I’ve noticed other cases of unintentional ripping off like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei‘s Saegusa’s blizzard attack sound being that of an XIG fighter’s firing sound effect from Ultraman Gaia (Yes. I really grew up with Ultramen and Kamen Riders).
The game Glory also has some kind of fetish over APM or actions per minute, something that is really important in strategy games like Starcraft. What actions per minute looks like from the anime is relentless keyboard button smashing, in real life it’s nothing close to that, haha…
TL;DR – Watching pro gamers on live stream would have been just as enjoyable as watching this anime. Hell, playing an MMOPRG on your own would have been just as much fun if not better.
In the very end though, it comes down to preference, hence why I’m watching this anime and not pro gamers on Twitch.
From an anime aspect
Obviously this will be about the setting, story, plot, characters and what become of them because we’re watching an anime after all.
Going back to the first two minutes of the show again, there was absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. I was slapped with facts and more facts. Sorry but I’ll have to do this….
Dominating the world of competitive gaming, Glory is celebrating its 10 year anniversary today. Over 130 million players worldwide! In the last decade powerful teams have continued to appear, with superstar professional. But one legend has always shone brighter than the rest, the Battle of God – Ye Qiu!
That’s quite a bit to take in after 1 minute and 11 seconds. After that, we get to see a bit of the game.
Fun fact! It also took Sword Art Online exactly 1 minute and 11 seconds for the female narrator/announcer to talk nonsense (sorry, facts) about the game and NerveGear. After that, Kirito dove into the game he never wished he did.
How can I NOT call this an SAO clone? Pfft.
This is probably the third strongest point of this anime, after the visuals and characters. To my knowledge at leaast, Quan Zhi Gao Shou is the first anime in the mainstream to really showcase E-Sport business. SAO may have done PvP challenges like Gun Gale Online, Btoom! was just a crazily great real-life-ingame-setting PvP shitfest, but it is this anime that actually focus on more than the players; it is focusing on what they play for. My beef with the show however is an unclear direction of the protagonist’s story. In the first episode we are given the fact that Ye Qiu (his IGN) is being forced out of his own team. Just that. The only two hints to the reason is his age, apparently too old to be a pro gamer, and Su Mucheng who’s been pulling his tail all the time until he left. Now don’t tell me to read the novel because if I have to then this anime instantly failed to set its story straight in the first 6 minutes. An anime adaptation can be something else; it can either be inferior or superior to the original source material. A 100% translation never happen in this era where there are contracts for anime to run in ‘cours’, i.e. 11-13 to 22-26 episodes. For an anime adaptation to be superior to the original source, more work has to be added into it, duh. And by more work I mean anime original content that doesn’t ruin source material story.
Try to convince me that there are no such thing because I’ll be slamming these titles on your face any day:
K-On! is the best example of an anime adaptation that’s absolutely superior to the original source material. Other titles are pretty much all of the long running shounen series. Yes. This includes Naruto minus the fillers. There’s a reason why we call them fillers – they stand out as their own thing and do not actually contribute to the main storyline.
Speaking of adaptation and less than 100% translation, this leads to…
I’ve been told countless times that the anime is going RUSH B Сука блять route. In each and every episode, I’m seeing complaints about “this and that are missing/cut out!” and urged us viewers to read the novel. Now I fully realized how some of you see me when I say that Saekano is rushing to hell with its story – I look pleadingly stupid, thanks. Do keep in mind though that unlike these guys, I’m not asking you to read Saekano light novels. 😛
Lots actually happen in each episode, up to 7 different important events within a span of 24 minute. That’s basically 3 and something minutes for each plot/event to wrap up which if you can’t tell, it’s hella quick. This is actually also where a lot of people are convinced that The King’s Avatar is Sword Art Online done right – while they don’t know, they assume that it is because of how this anime gets shit done in 7 episodes whereas Sword Art Online took half a season.
Definitely the second strongest point here. Sure, Ye Xiu may not be the best character ever but he definitely doesn’t do any injustice to the protagonist trope of anime. He’s confident, sly, cocky and a showoff while also being strong willed, caring and honorable. He takes honor to the next level when he just lets any and all of the truth about his ‘character’ spread around like wildfire. He’s very unaffected by defamation, too.
Let me blab about some of the most interesting characters in this season – the boss Chen Guo and girl gamer Tang Ruo.
Guo Guo isn’t your typical boss at work. She’s the type of boss that only exists around 1% of the entire world, in other words too good to be true. Even with the benefit of doubt, I’d probably lose my shit and kick Ye Xiu out of his job as soon as he’s finished dissing Tang Ruo about her being a noob.
Now onto Tang Ruo. She’s probably the first character that could have gone through a serious development, at least in my opinion. It was a quick one at that, too! At first she came in almost like Ye Xiu; she was absolutely overconfident in her skills but wasn’t really cocky about it.
Only to be made a noob by the hands of Ye Xiu himself. She’s proven to be a good sport and after finding out that her ability as a gamer was far from any good, she was more than willing to learn. I cannot however forget that persistent side of her; it really does make her look cute in a way.
I’m actually surprised of how both males and females are being equally treated throughout the anime. It is as if there really is only one gender, something the PC society just won’t let happen, haha!
What you’re also guaranteed for this season, given that gender equality is legit in this anime, will be no harem.
Last but not least is Yifan, who probably served as an underdog being bullied by his peers, only to become powerful later on in the series. You can prove me wrong on this but if what I’m guessing is correct then this just goes to show the shounen standard anime has come to adapting; it is not bad, it’s just predictable. There are many ways you can develop a character – through a trigger event (someone dying, etc.), internally and/or externally. Well I’ve seen that Ye Xiu suggested Yifan to change his class to suit himself so that would be the first hint in development.
The real wow factor of this anime
It has to be the visuals, definitely. I’m sure this is what drawn most people into having a look at this anime in the first place and admittedly I was a victim of it too. The art itself is strikingly mature. The animation is actually standard but in any action scenes, man, they really saved saku- wait, can I still use the term Sakuga on Chinese animation?
Anyway, the action scenes are absolute eye candies. The action department from this show literally blows away many other shounen anime in Japan. Sometimes though the characters, especially the females, do look stiff as I’ve noticed them after having re-watched the show ten times today.
The other thing I’d like to give shout out to is the use of CG, great ones at that.
*Insert a line regarding Berserk needing to learn CG animation from these people*
The CG’s have actually been reused many times throughout the series. Gotta save money whenever you can, I guess.
The fight with the ‘undead legion’ has got to be my favorite action scene as of now.
Coming close in the wow factor would have been the background music. They are something I’d totally be playing if I want to be slaying lowbies in Alterac Valley, that’s for certain. Though, in truth I’d rather be playing hard rock songs like Rammstein (lol).
The voice part got me good on the first time watching.
Obviously, it ain’t Japanese! Ah! Whatever happened to my weaboo instincts that actually allow me to understand what the characters are saying without having to actually read subtitles?!
No. I am not kidding. This is legitimately what happens when you’ve seen so much subtitled anime; you become adapted to the nature of the language. Sure, you won’t understand everything they say but by watching The King’s Avatar which isn’t Japanese, you’ll instantly realize how much you’ve grown in terms of familiarity with the Japanese language.
In all seriousness, that wasn’t an issue for me because once a sub reader, always a sub reader.
Now, to the ‘acting’ part of it, I’ve been asking around about how good the voice actors are doing in this anime and the general replies were positive. You can take it with a grain of salt but I’ll still have to search deeper into this topic. As we all know it; Japanese in anime is FAR DIFFERENT from an actual Japanese conversation. There is something in The King’s Avatar that tells me how the characters are speaking isn’t much further away from an actual Chinese conversation, speed and tone wise.
Go hard or go home
The companies behind The King’s Avatar is not your typical circle of producers that you can find in Japan. It’s actually made by a relatively small animation studio that has got a large funding from producers such as Tencent, who holds a large share in Riot Games. Riot, being the sole owner of League of Legends, cater to the Chinese and Korean partners because that’s how they make a living. It’s just coincidence that top teams in that game is filled with them but the partnership that comes after is not. Don’t forget that China alone holds a quarter of the world’s population. With such a potentially huge market audience, someone has to take the chance for advertising themselves.
Throughout the series you’ll spot a bunch of McDonald’s logo and cafe. No, really. Legit McDonald’s, not some altered shit to bypass copyright laws – that’s something the Japanese do because obviously nobody wants to be sued.
Throughout the entire series you’ll be seeing the characters eating french fries.
Episode 7 showcases professional gamers and what they have to do with business outside of E-Sport. This is also a good chance to have product placement and I’m glad The King’s Avatar took that chance without hesitation. Slap the McDonald’s brand in there!
Quan Zhi Gao Shou strives to make an impact on the anime community in a grand scale. It does so by reviving some of the worst aspects of MMORPG based anime to get the flame started. It then slowly extinguishes that flame by progressing on with something anyone would look for in a story – moving plots and developments. Whether it will completely extinguish the flame completely or not, that’s to come in near end of June. We will then fare well this breakthrough of a Chinese anime and welcome the (Japan) Summer season with something left to be desired, an action anime that gives us the real action.
After all the ranting I’ve done in the first half of this review, I think it’s safe to say that you should really be watching this anime for fun, and only for fun. It’s not worth forming a fanboy cult for the show, at least not yet.