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Lord Marksman And Vanadis Complete Collection Essentials Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read
An engaging strategy game. I mean, strategy anime.

An engaging strategy game. I mean, strategy anime.

What They Say:
After being taken captive by a female general from an enemy country, Count Tigrevurmud Vorn leaves his own lands completely open to attack. Unable to sit by and watch the destruction, Tigre must do what he can to convince his beautiful captor to join him in a fight to save his homeland.

Using his skills as an archer and her otherworldly prowess as a War Maiden, the pair must work together if they hope to stand a chance against two warring nations and a rogue faction led by power hungry nobleman. Outgunned, outnumbered and branded as a traitor, the valiant Tigre will need to win the favor of the remaining War Maidens if he plans to come out on top in this action-packed adventure that blurs the line between fantasy and fan-service.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series is a pretty good one in that it has the original Japanese language track in stereo and the English language adaptation in 5.1, both of which use the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. While a lot of the show is naturally all about the dialogue because you can’t have action all the time, the mix for it is solid and there’s some good back and forth that comes into play in various locales where it uses the distance well. The quieter moments are also sometimes punctuated by the sounds of just a single arrow and that comes across very well. The action aspects of the show are a significant part of it and they really do come across well here. Part of this is just the machines of war element and all that it entails with swords and archers, but also the horses and the occasional bits of magic and the dragons themselves. It works some solid impact into things and while it won’t make you feel like you’re there it does make a good impact. Both tracks are clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second where we also get almost an hour’s worth of bonus video material. Animated by Satelight, the show has a largely darker tone about it because of a lot of the battlefield settings but it knows when to bring in some good color design as well in other scenes, from kingdom interiors and some of the character designs. Mostly it’s the female characters that get the pop of color outside of our male lead. The show works a lot of CG into it, it is Satelight after all, but it looks good and maintains a very solid design without any problems. A lot of the strategy side is made to look like a game so I didn’t mind that, but it does stand out against the rest. There’s a good look to the show and the transfer captures it well.

After bringing out a limited edition box set release and a regular edition release three years ago, this edition is the simple reworking of the regular. The front cover works an old parchment style coloring with some good shaded background pieces to it in order to let the character artwork standout. It’s here that we get a good chunk of the main cast of characters here with Elen at the center and it’s a nice change of pace since they’re all full-length shots instead of just a mishmash of headshots. The designs are striking with lots of detail and they’re all quite appealing. The top is lined with the two familiar bars where it lists the Blu-ray and digital aspects as well as the grey essentials banner, which is a small price to pay for getting this so affordably. The back cover works the same background and has just one piece of character artwork on the left of Elen that looks good while the right is given over to a scroll piece that breaks down the show with its premise and extras. There are also a small selection of shots from the show but they’re so small as to be worthless. While there are no inserts with the release, we do get a nice image on the reverse side with a fight sequence against a dragon for our two leads.

The menu design for this release is one that plays well to what the show is all about as we get a lot of imagery moving across in the form of clips that showcases the military side of it with the various forces. It’s busy but engaging as there’s a lot of great design work to check out here as it sets the tone for the show. The logo is kept to the upper left and has a decent bit of understated flourish to it while the navigation along the bottom has a simple but classic look about it with a field of blue and light whitish gold border and characters. It’s all very easy to navigate and I particularly like that all the individual bonus episodes are individually selectable while also being able to play all of them.

This release comes with nearly an hour’s worth of bonus features not including the commentary tracks. The bulk of this comes in the form of nearly forty minutes of the chibi theater piece, which has thirteen episodes that are just under three minutes each with silly and “educational” aspects to the world and the cast. Depending on how invested you are in the show it may be too much if you watch them all at once, but there are some very fun bits spread throughout them. There are a couple of commentary tracks from the English production team across the two discs and we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, one of the promos for the series prior to broadcast, and some of the home video commercials as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series of the same name by Tsukasa Kawaguchi, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is a thirteen-episode series that serves as an opening chapter to a larger world. The novels began in 2011 and wrapped up in 2017 with eighteen volumes total for that and ten volumes of the manga. Originally airing in the fall of 2014, it was animated by Satelight and they worked some creative things to bring the strategy side of it to life and show how all the big-picture elements are working. It may be a little too RPG style for some folks, but it made it simple and accessible while allowing for some creativity and fun with what they can do, such as how the various components pop up when called into service. Having liked strategy games and strategy shows over the years, I found it appealing.

Unfortunately, the series is mostly about strategy and top-level kind of politics and the like as it sets the stage in this fantasy era land. We do get some basic characters out of it but they’re never fully fleshed out beyond their ideals and core motivations. While we do avoid hot spring episodes and the like (though we get a very brief hot spring scene), the show just moves from action situation to action situation without enough time to spend getting us to truly know the characters. But since their lives revolve around fighting there’s little else for them to really have in their lives. As its primary focus, it’s on a young noble named Tigre from Brune and the territory of Alsace where he and many others have been called up by the king to go to war against the kingdom of Zecht. Tigre’s not really meant for the front lines, nor most of the nobles who do get sent, but naturally, things don’t work out that way.

There’s a lot of politics and richer material that looks to be explored in the light novels, but here we see the first battle go poorly and Tigre ends up in the hands of Eleonara, the war maiden of Zecht. What Tigre has going for him is that he’s a naturally gifted archer, something that most in Brune look down upon compared to swordsmanship. Tigre’s skills are exceptional as we see when Elen puts him to a test to see what he’s made of and it just heightens her interest in him. The show takes a very fast turn with what it begins to work with and she sees potential in him and works to get him on board. Mostly this comes in the form of agreeing to acquire the land of Alsace for him through Zecht and allow him to retain his titles. It gives him a vested interest in serving Zecht and working with her and when there are growing rumors that it’s not the king that’s really ruling Brune, it makes it a lot easier. Especially since Tigre is that classic really good guy type that’s looking out for the people of Alsace above and beyond anything else.

The show brings in a solid supporting cast that it kind of rotates out as needed, such as other war maidens like Elen. They’re all competitive in their own ways and mostly women from what we see with Ludmila and Sofya, and there are all sorts of great powers and weaponry that they use to stand out and really come across as impressive figures that can lead armies to battle. Naturally, there are the light movements towards pushing the couplings together as the others are interested in why Elen is interested in Tigre, and we even get a servant of Tigre’s from Alsace that’s saved later on that has a huge crush on him, but it’s not an area that’s dug into deep. There are no heavy episodes of chasing and silliness in attempts to acquire Tigre for themselves. While there is interest and some amount of machinations at play, they all actually – shock of shocks – manage to act and work as though they’re people in positions of power and real responsibility.

Where the bulk of the show goes beyond this, and it really does dominate, is the strategy and action side. There is no true overall villain to be had here that we have to contend with. As Elen and Tigre make more progress and different results crop up because of it, a range of different commanders take charge of their various armies to push back against them or just get involved because they see an opportunity there. It’s a pretty good run in this regard because we get a regular change-out of opponents with different army structures and different command and tactical styles. This reduces the repetition and it provides an honest challenge for Tigre, who increasingly becomes a master tactician himself with a solid group of advisors. This turns most of the series into the action and planning stages and that can be pretty engaging as a whole, though I’ll admit after thirteen episodes of it I was worn out because it does really engage in the action in a big way.

In Summary:
One of the things I liked about my initial experience a few years back was that I had little exposure to this series prior to watching it so I got to go into it fresh. This time I knew what was coming but still felt largely the same in that I like the story itself and the characters and setting, but it’s the focus on strategy and action that works. It’s not like an afterthought or something that was being shoehorned into a harem romantic comedy. It’s an action/strategy show with some nice nods towards potential entanglements during downtime that we don’t get much of. It may be a little too RPG styled for some folks who prefer more character material mixed into it, but I had fun with the show as a whole. The release goes big with all the extras included since there’s a lot of additional content here beyond the core show and that combined with the low price definitely makes it an appealing pickup since you get more than just the show itself. Well-priced and fun, though probably a bit niche, this was one of those quiet gems you come across.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, “Tigre and Vanadish” Chibi Theater, Preview for Episode 1, Promotional Video, Blu-ray/DVD Commercials, Textless Opening, Textless Closing, U.S. Trailer, Trailers

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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