Lord Marksman and Vanadis (2014)
Episodes 01 – 13
Can the valiant Tigre survive this action-packed blend of fantasy and fan service!?
Lord Marksman and Vanadis, or Madan no Ō to Vanadis, is actually a much more complex show than its medieval harem-looking cover art would have you believe. Although it’s based on a light Japanese novel series written by Tsukasa Kawaguchi and illustrated by Yoshi☆o and Hinata Katagiri, Lord Marksman and Vanadis feels more like a videogame adaptation, the series possessing a distinct RPG kinda vibe, leaning heavily towards combat strategies and tactics, the whole thing coming across like a bizarre hodgepodge of fantasy, fan-service and fighting!
Set in the fictional European country of Brune, Lord Marksman and Vanadis follows Tigrevurmud Vorn, aka Tigre, a highly skilled archer who also happens to be the young Count of Alsace, a border province in the nation of Brune. The anime opens at the tail end of a battle against the rival kingdom of Zhcted, when the Brunish militia have been all but defeated by a war maiden and her much smaller army. The war maidens (or the Vanadis), if you’re wondering, are seven mighty female soldiers who can kick serious tail thanks to their otherworldly artillery, which is known as Dragon Gear. Anyhow, with Tigre being the sole survivor of the attack, he is captured by the aforementioned war maiden, Eleonora Viltaria, and held at a ransom too high for any of his acquaintances to pay. Eleonora, though, quickly finds herself attracted to the strapping young lad’s courage and abilities, the detainee, who’s a prisoner in her homeland of Leitmeritz, treated more like a guest rather than a hostage.
All’s well until Bertrand, Tigre’s loyal servant, arrives and informs him that his home, Alsace, is about to be stormed by a ruthless Brunish duke named Felix Aaron Thenardier. In order to save his region from the tyrant, Tigre strikes a deal with Eleonora or ‘Wind Princess of the Silver Flash’ and asks if he could borrow her army to pushback the impending invaders, the war maiden amused by his little request. Thankfully, she accepts, so long as she take control of Alsace once the threat is vanquished. This surprising treaty, however, sparks a number of wildfires throughout Brune, with Tigre and Eleonora forced to wade through their romantic feelings for one another whilst dealing with rival forces that wish to seize the land and enslave its entire people.
A fantasy series with a harem flavor, Lord Marksman and Vanadis treks along a familiar sorta route as our protagonist (whose talents make him much more appealing than your standard harem lead) encounters a number of powerful, good-looking gals, who, for some reason or another, all fall for his boyish charms — cue the squabbling. Along the way, Tigre also encounters a magical black bow, which he begins to use, the weapon able to unleash devastating attacks when it’s amplified by different war maidens — not every maiden get sufficient screen time, though, which is a bit of a shame. While all of this sounds relatively straight forward for a series of this type, my biggest gripe with the show is in its overly hurried nature, the narrative never slowing down to stop and elaborate on certain details or flesh out major conflicts or campaigns (unless you’re constantly paying attention, it’s easy to get a bit lost). And heck, bar an excellent clash against the duke’s ruthless son Zion and his Earth Dragon in episode 3, even a few of the battles feel fairly brief.
Just on that, some of the fight sequences are a little jarring due to the extensive use of CGI, which has been employed to create masses of soldiers riding into battle, the movements looking clunky, ridged and uneven. The VFX, however, work better when introducing each skirmish, with armies presented as chess pieces moving across a giant CGI board/ battle-scape and a narrator explaining the strategy being used in each and every clash, thus making it easier to follow and understand what’s transpired.
Directed by Tatsuo Satō, Bodacious Space Pirates (2012), Lord Marksman and Vanadis sports vibrant albeit inconsistent animation, the show featuring some attractive, well-endowed babes, striking panoramas and a few interesting bits of architecture, all of which enhance the world that our characters inhabit.
In terms of designs, the ladies really steal the show. With milky white skin, vivid silver locks and piercing crimson eyes, Eleonora (who wields the air/ wind weapon Arifar) is the clear standout, although her signature red-white-and-blue get-up feels more like a glorified cosplay rather than a protective shield of armor; hell, this is one sexy outfit I’d love to see at a convention, this or the similarly spicy attire worn by Eleonora’s strait-laced personal bodyguard, the busty blonde Limalisha. Of all the maidens, only the icy Ludmila Lourie gets a sufficient amount of screen time. Predominantly dressed in a distinctive regal garb and a semi-transparent skirt, the feisty Ludmila (or Mila) is shorter than most of the other maidens and is commonly teased about her height or bust size (although, her jugs look kinda okay to me). Outside of Eleanora and Ludmila, Tigre’s household maid/ clingy childhood friend Titta is the only other character who comes off as somewhat memorable, this most likely due to her distinctive moe outfit and a quasi-rape by the malevolent Zion in episode 2. Finally, we have our hero Tigre, who makes for a solid center for the show, even if he’s a tad dull and generic looking.
Music-wise, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is pretty noteworthy, the series featuring a number of folksy tracks and orchestral numbers, all melded with your traditional synthesized sounds. Additionally, the opening ‘Ginsen no Kaze,’ performed by Suzuki Konomi, sets the fantasy-type tone almost right away, while the sombre closing ‘Schwarzer Bogen’ by Harada Hitomi also fits the series like a glove. It’s interesting to note that these bookends feature a blonde war maiden dressed in pink who goes by the name of Olga Tamm, a character that’s never really seen in any of the episodes.
On the whole, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is an entertaining series, one that could have benefited from a few more episodes to help bridge certain gaps. Either way, those looking for an anime with a winning cast and some decent artwork will probably find themselves satisfied by this medieval mash-up. And oh, if you happen to have Madman’s Blu-ray/ DVD release, be sure to check out the Tigre and Vanadish Chibi Theater shorts directed by Minoru Ashina, 14 fun ONAs (original net animations) that favor laughs over raunch.
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Lord Marksman and Vanadis is released through Madman Entertainment Australia