#1 it’s “animated”
Different anime operate under different budgets, but considering that both J.C. Staff and A.C.G.T. worked on this show together, under the guidance of a fairly well-established director too, I can’t even begin to imagine with how little budget it must have operated to still end up looking the way it does.
Sure Dai-Shogun looks generic and the character-design is largely uninspired, but what really kills the show is how little of it actually animates at all. After watching just a few episodes it already became a surprise to me anytime something actually did move on screen. 90% of the shots in this show are still frames with mouth flaps animated on them or consist of characters sliding around the screen. Every scene feels like the minimum amount of effort was put into it, and even then it manages to occasionally mess up.
It’s a shame this is an original anime, because otherwise you could mimic the experience of watching Dai-Shogun by just shaking the manga around while you try to read it.
#2 It fails at being a historical drama
The story is centered around Keiichiro, who is the heir to the Tokugawa lineage and more or less destined to save all of Japan. To do this he gets a big ol’ robot to pilot, except he can only do so if he remains a virgin. It’s intended to be a steampunk, historical kind of drama show… except that virgin part kind of throws everything else under the bus.
The first five episodes just consist of Keiichiro bumming around his city making an ass of himself, as he goes to great lengths to try and rid himself of his virginity and be done with it all. They keep trying to present him as a flawed guy that is actually really good-natured, but this feels superficial and weak. It’s five episodes of him being loud and bratty whilst mistreating his friends and harassing women. That he supposedly learns his lesson only to repeat the same crap the next episode, over and over again, had my sympathy for the guy vanishing fast.
Episode six acts as a turning point where the series suddenly realizes it has done nothing to establish the politically-driven drama story it wanted to tell, and suddenly rushes through a storyline that honestly should have been told in bits and pieces throughout the preceding episodes. It’s way too rushed and throws so many new names and factions into the mix I had to rewatch it all to make sure I understood what happened.
When the time came for the big finale, I honestly had no interest in the story or its characters, and I had actually forgotten one of the villains even existed after their one-time appearance in episode 6 left no impression on me at all. Neither the final battle or the ending were anything noteworthy, after which it concludes on the weakest of cliffhangers.
So yes, Dai-Shogun is a show about giant robots that has no animation to speak of, and it’s a drama story with an unlikeable protagonist and horrible storytelling. What does it have?
With episodes that use titles like “The sex witch Hōkōin strikes!” and “The vicious crossdressing swordsman”, it’s probably no surprise that this is an ecchi show. This is indeed the kind of anime where anything worse than a stubbed toe instantly tears a women’s dress to shreds, but besides that, it is also obsessed with Keiichiro attempting to get rid of his virginity.
Much of the earlier episodes are wasted at the bathhouse his grandma runs and the local red light district, prime locations for Keiichiro to spy on women and annoy prostitutes. The show is somewhat brazen, but it’s honestly kind of exhausting how much it fruitlessly pushes the sex appeal, because its characters are just not that appealing to look at. I may have been critical about shows like Mouse in the past, but at least Mouse framed its ridiculous ecchi scenes in a way that was at least funny. In Dai-Shogun, it just comes off as exploitative and cheap, not helped at all by how many episodes are about nothing but trying to have sex.
I may be slightly biased against ecchi shows, but by all means, if you know any that are legitimately funny, then I would love to hear and write about them.