If you enjoy traditional adventure stories, then Amon Saga may be the anime for you. It feels so much like an author transcribing their adventures from a fantasy tabletop game, that I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Yoshitaka Amano just turned out to be a massive geek with access to an animation team.
The story follows the titular Amon, whose mother was slain by goons of the evil Emperor Valhiss when he was but a young boy. Amon was then taken in by a traveling swordsman who trained him to become a fighter, but upon reaching adulthood Amon left his master in search of revenge. This quest soon leads to him infiltrating Valhiss’ personal army, where he finds that his nemesis is working on a plan to gain ultimate power.
Amon’s revenge is then delayed when he finds himself outnumbered and outclassed by Valhiss’ elite guards. He is forced to go back to playing along while he bides his time, forms a new strategy, and finds allies of his own.
Yoshitaka Amano is best known for his illustration work on gothic series like Vampire Hunter D and Angel’s Egg. This style certainly carries over into Amon, which has plenty of gorgeous backdrops and well-designed characters. The traditional fantasy style is really appealing, but at the same time I admire the restraint. In spite of releasing as an OVA, Amon Saga keeps its violence modest and features no full nudity; something you wouldn’t expect from an anime with this aesthetic.
The downside is that action scenes are generally lacking. While the choreography is sturdy, the animation relies on obvious trickery to make it easier to produce. In particular, it was noticeable how most action scenes are set in dark environments so as to cut down on backgrounds. It’s not horrible, but at least a little disappointing given how cool Amon Saga looks otherwise. I could barely make out what I was looking at in some action scenes.
The OVA’s 2-hour runtime is put to good use. The story is simple for a fantasy plot, but features plenty of exciting highs that kept me engaged. Amon and his D&D cast of friends were an entertaining bunch, with enough banter and characterizing moments to feel significant.
A minor complaint would be the English dub, which wavers in quality a lot. Some characters like the brutish Gaius and the rogue Alcan sound perfectly fine, but Amon is just weird. He gives off that dark, broodish vibe; the edgy player that every tabletop party winds up with somehow. However, he sounds way too soft and gentle, with especially his shouts in battle coming off as awkward.
Overall, Amon Saga walks away with a recommendation. It’s an entertaining story that scores extra points for its art and characters. Fantasy and gothic artstyles are both niches in anime, so I am always happy when an work like Amon Saga comes around and does them justice.