In anime, there are typically two ways of adapting a pre-existing story. You got anime that look at the source material and make an effort to adapt the whole thing. Effectively recreating the whole experience in another medium. On the other hand, we got shows that only give you a taste of the full story; in the hopes that you go buy the original instead. We have talked about a number of anime that follow the latter example before, but The Eternal Aseria has to be the most disappointing yet.
Based on a series of obscure RPGs, The Eternal Aseria is an isekai action anime that follows a teenager called Yuuto. He and his sister are one day teleported to a magical fantasy world where he is perceived to be a destined hero. However, this is not your typical kingdom in peril. Rather than a hero’s welcome, Yuuto has a sword forced into his hands and is told to start fighting the nations’s enemies. If he refuses, his sister’s life is forfeit. Also, the sword keeps ominously whispering to Yuuto, urging him to inflict more slaughter. This is not a healthy hero-kingdom relationship.
Yuuto then moves in with a group of so-called spirits. Magical creatures that look like people, but with brightly-colored hair and eyes. They lack human rights and are thus used as disposable footmen by all sides of the current conflict. Though Yuuto begins to soon sympathize with them as more than just cannon fodder.
Honestly, the setting and tone of the world are not bad. The moral dilemmas are perhaps too plain, but it shows potential. I like the idea of a chosen hero having to be coerced into agreeing to the adventure. Violence doesn’t come naturally to Yuuto, so it makes sense that he’d need some serious motivation to start murdering people. The idea of a typical fantasy story starting off with a talking sword consumed by bloodlust was a fun touch too.
Where it falls apart is in the animation. A rather critical aspect of an anime, I think you’d agree. The Eternal Aseria was the only other show on my to-do list that was made by Studio Matrix; who also did Green Green. I was curious how they would fare with a shorter series in a different genre.
Unfortunately, the series is all-around quite ugly. From the underwhelming character designs to the numerous animation shortcuts or outright mistakes. The directing is stilted and awkward, especially during long-winded conversations. It keeps cutting back-and-forth between characters even though none of them are doing anything. Props and characters awkwardly slide around in scenes and sometimes things just disappears suddenly. There’s this amazing bit where three spirits are fighting and one of them just vanishes a frame later.
My favorite moment has to be when Yuuto goes to the market and comments how the food is the same as in his world. He does this while looking at a stall where some—but not all—the food are photo cut-outs.
The Eternal Aseria livens up somewhat during action scenes, but even then it’s nothing too impressive. You could watch dozens of other action shows that came out around the same time and most of them would provide more thrills than this.
This is why I was baffled that The Eternal Aseria was made to advertise its source material. The anime’s story ends in the middle of nowhere without having actually achieved much. There is no pay off to anything nor does it establish any strong hooks that would make you want see more. What about this should entice me to play the original video game? Looking at the static pictures on the game’s Steam page was a better advertisement than anything in this anime. And I bet taking those screenshots was a whole lot less expensive too.