Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight

Original Run: October 7, 2018 - December 30, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Based on the Series Created By: Mikage Kasuga and
Tomari Meron

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Throughout history, there have been individuals who have wielded the power to reshape the destinies of countries. These select few have been known as the Ulysses, and the truth behind their abilities has been lost to time.

It is now the 15th century, and the nations of France and England are entrenched in a conflict which will one day be known as the Hundred Years’ War. The people of France feel as though there is no hope left. With each passing month, the French only experience more hardships. Dreaming of building a utopia free from this violence is amateur alchemist Montmorency (voiced by Ryota Osaka).

Montmorency had been researching the properties of the mysterious Philosopher’s Stone when suddenly an English raiding party attacks the small French village of Domremy. There Montmorency watches in horror as the English strike down a young girl named Jeanne (voiced by Yuko Ono). Wanting to save her life, Montmorency uses his studies to transform Jeanne into the next Ulysses.

Serving as a symbol of hope to her people, Jeanne rallies the French forces against the invading English army. Jeanne’s heroics will thus lead her to become the legendary Jeanne d’Arc.

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Series Positives

Three simple words perfectly describe Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight (Ulysses):

It. Was. Awful.

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Once upon a time not too long ago, I thought the low point of the 2018 fall season stood at Tokyo Ghoul:re 2nd Season. Although I fully expected it to be possible, it remains exceedingly frustrating to come across a series worse than a final installment which ended its own franchise with a swift kick to its nuts.

Ulysses was absolutely atrocious. What went wrong here?

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If I had to point out a single problem with this series – and trust me, there was a lot more than one – I would say Ulysses’ screwed up by taking the Hundred Years’ War (1337 – 1453) and adapting it into a piss poor Japanese RPG plotline. Now, I’m not saying such a style is incapable of portraying Medieval Europe. There are plenty of shows out there which disprove such a notion. Plus, I am a massive fan of JRPGs, so I’m not making this comparison lightly.

The distinction I’m trying for is, Ulysses was far too fantastical for its own good.

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I hope that makes sense since we haven’t even scratched the surface with this hot mess of a series. The dilemma is, there’s no surefire way to get my point across without having you watch the show for yourself. However, since I don’t want to subject you to such fate, let me phrase things much more bluntly:

Ulysses was a series that took several historical figures and turned them into big titied anime characters, and it was f@$% obnoxious. Go ahead: Look up King Charles VII of France and picture him with long brown hair, huge breast, and call him Charlotte. Now do the same thing with several other characters (you’ll know who because of the boob physics), and you will have essentially watched this show in its entirety.

This was the Series Positives section, right?

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Not to say the result was any better, but there was one character Ulysses didn’t go all bouncy-bouncy on.

Pardon me if I am way off base with this next assumption, but something tells me many of you reading this review are familiar with the name Jeanne d’Arc (or if you prefer the English spelling, Joan of Arc). Her story isn’t what you would call unknown, mainly since it has been told, retold, and re-retold for almost six centuries. In that time, naturally, there have been one or two fictional interpretations of Jeanne d’Arc’s exploits. Unfortunately, it was the sheer level of over-the-top absurdity Ulysses reached which made this particular story infuriating.

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To be fair, though, there was one element to Ulysses’ not-in-the-least-bit-entertaining brand of madness that didn’t make me want to bash my head against the wall. The Philosopher Stone plot device (I say with a shovel full of salt) was the most interesting thing about this series. After all, this was what changed Jeanne into a somewhat respectable badass warrior.

Whenever she was in her Ulysses form, Jeanne’s stark personality shift was something to grab onto. She was the only aspect of this show which was even slightly exciting. Having a near invincible fighter utterly demolish wave after wave of enemy soldiers had a noticeable tinge of satisfaction. However, what was equally noticeable was how often Jeanne DIDN’T tap into the power of the Ulysses.

Had this series done that, had it given Jeanne the chance to fully embrace her role, would it have saved everything? Not a chance. There was just too much wrong with Ulysses for that to happen.

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Series Negatives

Although this is by no means a foolproof approach, during the time I have been reviewing anime, I have come to realize a show’s first episode will tell a lot about what is in store. Sometimes things get better, sometimes things get worse, or sometimes a series is Ulysses and episode one doesn’t happen until episode two.

Episode one of this show was irrelevant. It may have established a connection between Montmorency and his friends, but so what?

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Each of Montmorency’s friends had virtually zero impact on this story. The only thing which prevented them from falling into total obscurity was their historically significant roles during the Siege of Orleans (roles which this show could have entirely BS-ed for all I know or care).

No, the only real meat to this story was the romance between Montmorency and Jeanne. Well, there was that and the show’s insistence on throwing in every piece of Medieval lore imaginable; the aforementioned Philosopher’s Stone, the scabbard of Excalibur, and the Holy Grail to be precise.

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There was a lot of stupid in this series, and I don’t mean the good kind. I’m convinced Ulysses just threw random stuff together in the hopes something would be emotionally moving.

To give you an idea: There were two major elements which annoyed me about Jeanne’s introduction:

  1. This show’s interpretation of non-Ulysses Jeanne, the person who was meant to become THE Jeanne d’Arc, was that of a no-effort little sister character who prayed to fairies in the hope of making her breasts bigger.
  2. The f@#$ing fairies.
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Think of the quintessential stereotypical anime-adorableness and you will probably come up with something close to the fairies of Ulysses. I wish I were joking, but this show thought it only needed to make something look “cute” to get someone to feel sympathy towards it. Maybe this tactic works on some people, but it didn’t work on me.

In episode two, Jeanne was held hostage by the English and her fairy friends mounted a rescue attempt; an attempt which consisted of them flailing their little arms at the English captors. In my head, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if these tiny bastards where brutally slaughtered because they had no chance in hell of succeeding?” TAKE A WILD GUESS AT WHAT HAPPENED. I don’t remember the last time I laughed my ass off at something which was supposed to be heartwrenching.

There was fairy blood everywhere.

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At its core, that was Ulysses. Every attempted it tried at being meaningful, suspenseful, tragic, or gripping was so incompetently executed. The fairy massacre was one thing, but I assure you, this show stopped being amusing pretty damn fast.

By the time this series reached its final climactic battle, I had long since checked out. Granted, I was still compelled to take a few hours nap after Montmorency summoned and then was possessed by a previously unnamed ancient demon god following the collapse of the sixth, seventh, and eighth dimensions. A demon god whose defeat, according to Ulysses, was the true reason why the people of France rallied behind Jeanne d’Arc to push out the English invaders once and for all.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Whenever you think things just can’t get any dumber, they always can.

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Final Thoughts

I am so happy to be done with this show.

There were a lot of things wrong here; far more than what I actually mentioned. For instance, did you know this might have been the worst CGI implementation of 2018? I remember some other series being rather bad as well, but this was something else.

A horrendous story. Irrelevant characters. Poorly misguided. Boring at best and unintentionally hilarious at worst, this show was pure awfulness.

Please do not think otherwise. Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight is not worth your time.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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