Original Run: October 1, 2018 - December 24, 2018 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Action, Fantasy Based on the Video Game: Xuan-Yuan Sword - The Millennial Destiny
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary. Reader discretion is advised.***
Out in the frontier, there was once a small village that was the home of three close friends, Fu Yin, Fu Ning, and Pu Zhao (voiced respectively by Nana Mizuki, Rie Kugimiya, and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka). Their lives were happy and peaceful. Then one day, a dark shadow arrived, and with it was the terrifying Taibai Empire as it burned everything the trio had ever loved to ash.
The friends were separated. The Fu sisters escaped to the wilderness and Pu was placed into bondage. Many years passed, but the nightmares have remained.
In the capital of the Taibai Empire, Pu distinguishes himself as a gifted engineer. His skills are so great, the Empire gives Pu a chance to rise through their ranks.
Out on the road, Yin and Ning survive as street performers. Their means are simple, but at least they are together. Then, Yin comes across an ancient scroll which bestows onto her a power that can rival the full might of the Taibai military.
However, destiny, it seems, intends to have the three meet again. Unfortunately, their reunion will take place on opposite sides of the battlefield. Old feelings are to be put to the ultimate test.
I must give a small apology to Merc Storia (the series I reviewed immediately before this one). My intention is not to retract what I wrote since Merc Storia is still not a great show. Nevertheless, I respect it far more now that I have sat through Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary (Xuan Yuan).
In the Merc Storia review I said the following:
Earnestness may be a virtue, but a fun story it did not make.
Translation: Although Merc Storia stuck true to what it was, what it was wasn’t anything close to memorable, much less spectacular. I stand behind that, and yet, I had forgotten something important. We can thank Xuan Yuan for reminding me.
It is better for a story to remain earnest than for one to exist deep within the bowels of its own ass.
I can’t believe it. The entire time I was watching Xuan Yuan, my thoughts were, “Wow, I miss Merc Storia.” For you see, at least Merc Storia made sense.
I feel it is necessary to say this now. Xuan Yuan found stability around episode seven, and what it found never came close to rectifying the mess which came before. But, all of that in due time.
For the present, though, Xuan Yuan did surprise me in positive ways.
This series was decently animated – I acknowledge with mild hesitation. Credit where it is due, Xuan Yuan was fantastically crisp. There was excellent color, movements were wonderfully swift, and the backgrounds settings were stunningly gorgeous. Also, this series didn’t have awful CGI. In fact, I sort of wish the entire show had been cell-shaded like it was in a few scenes.
Be that as it may, why the lack of enthusiasm on my part? While it is true Xuan Yuan had very good animation, it only had it some of the time. It was the strangest thing. This series would bounce from brilliant visual excellence to did-someone-just-go-in-their-pants levels of broken.
Ignoring the latter instances, when Xuan Yuan’s animation was on point, it became a respectable action show – assuming you can make it past the all-bark-and-no-bite nature of this series.
Sparing you the details, there were three moments in Xuan Yuan that got my blood pumping:
- When Fu Ning got her Hulk-Smash hands.
- When Fu Yin first put on her god-mode armor.
- When Empress Long Cheng (voiced by Sumire Uesaka) insta-wrecked a holier-than-thou usurper wannabe.
In a way, Xuan Yuan did something Merc Storia never managed to do. This series got me excited. However, it was also Xuan Yuan that regularly made me want to bash my head against the wall.
As I was saying earlier, Xuan Yuan didn’t find a direction until episode seven. But that wasn’t the biggest problem. No, by that point in the series I had already come to terms with the nonsense. The initial kick to the groin was the fact this show didn’t really start until episode three.
Episode one was an insanely hard to follow info-dump. We met all the characters, we got a crash course of the politics of Xuan Yuan’s world, there were so many people doing so many different things, and along the way, the two sisters, Yin and Ning, found a magic scroll which gave them an ancient Chinese robot.
Nevertheless, during episode one’s droning establishment, a few aspects were made clear. Mainly, Yin, Ning, and Pu Zhao’s village was destroyed by the Taibai Empire. In that aftermath, the sisters escaped – although Ning did lose her arms – and Pu was thrown into slavery.
Cool. I understand where our trio is coming from. We can move on with the story…and why the hell is episode two explaining all the information that was already explained in episode one?
That was not the best start.
Throughout the majority of Xuan Yuan’s run, two separate stories were going on simultaneously; AND THEY DID NOT COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER.
One was Yin and Ning’s journey. This series was grooming them to be reluctant heroes who had lost everything when the Empire attacked their home. I won’t pretend this show’s execution of this tale was perfect, but it was much, MUCH better than the alternative.
The second story focused on Pu’s rise through the ranks of the Taibai Empire. That maybe could have worked if – oh, I don’t know – Pu gave even a second’s worth of reflection to question why he was okay with giving total and instant loyalty to the nation that destroyed his home, (he thought) murdered his closest friends, and was currently doing the same exact thing to every innocent town in its war machine’s path. At least let the thought cross his mind once.
Needless to say, I thought Pu was a frustrating prick. Incidentally, this leads me to another massive problem with Xuan Yuan. Its characters sucked.
I’m going to limit this rant to the main trio since most everyone else I simply can’t be bothered with. However, my favorite character was the aforementioned ancient Chinese robot Yun (voiced by Mamiko Noto). She was great because she didn’t talk that much, and thus, she never said anything moronic.
The actions of Yin, Ning, and Pu made no sense. Even when they were justified, they would screw it up and make themselves look like idiots. For example – and I knew this scene was coming – Yin and Pu did eventually realize the other was alive.
Pu was horrified to learn Yin was fighting for the rebel army. You know, the rebel army that was opposing the tyrannical might of the Taibai Empire; the very same Taibai Empire that burned Pu and Yin’s peaceful lives away. Pu pleaded for Yin to join him, but Yin said she couldn’t because she had killed too many of the Empire’s soldiers.
And then Pu was like, “But the Empire will bring peace.”
Then Yin was all, “But violence.”
Pu responded, “But I love you.”
Yin, “But I love my sister, too.”
On and on and on, and the entire time I was losing my freaking mind.
Yin had the ultimate come back to counter Pu’s titanic denseness, and she didn’t use it. When Pu was shocked by Yin’s refusal to join him, why didn’t she immediately respond with, “Because the Empire cut off my sister’s arms you f@#$ing asshat, or did you forget everything they did to us?”
By the way, this entire exchange occurred in the fabled episode seven. It was because of this scene Xuan Yuan finally began to head in a single direction. For you see, the show, at last, confirmed my lingering suspicion:
Why yes, everyone in this story was a whiny twat and are not worth caring about. Hurray, I no longer have to put up with the pretense of feigning investment. I can happily check out once and for all.
What a load of crock. My god, this was tedious.
A piss-all story, terrible characters, and nearly six-hours of my time I could have spent doing literally anything else wasted. This show was nothing more than a polished turd. Yeah, there were moments when I got lost in this series’ artwork, and occasionally, an action scene held my interest. But it wasn’t long before reality smacked me across the face to remind me what I was watching.
This was not good. It’s just that simple.
Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary is a series you should skip without hesitation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary? 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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