Original Run: October 29, 2022 - December 17, 2022 Number of Episodes: 8 Genre: Action, Fantasy, Military
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Arknights: Prelude to Dawn. Reader discretion is advised.***
The discovery of the mysterious mineral known as Originium has thrown the world of Terra into turmoil. Although the material allows people to access a special type of magic, Arts, it comes at a stiff price. To use Art means a wielder increases the risk of contracting the highly contagious and deadly Oripathy disease.
People suffering from Oripathy face harsh and often violent discrimination in cities worldwide. Such actions led to the rise of Reunion, an extremely militant group trying to secure the rights of Oripathy suffers. However, Reunion relies on brute force, false narratives, and genocidal tendencies to push its message.
Rising in opposition to Reunion are the operatives of Rhodes Island. This organization’s leader, Amiya (voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa), hopes to find a path to the co-existence between infected and non-infected while also searching for a cure for Oripathy.
Unfortunately for Amiya and Rhodes Island, Reunion’s words resonate strongly within a population that has only descended lower than second class. Nevertheless, Rhodes Island believes in its mission, as well as the skills of master strategist Doctor (voiced by Yuki Kaida).
Before we go any further, as the author of this review, I would like to acknowledge the context under which I watched this series, I:
- Have neither played nor was I aware of the Arknights mobile game this anime is adapting.
- Know nothing of any subsequent material in any medium –video game, anime, artwork, etc. – that might be associated with this franchise.
- Knew that a sequel project to Arknights: Prelude to Dawn is in development (as of this review going live)
- Understand that Arknights: Prelude to Dawn’s target audience is those familiar with the series’ world and its lore.
With all that said, Arknights: Prelude to Dawn was alright. And when reading the word “alright,” do so with the sense that this show was nothing remarkable.
Granted, visually speaking, this series was quite stunning. It wouldn’t be far off the mark to say this show had movie-quality animation. The action was swift and smooth; the character designs were well-done; the world and its environments had plenty of detail and life; there was a lot of expression on screen.
In short, Arknights: Prelude to Dawn looked pretty good.
If we look at this anime as a promotion for the mobile game, then it does what it needs to do – get you interested in downloading said game. Incidentally, at the time of this review going live (March 2023), Arknights is free to start on the Apple App Store.
Still, this is not a game review, which still I haven’t played as of the writing of this sentence. Instead, we are focusing on how the anime holds up under its own merits.
In that regard, Arknights: Prelude to Dawn is as safe as safe can be.
When it comes to the show’s story, it feels as though it is taking place within a much larger narrative. And given this season’s short eight-episode run, much of the world-building is regulated to large exposition dumps.
Such a style is never ideal under any circumstance. Be that as it may, Arknights: Prelude to Dawn did find an effective way to offset the problem – Doctor’s amnesia.
If nothing else, there is a practical, in-plot reason why this show told its story in the way it did. Since Doctor was an established character before the events of the series, her losing her memories would be a massive hurdle for her allies to overcome. Since, for them, they were starting their next mission rather than their journey.
Let’s not forget, albeit this is nothing more than an assumption, most people who might be interested in Arknights: Prelude to Dawn are already familiar with the world thanks to the game. Going into as much detail as this show did was more of a courtesy to everyone else.
Having no other familiarity with the franchise other than what was presented in the anime, it’s best to give the show the benefit of the doubt.
However, since I can only go off the anime, I can only reach one conclusion. The mobile game likely put most of its efforts into the visuals and gameplay. Whatever story might exist is merely a catalyst for those two elements because Arknights: Prelude to Dawn failed to build any lasting interest for the upcoming season two.
This section will be short since Arknights: Prelude to Dawn was unremarkable. Disregarding its quality visuals, this show couldn’t achieve much memorability regarding its story or characters. The lack of those critical elements culminated in a season finale that was neither satisfying nor notable.
Thus, whenever season two does come around, it’s hard to imagine it will garner any attention from anyone who isn’t already a fan of the game.
When producing a stand-alone anime, that’s not the most fantastic outcome. Except, it’s doubtful we are witnessing the start of the next big animated franchise.
Despite season two being in production, this show never got past the point of being a flashy commercial for the mobile game. Now, if Arknights: Prelude to Dawn results in more downloads, then it would be hard to consider the anime a marketing failure. Therefore, the desire for a sequel would be justified.
But as an anime, there isn’t much to write home about.
Of course, we should not consider Arknights: Prelude to Dawn to be bad. No, this show was a simple, safe bet. As long as the story and the characters weren’t inherently broken, there would always be an audience.
Ultimately, the most significant mark against Arknights: Prelude to Dawn is its lack of engagement for new viewers. After all, if you’ve never heard of the Arknights franchise, the anime’s visuals might pull you in. Unfortunately, you’ll be left without much to show for your time.
Perhaps if I were a fan of this franchise, I would have more to say about this show. But without knowing all the background material, which this anime expects you to be familiar with, there isn’t much to get excited about here.
So let’s look at things this way.
If this show is a poor representation of the mobile game, that would mean this is a poor adaptation. But suppose this anime accurately captures the feel of the story and characters. In that case, something else must be drawing people in. Maybe the gameplay is incredibly fun.
Sadly, such a supposition is not for this review to make. As a result, Arknights: Prelude to Dawn is one you can skip.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Arknights: Prelude to Dawn? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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