Takegami, Guardian of Darkness: War God

I always worry whenever I've lined up a review of a title with more than four words in the title. There are plenty of good movies out there, I suppose, whose titles just keep rambling on, but it's rare. This is especially true with anime, where three or four words seems to do it. It just seems that if the title cannot concisely tell you a little about the story or some point of the plot in a couple of words, maybe the writer of said title can't get their thoughts together in the screenplay either. For better or for worse, Takegami is not a bad piece of entertainment. It's certainly derivitive and nothing that I would go out and immediately purchase, but it is better than a lot of shows within its genre, and far better than it has a right to be with such a dumb title. If you dislike the standard shonen storyline of an ancient prophecy coming true and being fought over in modern times between hardsuited creatures, though, skip it.

Takegami follows the story of two teenagers, Terumi and Koichi. Terumi has always been picked on for being small and ugly--which the anime fails to really show, but that's no loss. In her efforts to escape her constant torment, she goes into the wilderness and enters a cave that just happens to be the resting place of a long-dormant series of dragons and other nasty creatures. Unknowingly, she awakens them by accepting one's promise of beauty. Meanwhile, it turns out that Koichi is being harrassed by Susa, an ancient warrior whose sole purpose is to defeat the dragons. Neither Koichi or Termui is happy with being possessed by nasty creatures, but possessed they are, and the inhabitants of their bodies fight it out. By the second episode, the twosome are given relief by a clan of priests dedicated to stopping the threat of the dragons...but is it already too late?

Takegami is not a wildly entertaining ride. The fight sequences are decent enough, but each episode has a build-up period of drama, exposition, and romantic entwinings followed by all-out war. It becomes a predictable pattern by the third and final episode. However, the groundwork of the story and the legends that are a part of it is not bad, and the execution is better than a lot of other pseudo-fantasy shows. Thankfully, the show itself keeps its focus on its two main characters and keeps coming back to them, which makes for some reasonable character growth. The animation itself is passable, sometimes excellent but occasionally sloppy and rushed. Typical action fans may find this too slow, and drama fans may find some of the battle sequences too protracted. The ending itself will also disappoint some, though I found it strangely satisfying. Perhaps the best thing I can say is that this is essentially a mediocre anime told extremely well, well enough to keep your interest longer than most shows like it. I rented it from NetFlix, and that's a great way to go--I'll probably never buy it, but I can't say it was all that bad.

Takegami, Guardian of Darkness: War God -- graphic violence, mild language, brief nudity, mild adult situations -- B