2010 TV Series (episodes 1-13). Director: Tada Shunsuke. 325 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $49.98. Distributor: FUNimation.
Morte is a death-dealing teenage hottie with one thing on her mind: world destruction. Ever since her brother perished in the war between men and beasts, she insists on taking everyone down! And she’s got the proper tool to do it: an explosive orb. The problem is, she needs the destruct code. Enter Kyrie, the wandering cook. This apparently luckless human may hold the key to detonating this circular bomb. And so he and Morte are stuck together on a journey that may or may not end in global annihilation.
Caveat! This series is based on the RPG game for the Nintendo DS.
Now, going from game to anime is not an easy feat. Game development usually centers upon the action of play first, then supplemented by character bios and storyline. Anime, the good kind anyway, is technically the reverse: strong character and storyline, then action sequences that add depth and affect character and plot development. So, much work has to be done. Meaningful, episodic content must be inserted between the established action of play and the ultimate goal of the game. You’re not playing the character anymore. So you actually need to like them, to get invested in their adventure. Sadly, craptastic filler usually reigns.
What can I say about Sands of Destruction? They get an A for effort. This anime ain’t too shabby. And I think this has a lot to do with its RPG origins. A game it may be, but the role-play aspect demands a little more depth in plot structure and character development. Here, Morte’s struggle to blow up the world and its necessary unveiling of Kyrie’s identity offers a dramatic framework that easily transforms into anime episodes. And of course, one teenage girl in a little plaid skirt plus one teenage boy is the standard math of anime comedy and innuendo. The usual laughs abound.
However, as all game-derived anime, filler lurks around every corner. In a world where man suffers under the rule of beasts, much episodic content is devoted to the sentiments of “can’t we all just get along?,” “we’re all living creatures of this world,” and “peace not war.” Yeah, we know this. The task is to take the obvious and show it to us from a new and unexpected angle. Sands of Destruction fails in that respect.
Honestly, do you think Morte is about to learn a lesson worthy of an afterschool special????
At any rate, if this series ran any longer than thirteen episodes, it would definitely slip into the quicksand of suck. Brevity is indeed its saving grace. It allows you to focus on the expected fun of the Morte-Kyrie dynamic, the journey to blow up the world, and not get bogged down in the clichés and weak elements that are present.