Zettai Boei Leviathan
The world of Aquafall is under the attack of the Lucasite, an unknown entity that targets the world pillars. There, three girls -- Leviathan, Bahamut and Jormungand -- are approached by the fairy Syrup to become members of the Aquafall Defense Force.
Zettai Boei Leviathan isn't the worst show to have done the least in the most amount of time, but judging by what I've seen in these three episodes, it didn't go into production without intending to put in a good effort. Or lack of, as it stands.
The funny thing is; I don't even remember what I expected going into this show. Certainly, the promo image and subsequent plot synopsis begs for a "this I gotta see" reaction, as is the whole "naming the girls after famous draconic/serpentine" sceme, but trust me; it's not worth it. Not by a longshot. Not even if that shot was made by Simo Hayha.
And the main reason for this is that Zettai Boei Leviathan offers absolutely nothing. Think about that for a second. Then remember that I accepted Koihime Musou for being dumb fun. I even endorsed Sekirei to a certain degree, and Zettai Boei Leviathan should at least be able to keep score with either of those, but it doesn't.
Point one: Zettai Boei Leviathan is incredibly lazy with its characters. Leviathan herself, the show's namesake, is merely a mostly deadpan girl whose emotional investment is limited to finding her brother, who left for unspecified reasons. Bahamut is a younger girl, kind of a spoiled princess and the token prepubescent girl among the trio, while Jormungand rounds off the genki, go-getter personality among the three, and is perhaps the only tolerable one among the girls, but no less dull.
The city they live in embodies the whole "idyllic, peaceful country village where everyone is just so gosh-darn happy" aspect, and the whole thing is just so darn inoffensive and jolly. In more... conventional fantasy shows, cities like this would serve as the starting point for our protagonists, usually through its destruction. Not here, though. Yes, I know I implied it in the synopsis I wrote, but it's not happening.
Which brings us to point two: the incredibly meandering pace in which nothing of particular importance happens in Zettai Boei Leviathan. The show spends two whole episode basically establishing the three main characters; Leviathan obsessing about her brother, Jormungand running around on errands and Leviathan being the daughter of the town magi/leader/whatever. The third episode is entirely spent, no lie, in the digestive tracts of a mud dragon because it accidentally ate Jormungand's axe, and then another episode is spent introducing us to Jormungand's adoptive family. Who, in a rare humorous note, are all made up of large, burly men with amusingly cheerful faces plus three young female children called, I kid you not; Metal, Ragon and Rudra.
Zettai Boei Leviathan isn't even particularly consistent with its random tidbits of information. We are told through an episode opener that "men were blessed with strength, and women were blessed with magic", yet Bahamut's father is an actual magician whom you can see use magic in the show, and Jormungand doesn't seem to be lacking in the physical strength area and, outside of her transformation scene which can possibly be described as magic-based, tends to approach problems by swinging her hilariously oversized axe. Nor does it seem like all women are able to use magic either, like that poor inn/tavern owner, who's completely unable to use magic when our three leads and the idiots they pick fights with end up wrecking her place.
It's not until episode seven -- SEVEN -- that the girls go out on that journey all heroes must undertake, and even then it's more because some kind of huge monster went off with Leviathan's precious staff. Well, mostly because she threw it in its eye, and it submerged into the water again, but still.... it just seems like everything these girls do is dictated by whatever poor choice they make as they go along. Case in point: after said event, the girls immediately head off into the desert, Jormungand carrying a huge suitcase. At first, I thought the suitcase might be packed with supplies, but no; Bahamut gets hungry, and the three of them scavenge for food, while Leviathan actually have to use her magic to locate water. So... OK, fine. Maybe the suitcase contains a tent... or sleeping bags. Or... you know, anything that could help them during the long, freezing nights that tends to be the norm in deserts. Nope. They just drop the thing and sleep directly on the ground, turning my curiosity about the goddamn thing into a full-blown obsession. I had to know what was in that suitcase, everything else be damned. And what was it?
I DON'T KNOW! Like so much else about this show, we aren't told. Ever. I had to suffer through two goddamn beach episodes, followed by five goddamn episodes about these three idiots bumbling around in the desert without so much as a shred of general survival knowledge applied, like... bringing some goddamn food and water with them, and all I know about that damn case is that it's Bahamut's luggage. And, seeing as it's never put to use, that it's therefor full of useless stuff. Which they dragged into the desert.
Can you tell watching this show is a really frustrating experience for the common sense? Because it is!
And the damnedest part is that even if you're just in this to gawk at the pretty girls, the art and animation remains exceptionally unimpressive. Compared to the art for the official game -- and yes, I did go to have a look at it -- the characters in the anime either have this stoned-off-their-asses quality to them, or they are given the same kind of inconsistent animation quality that plagued the TV version of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. The fights in particular look really dull, most of them being badly rendered in CG as far as magical effects go. They rushed the hell out of this to get it out the door. That's the impression I get. Yet, you'll occasionally see an odd selection of scenes being animated disturbingly well, like various scenes at the beach, or when Leviathan gets up in the morning, hugging her staff close. But despite that, there's still this lifeless look to all of it.
The only thing that looks even remotely acceptable is the Lucasite -- the huge bugs and supposedly the angagonists in this show. I say supposedly, because for all we are told by the show that they are here to destroy the world, they do very little of that; which brings us to my third and biggest misgiving about Zettai Boei Leviathan. Most of the Lucasite behave like normal insects most of the time, and our heroes are usually the ones who instigate the battles. All of them are rendered in CG, but unlike the magical effects that our heroes apply in battle, they do at least look somewhat nice for all we get to see them. But for all we are told they must be defeated, only one of them are actually doing something that could be construed as villainous, and that is a robotic thing the girls meet during their desert arc. The rest of them just need to be destroyed because the show says so. Why, you might ask? Well, that's because SHUT UP AND LOOK AT THE PRETTY GIRLS!
It gives Zettai Boei Leviathan a rather insidious tone. I told you the show had a two-episode beach arc, and while one is spent solely watching the girls do stuff on the beach in their swimsuits, the other covers the appearance of the huge Lucasite that approaches the beach and knocks over the girls' barbeque. (Mostly due to its monstrous size making a somewhat sizable wave that crashes over the beach.) After that, it proceeds to do.... absolutely nothing. The girls, however, decide to destroy it. Not because they perceive it as a danger (which I doubt), but because it had the nerve to knock over their barbeque. That's their reason for engaging it in battle with the intent to destroy it.
Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen. When they're not spending time publically humiliating guys who are bad at picking up girls, they bicker and complain, screw up relatively simple tasks and still manage to avoid being held responsible to Darwin's Law of Natural Selection.
And that's about it. The show goes on some more about the Aquafall Defense Force and the town finally faces some danger in form of the huge being that vanished with Leviathan's spear (which she later found in the temple in the desert -- don't think too hard about it), and the girls have to come together as one to defeat it. (Because, again, the show said so.) This is offset with one last attempt at emotional drama that kind of stumbles over its own feet (as well as some facts about one of the other cast members), making the attempt kind of redundant. I just wanted the damn show to end already.
It just feels like such an arbitrary production, as if they had these nice character designs, and just had to make something out of it. And the worst part is; I understand that. I've seen the official game art -- or at least an image among them -- and for what it's worth; they do look nice. Leviathan in particular could make for a lovely figurine to have in your shelf: fully transformed, wings spread, staff in hand and tail coiled in a mid-transformation spin. (And hopefully without the dopey look they give her in the anime.) Honestly, her design is a figurine maker's wet dream, but on that same note, she's also an animator's worst nightmare. And that's telling, given how this show turned out.
The last nail in the coffin is the fact that most of what Zettai Boei Leviathan contributes for storylines are mostly character introductions and vague allusions to something bigger in this world, which means that, yes; this is just the first season of what I imagine the creators will hope turns into a whole series franchise. It's not the first show to do this to me, and I also know I've said this before, but; NO! Even if they DO make more of this, I refuse to watch it. This asinine garbage isn't even worthy being called a children's show, because children deserves better than this ill-animated garbage, whose scenes of fanservice indicates that it's originally intended for an older but less mature audience.
A failure in every single aspect of what makes a show good, and I've seen a lot of relatively average fantasy anime that at least managed to be entertaining. Take the rambling nature of this review as a good indication of how Zettai Boei Leviathan approaches storytelling. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The fanservice is relatively light; limited to general shots of the girls in that odd scale-covered underwear of theirs. There's also a beach episode with corresponding swimsuit fanservice and jokes about how Leviathan's chest is bigger than Bahamuts. Enjoy, suckers.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs only.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Zettai Boei Leviathan © 2013 Gonzo, Leviathan Production Committee
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