First Impression: Fantasia Sango – Realm of Legends

The episode opens with a mighty yell as a beast with glowing horns runs rampant and a musician tries in vain to reason with it. Death is the only language this monster speaks. Cut to an info dump explaining that this is a land where the gods or Tianyuan have created super-powered Hunters to deal with a fearsome demonic threat that materializes wherever miasma is thick. This miasma seems to be essentially “bad energy” that gathers and accumulates wherever dark emotions have taken root in people and places. I think. Anyhow, the important point is that this evil miasma possesses people so that they manifest as demons called wangliang. One band of Hunters, the Sixth, has recently been wiped out—all except for one young girl—and so it’s recruiting time. A busty, half-bespectacled goddess/Tianyuan named Lady Luozhi oversees the process, so that by the end of about ten minutes we have a new crew of Hunters: there’s the girl that survived, Xiao Ling, who is this world’s equivalent of a sin-eater that can consume the miasma demons once they are in their purple gaseous form, while also packing a killer punch with her demon arm; there’s the buxom exorcist Xun Qiao, who draws the demons out of people with her evocative erhu (Chinese violin); also, the tough-looking scaredy-cat Ding Yan, who just wants to be a chef but whose dreams have so far been hampered by the fact that he really can’t cook, although he can, when under pressure in a battle situation, throw knives and ribbons from his sleeves and so foil the enemy; and also the team mascot, Ding Yan’s cheeky pet parrot who perches on his shoulder. No wait—that isn’t a parrot! It’s…a walking, talking tea caddy with a rural accent? *Shrugs.* And finally, rounding off the team, there’s of course the main lead, the pretty boy Tanjiro wannabe, Ying Ji (he even has the facial scar from a childhood brush with death), who has lightning fast magical calligraphy skills and a heart full of empathy for those possessed by demons such that he wants to save them rather than kill them. All their individual skills work together seamlessly as they battle a demon-possessed farmer that morphs into purple gas and then into a giant tiger-man-beast with a third eye before Xiao Ling morphs into her true form and brings the fight, stunning everyone into silence. Maybe the rumors that she was the one who wiped out the previous iteration of the Sixth are true after all…

Hero Leader material right here!

Fantasia Sango – Realm of Legends is…not legendary. The one thing it has going for it is the use of a fantasy Chinese setting. Though the Chinese zodiac shows up pretty regularly, it’s not so often that you see a Japanese series inspired by Chinese lore on a deeper level (remember The Twelve Kingdoms? So good!), and it makes me curious to know how the show will be received among Chinese anime fans. The super-skills of the Hunters deserve a nod for their attempt to engage the source culture rather than defaulting to the usual historical fantasy powers. And the opening sequence did a good job of building a sense of mystery. But even so, this episode was pretty run-of-the-mill, and despite the attempt to stand out through its setting and lots of new Chinese vocab for viewers to master, we’ve seen this before, and done much better (in Demon Slayer, or my favorite in this genre, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, or indeed, the aforementioned Twelve Kingdoms). That said, it’s not a train wreck; but that just means that it isn’t even good for a laugh or some spectacular fireworks as it crashes and burns. Because it doesn’t crash and burn, it just glides gently into the ocean of other merry band of heroes anime out there. Not even Xun Qiao’s erhu playing is enough to get me tuning in next week. I’ll just go listen to Jeremy Zuckerman’s scores to Avatar: the Last Air Bender and The Legend of Korra instead.

Ah, the sound of Ding Yan’s dream dying…

Fantasia Sango – Realm of Legends can be streamed on Funimation.

4 thoughts on “First Impression: Fantasia Sango – Realm of Legends

  1. It seemed interesting at first but by the end of the episode I decided to drop the series.
    The tea caddy was super annoying and I really hoped they would leave with Luozhi.
    It doesn’t seem like there is a good guy in the series. Both the army and their enemies are killing and plundering.
    The Tianyuan are supposedly the good guys, but Luozhi threatens to kill Ding Yan if he doesn’t work for her, and she’s clearly covering up the fact that Xiao Ling has a history of attacking other hunters.
    After watching, all I felt was annoyed, that Ding Yan seems like the most sensible person but in the world of this anime he’s somehow in the wrong.

    1. Great points! Yes, Tea Caddy really did not work for me either, and I am a little tired of capricious gods like the Tianyuan. (Thank you for modelling the correct spelling, by the way. I have made edits!)

      I’ll admit, I was mildly interested in Xiao Ling and why it is she wiped out her team in that opening scene, and I did momentarily consider tuning in again to follow that one lone mysterious thread, but the sheer weight of mediocrity this episode exudes has dissuaded me. Such a shame as the superpowers are kinda cool–different at least.

      1. If this had been last season, I might have given it another episode, but there’s so many series I want to check out that I feel confident dropping it after the first episode.

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