Okay, there’s coincidence and there’s being fate’s favourite ship! How do these two keep running into one another?!
What’s the Story?
For a hundred years the Empire and the Nebulis Sovereignty have been at war, one choosing to put its faith in advanced technology while the other makes use of powerful Astral Spirits. The reasons behind their long-held conflict has been lost to history and there is very little chance of any peaceful resolution, but perhaps that could be about to change. When master swordsman Iska is tasked with capturing one of the Sovereignty’s most powerful astral mages, the fearsome ‘Ice Calamity Witch’, it begins a series of encounters that could change the fate of the world forever. Could love be about to bloom on this bitter battlefield?
This show, and no I’m not going to type out that name again until I get to the verdict, is just okay. It’s not really bad, but it’s not good either. The characters are all fine and likeable enough, some of the designs are a bit overcomplicated, but they’re all fit for their purpose as specified by the plot. The action and story move at a steady pace, some of the actions scenes are actually quite engaging though it can be hard to keep track of what’s happening at times. The setting does have a lot of potential, I mean you’ve got two empires who’ve been fighting for a century and characters trying to find a resolution, while taking on opponents both from within and without. I’d say the story should write itself, but it clearly doesn’t.
What kills my interest in this series is the amount of coincidences and contrivances necessary to make it all work. I mean the central conceit of the story is that these two people wanting to find a peaceful resolution happen to meet and fall in love. Which, okay fair enough, plenty of stories rely on nonsense like that, I can suspend my disbelief and allow it. Where that suspension gets stretched to its absolute limit is when these two just keep running into one another! At first it was just funny, oh, they’ve bumped into one another, how cute. Oh, now they’re going to the same theatre and just happened to sit next to one another. Ha ha. Wait, now they’re going to a restaurant and they end up at the same one, sitting at the same table, ordering the same meal!
That’s only one example from one episode. In a later episode we have a problem where the Captain of Iska’s gets an Astral Spirit and they need to hide that fact when, by sheer coincidence, they’re sent on a mission that requires them to where patches that make it look like they have Astral Spirits! How can one group of people be so lucky? At this point they should invest in lottery tickets because there’s high odds they’ll win. And again, this is just two examples, there are dozens upon dozens more that I can choose from.
Maybe this is all a problem of adaptation. I know nothing about the light novel series this anime is based on (I’m assuming it’s based on a light novel series with a title like that), but this series is clearly split up into sections. I can see where one books ends and another begins and maybe if all these coincidences were separated by months in publication rather than appearing week after week. it wouldn’t bug me as much. Then again bug is the wrong word, because bug implies that these events in some way annoyed me. They didn’t, they did something worse, they took me right out of the story and stopped me believing in the fiction this story was trying to present.
At that point there was no real hope for this show, for me at least. It doesn’t matter how likeable your characters are, how many fast-paced sword fights or flashy magic attacks you throw at the screen, if I can’t believe in those characters or the world around them then what’s the point? It also doesn’t help that this story has clearly only gone through its prologue phase (the last story arc is literally called ‘Beginning’) with so many things set up for future stories. I don’t know how I would have adapted this series, but someone in the screen-writing department really needed to put more thought into that process. There’s a reason series don’t just move between mediums without even a single change.
In the end, Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World, is an okay show. I may have severe problems with the sheet amount of coincidence and contrivance packed into its plot, but it’s not a bad show. The characters are likeable enough, there’s potential in the world and some of the action is quite good, when you can make out what’s happening, but that doesn’t make up for it’s problems. It doesn’t sink the show either. This one sits squarely in the middle of the road, so if you want to check it out then feel free, but personally I think there’s much better shows you can be spending your time on.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.