Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 1: Not Entirely Sure you Can Get A Season Out Of This



The record of the bloody battle between the twelve proud warriors— The 12th Twelve Tournament that gets held every twelve years… Twelve brave warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls. The participants are twelve very strange warriors: “Rat,” “Ox,” “Tiger,” “Rabbit,” “Dragon,” “Snake,” “Horse,” “Goat,” Monkey,” “Rooster,” “Dog,” and “Pig.” The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be. The one wish they want granted— Who will be the final survivor?

– From Crunchyroll

Review – Episode Spoilers Ahead:


Okay, seriously, how is this a whole series? This episode is told from the boar’s perspective and she gets to the venue, finds out the rules for the seemingly idiotic death match (I assume we’ll get some justification though this story does not seem big on rationalizing), the match starts, an alliance almost forms and after that someone blows up the floor and we see boar girl face off with bunny boy and then the one character the audience has had any chance to connect with is killed.


Um, right. So was I supposed to be interested in the other guys who may have combined spoken 100 words this episode? Am I meant to look forward to endless flashbacks of their traumatic childhood as they were prepped for this insanity?

Basically, other than ‘hey, cool death match’ this episode doesn’t do anything because the only characterisation they offered us ceased to be relevant by the end. The match itself isn’t actually interesting yet because other than vague ‘you’ll get a wish granted’ comment, there’s no actual motive or reason for this match. No motive, no characters to care about yet… it isn’t a great start.

Plus, they gave all the characters poison which will kill them in 12 hours. So each episode is going to be like an hour in real time and using flashbacks to fill in the rest of the run time (speculation)?

I guess there were supposed to be some shocks and gasps at some of the violence, gore, and trauma, particularly of the childhood the girl endured, but to be honest it all just kind of felt flat. It was more a shopping list of shocking imagery rather than an actual emotive viewing experience.

So, maybe this will draw me in more once I know some of the other characters, but my honest first opinion of this is it isn’t exactly getting me excited for what is to come. Which is kind of a shame because this is one I was kind of looking forward to. Oh well. I’ll give it another couple of episodes and then decide.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


25 thoughts on “Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 1: Not Entirely Sure you Can Get A Season Out Of This

  1. I agree that devoting the starting episode to a character only to kill that character off was a weird way to start the series, and the whole series’ setup is off-kilter at best (the time limit with the poison), vague and undeveloped at worst (Okay, they get a wish if they win, but why are there zodiac-themed fighters and the titular war to begin with?). However, the episode was able to surprise me – I hadn’t expected the main character to die, and I certainly hadn’t expected her murderer to be a necromancer – so I’m willing to see if the whole series will surprise me like that, too. It could have potential, or it could just as easily be a hot mess, but either way I think it’ll be a fun watch.

    1. I kept hoping it would pick up but we’re halfway now and really this has remained a tolerable but not particularly interesting watch. It still could actually pull out a shocking twist but all and all I’m ready to write this show off as a visually interesting mess.

  2. Interesting perspective on this episode. I personally thought this was a somewhat strong first episode, I will agree that they were a significant amount of issues with it. What would you do to improve this episode? Where would you like to see the series go?

    1. I think the biggest issue came from the fact that we spent a lot of time with a single character (who was not all that interesting) and got a lot of back story on her (that we weren’t interested in) and we learned nothing at all about the other characters or what they were doing or why. All of that could still be okay, except that they then kind of take her out of the story at the end which makes most of what we did watch completely pointless and gives us absolutely nothing to look for in the next episode except maybe meeting a new character that they’ll probably just end up killing. For me, I need to either connect with a character or be interested in the story. While I’m not against a death match, they haven’t given me any reason to be invested in this one and there’s no other story going yet. And I really didn’t get to connect with the characters from this first episode.
      In honsty, I’m not sure where I want the series to go because it is kind of locked into having to finish things in the twelve hour time limit which pretty much seems to set up a one character a week getting cut down situation. Unless they do something really unexpected or these characters suddenly become much more interesting, I’m pretty sure I’m going to drop this one.
      From a purely visual side, this episode was quite strong, but that isn’t my main focus when watching so as good looking as the action might be, that isn’t going to be enough.

  3. I quite enjoyed the first episode myself, but I can see where you are coming from. A lot of people aren’t into multiple flashbacks or recap scenes done over and over again. It tends to get a little repetitive sometimes. I felt like it was a strong opening in terms of capturing the viewers interest (with of course the premise and gore…I’m a sucker for anything with gore). The story could be a bit stronger but I don’t mind seeing what made the characters into crazy killers. I love me a good psychotic character! I’m fine if this just turns out to be pure entertainment. Sometimes you need some trash anime in your life XD

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Gore is fine, but I found the premise a little lacking given they didn’t really give us much to go on at this stage. They might flesh this out and I might end up really enjoying it, but the first episode leaves me wondering if I’ll see this through to the end.

  4. Thanks for the review! I have to admit that this anime turned out to be better than I expected (not so difficult, though, when you’re expecting a show to be an absolute nonsense), thanks to Rabbit. So I agree – will give it one or two episodes more and then drop.

  5. I have a similar problem with this opening episode because the only character we were given anything remotely in depth about was the boar and to have her die so fast to a psychopathic bunny doesn’t bode well for the show. I love action, its fun for me to see great animated action scenes, but that doesn’t override the fact of everything you said.

    This opening episode felt like a bait and switch episode “Oh you didn’t expect this to happen!” But it was easy to predict, I just would rather it not go down like that. They may focus on the monkey because the only other characters that were given detail by the boar were the monkey and ox. Even then it makes the first episode all about the shock factor and if they go down that path I would expect this episode to be basically meaningless.

    1. The action was definitely well animated. For people that just want that, this first episode was great. And I don’t mind shows that go for shock factor, but they need to be more than that. And you are right, it was pretty easy to predict that boar girl was going down. The only question I really have is whether they actually killed her or whether they are going to somehow pretend that getting run through is just a flesh wound and she’s back in the game (or whether they actually are going to turn her into a zombie).

  6. I’m interested enough to check this one out. I saw some promotional stuff earlier in the year that makes me think this will be worth sticking with (at least for action). We’ll see though.

    1. A lot of people really enjoyed the action in this. And in fairness, visually it is impressive with the action (there’s some facial expressions and things that go a bit pear shaped but what anime doesn’t have that issue from time to time).

  7. Watching the first episode, it feels like a mixture of a bunch of other anime, but uses them in a stereotypical way. I guess we will just have to see how this one turns out… 🐷

    1. There’s certainly a good chance that now that it has done its ‘dramatic’ opening it might settle in to telling a good story. I’ll certainly give it a couple more episodes, but of the shows I’ve watched so far and didn’t instantly drop, this is probably the weakest in terms of holding my interest.

  8. Hmm, you actually sound overly pessimistic to be honest.
    The story may be extremely fast paced and at the same time give little explanation, but I think the interesting part is slowly uncovering the motives behind each character as well as their background, making it part of the fun. However, I can see that if it’s done wrongly it would probably turn out to be another Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, which I wouldn’t want. But in the end, I think I want to choose to have faith in the author of the Monogatari series to keep us interested.

    1. Except that it is a death match andthe only character we gained any background on was killed (or is in the process of being killed). I’m fine with learning as we go, but when I don’t have any reason to want to know more about the characters and the story hasn’t given me anything other than we’re all going to kill each other it just isn’t giving me a lot to care about. I quite like violent and dark stories, but thats usually because I empathise wit hteh characters or I’m interested in how they got int othe situation or how they are going to get out. This show just didn’t give me anything to care about becaue these characters all just rocked up for the match, willingly swallowed poison and have now been instructed to kill each other. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, but I really didn’t get a lot out of this first episode.

      1. Can’t say you are wrong on this one, and I can see where you are coming from. Hopefully as the series continue you can find the things you are looking out for and enjoy the series!

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