I don’t usually use the term underrated anime largely because I don’t actually rate anime and if other people don’t like something there’s probably a reason even if I don’t agree. Yet I find myself looking at the scores for Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi and feeling just a bit mystified.
MAL has The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace on a 7.59 and when ranking the anime of Summer by score it comes in at 11th.
Live Chart sorted by average user rating has Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi at the 19th position for the Summer of 2021 and it is sitting on a score of 7.79.
Certainly this supremely bright and somewhat (okay a lot at times) violent anime isn’t exactly going to be for everyone but of all the anime I’ve tried this season as well as the ones I am following (which when I count the ones I dropped an episode in so never wrote about comes in to around twenty shows) Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi is the one that has definitely stood out to me.
Now this post isn’t being written to tell people they are wrong if they dropped this anime or didn’t like it. Nor am I going to argue that this is some hidden gem that must be watched. Let’s be honest, this anime is unapologetically an action/adventure anime with super-powered characters that they’ve found reasons to have fight (or train) in every episode. But I do want to look at what has worked for this anime and why I would, if I was inclined to score anime, give this one a higher score than 7.59.
So is Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi underrated?
Part of the problem for this anime may be the initial promotional image given I’m not entirely sure this is actually attracting the right kind of viewer to the anime (or at the very least isn’t overly appealing).
To be clear, when Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews) suggested this title, while I’d read the synopsis and was a bit curious I was also planning to leave Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi for my watch or drop series of posts and just kind of catch up watch it later in the season.
My main reason was that image. It looked really silly and kiddy and just kind of messy. So many characters and no real focus. Honestly, it didn’t appeal at all. But I wasn’t against trying the show and I’m really glad Scott suggested it because after I watched episode one:
“It’s been a long time since a premiere episode of an anime has left me feeling this excited and Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi (or The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace) has a second episode out immediately so as soon as I finish writing my thoughts here I’m going to go check that out.”Karandi – Episode 1 Review of Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi
While the bright colour palette and character designs for the main trio might seem like something out of a shounen targeting a younger audience, some of the other character designs as well as the blood splatter, overall violent tone and subject matter involving genocide, political manoeuvres and rape really make this an anime that is targeting a more mature audience. However, it isn’t taking itself super seriously despite dark subject matter and the mix is kind of refreshing.
Where this story could become a grim-dark narrative (and if told from the perspective of the human nun it probably would be) we instead remain energised and up-beat with snarky but fun characters who can literally have their organs pulverised and then just kind of get up, shout or moan about it, and do it all again.
Often anime targeting older audiences fall into the pattern of being super serious or slower paced and while they can certainly appeal, there’s something really enjoyable about Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi’s approach. Admittedly, the colour scheme is intense but after one or two episodes you realise how important colour is to the overall tone of this anime. Combine the psychedelic colour schemes with great music and solid action sequences and you have something that is incredibly engaging to watch.
Even the characters have all managed to be a little more interesting than their initial trope would suggest. This is particularly true of the established antagonists, the demons. I’ve been talking about them during my episode reviews and while initially they made a few surprising decisions that elevated them above so many brainless villains from morning cartoons, the anime has continued to develop these characters and give them their own motives and personalities and honestly it really has made this story far more enjoyable than the gods vs demons set-up could have initially suggested.
It isn’t as though this one is complex in its plot. The plot remains pretty simple though I’m sure they’ve got a twist or two to come. It is more that the characters acting within this basic plot aren’t as simple as they first appeared and overall they continue to make something that could have become quite repetitive to watch actually very interesting.
So back to whether Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi is the most underrated anime of the Summer season?
Well, I guess that depends on whether you like the show (as I do) and think it is worth a stronger rating. My real worry is that this is an anime that has been overlooked as viewers flock to known titles (such as the second part of season 2 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime) rather than giving this anime a chance.
Equally I worry this one has been overlooked because people had a look at the promotional image and didn’t think it looked like much at all.
For those who tried it (watched an episode or two) and didn’t like it, I can respect that. It won’t appeal to everyone and while Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi has done some interesting things with its tropes, it is built on tropes.
So I won’t try to convince you that you are wrong to drop it, particularly if the stylised rape sequence at the end of episode one is just not something you want to see.
At the same time, for those who haven’t given Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi a go, for whatever reason, I’d definitely suggest giving it a go.
While I’m not sure whether it can stick the landing by episode 11, what I do know is that at seven episodes in this is one anime I look forward to watching each week and has remained a fun viewing experience with enough surprises to keep me well and truly hooked.
What are your thoughts on Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi?
Images from: Heion Sedai no Idaten-Tachi. Dir. S Kidokoro. MAPPA. 2021
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