Watch or Drop? Hortensia Saga

Hortensia Saga - prologue
Okay, we have kings, werewolves and frightened Princesses about to have childhood trauma. Theoretically I should be enjoying this.

Watch or Drop? Rules

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. At least 3 episodes have already aired.
  3. Episodes 1- 3 to be watched in a single sitting and a decision reached as to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.

This is the second anime now where I’ve made the call after one episode. Oh dear.

Hortensia Saga- because every mentor needs some kind of scar or debilitation otherwise surely they could just solve the problem on their own without training someone else.
The truth hurts.

First Impressions:

How much did I want to enjoy this? I mean I love fantasy. High fantasy. Set in another world with knights and monsters with a little bit of magic and no 21st century protagonist stumbling around trying to modernise the place. As much fun as isekai can be, pure fantasy is what gets me utterly immersed in another world with characters who might be making relevant points about particular moralistic viewpoints but are doing it through using a different context so it usually doesn’t feel like I’m sitting through someone’s lecture on the topic.

Which actually made it all the more disappointing when by the end of episode one I was almost asleep on the couch where I was watching. Now, I will admit I wasn’t feeling particularly well when I sat down to watch this anime, but I doubt it would fare much better even if I was fully alert. I kind of feel I’d probably be harsher. Basically I came away from this anime realising that it had every ingredient needed to be an epic fantasy tale and yet was largely just checking off boxes and going through the motions with the end result being something that had all the right components and absolutely no spirit of its own. Maybe it found its feet as the series continued but I’m disinclined to spend any more time on it.

Then again, this has become a usual kind of trend for fantasy anime based on games. While I’m not going to say that any fantasy anime based on a game is a soulless cash-grab or attempt at exposure, but to be frank if this was meant to encourage me to seek out the game I can absolutely say that I have no desire to spend any time in this world.

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Series Positives:

I will be fair and point out that the prologue is actually the best part of this episode. Cutting between the werewolf inside the castle and the army rampaging outside, there’s a kind of pace and urgency to the events and it all happens in a kind of murky darkness that makes you want to pay attention to pick up the details. However, even throughout this opening section we have characters spelling things out, like the knight who declares that the guys stabbing his friends should put up their swords because they’ve always been brothers in arms. It is a little clunky, and an incredibly obvious piece of exposition, and given he follows it up with cutting down both the guys he was talking to when they don’t put up their swords it also feels somewhat hypocritical.

Hortensia Saga - Why?
Bad writing would be my guess.

Outside of that, there’s a red-headed archer character who looks like he will have a horrible personality going forward but he looks really cool in this episode, particularly in the battle scene toward the end. Like, really, really cool. If someone could just do a compilation video of his scenes from this series, I would totally watch it.

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Series Negatives:

Is being mediocre in pretty much every respect a negative?

For me, yes. This anime just felt so by the numbers and dull despite a relatively interesting premise and two battle sequences in one episode. This isn’t helped by largely painfully generic characters. Character designs are pretty and all but they all have about one personality note (if that) and realistically none of them have distinguished themselves in a meaningful way. The only one who really stood out from the first episode was the maid with the incredibly squeaky voice. If only because she reminded me of the maid in Lord Marksman and Vanadis and I remembered just how much she annoyed me as well.

Hortensia Saga - death by narration
And a million flowers gave their lives for the burial of one king. Who looks weirdly composed considering death by werewolf.

Actually the real negative for me came when right after the prologue scene we had a narration which other than putting a few dates on events really didn’t tell us anything we hadn’t already surmised from what we’d just seen. The style of the narration is similar to that used in Fairy Tail and several other fantasy anime but largely lacked the energy or enthusiasm of those narrators, and again seemed largely unnecessary. The return of the narration toward the end of the episode predicting future revelations for a bunch of characters who seem relatively dense didn’t add to my overall negative impression of how this device was being used by Hortensia Saga.

Verdict?

Two drops in a row… I hope this isn’t the start of a trend and I picked this one up after Vlad Love expecting to kind of love it for being just standard fantasy. Oh well. Onward and upward and hopefully the next anime will at least last the three episodes.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Hortensia Saga. Dir. Y. Nishikata. LIDENFILMS. 2021


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4 thoughts on “Watch or Drop? Hortensia Saga

  1. Well, some things click, some don’t. I’ve see loads of anime, films, and TV shows that sound like my bag but fail to engage me. A shame but C’est la vie. 🙂

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