The Disgaea franchise is, generally speaking, fantastic. They’re RPGs with a strong sense of humour & endearing characters. Sort of like another RPG franchise that I reviewed an anime based off of. The anime for this came out in ’06 from OLM. That’s right, the Gunsmith Cats, Steel Angel Kurumi 2 & Pokemon studio. Let’s see how they managed with this one.
we open with an angel, Flonne, faffing about in the underworld to assassinate its king. She comes across the king’s son, Laharl, who was poisoned and left in a casket. She heals him and the pair swiftly learn that his father died while he was snoozing. After some confrontations with other demons, and finding a companion in Etna and her Frobisher… I mean prinny squad, they decide to head for the castle so that Laharl can claim the throne.
The biggest issue with the narrative is simply that it’s extremely abridged. Things like strong pacing, atmosphere building and some of the more amusing but frivolous dialogue get tossed out in favour of trying to hit all of the major plot points from the game. To be honest, I’m not sure it was the best way to go about it. It might have worked better if the anime was slower and only covered a quarter or a third of the game.
I will give the anime credit for fleshing out the Big Sis Prinny reveal a bit better than the game did. And that’s literally the only thing I’ll credit it with over the game. It is also kind of nice to see the big scenes in a fully animated form, even if they are shortened in order to cram it all into a twelve episode series. And I’m kind of glad they don’t use the game’s best ending since it gives viewers more incentive to actually play it.
The major characters are pretty decently represented in this series. They don’t have all the development they get in the game proper nor do they have all their best lines but, for a short series that’s trying to cover everything, they do a pretty good job. And it does feature one of my favourite aspects of Disgaea. Demons with a lot of redeeming qualities and angels who are kind of scumbags. Call it heretical if you like, but I enjoy the subversion and I like that the execution in this franchise is a bit more nuanced since the characters are fleshed out enough that the angels do have positive traits as well, Flonne especially while the demons are significantly flawed.
My biggest issue is that the anime might be too heavy handed with that aspect. The game was better about putting it in and not really drawing a huge amount of attention to it whereas the anime feels the need to shove it in your face.
The series looks good. They captured the game’s aesthetic nicely. Unfortunately, the animation is pretty lazy. There are a lot of scenes where someone talks and their mouth doesn’t move or where an action scene starts and ends very abruptly and I’m not sure whether it’s because they were “hard to animate” or because they were just rushing to get to the next plot point. Either way, it’s not a good impression.
This is one aspect where I can give the anime full credit without any “but…” involved. Mizuhashi Kaori, Hanba Tomoe & Sasamoto Yuuko are all fantastic. The soundtrack is really damn good as well. The sound design is just on point all around.
There are, maybe one or two scenes where Etna & Flonne read as having tension but it’s not exactly a significant thing.
Ultimately, this anime has its strong points. The sound is fantastic, the characters are close enough to their game versions to have a lot of the endearing factors intact, the story has its moments. But its pacing and atmosphere suffer from being too abridged, the big subversion is too heavy-handed, the animation is lazy and it ultimately ends up being an inferior version of the game’s story with some changes that do work and others that don’t really matter. I give the anime a 6/10. It’s decent enough and it might be worth watching if you love the game or if you’re on the fence about trying the game and you want something that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’d like it. Because if you enjoy this anime well enough the chance of you enjoying the game is very high. Next week, Ninja Batman. Because I’ve looked at a few Marvel anime already and it’s time to give DC a chance.