Slow Start but Worth It – Joran: The Princess of Snow & Blood Review

“In 1931, the Tokugawa Shogunate remains in power, marking the 64th year of the Meiji era. Holding a monopoly over the newly discovered “Dragon Vein,” the government is leading Japan toward an advanced Edo period. During this time, an elite force of executioners called “Nue” is tasked with defending the Shogunate from a rebel institution known as the “Kuchinawa.”

As the owner of the Tsuyukasa Bookshop, Sawa Yukimura runs the store’s day-to-day business inconspicuously. But behind the scenes, she seeks vengeance against the man who slaughtered her tribe and family. With a special ability to transform granted by her blue blood, Sawa joins Nue after being promised information regarding the target of her revenge: Janome, the leader of the Kuchinawa.” – MAL

Episodes: 12 – Studio: Bakken Record – Sub – Aired: Spring 2021 – Finished – MAL Rating: 6.10 – Genres: ActionHistoricalSupernatural

This is the biggest shocker I’ve watched this year. This anime was on the top of my most anticipated spring anime. The trailer sold me. From the music, the atmosphere, art style, etc. it all captured me and so I was excited to finally get around to it despite the lackluster mal score. Despite its weak start, it really got a lot better as it went on.

I understand why that score is what it is because 1/3 of this show was pretty meh. Not bad but just meh. In some ways, that’s worse than being flat-out bad. The first four episodes are an uninteresting revenge story that gets wrapped up in episode four. I will say that there are aspects of what makes the rest of the show really damn good in the first four episodes. Those elements just feel like they take a backseat or more of a 1b role to the revenge plot. Which was the villain Janome being pursued by the Nue Executioners. The only bright spot of the first four episodes was the fights. They were cool and the weapons in this show are pretty fun as well. My favorite being Elena’s umbrella that transforms into a machine gun. The blue blood power is kind of whatever and confusing to me. The whole animal aspect of it only makes sense to an extent. But the main character using her powers was always fun and the art style change was great. The world as a whole was sort of interesting. A sort of mid-1900s Japan that’s using this exotic energy source, which that in itself is a whole background plotline that’s ever-evolving and interesting.

So after episode four, I was wondering where the show was gonna go and it pleasantly surprised me how well crafted the personal character arcs were. While I love a good revenge story, but we rarely get to see what happens after that revenge. What characters do after everything is said and done. That’s really what episodes 5-12 are. It’s dealing with the emotions and the what now. It’s adapting to a new life while also dealing with the demons of the past. The story threads and reveals that happen in the last 2/3 of the show are genuinely great and in hindsight, those first four episodes are needed to build up to what we get. That still doesn’t make them good though. Nevertheless, the content of the last 2/3s of this anime is well worth slogging through the first 1/3.

There are a handful of characters that this show focuses on. I’ll talk about the main character and the other more interesting character separately. But the whole cast eventually gets interesting. Everyone suffers from the lackluster first four episodes. The intriguing parts of their characters and their motivations start to unwind as the show progresses and I don’t think there was one character that I disliked at the end. Still, some that were eh, but none that I hated. I will say there are some interesting character actions and motivations that don’t make sense at the moment and after their explanation makes a little more sense but still are just jarring and seem pointless. Overall though the cast is pretty damn good. Elena and Jin in particular are my favorites, with episode 11 being fully focused on Jin’s backstory and being one of my favorite anime episodes I’ve watched all day.

Sawa & Asahi’s relationship is the pillar of this show and carries the majority of the emotional weight. As individuals, initially, Sawa is pretty bland and uninteresting. Only really wanting revenge but after that revenge is fulfilled her character opens up immensely and gets a lot of depth and emotionally intense moments that I loved. I liked Asahi from the jump and continued to like her and her sweet personality. Their relationship is heavily paralleled in the show and the direction it took was nice to see. Their moments are the best in the show bar none except for Jin’s backstory.

The animation is pretty good. There are some really cool and well-choreographed fight scenes. Overall it was fluid. I have mixed feelings about the art style. It’s pretty minimalist and basic but it still looks good and when people transform using the blue blood the art style changes into a more black and white traditional style which was cool. The scenery in this anime is beautiful too.

The music was great. Both the opening and ending were amazing. I need some producer to sample the beginning sound of the opening, it sounds so ominous yet it’s so good. The soundtrack within the show straight-up reminds me of Demon Slayer and Naruto’s soundtrack which is plus cause they both have outstanding soundtracks. Honestly, the music was one of the saving graces of the show and kept me watching early on as silly as that sounds.

So yeah this anime starts off rough no doubt. But the last 2/3s of this show is well worth slogging throwing the first 1/3. I even think I were to rewatch this I would appreciate the first four episodes more. With it being only 12 episodes I don’t think it’s too out there to recommend this show despite the slow start. Post-episode four everything outside the music and animation (cause they were already good to great) got immensely better. It’s definitely worth a watch.

Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood – 7/10

Notes – Probably gonna take it a little slower this month. More opinion posts, more movie reviews and stuff like that most likely.

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