Season aired: Summer 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Drama
Thoughts: It has been many years since P.A. Works has released an action-centric anime, so the excitement was well generated by the time the production of Sirius the Jaeger was announced. Directed by Masahiro Ando, who is notoriously famous for having high expectations on animation style and quality, Sirius the Jaeger was P.A. Works’ big return to its roots after achieving fame in the first place through its action and high quality animated fight sequences.
Taking place in 1930s Japan, Sirius the Jaeger focuses on Yuliy and his team of “Jaegers”, people who hunt vampires and other supernatural creatures. As the vampires begin to move more actively as well as violently amongst the people, Yuliy and his friends are forced to confront the growing threat as the question of a mysterious “ark” that is deeply tied to Yuliy’s roots soon enters the fray of mysteries and survival.
Before I get into the actual plot, I do want to point out that this is indeed P.A Works’ return to animation. The fight sequences contain some of the most detailed, fluid, and beautifully made animation that I have seen in years accompanied by an incredible soundtrack, particularly a lone violin. At no point or time does the animation ever seem to lack or “lose budget”. The expectations Masahiro Ando placed on his team were high, but it paid off beautifully for all twelve episodes, and I hope that he is proud of the result.
That being said, though Sirius the Jaeger has many amazing plot points and character development, both are also accompanied by many flaws. The good news is that the two main protagonists, Yuliy and Mikhail, are extremely likeable and are on the good end of the long spectrum between amazing and bad. What’s particularly well done is that both break the typical stereotypes found in each situation.
Yuliy, a character stuck on vengeance with a tragic past, is actually not angsty but just shy and socially awkward. And contrary to character descriptions, Yuliy actually is quite forward with his affection. He shows obvious concern towards his teammates with his facial expressions and words, cries when he is upset, and, in one of my favorite scenes of the series, admits that hatred is both confusing and tiring. Though some say that Yuliy is “passive” and “weak”, I completely disagree. I think Yuliy is a three-dimensional character that anime and stories as a whole don’t write enough about. He is an example of a boy where love does win over macho masculinity but in a quiet fashion instead of the flamboyant bravado of typical shounen characters (and if anyone says he’s weak at fighting, they clearly haven’t seen him fight). On the other hand, Mikhail is nothing like the usual silver-haired charmers that Sakurai Takahiro voices. Instead, he is a desperate older brother who intensely loves and cares for his sibling and shoulders all the burdens he places upon himself in an attempt to make sure his younger brother remains happy.
Brotherhood is a central theme to the entire story, and I think one of the best illustrations of sibling love that I’ve seen in so far in the last few years. I truly felt for both characters, and their interactions as well as their fitting final fight was extraordinarily satisfying for me. This, however, could not have been done without the excellent chemistry between the two voice actors: Yuto Uemura (Yuliy) and Takahiro Sakurai (Mikhail). Yuto Uemura deserves exceptional praise. Yuliy’s emotions felt 100% real, and the buildup to emotional breakdowns or heartfelt confessions were raw and perfectly acted. Though he is still a relatively new star in the voice acting industry, I think his performance as Yuliy should be used as bragging rights any time anyone should question his ability as a voice actor. Takahiro Sakurai was also extremely convincing as Mikhail, though it is only when the two characters are together do the voice actors truly bring the best out of each other.
Unfortunately, this cannot be said to the rest of the cast. There was a large supporting cast and aside from the professor, many of them are completely undeveloped and very stereotypical. I question the need of two recurring characters, Ryoko and Major Iba, whose mere presences honestly made no dent in the actual story in the end. Ryoko especially. She was introduced as a potential love interest to Yuliy, a chirpy girl with a talent for swords, yet the only thing we ever see of her is incessantly stalking Yuliy despite the fact that the main character barely shares any words with her. Even in the end, she contributes nothing to the final battle, and I am legitimately still wondering what was the purpose of her character as even the ship teases were shallow and annoying at best.
The plot starts out extremely interesting, and it’s rare to find an original anime so well-paced as this one. The screenwriters clearly understood the structure of episodic storytelling, and I was half-satisfied with the new developments at the end of every episode, half-yearning for more with the new questions I had. However, though it did successfully keep my attention throughout the series, it also doesn’t answer all questions by the last episode, which is extremely frustrating. Especially when the question involves one of the biggest plot points that the story revolves around – the mysterious and powerful Sirius arc that werewolves, humans, and vampires are seeking. I honestly still don’t understand exactly what the arc does despite it being so coveted by every intelligent life form available in this anime, and there’s also a lot of mystery on where and how it was created in the first place.
That being said, despite my complaints, I still enjoyed the anime immensely. The fight sequences are jaw dropping, the two main characters, a well-paced plot, believable brotherly love, and the intense character development Yuliy goes through sold the anime as a whole to me. I think anyone who enjoys action anime would really enjoy this story, and if you are forgiving towards the flaws, you might consider it as one of the best from the fall season.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7.5
FINAL SCORE: 79