“The 12th Twelve Tournament gets held every twelve years. Twelve brave, strange warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls. The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be.” -ANN
Twelve seems to be the magic number in this anime. The “death match with the winner being granted one wish” concept is great and intriguing but there has to be a sort of foundation as to how it functions outside of the competition. We see a much more comprehensive death match in Mirai Nikki, where they also have a life outside of “the game”. Juuni Taisen falls short and while it does provide backstories for the characters, they’re shallow and lack depth. There are hints of a larger plot behind the facade of the deathmatch but it isn’t explicitly explained, which was crucial to making the story more immersive and engaging.
Artwork & Animation:
While the story isn’t as intricate as it could’ve been the art, on the other hand, is excellent. The character designs follow a little too close to each fighters Zodiac sign but it’s not awful. The icing on the cake for the show is the fighting animations, both brutal and articulate the fight scenes are something to look forward to. The opening theme animation feels out of place as it uses still 3D animation compared to everything else is 2D.
Twelve episodes for twelve characters…or so I thought, some character stories were merged together and some were neglected entirely. While the characters backstories were both comprehensible and interesting the setting being a deathmatch means that most of the characters will die. Character deaths are a powerful tool to create drama in the story but when the characters die each episode, it’s hard to build a connection with their personality to feel anything for them.
Sound (OST & Voice Acting):
The Juuni Taisen soundtrack is a combination of aggressive orchestral pieces and electric music. The Electronic music tracks are fast and feature dark choir vocals that help evoke that dark tone of the story itself. The orchestral pieces help fit the death match into a war setting as, ultimately, this is what it is. Also, even if the anime doesn’t appeal to you I would recommend checking out the opening theme, as it’s catchy.
The fight scenes were my favorite part of the show. I felt like I needed more of a base to hold onto to really grasp the plot of the story.
Overall: Score 7
The incredible soundtrack and fluid animation weren’t enough to dig Juuni Taisen out of the hole it dug itself in with its shallow plot line.
Best Girl: Niwatori
Niwatori had the best character development, even though it only spanned for about 2-3 episodes. Her origin story, as well as her determination in the Zodiac Deathmatch, was touching and part of me wanted her to win!
Honorable Mention: Tora
Tora’s origin story as well as her connection with one of the other fighter made for a quite emotional reunion. Definitely another favorite from the twelve, not to mention her drunken fist is dangerous!