Shoukoku no Altair Review — B

An empire rises in a fantasy world.

I really enjoyed this. It’s a fantasy show. Or more of an alternate history, really. Except it’s roughly based on the Ottoman Empire confronting Hapsburg Austria. Which is definitely not a conflict we usually look at in media, especially in anime. Even better, it takes the side of the Ottomans. It’s even a mildly thought provoking look at empire.

But mostly, I enjoyed it for being interesting. The pacing in this show is great. It’s fast but it never feels like you’re getting lost. And it quite shamelessly and quickly glosses over all the boring parts. It’s really great at keeping your attention.

In the foreground of the show is Mahamut, who follows the fairly typical pattern in this genre of going to a bunch of places and gathering a party of friends to fight with him. And this is well done: all his friends are interesting and diverse and fairly unique, even if from a distance they follow typical fantasy roles. But where the show shines is with the politicking. It has fights, too, but even these are determined not by valor but by politics, by understanding and outwitting your enemies. The good guys don’t always win either. And it always takes pains to show how the main characters’ actions are only one part in a broader conflict which is more than him. It feels like a wide and an immersive world, like it has history and culture and much more going on than is shown on the screen.

It might not be the greatest story, or the snazziest animation, but I highly enjoyed watching Shoukoku no Altair.

  • Storytelling – A – Great pacing, knows where to focus attention.
  • Voice – B – Excellent development of setting, but stylistically nothing special.
  • Characters – B – Solid characters, but nothing spectacular.
  • Attention Grab – B – Had no trouble keeping my interest.
  • Production – C – Looks okay.
  • Overall – B

RecommendationsArslan Senki, Guin Saga, Utwarerumono

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