Part of me feels like I should make a Shidoshi reference since I’m doing an anime review here at Diehard GameFAN. I should point out to both long-time and new readers that anime reviews will not be a common thing here at DHGF, but since this was an anime based on a video game, I decided to test the waters and see how this fares.
Back on January 20th of this year, I reviewed Sands of Destruction for the Nintendo DS. I felt the game was a very dull and badly broken title, offering little to no challenge or substance whatsoever. It was, at best, a forgettable RPG, and at worst, a reminder of how Sega hasn’t been able to give us a good RPG since the Sega Dreamcast days. However, I did find the core idea of the game quite intriguing. In Sands of Destruction your protagonists are out to destroy the world rather than save it. This is pretty outside the box, and it was made even more enjoyable by the knowledge that here, humans are enslaved by insidious and evil furries, which must be slain for their evil deeds. Hey, any game where furries are irredeemably evil and must be put down can’t be all bad, right?
Well, the website RightStuf.com had a 40% off sale a while back and knowing that the anime stuck with the same core plot idea, but went in a totally different direction, I decided to pre-order the series. My optimistic hope was that the anime would do that core idea justice instead of how dull, cliche and predictable the actual video game was. Oh my, how wrong I was. Sands of Destruction was not only one of the worst animes I’ve seen in a long time, but it managed to make the storytelling in the video game look GOOD by comparison. Ah well, at least I’m only out $20 (although it’s now $29.99 at Rightstuf), which is better than the $49.98 MSRP or even the $39.99 price tag at Amazon.com.
Sands of Destruction the anime is thirteen episodes long and spans two DVD’s. However, I have to admit there is little to no plot to the entire series. Now, this shallowness, combined with both a lack of direction and characterization, is very similar to the video game, but it may surprise you to learn that it’s done in a completely different way from the DS cart. So we have two products with the same name that are equally insipid, but in such a way that the only thing the two really have in common are character designs and the name of the game. Even some character names have been slightly modified in both spelling and pronunciation. Quite possibly the oddest thing is that the game and the anime have completely different voice actors! You would think that this would be the ONE thing both versions of Sands of Destruction would synch up on. Well, that or the pronunciation of names.
The anime is basically a rambling affair where nothing really happens save for the first half of the first episode and the last half of the last episode. Everything else is filler or generic “anime team of characters saves the day and/or stops a menace” for the rest of the series. Considering this is only thirteen episodes long, it’s a bit sad that they couldn’t have actually had some more substance to the series.
Characters may look the same and have roughly the same name, but their personalities and motivations are completely different. Let’s take the main character Kyrie here. In the anime he’s mostly a secondary character until the last episode. In the video game, he is the living incarnation of destruction and he accidentally wipes out his home town and everyone in it. He’s also painfully naive and a totally goody-two-shoes. In the anime, Kyrie is a good-natured human posing as a Beastperson in order to get more money. Beastmen are the rules of this world and humans are second class citizens. In the game, Kyrie is a powerful warrior. Here, he basically cries and hides a lot. For 12 out of the thirteen episodes, Kyrie isn’t even Destruct. Instead, the power of annihilation is a MacGuffin known as the Destruct Orb. It’s not until the last episode that the anime decides to pull the “Oh by the way, Kyrie is the real power of Destruct,” on viewers. People that have played the video game will be fine with this, but for those that have only seen the anime, it’s pretty Deus Ex Machina because there is ONE possible allusion to it in the entire series, and even then it’s very vague and never touched on again. Due to Kyrie’s lack of development in the series and the fact he has somehow forgotten he is the incarnation of destruction itself, this makes the anime come off as if the writers wrote themselves into a corner and to get out just threw crap at the wall to see what stuck. Viewers are left feeling cheated, and it’s just one of the worst last episodes of an anime series I’ve ever seen.
There are a lot of other character changes, all of which are for the worse. Considering how mediocre (at best) the writing was in the game, this is pretty sad. Agan is a neutral and greedy Smuggler instead of second in command of the Golden Lions (a resistance group against the Beastmen who aren’t for genocide). He and Morte have a long and deep history in the game. Here, he’s just a background character. Taupy, the beastman who looks like a bear cub, is a complete badass mercenary complete with a deep, gruff voice, but he’s been turned into the Pikachu of the anime series. Here he’s obsessed with being a hero and he ends every sentence with the word “kuma,” which means bear in Japanese. He’s gone from being the only likable character in the video game to the most annoying character in the anime. They really raped his character here and it’s the most disappointing thing, in a litany of things, about the anime.
The other really big character change is Lady Ri’ah. She’s still half dragon and looks the same, but now instead of being soft spoken and witty, she’s a loligoth with a hair trigger temper that just likes to kill things just because she can. She’s also on the side of the “bad” guys from the video game series, which have been renamed as the World Salvation Committee, which is meant to be a counter to the World Destruction Committee (as compared to the video’s games World Destruction Front). They even changed her name from Ri’ah to Lia and she’s now the sidekick of another character that is eventually on your team, the half-man, half-beastman Naja (which is spelled Nadja in the anime). It’s kind of weird they took the six good guys in the game and turned one of them neutral and two of them into antagonists instead of actually using bad guys from the actual game.
Basically, the Sands of Destruction anime is terrible in simply every way it possibly could be. There is no characterization, no plot development, no decent dialogue and nothing of importance happens. The ending is basically “The status quo is maintained.” Okay then. At least the video game was “so bad it’s good,” but the anime is “so bad it’s terrible.” Even if you liked Sands of Destruction the video game, save yourself six hours of eye gougingly bad anime and do not see this series. Even at $29.99, it’s just too much to pay for excrement.
At least the anime had one positive effect, and that was making me look more favourably upon the video game. Hell, it even has me saying, “Well, maybe the video game’s voice acting wasn’t so terrible after all.” Bottom line – this piece of crap isn’t even worth Netflixing. Just stay away. For the love of all that is holy, just stay away.