This is review number three hundred and twenty eight. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda or World Conquest Zvezda Plot. It’s a twelve episode anime about a little girl trying to take over the world. If you think this show is good by that description then prepare yourself. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a guy named Asuta Jimon who ran away from home during his city’s martial law. With no place to go, he befriends a little girl that claims she wants to rule the world. Worried about her safety, Asuta decides to follow her but this girl is more than just delusional. After a series of events that includes a broken tank, a rampaging alien and an army being conquered by the girl, Asuta then decides to join the little girl in her quest to conquer the world.
“First, you raise your left hand. Raise it chest high, then pull it back with your palm out. While pulling back your hand, your fingers should form the Zvezda symbol. Then you take that hand and point it to the heavens! Then you yell out: ‘May the light of Zvezda shine throughout this world!’ ”
— Asuta Jimon, Episode 11 explaining the Zvezda salute
Taking the Pants Off
This anime is one giant headache, because the story is so hard to grasp that I’m not sure what the f*ck I watched. I want to say that it’s good though, but it’s very hard to explain why exactly. The plot is really just one giant ball of…stuffs that really, I find hard to describe. I think the first episode is a good way to gauge your stance on the anime so you should just go see that first. Anyways, the first episode is about a guy that ran away from home. His city declared martial law, he met a girl that wants to conquer the world and then aliens attacked the city. I’m not even making it up. Any further attempt to expand that description will leave give you a headache. World Conquest Zvezda Plot is like one weird show for the sake of weird, but it has some anime staples to it and familiar clichés that makes it harmless. To me, the first episode felt pretty wonderful, because I love a show that presents us jigsaw puzzles of the plot that we’ll have to put together as we progress to the show. It’s an anime that requires a big effort on the audience, and I quite enjoy the challenge of piecing the story together. My enjoyment turns into a giant question mark floating above my head as I progress further into the show. The show kept giving me more puzzle pieces and none of them fit together. I’m left holding tons of pieces that don’t go together, and I’m quite confused as to why the anime has a stupid plot like this. The more I think about it, the more I kinda appreciate the show though. The story might be weird and pointless, but the anime is still good. The characters are enjoyable and there are moments that truly stand out. World Conquest Zvezda Plot is a good example of an anime with bad storytelling, as in really bad and not like those cute girls doing cute things shows that has no apparent story. No, this one is just bad in its execution and overall concept, but the anime is still enjoyable overall because the other elements carried the awful plot. I mean, a half-naked Russian character can salvage a bad story, that’s for sure.
This anime is an original screenplay. Let’s get this out of the way first. As a general rule, O. Screenplays tend to suck. This one is no different since this anime is just half a thought. The original premise is about a girl trying to conquer the world, and you have twelve episodes to convince the audience. Ok, sure, loli girl tries to own the world. It’s do-able, I guess? It’s all in the execution. Unfortunately, each episode is stand alone with the original premise slowly lost in the fold. The second episode featured our loli character bullying smokers throughout the city. The third episode featured the characters moving through a maze, and even fights a dragon, because why not? The fourth episode is about a treasure hunting expedition led by the loli character. Any chance of a cohesive story is dead by the first episode. This is an O. Screenplay in a nutshell. It tries to be flashy but often sacrifices the one good thing it actually possesses. Instead of just sticking with the concept of conquering the world, the creators felt it needed more and no one really cared to edit their script. The result is a story so hard to follow that it’ll make your head spin and the plot holes will ruin the show for you. There are also a lot of questions that were never really answered. What the hell are those alien thingys? Is the entire Zvezda army consisting of just this group? Why is it necessary to have a robot? Did she really have to be a loli character? I mean, a cute little girl and a robot, this is too much of a good thing already. O. Screenplays are always ambitious, but very few succeed, and majority of them have dumb plots executed even dumber.
With that being said, I think the show took this one flaw of most O. Screenplays and turned it into a strength to make the show appealing. If you didn’t know this came from the lazy minds of the talentless hacks in A-1 Pictures, then you’d think this is a light novel anime. The presentation of the episodes look sophisticated to a degree, as if it’s meant on purpose. In fact, the anime somehow sabotaged its own story to make it look more appealing. It intentionally didn’t explain a lot of important points of the story, it didn’t introduce the characters and it intentionally want the audience to keep asking “why?” or “what the f*ck am I watching?” From a girl trying to conquer the world to a sudden treasure hunt, there is just no way in making sense of the story. It wants to establish early on that the plot is really just there, and any random sh*t can happen. You shouldn’t be surprised if you see the girl conquer people with a stuff toy because the show won’t explain it. It’ll just happen and you now have to accept it as reality. If you can’t accept that then this picture of a guy stopping a roller with his own roller will leave you speechless:
This masked woman talking to someone even though she’s a film projector will leave you baffled:
And suddenly having tentacle monsters will certainly blow your mind then:
The story goes all over the place as if it’s a normal thing. It’s not, by the way, since this is just a bad script given a different flair. You have to admire the approach though, since it covers up the ineptitude of the overall story. Nothing will make sense in this anime. The puzzle pieces belong to seven different puzzles, but it still looks like you can piece a new picture out of them. The random progression of the story will soon become a natural thing as you’re treated to a bunch of them in the first half of the anime. It’s easy to spot a bad story though, because they often possess one kind of style: Short Sighted Storytelling. It’s basically where an anime focuses on the story of an episode instead of building up the overall story. It’s so concerned with what’s happening in one episode that it doesn’t layer anything for the overall story, and it slowly destroys the potential of an anime. How else can you explain one episode about exploring a dungeon jumping to another about bullying smokers? They aren’t connected in any way, and the show doesn’t even try to connect them together. Anything can happen in an episode, and this is actually both the good and bad parts of this show. I hate short sighted storytelling because it’s just lazy writing compared to making a story that lasts twelve episodes. It’s not a good thing, and it should stop. Short sighted storytelling is used in a different manner in this anime though. With the awful story somehow becoming interesting with the “anything goes” mentality, the short sighted storytelling now becomes interesting because you’ll never know what you’ll get next. This show fumbles in a lot of way, and remains directionless for majority of its run but it’s still interesting because of those flaws. I told you it’s hard to explain this anime. Despite being so absolutely awful in its story, both in its content and execution, the story is still interesting. Even though I know the story absolutely suck, there are still some pockets of enjoyment to be had. To better appreciate the story, there are two things that made me tolerate this show.
First of all, Regular Show. It’s that Cartoon Network Show about a bird and a raccoon-like creature. No, I’m not saying this anime is as good as Regular Show. I’m talking about the logic of both shows being exactly the same. I would like to point out that Regular Show is pretty formulaic and repetitive, but this is covered up by those whacky episodes of something stupid suddenly transpiring. Something as simple as ordering a pizza can turn messy in that show. You also don’t question the fact that there’s a talking gumball machine, a ghost and a skipping monkey as characters. It’s just part of what makes the show cool. Margaret’s parent is a bird and a human helicopter reporter and there’s nothing weird with that. In the same fashion, a half-naked Russian, a robot and a little girl as part of the cast of World Conquest Zvezda Plot is also a normal thing. Regular Show can get trippy at the drop of a hat, and that’s a normal thing for the show. In the same regard, characters exploring a dungeon below their house or hanging up a sign in front of their secret base is also just a normal thing for this anime. It sounds illogical and a bit retarded, but that’s part of the charm. You just don’t question it, and you’ll eventually get used to it once you reach the second half of the show. You’d better get used to it because the second half has a lot of stupid things to it as well, and it’ll only serve you better if you just go along with whatever bullsh*t the show decides to do. It does become enjoyable if you don’t expect much from the show, and stop overanalyzing even the smallest details. Hell, I questioned the progression since the whole conquering business is immediately thrown to the side at the third episode but it’ll only hurt you if you think too much of the show.
Another aspect of what makes the story is good is the character relations. While the story has no cohesion of sorts, the short sighted storytelling does focus on one constant thing: the characters and their relationships with each other. It’s really the best part of the anime, as you wonder who the characters are and how they relate to each other. Their role isn’t all that important but the bonds they share have more weight in the show. The show often feature flashbacks out of nowhere and it’s honestly a bit distracting at first since it adds to the nonsensical storytelling, but it soon becomes the most interesting part of the show as you slowly see layers of the characters and their past. I love how the half-naked Russian is given some depth because of the flashbacks. With the help of cliché, the flashbacks become a lot more interesting as you slowly learn more about the characters. Focusing on the relationship is also beneficial to the show because it fleshed out the loli girl in a smart fashion. Would you believe the half-naked Russian met the loli girl when she was a child, and the loli girl doesn’t seem to age? The possibilities about the loli girl’s true identity now become interesting and you’re spending majority of the episodes figuring it out. I think she’s an alien or something but the narrative will never tell you. You’re just sucked into that mystery with no relief from the show. As it progresses, the rest of the cast gets a flashback on how they met their leader, and it’s just so interesting to watch. I know full well the story is awful, but I’m still lured in because of how perfectly presented this side of the story is. Soon, every side character’s relationship is explored and it adds depth to the show. Since the characters are the true main appeal of the show, it was smart into making sure they’re the centerpiece of it all.
Despite the headache inducing narrative, this anime does have three chapters as well. The first chapter is just basically the short sighted storytelling at its worst. It introduces the members of the Zvezda Army and also set up the status quo for the show. They’re an army trying to take over the world but they’re not a serious bunch. Asuta Jimon is now the only level headed guy in the entire show trying to make sense of it all, but his cries fall on deaf ears. He just now sucks it up, and decides to live with these goofballs while various misadventures happen. Despite being a group of laidback idiots, they’re still considered a threat by the government. A squad known as the White Light targets them hoping to end the evil reign of Zvezda. The whole status quo thing is second place for the nonsensical story though to the rapid fire story that goes off tangent in a heartbeat. Anyways, the second chapter is about White Light and the Zvezda Army. White Light is now on the offensive as they try to destroy Zvezda’s base. Meanwhile, Asuta and one of the White Light members become closer as they share a special bond. It all becomes trouble though when they realize they’re playing cute with the enemy.
The third chapter happens in the last three episodes. This is actually where the plot starts making sense. All the random bullsh*t that happened in previous episodes soon comes together to shed light on the actual plot of the anime. I was taken aback when the story is suddenly expanded when one governor starts a campaign in ending Zvezda’s reign. The thing that surprised me is that the city Zvezda is occupying is actually a neutral zone, thanks to the evil army. Japan is actually in a civil war called the Modern Sengoku Era, and two groups have taken control of each side of Japan. Zvezda’s city is the last remaining neutral state. Soon, all the random standalone episodes started making sense. The hatred for smokers, the underground dungeon the characters explored, the random treasure hunt and the whole “udo” thing becomes a part of the third chapter. You can tell there’s a story here subdued by the idiotic narrative of the episodes before the last chapter. It’s like they intentionally made the first two chapter bad, story wise, since they want to surprise the audience in the final chapter. It worked, damn it. The third chapter will definitely catch you off guard. The impression of it being good or bad for the show depends on how you perceive it though. I find it awesome, but I think the audience’s enthusiasm is killed at this point, so a bait and switch is just moot. It’s a risky approach to have your best episodes in the later parts, but I think there’s some magic in that decision. I know a lot of anime with amazing first three episodes and then just plop afterwards like Red Data Girl and Sunday Without God. They have amazing first three episodes but then the expectations it created ultimately made the overall show subpar. World Conquest Zvezda Plot had a confusing yet endearing nine episodes before belting out their best three in the last episodes. I think its genius, and I hope they do more of it. They numbed the story to feature the characters, and then ended the series with a stable plot. Of course, they might’ve also done this approach to sell a second season. I’m all for another season just so the show can explain how the half-naked Russian’s tears gave birth to those KuruKuru aliens. It’s been a year since this show’s release though so I think their gamble didn’t pay off, and that’s too bad.
This anime featured a cast of eccentric characters. The main characters are Asuta Jimon and Kate Hoshimiya. Asuta is the typical level headed character, who shares the audience’s sentiment in the random progression of the plot. He would yell out what we’re thinking, and I find that adorable. He also serves as a straight man for the other characters. The whole story about running away from home is also nicely done. It wasn’t explored until the third chapter, but I think it made him an interesting character. While the other characters are getting fleshed out through flashbacks, Asuta remains the constant until the third chapter. His role is confusing, but a lot of characters role is bonkers because of the awful story. He would be a henchman because loli girl sorta kinda likes him and the rest of the cast warms up to him. They should’ve focused more on the dynamic of the characters in the house for the first half, so the show can have cohesion. Asuta is an interesting character that the random stupid stuff isn’t really needed to make the show look good. The other main character is Kate Hoshimiya, our loli character. I honestly think she’s a bit overly done since she’s such an unneeded character. While her cute voice makes her likeable, she’s just a bit too much for the show. She’s the leader of an evil army while she goes around acting like an obnoxious kid and she’s also a mysterious figure because of her alien stuff toy. I personally don’t like her. While the flashbacks proved cute and endearing, she’s just not the kind of character I’d helm to lead this army. With the story not giving her a chance to prove her leadership skills, it’s just too farfetched to think a group of skilled and eccentric characters would try and follow her. Yes, she is an interesting character but she’s someone that don’t fit the show too well. Maybe another season would change my mind, but that’s still up in the air.
The rest of the cast is a collection of eccentric characters, so enjoy them when you watch the series. Tell me how you love the half-naked Russian in the comments afterwards. I think every character is nicely conceived, as they add to the whacky and enjoyable experience in the show. The off tangent story serves them well because of how unpredictable the flashbacks can get. They’ll start out bland and stereotypical but they’ll grow on you soon enough. From the members of Zvezda’s army to the White Light knights all the way to the antagonists, every character is memorable. I think even the one shot characters proved entertaining like the monkeys in the hot spring episode. They have no dialogue yet they still stand out wonderfully in the episode. The characters really made this show worth it, and I’d have to give points for how the show considered making them an important part of the show. A lot of O. Screenplay would waste time on the over ambitious story that the characters and everything else gets ruined as well. I still remember how M3 ruined their best character and her fanfics predicting the future. Blade and Soul had an antagonist as awesome as Sephiroth yet they wasted her. Valvrave had the most awesome strategist in the history of anime, and they turned him into a crybaby by the second season. Characters are often sacrificed in an O. Screenplay’s attempt to be as good as Code Geass, but World Conquest Zvezda Plot proved there is still hope for this annoying subgenre. If O. Screenplays can produce good characters then A-1 Pictures should consider it the next time they create another original show. That, or just give us more half-naked Russians. Either way, it’s all good.
Tensai Okumura directed this anime. He’s been in the anime scene for a long time now but he sparingly directed shows. He mostly did storyboarding so it’s baffling how this O. Screenplay turned crap when the director has twenty years of experience making sure an anime’s story flows smoothly. He’s latest works is when he help create some O. Screenplays for P.A. Works. These shows range from good to awful with Nagi no Asukara proving the worst of them all. My review of that show is still in my drafts, and I refuse to publish it. He has the talent to create decent shows, and I bet doing more O. Screenplays will hit him a goldmine sometime in the future. He had his hands in Hanasaku Iroha, Guilty Crown, Vividred Operation and Tari Tari so he has the experience. I bet the approach of flipping the story and making the last three episodes the best one is a product of his time doing miserable O. Screenplays. I spot potential so he should go create more crap shows until he produces a good one. His stay in A-1 Pictures is also a great opportunity for both to create some magic. This studio doesn’t shy away from O. Screenplays and they’re open in doing anything. A-1 Pictures is a multi-genre studio, so they might help produce the next big O. Screenplay. They should keep trying, and I’ll just grit my teeth no matter how horrible their next attempt is.
Sight and Sound
The character design for this show is done my Kouhaku Kuroboshi. He also designed the characters for Kino’s Journey and Allison. In other words, he’s an extremely talented designer. In the first episode, it’s basically the character design that’ll lure you in. The over the top design of the characters that somehow much their eccentric personality just urges you to keep watching. I personally love the range of his design for the show. We have simple characters like Asuta but then there’ll be characters that look huge like their general. Some characters have awesome designs to them like a high school samurai with shiny beads in the sword hilt, a normal middle school girl with blushes in her cheeks and ears and of course, the half-naked Russian I’ve been mentioning over and over. Kouhaku is a smart designer because he doesn’t do anything unrelated to the character. Every single detail relates to their personality, and he makes it all work. From the clothing to the accessories, it tells a lot about a character. I particularly like Asuta’s Zvezda costume because it tells us he is just a worm compared to the other characters. Kate’s Zvezda uniform tells us she is the leader of the gawddamn group as well, but her child-like innocence is still intact making it hard to take her seriously. I also love the White Light’s costume because it has details on the breasts and they’re overly sexualized yet they’re honorable Japanese warriors dating back to ancient times. See? Everything is done with purpose, and the design tells a better narrative than the actual story. I’m actually a big fan of Kouhaku ever since Kino’s Journey, because Kino’s design is simple but it tells a lot about her/him or whatever gender you want Kino to have. I also love how the A-1 Picture color palette is applied in this anime. It’s their signature style so it makes me smile seeing two great things come together. Kouhaku should stay as a character designer for A-1 Pictures. Get me a genie to grant this wish.
The animation is pretty great. Despite the story going overboard at times, the animation still looks presentable. It’s able to make the story shine in every opportunity. Romantic moments have a wonderful pace to them, action scenes look awesome like when the general slams a girl’s head on pavement, and the dramatic scenes are nicely presented with how the characters cry. It’s not much but the director’s twenty year experience in the business definitely comes out here. The negative stigma of short sighted storytelling doesn’t apply here, because of how the animation made it all look good. The facial expressions are on point and the movements are smooth. A lot of memorable scenes stand out because of how the animation made it special. I also love the hue effect of flashbacks to separate them from the story, and to give the audience a chance to anticipate them. The CG is also nicely done. Most of the time, CG looks stiff but it’s blended well in this anime. It still stands out but not like a sore thumb like it usually does. They put a black outline on the CG with normal animation to make it blend better. It’s a small thing that made a huge difference in presenting CG stuff. The CG excelled the most when those KuruKuru aliens starts dispersing after being defeated. It just looks so complex and well done.
The anime’s OP is “Be mine!” by Maaya Sakamoto. This is a really catchy song. I love’s Maaya’s voice as she gives a vibrant personality to the song. The song is pretty catchy as well from its upbeat lyrics to the well-paced verse. I also like the lyrics about obtaining whatever you want mixed in with the random lyrics to reflect the personality of the anime itself. The OP sequence features all the characters, and a brief mention of the status quo. The animation stands out wonderfully while you gaze at the awesome characters. It’s definitely one of my favorite ED out there. The anime’s ED is “Visumania” by Aoi Yuki. It’s a pretty cute song. I can’t find the lyrics anywhere though, but I assume its Kate wanting to rule the world or something. I admire Aoi for really capturing Kate’s cute voice style even in the high notes. As I said, it’s a cute song so it’s easy to like. The ED sequence features a storybook like ending with a different animation. It has all the members of Zvezda in a cute little skit ending with Kate looking smug in front of Asuta waiting for the bus. Yeah, it’s pretty random as well but so is the entire anime so it all works out.
7/10 “The characters make the experience amazing despite the confusing story.”
This anime is not for everyone, but to those that can appreciate off tangent stories with strong characters, then you’ll like this anime a lot. It might turn you off since the first half is a directionless mess but the characters make everything worth it. A Half-naked Russian! I don’t need to say more. Well actually, if you like challenging shows that makes you think then this anime is for you. If you’re a fan of character centered shows instead of narrative heavy ones then you’ll enjoy this anime. It’s an easy show to watch because of its non-episodic set up and the scenarios proving to be entertaining, since it has a mix of comedy, romance and action in one confusing plot. I think this anime is a rare feat of a technically bad show with a good anime experience to present. I recommend it.