I am not a huge fan of Harem anime but I have come to really appreciate Madan no Ou to Vanadis (Lord Marksman and Vanadis) for the value of the story it presents. While it is clear that this, like all harem anime, is aimed directly at the adolescent otaku market, the dialog and story presented here can provide an entertaining evening of binge watching.
Madan no Ou to Vanadis is adapted from the light novel of the same name. It was written by Kawaguchi Tsukasa, adapted to anime in 2014, and produced by Satelite. The title translates literally “King of the Magic Bullet and Vanadis” but the anime is generally referred to as Lord Marksman and Vanadis. This title is entirely appropriate as we shall see.
The story is set in a pseudo medieval Europe-like feudal society of kings and castles. Our protagonist, Tigrevurmud Vorn, the only son and heir of a very minor nobleman on the frontier is called to war. Leading his tiny contingent of troops, Tigre, as he is commonly referred to, joins with the main body of the army of Brune, the country to which Tigre’s tiny province of Alsace belongs. Thus they meet the opposing force, the Army of Zhcted, on the field of battle.
Brune’s forces are routed and Tigre is taken captive the Eleonora Viltaria, a Vanadis, or War Maiden of Zhcted. Elen, as she is commonly referred to, is a beautiful and deadly warrior who commands the magical sword Arifar. This weapon, referred to as a “Dragon Gear”, is the mark of the “War Maiden” or Vanadis of Zhcted. In her hands, the sword is capable of amazing feats of destruction, including the splitting of a dragon like a stick of firewood. Not to be outdone, Tigre comes into possession of a mystical bow that grants him power equal to, or even surpassing that of the Dragon Gear of the Vanadis. Together they travel the region engaging in combat and sexual tension.
War Maidens of Zhcted are ranked directly below the King in the feudal hierarchy of the country. There are a total of seven of these Vanadis and each rules a province within Zhcted. As you might guess, since this is, after all, a harem anime, Tigre meets and captivates each of the Vanadis throughout the course of the narrative.
As is apparent from the artwork, this is a “bishoujo” anime. While not quite “ecchi”, (think Queen’s Blade), it does have ample opportunity for what is known in the genre as “fan service”. Needless to say, this is not an anime I would recommend to anyone under 18, although the target audience is most surely adolescent males. While there is no graphic sexual content, or even graphic nudity for that matter, the camera angles focus the viewers attention, for a great deal of the time, on the hemlines and bodices of the incredibly skimpy battle armor of each War Maiden (Remember…Its not a bikini if you wear it in combat). Each episode also contains its share of “pantsu” shots, falling “oppai” grabs, and every other anime trope that fans of the genre will be familiar with.
What is not so stereotypical is the skill with which the dialog is written. If you have not discerned it by now, I am a fan of good dialog writing. Joss Whedon or Quentin Tarantino can make even the most outrageous dialog sound believable regardless of the setting or scene. On the other hand, directors like George Lucas may be masters at composing shots and telling stories visually but they should definitely hire a writer. The people who worked to adapt the original light novel dialog have done a commendable job of making what should be an average sword and sandal harem piece into an interesting and engaging story (IF you can get past the gravity defying oppai).
The musical score is epic, as you might suspect. The colors are bright, the girls are all beautiful, and the art is well done. The voice actors are appropriate, at least in the subtitled version. I generally don’t watch dubbed anime because the voice actors almost never get the context and generally sound bizarre and out of character. There is considerable violence but it is generally bloodless and understated. The only cause for real concern is the obvious sexualization of the characters (and face it, if you are watching a bishoujo harem anime, you know exactly what you are getting into anyhow). The story is broken into a single season with thirteen episodes. Not all of the light novel volumes are currently adapted into anime. However, considering the current climate at Mad House, a second season appears in doubt. Still, this is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. Legitimate viewing sites are listed below.