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Weskalia's King of Thorn Tv Review

King of Thorn tv Review

Story & Characters

In a near-future world, a mysterious disease has started ravaging the public safety and become a dire threat, the officials call it the Medusa virus, named after the Medusa from Greek Mythology. Capable of entering its victims' cells and turning them into stone-like corpse six weeks after and typically prone to being incurable. One victim, shy Kasumi has been infected, and was chosen as one of 160 victims to go to suspended animation until a cure is found, she only reluctant agrees to go at the insistence of her twin Shizuku, who was not chosen. Arriving to the facility on an isolated island, the victims bid farewell to their families before putting into hibernation, only to suddenly wake up after an indeterminate amount of time to a reality out of a nightmare. Thorns growths abound and creepy monsters who love to have a human-shaped snack. Most of the victims soon devoured by the creatures, leaving only Kasumi and other six survivors, trapped in a facility filled with man-eaters and infected with Medusa, they must scramble their lives to find out what happened, giving in to the temptations of uninhibited freedoms... and not in a good way.

If horror writer Stephen King decides to pen a manga/anime series, this is the script he might have come up with. Something nearly always went wrong when you sleep too long, people die, you wake up only to see the world has turned upside down, infected with an incurable disease, encounter monsters not from this world and trapped on an isolated island. Part Dead Zone, part The Mist, and part Dreamcatcher, King of Thorn sets out to examine what happens when all the rules just disappear. While it is not as accomplished as King's works, it still packs a punch and manage to entertain despite a decided shortage of originality.

The movie does show some sparks of creativity, however. The nature of the Medusa virus, as silly as it may sound on paper, is effectively horrifying in application, and that cloud hanging over the characters helps reinforce the tension and desperation of the survivors' situation. Shortly after waking up, the monster starts terrorizing the victims, only seven remain. Together they try to piece together what happened and how they ended up like that in the first place. The revelation is a genuine shocker. This is where the story really picks up, a little more than halfway through the movie. It would be fair to say that this is definitely a story that gets better as it goes on. The first half is relatively mediocre, but by the rest is nearly impossible to put down.

On the down side, the basic premise of the main characters take a little while to get to the good stuff. The personality types amongst the sleepers represent a cross-section of common archetypes seen in group survivor stories: the shy girl, the kid, the big guy, the bad boy, the smart one, the self-centered rich/powerful one, and the motherly woman. In fact, the characters so tightly fit into their roles that most beyond Kasumi do not have names near the end. Fortunately, the bigger picture exist, and everyone seems to have some kind of secret.

The main selling point of the series so far lies in its effective establishment and maintenance of a high degree of tension and danger. Whether internal threats like the Medusa virus or external threats like monsters, the thorny vines, or drowning, the characters always seem at risk, even when in comparative safety, and some of the situations they find themselves in get truly nerve-wracking. If you're a viewer who needs to be grabbed instantly, you may have some trouble getting into this, but if you can hang on, it's worth the wait. Shifting the mood from standard survival horror fare to shocking and horrific in a matter of time, adding to that numerous involved action scenes, concerns about what bad-boy Marco Owens is really up to, and (possibly unfounded) suggestions made to Kasumi that the survivors have a traitor in their midst and you have an excitement level that rarely falters.

Rating: 7

Art

Having these silly monsters and technophobia of B-horror wasn't the movie's wisest decision, the artistry forte is actually these scenes of stark terror. While the character designs are firmly rooted in sci-fi manga, author Iwahara Yuji has a flair for the gruesome and horrid. A monster devouring a man's head can stick in the mind long. The castle and the facility are drawn realistically, which helps to emphasize the horrible acts that take place there. In term of art, creatures and backgrounds still provide a great deal of viewing pleasure. Marco's intricate tattoo is another artistic detail that is nicely done and although the character designs are not the sharpest, most of them remain easily distinguished.

Studio Sunrise delivers a distinctive visual effort on the series without actually using any radical stylistic elements. The visuals impress the most in battle scenes, and when depicting massive explosions, although they tend to be a bit rougher in more ordinary scenes. The real visual stand-out, though, is the background art. This was clearly very carefully detailed, to the point that even the original creation of the facility castle, which may have been designed to mimic certain medieval castles, is simply amazing in both quality and detail, both inside and out, including the thorny growth and nasty critters that eventually enveloped its ruin. Like the artistry, the animation may not be flawless, but it is good enough to contribute to numerous exciting scenes and does integrate CG content in extremely well.

Rating: 8

Sound

Restrained, serious acting is the key to a convincing horror tale, and in that respect, the voice acting gets it almost right. There are moments when the seiyuu deliver their lines too excitedly, as if playing a comedy spoof rather than a survival horror. But the rest of the time, they bring the right level of earnestness to the performance - especially when Kasumi and company begin to realize what's going on, and emotions start to run high. The musical score is just as eclectic as the content. It regularly uses variations horror, serious tunes but can quickly shift to softer themes for more harrowing scenes, an effect which still usually sounds playful. Ending "Edge of this World" hits just the right level of drama - sparse instrumental scoring and dissonant sounds that add up to an unsettling feeling. Yet the music is also capable of expressing loss and heartbreak.

Rating: 8

Presentation

Despite a problem that it starts giving off a video game vibe, King of Thorn is still an exciting, engaging story of the struggle to maintain some sort of society in a harsh, unfamiliar environment. It has all of the elements of a classic survival epic – monsters, diseases, an unfriendly wilderness with no perceived escape, and our own ability as humans to lie. While it can be laid on a bit thick at times, and the lack of complicated ideas may be a drag to some, it's still an engrossing one with an intact story, good visual presentation and great packaging. If it drags on too long, it may be in trouble, but at this point, the movie is not only a compulsive watch, but an enjoyable escape into adventure for a few hours.
____________________________________________________________________________________________
Story: 8
Characters: 6
Art: 8
Animation: 9
Voice: 7
Music: 8
Overall: 8

Good:
+Some great artistic touches, can be a lot of goofy fun, horror scenes are horrifying.
+Good supporting cast.
Bad:
+Main lead has some balance issues.
+Slow start, little originality.

Rating: 7

Final Verdict

7.33 (above average)

Reviewed by Weskalia, Jul 08, 2012

Comments

  1. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Jul 09, 2012

    My biggest problem with the show is sort of the same problem that you had.

    I loved that the main lead was a female character, and the premises and the way the show was built? Fantastic.

    What I didn't like, was the main character in the show. I was extremely interested in watching this show, and the horror scenes were done fantastically, but my gosh. The show just sort of goes off the deep end after awhile and, at least for myself, became somewhat convoluted in terms of the story telling aspect. The twist at the end was both interesting, and a little silly at the same time.

    However, it was the lackluster, weak-willed protagonist they had us following that left me ho-hum'ing my way through the show. I could completely see Stephen King writing something like this for an anime movie or TV series. I love post-apocalyptic created worlds, and this one was not only extremely interesting, but incredibly intense. It's just a shame that the show seemed to stumble upon what to do with the main female character until the very end of the show.

    As for the review itself, it's beautifully conducted. It's always a pleasure to read your reviews, and you do a fantastic job with this review as well. So much so, that I almost want to go back and re-watch this! Great work, Wes!

  2. Dancerinthedark Jul 10, 2012

    OMG!I miss your reviews Weskalia-san! :O
    I have read the manga,one of my fav mangas....but shame the movie changes a TON of things from the manga,
    so My advice: Read the manga and imagine everything as if you were watching the movie,lol
    when I watched the trailer I thought it will be my fav horror and thriller movie,I was excited from the very beginning but when I reached the highest point I suddenly stopped and said...it is not the manga I loved ;-;
    the storyline is not really different but they can't put six volumes in one movie,so they must skip some parts and those parts were important!
    anyways it is still a good movie to watch though
    thanx for the review^^

  3. SnickerdoodleNinja Retired Moderator Jul 10, 2012

    Hmm, yet another title that I would never have known about had it not been for your review. :) This one sounds fascinating, actually, though I'm not sure how I would feel about the heavily-stereotyped characters. And if the lead is as off as Cy suggests, then I might have trouble actually caring about her. I know that sounds terrible, but....Anyways, if I can find this one for streaming I might watch it since I love intense movies and Stephen King stories.

    Great job on your writing Weskalia! I really feel like I have a clear understanding of what to expect from this movie, and you did such with clear writing that's also a pleasure to read. :0

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