Anime about magic academies have not worked as of late with the exception of shows like Witch Craft Works. Last year’s Magical Warfare or Dragonar Academy screamed ‘poorly constructed and generic magic Harry Potter clone thingy’. It’s safe to say that this type of story is very prone to poor writing and being shovelled full of fanservice. Does World Break: Aria of Curse For A Holy Swordsman break this mould? Well…not quite.
The story takes place in a world where magical demons terrorise shopping malls near conveniently placed lakes and magical academies exist all over the world to harness the power of the Light and suppress the Dark Arts [check]. Our main character, Moroha, is an average student with a tendency to be way too relaxed about stuff but somehow possesses a hidden power inside his soul [check]. We have a flash forward to denote that character progression DOES happen but we have to sit through three months of angst to get to that point again [check]. Oh, we have girls vying for his affection and pants [CHECK]. Suffice to say, World Break ticks all the boxes of a harem anime with nuanced magical traits [well I say nuanced, more like BLATANT]. Moroha and his friends Satsuki and Shizuno are remnants of his past lives who found themselves reunited. All the students at this academy [#4930] are here because they have memories of their past lives where they had powerful abilities and it’s the school’s job to tap these resources. Naturally Moroha and pals have above average skill [in fact Satsuki and Moroha were once siblings and have a strong affinity which boosts each others’ powers] and so initiates them into the school’s Strikers brigade. It’s all rather convenient but are you REALLY surprised? REALLY?
World Break ISN’T TERRIBLE. However, it’s furiously generic with tons of things we’ve seen from different magically orientated series which are sadly done better. The fanservice is LITERALLY shoved in our faces a couple of times in the first episode alone when Satsuki and Shizuno spat about their busts and Moroha then throwing out the ‘tactful’ comment that Satsuki is too bony. Nice. It fortunately doesn’t go further than that, the number of awkward falls and gropes are kept at a bearable amount but the vapidness of Satsuki is hard to ignore; but at least she’s good at what she does albeit being arrogant…and annoying. I think what got me more was the questionable voice acting and comedic visuals. There’s one scene where Moroha is comically shaking his head but it looks really odd and it’s accompanied with a bemusing sound byte which made me triple-take. Yeah. Then the Big Bad of the episode’s voice was WEIRD and it didn’t suit his body type which jarred the fight scenes. It all leads to a disappointing first episode.
What makes Moroha different from most is that he can remember ANOTHER life; back from a different time when he and Shizuno were powerful dark magicians. This connects them as well as he and Satsuki from a future time. It’s this connection with Shizuno which keeps me watching; I like Shizuno. No it’s not because of her frontage; it’s because she’s a more complex character then she is first given credit for. Her family owns the school [her brother is the president] and she was taught dark magic from an early age [an unfair advantage] so she can be a guaranteed leader, she is merely a tool in the family’s master plan. Until Moroha came along she had no freedom or drive and found solace only in dreams; it may sound sappy to some but it moved me. I felt sorry and wanted her and Moroha to buddy up; but her brother tries to stop it by ‘bestowing’ an S rank on Moroha giving him the best pay and prestige in the land…at the cost of his freedom and rights. He would become a weapon, not a person. Yeah, it’s all well and good to be super powerful but when the government treats you like some kind of nuke instead of a human being, what good is that? It’s plot points like the two mentioned just now that gave me faith that this show has potential to be alright; it’s not going to be amazing or even very good, but it could be decent. I have hope.
The magic elements of the show are pretty cool too! It has a cool calligraphy vibe with a ghostly incantation which evokes strength and eerieness [and for those thinking that standing still chanting whilst monsters are attacking is stupid, don’t worry, the anime has thought of that!] which is a lot more original than examples I’ve seen recently. I really dug the first four minutes of this show but because of the fanservice and harem elements it quickly began to fall down my pecking order. The animation quality is very inconsistent but mostly lands in the good bin. Diomedea did an alright job in the end but there are times where the drawings look oddly proportioned or a breast is oddly triangular [image three]. It mars the quality of the show somewhat but I’ve seen worse shows in my time so it passes sort of.
World Break is a better iteration of the magical academy harem anime. It’s not the best or even a good example but it’s passable. Despite this being the third lowest anime on my readers’ poll, I rate this higher for the fact that it tries to be clever with its characters. It’s not a powerhouse of plot but it’s something that you could possibly watch if there was nothing else on or you REALLY wanted to watch some magical harem stuff. I’ll stick with this and see if it holds up but I don’t expect greatness.
World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
RATING: CAUTION [Not great, but it’s a reasonable romp mostly.]
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