Special Preview: Arknights: Prelude to Dawn

Streams: Crunchyroll on Fridays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Anime series which adapt mobile games are hardly unusual in recent years, but I am hard-pressed to think of another one which is based on a tower defense game. Yet that’s exactly what’s going on with this adaptation of a Chinese mobile game. (It has also been released in other countries and does have an English language host website.) Rather than being a prequel or a side story to the main game – as many game-connected series in the last couple of years have been – this one seems to be taking a more ambitious approach: use the rich setting details that the game is known for to play out the game in narrative form. The result is hardly anything special, but it is at least competent enough that it could pull in viewers beyond just fans of the game.

The central (though not necessarily focus) character is the same as the player self-insert in the game: a masked Doctor suffering from amnesia as an after-effect of having been put in cold sleep. (Why the indeterminate-gender Doctor was put in cold sleep is not commented on, but the suggestions are that it was not long-term and done because of some grievous injury or health condition.) In the post-apocalyptic setting the Doctor awakens to, female characters exhibit characteristics of animals or mythological creatures, which is most visible in the form of animal ears; whether male characters also have this or not is unclear, but the one male character shown without a head covering doesn’t have the special ears. There’s also a disease called Olipathy, which allows the use of magic but is also ultimately fatal. Sufferers of the disease have broken into two camps: the violent Revolution, which seeks to retaliate for persecutions, and the more cooperative-leaning Rhodes Island, whose members the Doctor is recovered and protected by.

The game origin persists in a phase-driven feature battle towards the last part of the episode and in how the Doctor, despite the amnesia, ends up directing it. Action scenes emphasize tactical elements than pure mano-a-mano action, and the technical merits supporting the action aren’t bad. The one visual complaint I might voice here is that the animal ears seem more tacked-on than integral parts of the character designs (especially for the bunny girl, who is Rhode Island’s young leader), and the fact that most characters use full-body suits limits animation needs. The setting offers some somewhat interesting setting elements, and there is a sense of a bigger story here, but that is also limited by an overall generic, game convenience feel. The one truly interesting element is the name convention: the U.S. state Rhode Island was originally a colony formed as a secular haven for outcasts, which implies that the group may be a splinter factor of the Revolution.

Whether that’s interesting enough to warrant watch more is another story. This first episode isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t do anything much to warrant attention, either.

3 thoughts on “Special Preview: Arknights: Prelude to Dawn

  1. I say this as someone who has played the game and read the lore: Arknights has compelling characters and story to appeal to people and it has been ongoing for 3.5 years for a reason. That said, I do feel this episode was over heavy on expositon and I still worry about the animation quality.

    Yostar pictures has enough money to fund themselves and they have made excellent 2d and 3d shorts before but not a full series like this.

    Still, by around episode 2 and 3, there will probably be enough to let people see why this game appeals to so many

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One minor point to bring up. Rhodes Island/Rhodos has no connection with Reunion in the game. They are modeled after the Sovereign Military Order of Malta which continues from the Knights Hospitaller and resides on the real island of Rhodes. My guess is that Rhodes Island is meant to be a military force that provide humanitarian aid like the Malta order

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: