Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! Special - MapleStory Anime

By Freda Cooper 13.04.2014 1

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! Special - MapleStory Anime
While it's already achieved something of a cult following, the popularity of anime is still on the rise in the UK, especially among children and teenagers, who seem to have less of a problem with the inevitable sub-titles and dubbing than their more traditional parents.

Therefore, Nexon Europe's MapleStory Anime is aiming to capitalise on that growing popularity. A 26-episode series following the exploits of the MapleStory characters, it's already been a hit in Japan and Korea and is set on Maple Island. Curiously, the isle floats independently in the sky - woe betide anybody who falls off the edge - making it tantamount to paradise for members of the Flat Earth Society!

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! Special - MapleStory Anime

The backstory is that the World Tree, which maintained law, order and peace in the world, was destroyed, so everybody fled to Maple Island, where some of the seeds from the tree were supposed to have fallen. The humans were held responsible, so the other tribes - the Warriors, the Archers and the Magicians - all hate them. They are also not too fond of each other, either. Enter one plucky human boy called Al, who is the hero of all the episodes. Thinly disguised with pointy ears and tail, he fanatically trains every day so that he can become a disciple of either Barrow, leader of the Archers, or Gallus, the Warriors' chief. Only one Magician is involved in any of the stories, and that's the capricious Nina, who claims to be their leader and who becomes Al's friend.

Each 20 minute episode centres on a new lesson for Al to learn. They are usually fundamentals, like friendship, bravery, truth, and are hammered home at every opportunity. However, even smaller lessons, like eating nourishing food, get the same treatment, which raises a huge question about the series - exactly who is it aimed at?

The storylines are sufficiently simple to be intended for a young audience - between 6 and 10 probably. Al and Nina are slightly older, but would appeal to them as aspirational. The language used, though, is for a significantly older age group and youngsters would have real difficulty in following the subtitles to the extent that they would probably switch off. As for the older age group, they would likely find the storylines unsophisticated and the preachy style far too heavy-handed.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! Special - MapleStory Anime
The anime itself is typically bright and the characters' faces appear to have been taken from a stock set of expressions to communicate emotion - sweating on the face to indicate nervousness and the like. However, that only really applies to the humans or those, like Nina, with human characteristics. Barrow is a dog-like creature, but on two legs, and wears dark, reflective glasses, so his eyes are always covered, whilst Gallus looks like a relative of the Iron Giant, with tiny, expressionless eyes - all of which makes it harder for them, or their followers, who are mainly rabbits and rock men, to be anything other than two dimensional at the very most.

Sadly, the humans don't fare much better when it comes to characterisation. Al's reasonably engaging, although borderline irritating, spending much of his time running around trying to be stronger and ending nearly every episode with a declaration of "more training!" His mother is a loving saint, who is a great cook, and his absent father is a hero…and that's about it!

Twenty minutes per episode is about right as any longer and the heavy messaging and preachy tone would have become distinctly wearing - regardless of the age of the audience.

MapleStory Anime can be viewed for free here, with new episodes added every Wednesday.

Box art for MapleStory DS
Also known as

Maple Story DS

Developer

Nexon

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (286 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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Comments

It was always disappointing that Nintendo folded on the idea of releasing the DS game in the US and Europe. Then, by the time Nexon was able to move forwards alone, it only had chance to get the game out in Japan before the DS died off.

Here's hoping the same doesn't happen with the 3DS version that's in the works!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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