Anime Review: Radiant

By Drew Hurley 25.04.2020

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Radiant (UK Rating: 15)


While there have been plenty of Manhua and Manwha receiving anime adaptation in Japan - case in point, the highly anticipated Tower of God coming this Spring season - the prospect of a Manga from a Western country receiving an anime adaptation in Japan would be beyond unlikely. Yet, Radiant has achieved this feat. Originally a Manfra (Manga from France). Tony Valente has achieved the dream of countless foreign Otaku with this tale of a world assaulted by monstrous beasts known as Nemesis, and the Sorcerers fighting against them. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this first season, containing 12 episodes, is available from March 2nd.

Tony Valente wears his inspiration clear on his sleeve. Radiant is classic shonen through and through. Take, for example, the series protagonist, Seth. He has a mysterious past, picked up as a young boy, and taken in by the powerful sorcerer Alma. His past is a mystery, and he seemingly has an inordinate amount of unexplained power. All the hallmarks of a solid shonen protagonist, not to mention he has a dream. To become the greatest sorcerer in the whole world, to stop the monsters that terrorise his planet, and to remove the persecution all sorcerers are subjected to.

This persecution is well demonstrated in the first few episodes. Seth is almost killed as a small child. First by the bratty kids in his town who wanted to play "Inquisitors and Sorcerers," beating the hell out of Seth, thanks to the example set by their parents. Then the parents themselves got their hands on him. Literally almost burning him at the stake. This sort of persecution is normal in the world. Sorcerers are also cursed, each with strange and unique behaviours, from sneezing purple snot, to growing horns. The populous fear these curses, thinking that they'll somehow infect everyone. Yet, these people that hate sorcerers so much, need them to survive.

Sorcerers are the only thing that can fight back against the Nemesis. These are gargantuan monsters that are first encountered as huge eggs that fall from the sky. Awakening from these eggs are a wide range of monstrous kaiju that immediately attack the inhabitants of whichever island they fall upon. The magic - or 'Fantasia' - that Sorcerers can use is the only thing that can injure the Nemesis. Our hero Seth is trying to train himself to take on the Nemesis of the world, and then to find the mythical land of Radiant, where the Nemesis are said to come from and to stop them from returning to the world once and for all.

To start this journey, he has to leave his home. Since he was rescued as a small child by the sorcerer Alma, she has served as his surrogate mother. To head off and leave her is painful, but necessary for them both, and as they have their tearful farewell, she begs just one thing to him: "Swear you won't become a monster." She points him on a path to a land known as the Artemis Institute, a grand flying city where Sorcerers can find sanctuary.


 
In classic klutzy hero behaviour, Seth doesn't get anywhere close to his goal before instead running headfirst into his sworn enemy. Quite literally as he manages to fly his broom straight into the ship of the Inquisition. The Inquisitors are Sorcerer hunters, and this ship is led by Captain Dragunov, the Lynx-Eye. A man who becomes something of a rival/antagonist to Seth in much the same way as Smoker from One Piece. He has a strong sense of justice, but disagrees with the immoral behaviours of his organisation. However, hunting and arresting Sorcerers is an Inquisitions creed, and so he throws Seth straight into the brig, where Seth meets a fellow Sorcerer, Melie.

Melie is a sweet, innocent, and rather ditzy Sorcerer who is working with Doc, a researcher from the Artemis Institute. These two end up becoming travel companions of Seth after this little run-in, fleeing together to the Artemis Institute together, with the Inquisition now hot on their tail. These two other characters are an interesting pair. Doc is introduced as quite the scumbag, taking advantage of the naivety of Melie and Seth, going as far as tricking Seth into signing up as a resident of the Artemis Institute to burden him with a monumental amount of debt. Karma bites hard though when Doc is accidentally registered as Seth's guardian, piling all that debt onto himself. Doc is the comic relief, desperately trying to pay off debt and rake in some cash, along with constantly chasing after the maid at his favourite coffee shop. Melie meanwhile is clearly inspired by Lunch from the original Dragon Ball. A big part of the story is curses, and hers is a split personality. Turning into a ferocious intimidating Sorcerer when enraged.

With the stage set in the first four episodes or so, the rest of the season is spent developing the world and the characters, by sending them off on simple single episode adventures. The huge debt has been piled onto the trio by the king of the Artemis Institute, a Tom Nook-style character and feline philanthropist, the subtly named Master Lord Majesty. And they embark on various requests to try and pay back the crippling debt. Taking on a giant Octopus monster in the sewers, fighting against some corrupt Sorcerers who quite literally… fart magic power at Seth, and taking part in a grand broom race for some prize money. Other than this the rest of the episodes are spent showing Seth learning to master his Fantasia. It's not until the final few episodes that things actually start to get interesting. That's when the story reaches a place called Rumble Town.

It's a shame it takes so very long for things to really pick up, and for some real drama to be injected. Another late arrival at this part is the addition of a decent antagonist. Introduced here is Grimm, a bandaged, grim-reaper-style Sorcerer with a penchant for talking in the third-person and putting himself in fights between Nemesis and Sorcerers. Then there's a very different type of Inquisitor in the stern Konrad Marburg, a cruel and angry man more fitting with the premise of Inquisitors. All of these pieces are converging on Rumble Town alongside our heroes and the forces of Dragunov, promising a decent showdown. But, just as things are about to get interesting, the show closes the curtain on this first collection.

This anime adaptation comes from Lerche, who has a ton of recognisable series under its belt, with a team that knows what it is doing. Having previously produced series like Assassination Classroom, Danganronpa, and Unbreakable Machine Girl. Despite this, there's no much memorable things about the production. The art and animation are all pretty standard fare, though for a shonen, it's strange that the production values didn't seem to go into the combat, instead, they seem to have been spent on realising the magical world. Also on the production front, the voice acting on the Japanese dub is superb, whilst the English leaves a lot to be desired.

On the bonus features front, there are the usual extras that are in almost every series. The clean opening/closing video; two episode commentary tracks with the English voice team; and then there are two major featurettes bundled in with this collection. The first is 'Radiant A Sorcerer's Tale,' a 14-minute featurette with the voice actress of Melie, Caitlin Glass, who also serves as the ADR Director of the series, joined by Alan Dismuke: the man who adapted the scripts from Japanese into English. The pair discusses the series as a whole, along with some of their experiences working on it thus far. The second is 'Radiant Behind the Scenes,' a 24-minute piece that looks at every part of the series. It gives a basic introduction to Radiant, its world and its story, then providing exclusive interviews with some very special guests. The Japanese voice actors for the anime, some of the team behind the anime adaptation, and even the creator of Radiant himself. Best of all, though, this feature includes the self-proclaimed greatest solo comedian of all time - Sunshine Ikezaki - This living incarnation of energy and excitement makes this featurette one of the best Funimation featurettes of all time. It's a shame the whole thing isn't just him screaming at the screen.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

It's surprising to see just how big this series has become, considering there's little here that makes it particularly special… it's not bad, it's a solid shonen, but in a generation where "The Big Three" are finally being lived up to - and arguably surpassed - this feels more in line with series like Fairy Tail or D.Gray-Man. Perhaps it's just yet to hit its stride, and certainly, by series end, it seems much better, but still nowhere near the big names like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer. At this point, it doesn't even live up to Black Clover. Sad to say but this is not the next big thing for shonen fans. Not even close.

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