Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this before: a select number of special people are gifted with special magical powers. So in order that those gifted youngsters learn to control their abilities, they are brought to a special high school where they are taught to use their powers for the betterment of mankind. Among the new students there is one boy who is, unbeknownst to him, destined for greatness...
Well those of you still reading either didn’t heed my warning or have not read that much “young adult” fiction, or seen any number of shounen Anime in the Magical-high-school-harem genre. Wait, you say I forgot to mention the Harem yet… well if it wasn’t obvious this is a harem anime. The real question is: Does this show differentiate itself from its plethora of peers? Well… why don’t we see.
Let’s start with possibly one of the aspects that I wholeheartedly enjoyed in this show every week, that of the opening music, not so much the OP’s animation, which is nothing spectacular, but the music itself was great. It has a style which I don’t find very often, one that made be almost nostalgic (though for what I’m not exactly sure). I also enjoyed the use of this song as part of the main soundtrack.
I won’t claim to be a music expert however, and you are free to disagree with my taste in music. Though the music was a high point for many episodes... not that it says much.
Now unlike a lot of other shows who use a similar premise and have an especially gifted/ overpowered protagonist, World Break actually gives a reason for the exceedingly great potential of the main character Moroha’s power. Namely that each of the power wielding “Saviors” are actually reincarnated heroes of the past, who have been reborn with the memories and powers of their past lives. Moroha is special in that he has actually been reborn twice, and thus has the powers of both of his previous lives. This was a brilliant choice, one that actually allowed me to excuse what would otherwise have been a patently ridiculous climb up the power ladder for a main character.
Now the whole Reincarnation schtick was probably the most intriguing aspect of the show, allowing for pre-existing relationships, hidden powers and interesting backstories. However while watching I was surprised to find that none of the past “heroic lives” were recognizable mythical heroes. For a show that ostensibly takes place in “our world” I found this fairly odd. I am not docking it points for not doing so, but even without that aspect the whole conceit seemed fairly underutilized, only being there to kickstart the “Harem” and make sure our protagonists had power when required. So overall a fairly unexciting use of an interesting premise.
Ah, the Harem. Just in case you missed the memo, I will repeat it here: This is a Fanservice Harem Show. Got it? So yes, most (not all at least) of the female side characters do end up falling for our good-natured protagonist, Moroha. Now the girls themselves are fairly cliche, with the Hyperactive “Little sister” (in the past life) and the Ice Queen being our two mains. Aside from them there also is the “adorable but way too young one”, the defensive tsundere maid, and the blunt, social dimwit assassin. Of these I found the last two the most interesting, with each having a more complex relationship with Moroha than the rest of his Harem. Overall, not a terrible harem, but nothing really spectacular. The rest of the side characters are mostly a mixed bag, with some that I heartily enjoy like Sir Edward and the Russian Empress, to others I detested (a certain sex obsessed student comes to mind, whose singular gag I despised every time it showed up).
The overall animation, like the cast, is a bit of a mixed bag. The Battle scenes are particularly egregious in this respect, with shot quality going from “This is Epic and really exciting!” to “This is supposed to be exciting, but it looks like a cardboard cutout puppet show.” The show is really not an animated wonder to be sure, and though it has its high points, most of it is really mediocre at best.
Now while it’s true that earlier I said the justification of Moroha’s exceptional power was nice, the way that power is used in the show is far from good. In fact it’s frankly terrible, because they are completely enslaved to a single style of reveal. Basically in every fight, Moroha is outmatched, starts to lose, and then “remembers” a power/ability from a previous life that is more than sufficient to end the fight then and there. It is a blatant and consistent use of Deus Ex Machina, that drains out the tension from every fight. I ended up just waiting until each fight had gone on long enough to allow Moroha to remember his tide-turning ability for the episode, instead of, you know, actually feeling the tension during the battles.
A number of times throughout the series (3 of which I remember distinctly), I started an episode, and ended up having to double check I hadn’t skipped one because the episode started in a completely odd place. One time in particular has the last episode ending on a fairly major life and death cliffhanger, and instead of resolving the issue immediately, the next episode begins, in medias res, with the same two characters engaged in a sexually charged comedic moment. It was a shocking enough jump that it ruined some of my enjoyment right off the bat, making me wonder if there was any attempt to make a consistent thematic story episode to episode, because as it stands the show really doesn’t have good consistency.
So is World Break really all that special? Sadly no. It’s a fairly typical magical high school harem show, with some action, and plenty of “fanservice”. It does have a few interesting concepts, however they are executed so blandly, that it detriments the show more than it helps. I never disliked this show outright, but it is mediocre to the point where I cannot, in good conscience, recommend watching this show in any serious fashion.
World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman can be watched on Crunchyroll, and Funimation in English Sub, and on Funimation with a simulcast dub for subscribers. World Break is based of a Light novel series written by Akamitsu Awamura.
Special thanks to Stanlick for helping make this review as awesome as possible!