Night Warriors: Darkstalker's Revenge

My experiences with anime based on video games have been disappointing in the best of times and horrid during the worst. I am continually amazed at how paper-thin plot lines, utterly inane dialog, and cheesy action sequences can be thrown together in the most mind-numbing manner only to be scooped up by hordes of video game fanatics. Maybe I'm just missing something. Nevertheless, I continue to seek a video game turned anime that will actually prove to be worthwhile entertainment. And while Night Warriors isn't quite the Holy Grail I'm looking for, it's still leagues above anything I'd seen prior to it. Night Warriors takes place on a slightly odd Earth with a mixture of various time periods. There's an interesting blend of everything from 19th century European styles to a civilization based on ancient China to some future-tech science fiction pieces. And surprisingly, it works. The world in Night Warriors is inhabited by Darkstalkers; bizarre humanoid beasts which are shunned by humans (and vise-versa). The series begins with Dimitri Maximoff, a Darkstalker, plotting his return to the Demon World (having been exiled from it). The demon kind are not entirely pleased with this prospect and as Dimitri is about to return, Morrigan Aeslaed appears to do battle with him. During their fight, however, strange robots appear hell-bent on eliminating everything in their path. Dimitri and Morrigan are suddenly thrown into an uneasy alliance to combat this new menace. The focus then shifts to Donovan, a wandering human/Darkstalker who seeks to destroy the Dark in a effort to quiet his own troubled soul. In his travels he encounters a young girl named Anita, who appears to wield a strange power which makes her a target for the beleaguered humans. The two of them band together as Donovan continues his quest. Since it's based on a martial arts video game, there are lots of action sequences as various characters do battle with each other. For the most part the action sequences aren't all that bad, but they are animated in a rather jerky manner. Considering the bright artwork and generally solid production values, this was a very odd choice. I'll admit the action scenes did seem somewhat like watching a video game, but they could have been a lot more exciting with better visuals. I only have two real problems with Night Warriors (aside from the lackluster fighting animations). First, it's really hard to get a handle on who is supposed to be the antagonist. Initially, I thought it would be Dimitri since he's this all-powerful vampire badass who likes to do not-so-nice things like flame-broiling humans and such. But after the first episode he fades into a pretty minor character. It takes awhile for the true nemesis to reveal himself, and even then there are still multiple antagonists to choose from. The real flaw in Night Warriors, though, is the plot. Night Warriors suffers from "characteritis"; that is, using too many characters from the video game. While I suppose fans of the game like to see their favorite character in the series, it leads to a lot of pointless scenes. Scenes with Felicia, Jon Talbain and Zombi could've been axed without affecting one iota of the plot. Even more irritating was the subplot involving Hsien-Ko and Mei-Ling. A lot of time is spent developing a decent history and story line surrounding these two characters only to have it remain totally unresolved at the end. What was the point? In the end, I really liked Night Warriors style and production quality, and some of the characters were pretty interesting, if not unique. But the improper storytelling, confusing antagonists, and pointless subplots detracted from the overall experience. While Night Warriors is the best video-game-turned-anime I've seen yet, as an anime itself it sits firmly in the middle of the pack. The Verdict: * * * (average)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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