Confession time: sometimes I watch trashy anime. Because I’m bored, because it’s there, for whatever reason.
Despite the fanservice and harem issues Madan No Ou to Vanadis actually has a decent story to tell, of a type that isn’t often seen in anime.
The series cold opens with lead character in this trashy harem show, Count Tigrevurmud Vorn of Brune, being captured by the War Maiden Eleonora Viltaria of Zhcted after a battle gone wrong. Then it flashes back to show the set up.
An alternate version of medieval Europe with magical weapons basically. Zhcted has seven “dragon gear” weapons that always choose women to be their bearers, these are the War Maidens or Vanadis. The dragon gear is at least partially sentient.
Oh, and Tigre is an archer with an heirloom black bow that should be treated with a great deal of respect.
Someone did their homework
Madan No Ou to Vanadis is clearly set in an era before strong nation states, and handles the resulting mess of feudal loyalties and cross border alliances surprisingly well. The series uses this to drive a complex set of battles in a truly messy civil war with all sorts of external meddling going on.
Along the way, Madan No Ou to Vanadis surprised me again not only by bringing up the historical concept of a “Just War” but by making it integral to Tigre’s story and character growth.
Even better is the recognition that nobles will often confuse their personal interests with the interests of the kingdom, and that a wider view is needed to truly bring peace and prosperity. Alternatively, a strong king that can keep the nobles in line sometimes works just as well. Neither of which is present at the moment.
Not that there’s a lot of peace and prosperity in this series, it’s pretty much all fighting or preparing to fight.
A lot of thought went into staging the battles, and some of the tactical overviews are quite effectively done.
All in all, Madan No Ou to Vanadis tackles a bunch of things that you just don’t see very often, and makes a consistently good job of doing so.
Too much CGI is still a bad look
Have you ever seen one of those large scale computer war games with lots of identical CGI generated units moving in a pack?
Good. Now you know what you’ll be getting a lot of in Madan No Ou to Vanadis. Except that every so often there’ll be a sudden and jarring shift back to cel animation for close quarters work.
It’s a little better than it sounds, but the CGI battle sequences can be quite jarring to watch.
Then there’s the Fanservice
Oh boy. You know how I said that Madan No Ou to Vanadis was a trashy, trashy, show? In between the battles, the interesting political bits, and the character development is lots, and lots, of gratuitous fanservice.
Bad fanservice: as I said earlier boobs don’t work that way.
And the Harem
There are only two redeeming features to the harem aspect of Madan No Ou to Vanadis.
First is that most of the ladies are just as powerful, if not more so, than Tigre and are never reduced to Damsels in Distress. Elen in particular is quite an interesting character, and subtly spends a lot of time as the political mentor that Tigre didn’t know he needed.
Second, even though Defeat Means Friendship is in play in at least one case, there just isn’t time to really deal with the harem plotline. There’s an awful lot of battles and political issues to get through, and it puts a limit on how many hijinks can happen in what is still a short series.
Overall Madan No Ou to Vanadis is trashy fun with a surprisingly solid core of a nasty civil war and a young noble struggling to protect his people. You may not be able to tolerate the fanservice, which is fine because it is excessive, but if you can Madan No Ou to Vanadis is well worth watching. I’d probably be willing to watch a second season should one emerge.
Madan No Ou to Vanadis is available in Australia on AnimeLab.
I’ll wrap up with the impressive OP which catches the martial nature of Madan No Ou to Vanadis extremely well (although I couldn’t find a subtitled version of it).
 Yes, I just went there.
 And if you think I’m typing that more than once you’ve got to be kidding me. Tigre for the rest of it.
 Because if you don’t, the Goddess of Death it’s linked to isn’t likely to respect you either…
 The War Maidens apparently don’t bother with armour. Or, occasionally, clothing
 To be fair it usually isn’t Tigre’s fault
 I have to admit, Elen is quite a slick operator in this respect and well worth watching.