It’s no great stretch to imagine that KING’S RAID: Successors of the Will is based on a mobile game. More specifically, it’s based on an SRPG with character collection elements, which explains both the quest format – it’s essentially a single long journey carried out over twenty-six episodes – and the vast number of named characters who rear their heads during that time. Taking the form of a Tolkien-style fantasy with elves, treants, orcs, and other familiar staples, the story suffers from its extended journey format and competing storylines, one of which is almost always more interesting than the other.
The main plot is that one hundred years ago, King Kyle of Orvelia set out to vanquish the Demon Lord Angmund with the sword gifted to him by Lua, goddess of light. Whether or not Kyle ultimately succeeded or failed is fairly swiftly brought up for debate, because not only did he vanish, his victory was also of exceedingly short duration; one of Angmund’s lieutenants, the sorcerer Malduk, is back and wreaking havoc alongside the fallen priestess Maria, who was once one of Kyle’s companions. Now the heir to Kyle’s power, young apprentice knight Kasel, is out to get the seals on Kyle’s sword unlocked by visiting three of Kyle’s former companions, so that he can finish the job Kyle started a century ago.
As you can see, one hundred years doesn’t really amount to much in the world of King’s Raid. While Kasel, who is Kyle’s son, was kept in stasis in his mother’s uterus for roughly eighty years, the same isn’t true for Lorraine, Dominix, or Pavel, all of whom don’t appear to have aged a minute since Kyle’s day. Lorraine is an elf, which gives her a pass, but Dominix and Pavel look to be human, so that’s a little suspect. In fact, the only major change which seems to have come about is that dark elves are now reviled in Orvelia; previously there were no specific prejudices against them. Their social downfall has come about as the result of a misunderstanding about the dark elf woman who accompanied Kyle; presumably, people took advantage of that to spread lies about dark elves in general.
This brings us to the parallel story of the Dark Edge, a mercenary group of dark elves led by Riheet. All of the members of the group have suffered at the hands of humans and only offered their services to Princess Scarlet of Orvelia in order to infiltrate and destroy the humans, or at least to take their revenge in some way. For most of the series, this is the more interesting of the two storylines, mostly because Riheet and his companions are a more varied cast of characters and a bit less obvious with their motivations. There’s a nobility to Riheet’s motivations that is largely disguised by his PTSD and anger; he genuinely wants what’s best for his sister and his friends and is deliberately setting out to right the wrongs of the past century as far as his people are concerned. Does he always choose the best way to do it? Not really; and at times he can be just as biased towards humans as they are towards dark elves. But there’s more going on with him emotionally than with Kasel and his group, and they present a more varied group of personalities than the presumptive hero. Simply put, Riheet has to recognize not only the problems but their roots and come to terms with them, while Kasel just has to convince people that he’s the heir to Kyle’s sword.
Of course, the Dark Edge is in a less annoying position simply by virtue of not being saddled with Cleo, who is easily the most obnoxious character in the entire show. Malduk may be a mustache-twirling villain, but at least he’s somewhat self-aware; Cleo is found irritating by even her own companions and continually allows her lack of self-awareness to get the entire group into trouble. It may be a slight exaggeration, but it often feels as if Cleo simply exists to manufacture problems for Kasel and the gang in order to drag out the series. Tamm’s role in the Dark Edge may be obvious, but at least the plot gets some emotional impact out of him.
This is not to say that an effort isn’t made to make Kasel as important as Riheet, if not more so. There are clear parallels set up between Kyle’s relationship with his childhood friend Maria and Kasel’s with his childhood friend Frey, and the fact that Kyle had nothing to do with the villainization of the dark elves mirrors Kasel’s own lack of appreciable prejudice. In fact, the implication is that Kasel is more likely to succeed where Kyle may not have because he’s got a more diverse group working with him, something that arises because Kasel harbors only brief delusions of going it alone, whereas Kyle, by his very nature as a king, sees himself more as the ultimate solution, making him come off as a bit overconfident. This sadly falls a little flat in the finale, as we simply don’t get enough information about why Kyle made the choices he did in the end, which cuts the knees out of the comparison between the two. There’s also an attempt to show that the line between light and dark is nowhere near as defined as most of the characters view it – the goddess of light is named Lua, but her dark counterpart is Lea and the Holy Sword is called Aea, which has a clear and direct link to the name Lea. That none of the characters appear to figure this out is an issue, and speaks to the fact that King’s Raid was perhaps more ambitious than well-executed.
While the basic fantasy look of the art is generally fine, some elements of the art that give pause. Chief among them is the fact that Scarlet and Riheet have almost identical coloring; her skin is barely any lighter than his, which makes some of the bias feel a little out of nowhere. Women’s clothing is also a sticking point, as virtually all of them (nearly uniformly buxom) wear tops that are cut away around their breasts, as if no one in Orvelia could figure out how to factor in extra cloth for their jackets when making them. That orcs look more like trolls and treants look pretty damn ugly feel like small potatoes comparatively. The animation does rise to the occasion in the final fight, but otherwise is largely simply serviceable.
King’s Raid is another one of those mobile game-based sword-and-sorcery fantasies that’s a bit too ambitious for its own good. It clearly wants to tell an epic story, but it can’t quite get there, and its open end doesn’t do much for giving us a sense of closure – or even a sequel. It has positive elements, but overall is just mediocre, even in context of similar game-based fantasy shows.
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