Nemeses—powerful and mysterious demonic entities that fall from the sky and vaporize anything they touch. The only ones who can combat these creatures are Sorcerers, those who have survived an encounter with a Nemesis but were infected in the process. Seth, a Sorcerer from Pompo Hills, sets out on an adventure to exterminate all these Nemeses. Accompanying him are Doc and Mélie, fellow Sorcerers who share his ideal. Their main objective is to bring about a world where Sorcerers are no longer persecuted for being infected, and to that end, desire to destroy the source of the Nemeses themselves: the mythical Radiant. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Oh no, Radiant isn’t a perfect adaptation! What has the world come to?!
We get it. This isn’t one of those anime that will meet our expectations by adaptation standards. From the beginning, I’ve heard of comments about how the anime changed the tone of the story and even the way the main protagonist has been adapted into it. For the sake of this review, it will be based from an anime viewer’s perspective. I’m not going to go into the French series to look and compare every episode to see what was wrong with it.
Now with that mushy stuff out of the way, you may be wondering what exactly is Radiant. As a French comic, there’s actually not much difference to tell between this and Japanese manga. Artwork resembles shounen style characters with a fantasy world setting and even the speech patterns. Not to be judgmental but I think it’s pretty clear that Radiant is aimed for a wider audience. The story takes place in a fictional world where monsters exists. Known as “Nemesis”, they are creatures with catastrophic powers that fell into the world of humanity and causing devastating damage. A young man named Seth survived the catastrophe and vows to hunt down the Nemesis as a Sorcerer and one day hope to bring peace in their world. So begins his quest to find the legendary Radiant, the origins of the Nemesis.
I’m not going to lie, the first few episodes had me bite my lips a few times. Essentially, I see Seth as a brat who may be easily be the type to die young. His recklessness and daredevil personality from the start makes him hard to follow. Not to mention, he isn’t very talented in the art of magic as demonstrated by his flying skills. The only move in the boy’s arsenal that makes a difference is his signature “Titan Punch”. But if you look just a bit carefully, it’s pretty much a shounen-style punch powered up with a signature pose and name shout. That’s damn disappointing. To make matters worse, Seth isn’t exactly a Brainiac either. The boy is so eager to prove himself that he puts an entire town in danger just so he can show the world what he can do. Looking back now, I can easily say that Seth is nothing short of a dumbass.
Now, don’t worry. This show isn’t just about Seth as the adventure begins to take off after around 5 episodes. After all, it’s his quest and we follow him on his journey find this “Radiant”. On his quest, Seth encounters new allies named Melie and Doc. Now, both of these characters made a different impression to me. For instance, Melie is a bit naïve and too friendly as a girl. Sometimes, I could easily say she’s inattentive. A plot device also reveals that her personality can change into a much fierier badass when under distress. With this type of character, it’s not hard to make us wonder about the importance of her split personality. However, the anime plays it out more of a comic relief and after you’ve seen it a dozen times, it quickly becomes stale. On the other hand, Melie does make a valuable asset for the team as she seems to be a skilled Sorcerer with defensive abilities. This is a contrast to Doc, the researcher who comes off as absolutely useless in their adventure. Driven as an anti-fighter, Doc tries to avoid danger whenever possible while trying to woo Miss Melba, a café waitress that he seems to be in love with. With this oddball group of adventurers together, what could possibly go wrong?
Actually, there’s a lot of wrong things about Radiant that could have been executed much better as a story. At its very baseline, I feel like the story took way too long to get us to care about it. Most of the first few episodes made me dislike the main protagonist for his childish personality. It’s very easy to find Seth irritating along with his questionable logic. Think about some of his actions and it’s not far from those of an underage teenager. Additionally, the story itself seems to be running around in circles without getting the viewers emotionally attached to it. I’m not going to lie, before I even began watching this show, I thought there would be at least some emotional value. The premise almost made the show sounded like a tragic story but instead, we get a cartoony version of a fantasy quest. It took far too long to get the show moving and by the time the gears really started kicking, it’s too late to turn back. Believe me, a story like this really needed a likable protagonist but Seth is about as one dimensional as he can get. He’s far from a larger than life character and an incredibly difficult to tolerate with his personality. The other two on his journey are hardly any better. Melie is too nice as a girl and hard to really talk about besides her split personality. Doc is pretty much the butt monkey in the show where it’s easy to point fingers at how useless he is. However, there are some supporting cast that I want to address as discarding them would be unfair.
To start with, Alma is a character that I grew interest in after seeing her wisdom. She is not only a Nemesis Hunter but also a skilled Sorcerer while serving as a parental figure for Seth. The show could have taken the opportunity to build more between their relationship but instead, she is pretty much left over after the first episodes. Then, there’s Grim, the mysterious figure that our adventurous trio encounters. I was intrigued by his debut but over time, I didn’t find his character to be appealing at all. The fact is, we don’t know his true agenda in the show besides lending in some occasional help to the protagonists. Now, what about the Inquisition? Every fantasy anime like this needs a military group and government to control their world, right? To be honest, I feel like there’s little creativity put in for such an organization. They seem to have a prejudice against infected people and made up of ranks among its staff to carry out their goals. If you’re familiar with military organizations, then it’s easy to recognize some of their ranks such as general, colonel, commander, cadet, etc. Unfortunately, the show falls short on investing into the higher ranked characters. Guys like Dart Dragunov and Konrad are easily forgettable. The latter even seems to play the role of a stereotypical commander who abides with its organization’s goals. At some point in the show, I question if the Inquisition were hiding something beyond what they seem to be. For a 2-cour show, that didn’t really seem possible with such pacing. Now that brings back to my original point. This series suffers not just pacing problems but the way it made its characters. None of them are worth investing into and in the long run, they are too damaged to be repaired.
Adapted by studio Lerche, their resume is a bit questionable when people talk about their fantasy projects. Anime like Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut and the more recent Shichisei no Subaru were mediocre at best in terms of production quality. Judging on Radiant by itself, there’s hardly anything eye catchy about the visual quality either. The character designs gives off a blend feel between shounen and fantasy. Meanwhile, the Sorcerers themselves are decorated with some degree of distinction. (see Melie) Then, there’s Seth, our reckless protagonist who possesses inhuman characteristics such as his horns. The battle choreography in the show remains fluid on some levels although it’s nothing spectacular. Trust me, once you’ve seen the first fight, it almost feels like you’ve seen them all. On the other hand, I do praise the world fiction of the show. It’s not only crafted with a decent amount of fantasy elements but also reinforces the importance of its setting through storytelling.
Let me just say that Radiant could have been a big hitter or at least make a strong impression for a foreign project outside of Japan. It should have at least tried to get the audience’s attention. The key word here is “tried”. Because the reality is, Radiant didn’t manage to capitalize on what it advertised. Instead, it’s a show that threw away its chances and made itself look like a fool.