Remember that time when Darling in the Franxx and Seikon no Qwaser almost had a bastard baby, but decided to have an abortion when it was clearly too late? Somehow the embryo survived and got raised by Fate/Apocrypha. Then, at the age of 9, it discovered that its upbringer and role model is not the only thing that exists in the world, and learned about Tokyo Ghoul, JoJo and FMA. That baby is Ulysses.
Jokes aside, I may be a bit too harsh on the show in this review, but it reflects my personal opinion and what I saw in the show. Some spoilers ahead, not that you should really care.
Plot: what plot? The plot, as the premise makes you think, is on a level of some pseudo-historical smut fanfiction written by a 12 year old edgelord, except I’ve seen better pseudo-historical smut fanfiction than this. The main idea is that Jeanne D’arc can go Super Saiyan after receiving a kiss from the MC (who is Gilles de Rais, just saying). Those kisses are called “baisers” in the show, which is unneeded and cringeworthy use of French and could make my score lower by a point itself, if only it had somewhere lower to go. Then, apparently, it’s supposed to follow Hundred Years’ War, which it doesn’t really do, only showing fragments of real history in the beginning of the first half of the show. In reality, the show is about people who want to have philosopher’s stone, which is split between MC and Jeanne. At some point the show literally pulls a Franxx on us, with random aliens on spaceships trying to destroy the Earth and everything, though I wonder which came first because apparently the original novel is a few years old. Overall, the story is an incomprehensible mess and doesn’t know what it wants to be at any point of the show, which results in it being either mindbogglingly boring or unbelievably dumb, and I honestly don’t know which is worse. There’s no ending, either, so it ends up being a LN promotion, though I can’t see anyone saying “Yes, I’m going to read this”.
Characters: okay, let me say this straight: this is a show where plot drives the characters, not vice versa. While I don’t think there’s something inherently wrong with it, this anime definitely doesn’t understand what to do with those characters. This ends up in them being randomly in and out in the plot, being pushed on the sides and forgotten as quickly as they made their appearance. Most are based on some historical personalities, but almost none of their original documented traits remain, and in some cases, not even their original gender. Sadly, that’s all there is to them, because the show doesn’t even try to do any characterization, and any kind of development that may happen fails miserably because there’s no character to develop, just a carton cutout. Also, it has an Astolfo from Fate/Apocrypha. I mean, he looks, dresses and behaves like him, but he isn’t Astolfo. Amazing, isn’t it?
Art: is horrendous. While the first episodes were decently animated, the quality rapidly declined in the second half, to the point where anime almost fully consisted of panning stills and ugly CGI soldiers in the end. The worst part that stills weren’t even drawn properly. Montmorency’s character design gave me cancer. Cute lolis were the only thing that kept me going, guess what, one got in-universe sudden boobs and ass expansion. Apparently that’s a thing.
Sound: voice acting was average, the opening song was fine, the ending song (well, 10 of them, it has a new version in almost every episode) was good, and the background music wasn’t really noticeable. I can’t really say much about it, but it’s definitely the strongest part about the show.
Enjoyment: trainwreck but it was fun to make fun of it on Discord. It’s not the good kind of fun, though, as you feel your brain is slowly dying. Some scenes were rage-inducing, for example, MC saying “I want to save the girl I love so go fight for me” and army of peasants going berserk easily slaughtering professional full armored soldiers after that. Thoroughly unenjoyable even ironically.
Overall: no/10, almost the worst TV anime with normal length episodes I’ve ever seen (Lord of Vermilion from last season still exists). Go watch literally anything else and it probably would be better. Or try this – I don’t even want to call it a trainwreck because there was no train to begin with – and maybe you’ll like it, although I certainly didn’t.
History has a famous name and it’s Joan of Arc. As a heroine of France, she’s a peasant girl that became a commander with a level of charisma that few could match during her era. She's a village girl that became a legendary figure. But Ulysses is far from a legend. It’s a show that deserved to be burned by fire.
That may be a harsh thing to say and it pains me to actually mention it. But as someone who enjoyed the author’s previous work (The Ambition of Oda Nobuna), this was nothing short than a damnation. You’ll probably want to know the who, what, how, and why. And make no mistake, prepare for disappointment.
For starters, you should discard any historical facts about the show altogether. This is more of a mixture of fantasy, history, action, and drama thrown together. While many people may have heard of Jeanne, few probably know of the name, “Montmorency”. As the main male protagonist, I question his motives as an alchemist. In the beginning, he tries to discover the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone. The man has potential to create a world without pain and suffering after what he’s been through. The actual result ends up with him summoning a Fairy Queen. Her name is Astaroth and she promises to teach Montmorency on how to become a Ulysses. What is a Ulysses? In their world, it’s a supreme being with unimaginable powers. To be honest, having a set up like this already sets off a lot of red flags.
As for the story’s plot, we don’t meet Jeanne until after going through a background story about Montmorency and his childhood friends. The most prominent is Arthur de Richemont, who happens to be his secret love. The first episode spells doom for these kids when Richemont is seemingly killed while Montmorency experiences the reality of war. While I dare say the author made a memorable impression of the tragedy event, it didn’t make me care much about the main characters altogether. There wasn’t much chemistry between the protagonists and Montmorency hasn’t been established as a character. Why should I also care about Richemont besides her name and social status? However, I don’t want to sound too off base since that’s the early portions of the show. In the preceding episodes, we finally get to know Jeanne d’Arc, the titular main character. And oh boy, that red flag sailed high in the air.
I know this show is far from historical accurate but Jeanne’s debut is also just dreadful. It’s far from paying a homage to the historical figure when she has blonde hair and also a childish personality. As a 12 year old, it’s hard to care about her beyond what she brings into the show. It doesn’t also help that the majority of the cast are also much younger than their historical counterparts. But when she becomes a Ulysses, her child persona disappears and becomes a completely different being. It’s like an inner demon awakens inside of her and makes Jeanne into a killer. Only in this show, they seem to portray her Ulysses persona to be some sort of heroine. The way I see it, Jeanne feels like a weapon of war rather than a person. While she does have a personality, her character lacks morality when “saving” people by resorting to killing. She sees Montmorency as someone to trust in after they establish a bond with each other. But to me, there’s little more character bond than an alchemist and his partner. Sadly, the show’s character relationships are poorly written with little creative thought. The childhood friendships between Montmorency, Richemont, Charlotte, and Philip gives off a pseudo-harem stench that hardly develops anywhere. Then, there’s Astaroth (who isn’t even human) so her lack of common logic at times is thrown out the window. Weak character bonds and chemistry made the cast look like poor actors on a stage. If we talk about other characters with status, there’s guys like La Tremoille. As a sadistic human being, it doesn’t take long for the man to reveal his true colors and his intentions against Jeanne. And by this point, I knew pretty much every antagonist in this show is more like disposable waste.
Luckly, there’s something in it for fans who are interested in seeing a well-polished war story, right? After all, the show does take place during the 15th century when France and England were engaged in warfare. Unfortunately, I’ll have to be the bearer of bad news. Challenging myself to watch this series with a focused mind was tough when it’s just bloodbath slaughter on the battlefield. In later episodes, I find less and less devoted to see who would take the French throne. Even some of the more noticeable characters like La Hire feels out of place. Seriously, who wears that sort of shaggy outfit with twin barrel guns? I think the author went over their head to make the characters look fashionable but it came out as nearly unbelievable. Oh and be prepared for a host load of fan service in the form of kissing. It’s not just a soft gentle kiss either as many scenes show French kissing with tongue and saliva. Don’t mistake that as romance though as it’s more of a process necessary for the plot device of the show. Studio AXsiz has a mixed reception of their projects and to be honest, this anime can join that list too.
I get it now. I think what the show wanted me to experience is some sort of war story with emotions and character struggles. What I got instead is a show with poorly adapted historical figures that almost feels like an insult to the real Joan of Arc. I’d advice from committing to this show unless you’re absolutely curious about Mikage Kasuga’s work. Avoid this like the plague and don't look back.