Monster Strike the Animation is surprisingly fun, and remarkably binge-able
No matter how successful it is, when you hear "anime based on a smartphone game," it's easy to get apprehensive. Even if the game is Monster Strike, a game about monster collecting and battling that has grossed billions of dollars in Japan, your first instinct is probably that Monster Strike the Animation will be nothing but a cheap cash-in that's meant to capitalize on the franchise's fame and then be promptly forgotten. But I have good news: Monster Strike the Animation is awesome AND it's getting a new arc.
The Monster Strike series consists of an omniverse, with characters like Zeus and Pandora in one universe, Arthur of Britannia in a separate one, and archangels like Uriel and Lucifer in yet another. And the first arc of Monster Strike the Animation is mostly about that latter universe. In it, an Angelic Guard helps to protect the heavens against demons from the underworld. And you don't have to wait very long to see some of that rad protecting because the first episode barely gets three minutes in before archangels start blowing up and slicing apart hordes of ogres and ghouls.
And this leads me to one of Monster Strike's greatest strengths: the fight scenes. There is no stilted animation or unenergetic combat as you'd expect. Instead, the archangels and their foes (usually other powerful archangels) rush in like Dragon Ball Z characters and throw down in some of the coolest anime duels that I've seen all year. And with the exception of a comedy episode about Pandora and Zeus...
...you get about one of these clashes per episode. No matter where you are in Monster Strike, there's always been a countdown to extreme angel warfare happening, and this helps the anime to fly by. But it's not just the fight scenes that make the anime so breezy. The storyline, while pretty straightforward and easy to follow, is full of twists that keep things interesting. And while a few of these twists seem pretty obvious from the onset, they don't detract, mainly because the characters are a joy to watch, whether they're hanging out or shooting lasers at one another.
The first batch of episodes concerned the reveal of Holy Magistrate Keter as an evil force that just wants to kill Lucifer and sacrifice Uriel for relatively mysterious purposes. And after, again, a SICK two-on-one fight scene, Keter is destroyed, Lucifer leaves to apparently rule the underworld, and we're left wondering who Keter was working with, and why he was so fearful of Lucifer's rebellion.
Of course, a character promises to explain things at the end of the last episode. But considering that the new arc involves Arthur, King of Britannia, I imagine that it's a cliffhanger that we're going to have to sit with for a while. However, I'm sure that we'll eventually get back to it and its copious angel lasers eventually.
Check out the first twelve episodes on Crunchyroll and stay tuned for the new arc involving Arthur and Excalibur that starts this Saturday. You'll be glad you did.