Maintaining the Balance with Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle

*Major Spoilers Warning

Well, that was a shocking ending! Never would I expect that a light-hearted anime to have such a tragic ending. True, both the Light and Dark Kingdoms were destroyed and pretty much everyone died, Phios went insane. But there’s still hope as the world was reborn and the Prince of Darkness was reincarnated meaning the others can be too. But before we talk more on this, let’s get to the recap!

Series Recap

Based on a popular mobile game, Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle tells the love story of Iris (CV: Yui Horie), the Queen of Light and the nameless Prince of Darkness (CV: Yuuki Kaji). The world is divided between light and darkness with the Black Kingdom surrounded by a dark wasteland. While the Light Kingdom is up in the sky on a floating continent filled with green fertile soil and light.

The story begins with the lad who comes to be known as the Prince of Darkness growing up in a normal village when his village suddenly comes under attack by monsters. Naturally, everyone dies in the attack, leaving the lad to bury them. As he is burying them, the lad is approached by Skeers (CV: Atsuyoshi Miyazaki), a fallen prince. Touched by the boy’s ideals, Skeers provokes the boy into fighting him with a sword. Just before he dies, Skeers instructs the boy to go to the capital to meet Vallus (CV: Katsuyuki Miura) and declare to him that he is the new Prince of Darkness.

Meanwhile, up in the sky, Iris is fighting the army of darkness with her head knight, Phious (CV: Shōgo Batori) and her best friend, Sheama (CV: Chise Nakamura) and their armies of mages and knights. Defeating the monsters, Iris goes back and continues with her royal duties. The story continues with the nameless boy training under Vallus and finally earning the title of Prince of Darkness after beating Adel Batinder (CV: Kengo Takanashi) in a tournment run by Groza (CV: Una Nagisa), a noble. Groza then assigns the pair to deliver a truce agreement from the King of Darkness (CV: Susumu Akagi) to the White Kingdom to deal with the threat of Bahl (CV: Shōzō Iizuka).

Eventually, Iris and the Prince of Darkness meet and Iris agrees to help deal with Bahl. After Bahl is dealt with, the two sides start bonding and Iris and the Prince of Darkness fall in love. However, this peaceful truce does not last and both sides end up in a war. Forcibly separated, the pair seek to reunite and fufill their promise.

Plot/Themes

Okay, so plotwise, there wasn’t any particular overbearing issues with it. The story flows well and the pacing is relatively good. I also like how they told the prince’s and Iris’ story as two separate story lines until they meet. The problem is the first half as it takes too long for our main couple to meet. I think the staff should of axed the prince’s origin story and had it as a flashback which would allow more bonding scenes between all the characters and more romantic scenes with our main couple.

Addtiionally, the ending left fans of the story with a “What the hell!?” kind of reaction. Mostly, because some viewers were expecting the ‘happy ending’ route where everyone comes together to kill the bad guy and the two kingdoms join together in peace. This is good in the sense because the show defied viewer’s expectations. However, this also makes the ending tragic and disappointing because everyone either died or their fates were left unclear. Phious’ fate is also particularly tragic. Moreover, there wasn’t enough exposition such as the King of Darkness’ backstory or how the White Kingdom obtained the progenitor rune in the first place.  

Bear in mind that this anime is based only on the prologue chapter of the game. So if there is a second season, it will probably follow the main story arc where we get those answers. Conversely, since the global release was cancelled, english viewers can only rely on the Japanese game to get their answers. It also feels like the purpose of this anime was to advertise the game.

Animation

Regarding the animation, the entire anime was of top quality. The studio behind it Studio Project No.9 did an amazing job with the background and character designs. Iris’ and the Prince of Darkness’ designs are stunning. However, Adel’s sheek design stole my heart. It is cooler and markedly different from his game counterpart.

Star Tanuki
Star Racoon Dogs

The monsters designs range from adorably cute to creepy. However, the King of Darkness’ design is slightly cheesy, but still terrifying all the same. Bahl’s design is incredible though and I think he should have been the real final boss. 

Characters

Character-wise, most of the characters had really defined personalities, despite not having their backgrounds explored.With the Prince of Darkness, the only thing that irked me about him was the fact that he didn’t have a proper name in comparison to the rest of the characters. However, I quite liked his quiet and thoughtful personality and how he became really passionate towards the end. His ideals are also appealing as he wishes for everyone’s happiness and believes light and darkness should work together instead of fighting each other.

Prince of Darkness and Iris
The Prince of Darkness and Iris, Queen of Light

Iris is the kind and wise Queen of Light. She is strong, noble and caring. However, she is plagued with doubts about her role and whether she can keep the balance. Even though she has companions who love her, she often feels alone and has the weight of the world on her shoulders. The only time she opens up is around the Prince of Darkness which makes their relationship really sweet. True, there isn’t any avert love scenes like a kiss between them, one can really feel the love between them.

Then you have the three siblings, Phious, Sheama and their little brother, Theo (CV: Takuya Iwabata). Phious is the oldest brother and is the leader of the White Kingdom’s knights and is the epitome of a white knight. He is brave and strong, straight-forward to a fault and fiercely loyal to Iris. However, he can also be childish, emotional and has a fierce temper, especially when he feels betrayed. While Sheama is the middle sibling and the strong dependable leader of the mages. Sheama was also a candidate to become the Queen of Light along with Iris, until Iris got the role. However, she doesn’t hold it against Iris, or so it appears. Then there is Theo who is the youngest sibling. He is kind-hearted and innocent and honestly wants to become strong enough to protect his home.

Vallus
Vallus

On the Black Kingdom side, you have Vallus, Groza and Adel. Vallus is a knight in service to the King of Darkness. He is the opposite of Phious in that he is older, more mature and has more worldly experience than him. While he is loyal to his king, he is not blindly loyal to him and is aware of his King’s many faults and secret aspirations. He also has his own motivations in serving him and in helping the Prince of the Darkness to become king. He illustrates this point to Phious during their duel when he cautions Phious about his absolute loyalty to Iris,

“Concern for an individual is like a heat-haze: once shaken, it is easily dispelled.”

Meaning “having too much concern for someone makes you blind and that you should focus on yourself more.”

Groza
Groza

Then there is Groza who is a noble who serves the King of the Darkness. She helps the Prince of Darkness earn his title and falls in love with him after he saves her life. She is arguably the best girl because she still tries to help him, even after he has rejected her. She is also slightly jealous of Iris because the prince is in love with her.

Adel
Adel Batinder

Adel is another intriguing character. He is another Prince of Darkness candidate who has had a rough life. While he normally acts laid-back and carefree and gets along with others, he is secretly very angry with the world and is jealous of the White Kingdom’s prosperity. He is also very observant and is willing to betray and back-stab others to get what he wants. He also hates that he has no choice but to serve the King of Darkness.

Finally, we have the wild card, Bahl. Now, Bahl is a very powerful creature. He is known as ‘World’s Egoism’ because he is selfish and cares nothing for the lives he ruins. He also only desires power and wants to rule everything. In contrast to the King of Darkness, Bahl is just more open to his desires than the King of Darkness. Ironically, it is Bahl who is ultimately the protector of the balance as his attacks on both kingdoms prevented one kingdom from getting the upperhand over the other. With’s Bahl sealing, the King of Darkness uses the opportunity to raise his army to destroy the whole world.

Music

The music in Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle is rather amazing. The background music by Taku Iwasaki highlights the contrasts between the two kingdoms. Iris and the White Kingdom are sumbolized by a lot of sweet and gentle flute music, while the Black Kingdom uses a lot of dark, ominous music. As well as tragically sad piano music.

The opening theme song, “Tenbin -LIBRA-” (天秤-Libra-, Balance -LIBRA-), is an incredibly amazing gothic rock ballad sung by Takanori Nishikawa (T.M. Revolution) and ASCA. While the ending theme song, “through the dark”  by Rei Yasuda is a sweet romantic pop ballad about both Iris and Prince of Darkness’ search for each other.

Summary

Overall, Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle is a pretty good series. It is entertaining and it has a lot of positive things going for it. I will definitely watch it again and if there is a second series, I will gladly watch it! Just to find out the answers to my burning questions.

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