Ethan has a quiet life by the sea. His wife is having a baby. Ethan can hunt in the forest to keep food on his family's table and for a neighborhood boy who they feed. Though they are not without their problems, Ethan and his small family are growing and loving. This beautiful image goes up in smoke.
A dragon raids Ethan's village, and everything Ethan loves is taken from him. The town is destroyed, and Ethan's wife and their baby have been burnt to ash. The dragon senses Ethan's rage and goes to kill him, but then eats only his heart. The dragon then challenges Ethan to find and destroy him, if he should ever like to join his wife in death. In this world, one who lives after having their heart eaten by a dragon is called an Arisen, and he is joined by the being known as Pawn, who he names "Hannah." They embark on their long journey to slay the dragon, the subject of Ethan's bloodlust.
Bearing Witness to Fragile Human Hearts
Though Ethan/Arisen believes he is helping those who do not have the strength to help themselves, he and Hannah/Pawn have some chilling experiences that reflect some of the darker parts of the human condition. Each episode is named for one of the Bible's seven deadly sins: Wrath, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, Greed, Lust, and Pride. Our heroes encounter people with some sinful relationships to these episode titles.
In the first episode, Wrath, Ethan has his family taken from him. In Gluttony, they come across a village with severe poverty in the shadow of wealth, but when Ethan and Hannah come to the villagers' aid, the watcher is left wondering if they should have been involved. In Sloth, our heroes encounter people with substance abuse issues and the effect on the people that love those addicted. Something that the video game industry gives to anime adaptations are some more cruel situations that would typically be included in a storyline. It gets intense, and this anime is not for children.
A Quest to the Dragon
Adventure awaits our heroes as they take one step at a time and traverse the mountain range that leads to the dragon. As Ethan and Hannah make their way through towns, Ethan's resentment toward the dragon only grows as he encounters community after community that has been touched by the dragon's destruction in one way or another.
One of the things that a lover of anime with adventure themes will enjoy about this is the wide variety of monsters that Ethan and Hannah battle. Of course, their target is the dragon, but on their way, they fight a Cyclops, Griffin, Hydra, Succubus, and more. These absolute monsters of opponents give Ethan and Hannah almost more than they can handle. Though they know what awaits at the end of their journey, our heroes have a lot to worry about before they make it that far.
Eventually, Ethan does make his way to the Dragon's lair, but what awaits him is something entirely unexpected. If he defeats this dragon, Ethan's wife and unborn child will not come back. What motivates this hero has a significant impact on the outcome. And what of Hannah? As a Pawn, it is her duty to help the Arisen, but can anyone save him from himself? Though he has seen fragile human hearts before, he too has his share of hardship and imperfection.
This seven-episode journey is a short season for an anime, but it is perfect for an afternoon of enjoyment. Many aspects of this show indicate that it was based on its original video game. As a pleasant surprise, the animation style that Netflix is using for this 2020 season seems to pair well with that background.
This hero's mission to avenge his wife and unborn child are always obviously at the forefront of his mind. Like other heroes whose journey began with family loss, Arisen has inklings of being a tragic hero. Will his trip to the dragon hold that which he hopes? Is Ethan even the hero at all? We recommend you take a few hours and find out! Let us know what you think in the comments!