Anime centered on MMORPGs aren’t anything new, especially in the wake of the highly successfully Sword Art Online and the less recent but still very influential .hack franchise. So it was with a little hesitation that I ventured into Ixion Saga. Our hero, Kon, is your average sixteen year-old virgin-locked male gamer. One day while playing an MMO he gets hit on by an impossibly hot elf babe and eagerly agrees to help her (without even asking about the specific details, naturally). The next thing he knows he’s been transported to the high-fantasy world of Alma, still sitting in his cheap computer chair.
A lot of fantasy shows in general, beyond just anime ones, spend a lot of time “world-building”. You know, showing off creatures, races, magic, and political details, all as part of the fantasy appeal. A good one will weave this into a story, allowing these bits to be revealed while still primarily focusing on characters and plot in the short-term. Ixion Saga is a show that doesn’t give two shits about all that. Sure, it seems like somebody over there did write and come up with a lot of those typical fantasy details, be it about the world, the various political entities, and even an ancient race of powerful beings called Ixions. But 95% of the time, all of that fluff, even including the fact that Kon is in a different world and should be more distressed or eager to get back home or at least figure out why he’s even there, gets ignored in favor of comedy.
This would be more of a problem if the comedy wasn’t pretty good. Ixion Saga is a show that likes to goof around, both in antics as well as the bizarre cast. Even so, it manages to still feel mostly MMO-ish, with the ridiculous AlmaGear weapons, the adventures, the princess, and the Incognito. But it does fumble a bit trying to juggle mostly-comedy with just a teensy bit of drama. It doesn’t happen too often but occasionally the show tries to build a bit of tension or drama, usually with the politically-motivated wedding of the princess or more often with the Incognito’s attempts to capture said princess before she can have her diplomatically-influenced marriage. Since nobody is ever seriously hurt or in danger it can get a little tiresome when they try this. Thankfully, it isn’t often, and the focus is far more on the antics and encounters and adventures and so on.
For Ixion Saga, you must come for the laughs. If you find yourself getting frustrated that they still haven’t explained why Kon is there, how he can get home, or why the Incognito has been ordered to capture them, well… you’re obviously missing the point. The plot is secondary to the comedy. For the most part, this is acceptable because the show is quite funny. Sure, it relies a bit too much on situational humor and slapstick and the occasional episodic venture, but it’s never bad or boring. Animation is consistently decent, managing to be colorful and accentuate the cartoonish violence and humor, but pleasing and detailed enough when it needs to be.
The cast makes up a big part of this humor, too, and they straddle a fine line between cliché and parody. Sainglain is your typical brawny fighter, the princess is more than a little snooty and tsundere (which Kon points out), and Marian is a bubbly fanservice vehicle… except for the fact that “she” has balls. In fact, balls come up a lot more than you’d think in this series, as there is the early gag that runs the entire series with Kon directly responsible for the permanent testicular damage of their main antagonist (thus giving him an undying vengeful rage motivation). I mentioned Marian was a tranny, and while this does get used in a lot of jokes it is thankfully never the joke itself. Ixion Saga never says “hey look, trannies are funny, let’s laugh!” It’s always “it’s funny that Kon is so conflicted being simultaneously turned on and disgusted by Marian!” The respect, if you want to call it that, for her being transsexual is appreciated, and most of the characters besides Kon tend to shrug it off as if it is nothing special, and even Kon isn’t so much freaked out by her being a dude as he is uncomfortable that said dude turns him on.
Ixion Saga is a lot of fun, though it fails to really ever be stellar. It’s funny and amusing and worth giving a shot, but it never really aims to be much more. This might be a safe decision on their part, as any attempt at more, if not done well, would undermine the humor and disappoint. In light of having a really original plot it favors the jokes and that’s probably smart. The sole season’s worth is just enough to have plenty to watch but without overstaying its welcome. You will either laugh or you will move along. Don’t feel bad, though. I liked it but it isn’t too memorable, really. Still, if it sounds like your kind of humor, do give it a try.
As of this writing, you can watch Ixion Saga DT for free on Crunchyroll.