Tytania is a show that gives high expectations and fails to live up to them. It has so much potential for greatness but ends up squandering them faster than a glue-sniffing MIT grad. If Yoshiki Tanaka, the author of the original novels, were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave right now. But he isn’t, so he has to pretend on his blog that he likes the anime. It’s tough to earn a living.
The story is set in the distant future. Mankind has colonized vast sections of the galaxy, ruled over by a noble clan called Tytania. Although the details of their methods of oppression are not shown, it is implied that the Tytanians rule mercilessly through fear and power. The story begins when a small city planet Euria incurs the wrath of Tytania in a diplomatic incident and has to defend itself against a space fleet led by Lord Ariabart Tytania, one of the four dukes of the Tytania clan.
Most people would refer to Tytania as science fiction, but only because the “sci-fi” brand has been diluted by mainstream audience to include any story set in the future. In actual fact, Tytania has probably more in common with sengoku-inspired medieval operas such as The Twelve Kingdoms than hardcore science fiction like Isaac Asimov. In fact, there is essentially not a single critical element in Tytania’s plot that absolutely requires a futuristic setting, as compared to a true sci-fi story like Planetes where the setting is not merely a gimmick but a direct result of the central theme. Replace Tytania with Tokugawa to see what I mean.
And that is Tytania’s first missed opportunity: sci-fi credentials. Space battle in Tytania takes place in both zero-gravity and zero-logic conditions. All weapons are variants of generic laser guns. Absolutely no care is taken to give the series any morsel of technical authenticity and believability. In contrast, Banner of the Stars, itself more space opera than hardcore sci-fi, paints a much richer universe in its plausible depiction of space combat dynamics within an explicit technological framework.
I suppose this is forgiveable since Tytania’s main draw is supposed to be its character-driven epic storytelling and not abstract technological reveries. Unfortunately, it fails on that count too.
The characters undergo the same inevitable transition from alluring unexplored potentials to generic background fillers of ultimate boringness in roughly the same amount of time it takes for you to realize that the hot blonde chatting you up in the bar is actually a man. There is little depth in any of the characters except perhaps Lord Jouslain Tytania, who himself ultimately plays no important role in the series. I haven’t had any experience with the original novels, but I get the feeling that he is supposed to be the main character and the story is being written to set him up for that role. If true, this would of course help to explain why the story as told by the anime sucks.
The major flaws in the anime can also be attributed in part to the fact that the novels it is based on were never completed. A lack of direction in the story is evident in the second half of the series, in which the producers try desperately to wrap up the wandering plot using a rudimentary climax that only serves to aggravate the feeling that you have been cheated by the tantalizing visions of grandeur promised by the first few episodes. In any case, The Twelve Kingdoms also ended on an incomplete note but nevertheless had an all-round epic run up to its premature death, so it’s no excuse for the shoddiness.
Tytania also suffers from horrendous animation. At this point, it is relevant to point out that its animation producer, Artland, is also responsible for such great masterpiece as Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- and Happiness!, so you can imagine the level of consistency in the animation. The cost-saving techniques aren’t so bad when used in a down-to-earth setting like Bokura ga Ita, but it’s absolutely devastating when attempting to establish a believable sci-fi/fantasy setting.
There is nearly no attempt made to depict the futuristic world of Tytania. There is not a single screenshot I can find in 26 episodes of Tytania that can be described as “epic”. Without proper artwork consistency and setting-appropriate background design, Tytania is basically a bunch of drama queens in funny-looking psuedo European costumes. The whole thing feels more like a theatrical performance on stage than story set in space. That would be completely cool as an intended effect if the characters actually behaved interestingly enough to be the constant focus of the camera. Unfortunately, they remain mostly immobile on-screen to save on animation cost.
Tytania is interesting at the start but suffers a slow and tedious death. It has a sufficiently coherent, if not gripping, storyline that barely manages to drag the rest of its dead weight to the finish line. I am not a person who finishes every show he watches, so the fact that I did finish Tytania does say something (I was really bored?), but then again I watched the whole of Witch Hunter Robin too… *ducks*
Ultimately, the series only serves to make you hungry for something better. My recommendation is to skip the long-winded middleman and go straight for a proper epic like The Twelve Kingdoms, Crest/Banner of the Stars or even Utawarerumono. Meanwhile, I shall continue to pray to the great forces of the universe for a new season of Twelve Kingdoms.