Back in 2014, Mentat studios looked toward Kickstarter for funding for Episode 0 of their new anime project. Originally planned for a 24 minute episode, stretch goals expanded their goals to 2-3 episodes or a feature length film. However by the end of the kickstarter campaign, they only succeeded in reaching their minimum and partially to their 2nd episode stretch goal. August 2016 rolls around and it is finally out, Under the Dog episode 0 has launched.
Set in 2025, years after a terrorist attack cancelled the 2020 Olympics, a United Nations school now stands where the Olympic site used to sit. Teenagers with special powers, called “Flowers” attend this school. These Flowers had their family taken hostage so they would be forced to follow the orders of the UN intelligence agency they serve. Failure to comply or succeed in their mission not only spells death for them, but their family would die along with them.
And that is all we know of story of the world. Episode 0 does not do much at all to expand upon this. The episode did however succeed in establishing more questions to get the viewer a little more interested, which was essentially what the episode set out to do. We see who the so called villains are and the few heroes, but we never see their motivations. Moreover, we see some special powers in some of the characters but it has not been explained at all where it comes from or what they do specifically.
One area the show does not lack is art. From the Fire Emblem Awakening character designers, the designs of the Under the Dog characters are of the same excellent quality. The action was well directed and time was well spent on perfecting the animation. The show did have a few Michael Bay type moments with explosions everywhere, but this did not detract from what the action was conveying – the Flowers are nothing to joke about.
The soundtrack is on point. It is a fairly typical action movie sounding score, but does an impressive job at adding to the mystery and tension that exists throughout the entire show. Voice acting overall was decent. They used native English speakers for the soldiers but they were not very outstanding. The English voice actors sounds more like they pulled foreigners off the street instead of finding an actual actor. The script for the English speaking characters did not help either.
I did enjoy the show for what it is. As a Kickstarter backer, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be but I do wish there was more. Everything in the trailer – more action, more Anthea, the sweet looking motorcycle – during the Kickstarter campaign was not present in Episode 0 and I wish it was. Anthea was the poster character – a figure of Anthea was even a backer reward – and she saw very little screen time in the episode. The random bit of fan service at the end felt rather out of place in my opinion. Overall I would give it a solid 7 out of 10 and hoping this world gets picked up and expanded upon in the future.