For decades, manga has been the best source material of them all. The medium contains hundreds of thousands of stories, worlds, magic systems, and much more. It really is the gift that keeps on giving, and animators and filmmakers around the world know very well that if you need ideas, then manga is basically the place to go. Sadly, there is just so much time in life, and so not every manga gets the anime or film adaptation it deserves.
There are countless mangas that have the potential to be wonderful anime series or films, and they can escape the pages of the manga. There are plenty of reasons for all these mangas to not have an adaptation. The reasons can range from not having the resources to do it, or having the resources or not the time. Some projects are just too small and don’t have a substantial fan base, while others are just too big, and they would require a level of commitment that some investors are not willing to take on.
Spriggan is one such manga. Its original run from 1989 to 1996 was received with much praise, and the characters and the world introduced in the series became quite beloved by audiences. The manga was written by Hiroshi Takashige, and illustrated by Ryoji Minagawa. The manga was successful enough to get an anime film adaptation in 1998, in which, Katsuhiro Otomo, was involved in adapting. And it also got a PlayStation game in 1999, but it isn’t until now that the manga is properly being adapted.
Spriggan tells the story of a secret organization called the ARCAM Corporation, the company actually works in the shadows as a sort of security company dedicated to saving the world, numerous times each year. In the world of Spriggan, there are these out-of-place artifacts, that belonged to a previous advanced civilization. The artifacts carry great power and because of it, they are sought by very dangerous people. Our main character Ominae works for ARCAM as an agent, and we follow his exploits.
Netflix has really done something amazing with this Spriggan adaptation. They have hired the services of David Production to adapt the manga, beginning with a season of six episodes that run for about 45 minutes each. This structure is very peculiar, as most anime have episodes of half that length. But when you see Spriggan you can feel that this was the right choice as each of the episodes basically feels like its own story, and they feel quite substantial when it comes to plot and world-building.
The pacing is also quite effective. As each episode is basically a mini film, the progress the characters make in the character development department is quite more noticeable. And episodes don’t have to end just as things are getting good, you actually get to see the building up and the payoff of some of these stories in the same episode. The pacing really makes the show bingeworthy and more than one member of the audience will eat up the six episodes in one sitting.
When talking about the quality of the animation, Spriggan is quite impressive. David Production has been a pioneer in the use of CGI to create 3D models and combined them with 2D animation. Many other studios are also improving on this mix of styles every day, but David Production really is the best at doing it. Spriggan might be quite possible their best job to date, as the stiffness that most 3D models display in other series is basically gone from this one. The models really are quite fluid and have tons of details.
One thing that really is noticeable and makes Spriggan feel totally different from other anime series out there. It is that, David Production has opted to have their character design be closer to the one that was used during the 90s in the anime industry. This kind of design is very distinctive, and it has basically been gone from anime for decades now. Watching these 90s designs made with new technologies is quite impressive, and it really adds to the sensation that this anime series is being made with love and care.
The show isn’t perfect, though. The story follows break-neck pacing that always makes the story feel entertaining and also allows for each episode to feel substantial. But it also goes a bit too fast some other times, especially when the story needs to explain backstories or lore. This is often done while in the middle of some other scenes, and it is difficult to pay attention to both things at the same time. The season also ends in quite a cliffhanger, so don’t start watching this if you are waiting for a resolution.
This first season of Spriggan took a long time to make, and the quality of the results really speaks to why. With this first season ending in such a cliffhanger, it might be a turn-off for some that the wait for a second season could be a long one. As it is, Spriggan could be one of the best Netflix anime originals and one that definitely deserves a watch if you are a fan of the genre.