Harry Situation’s 350th Review Special: High Guardian Spice Part 2: “Is Sleep a Food?”
Continuing from the last part, if the characters are badly written at least the voice acting is good, right? Right?
Yeah, the voice acting ranges from passable to the worst my ears have ever heard. The voice actress for the main leads do a decent job, however it was clear the one who voices Rosemary didn't have much direction since she starts the series with this raspy voice and then as the series progresses she sounds normal. It's pretty clear that most of the voice actors are new at this because they sound like they're bored as hell or have no clue what to do. The worst example is a character named Slime Boy. Holy shit, this is the Tommy Wiseau of voice acting. The motherfucker that voices him mumbles so much that I can't understand a fucking word that comes out of his mouth. There is no emotion in his voice. There is no tone or pitch. Just unintelligible noise. What's worse is that he sings too. So on top of being a terrible voice actor he's also a terrible singer. Seriously, go to YouTube, search for Slime Boy and see for yourself.
The writing is really bad. I don't believe I've seen a show with writing this atrocious, and I'm not exaggerating. The very first episode has Rosemary and Sage travelling to their destination for half the episode. I'm not joking. The very first episode felt like filler with nothing happening. We don't learn anything about our main characters. We don't know anything about their families or village. We don't learn how exactly they got accepted to High Guardian Academy. Later on in the same episode Rosemary's locket gets stolen by a small rodent creature. After following the creature Rosemary and Sage watch it use the locket to attract a mate, resulting the locket getting broken. But by the end of the episode Sage's cousin said that they protected an innocent creature. Um, did we watch the same episode? They didn't do anything. When exactly did they do any such protecting? Was there a scene missing where Rosemary and Sage save the rodent from predators or something? See what I mean? There are inconsistencies like that throughout the series. Again, this is shit you notice right off the first episode.
I bring this up because the first episode throughout this review because, for any series, the first episode should be your main selling point to get audiences invested in. If the first episode has nothing to offer, doesn't establish the setting or characters, doesn't get me invested in the plot, why should I care? Why should I keep watching the series?
The dialogue in this show is honestly the worst I've ever heard. It is omega cringe. The very first thing Rosemary says is "We'll fight mermaids, explore crevices, and we'll be totally awesome dudes."
You people have no idea how hard I cringed writing all of that. Unfortunately, dialogue like that is scattered throughout the whole show. The dialogue doesn't come off as natural. It sounds like something aliens trying to pass as humans would say. There's a dream sequence where a younger Rosemary asks her mother if she likes being a guardian, and her mother responds with, "Yes, it is hard being apart from you, from my family, but my guardian vows are sacred, as will yours be someday."
What the fuck!? Where did this come from? Who talks like this?
If you want this conversation to sound natural, then it should have been written like this:
Rosemary: "Mom, do you love being a guardian?"
Mother: "Of course I do, sweetheart."
Rosemary: "More than me?"
Mother: "Wha- where in the world did you get that idea?"
Rosemary: "Because you're always gone. And I miss you when you're gone."
Mother: "I miss you too when I go. But sometimes being a guardian means having to make sacrifices. This means having to leave so I can protect other families from the dangers of this world. But know that no matter how far apart we are I will always be with you, even if you can't see me."
There! Sounds better, doesn't it? Sounds like something two humans would say to each other, right?
What pisses me off the most is that this show breaks the central rule of storytelling: show, don't tell. Much of the conversations are explained to the audience. Sage constantly goes on about how her mother hates new magic, but the question is why? Why does her mother hate new magic? Since when does she hate new magic? When was that ever established about Sage's mother? How about show us a flashback of a younger Sage wanting to explore new magic but her mother catches her and scolds her for it. That way the audience is shown her mother's attitude towards new magic and why she restricts Sage to using only old magic. Or have a flashback showing the audience Sage's mother teaching her about old magic and how it has a personal touch whereas new magic is artificial and it doesn't quite have the same effect as old magic. Hell, later on it's revealed by Sage's cousins that her mother dabbled in new magic. So what made her turn against it? Why not show why Sage's mother resents new magic?
There are many moments scattered throughout the show where the characters talk about what's happened versus showing the audience what is happening. Sage mentions to her cousins that the other students tease her or laugh behind her back because she continues to use old magic, but we're never shown this. Sure I've seen Amaryllis mock and bully her, but what about the other students? Sage specifically said everyone at school. What other students have made fun of her using old magic? I guess we just gotta take her word for it.
Or what about Rosemary's relationship with her mother? She keeps saying how awesome her mother is but we hardly get to see that. We've only been given a flashback and a dream sequence about her. And apparently her mother is a famous guardian. We don't know what she's done to be so famous. Again, we just gotta take this show's word for it. We learn that her mother was once a student at High Guardian Academy, so why not show off her accomplishments? Why not have pictures of her throughout the school of her get the best grades, or all her trophies in various sports, I don't know. Better yet have a statue of her somewhere in the school or the city or something. Have bards sing her praises with ballads of how she alone or with others took down a Lich or how she One-Punch Manned a Tarrasque or something. Show what a legend she is and why Rosemary strives to be like her.
What's frustrating, to me, about this show is the worldbuilding. Now I love worldbuilding. I get ecstatic when I'm thrust into a world so cool, so alien, and so fantastical that I wish I was apart of that universe. I want to explore and experience the world as the characters do. The worldbuilding in High Guardian Spice is unfortunately so lackluster.
Let me share with you two recent shows that do their worldbuilding quite well: Amphibia and The Owl House. Both shows are made by Disney and both have well established worlds. In the world of Amphibia the land is shaped like a giant lily pad and all the inhabitants are anthropomorphic amphibians. As the show progresses we learn that each amphibian species represents a different caste system. The frogs are viewed as simple farmers, the toads act as law enforcement and warriors, and the newts are shown as upper class nobility.
And then there's The Owl House where much of the world is enchanted yet so bizarre, since it is inspired by artwork by Hieronymus Bosch. Seriously, check out his depictions of Hell and how bizarre it all looks. This helps give the series its uniqueness compared to other fantasy shows. Hell, compared to other Disney shows for that matter. They also go into detail of how the magic system works, how witches tend to join covens and there are severe consequences if a witch doesn't join a coven.
What does High Guardian Spice have to offer in their world? Nothing. It looks like every goddamn fantasy world I've seen a hundred times. It has warriors. It has wizards. It has elves. It has dwarves. It has dragons. It has mermaids. It has magic. It has every motherfucking cliche you can think of in every motherfucking fantasy movie, book, game, whatever you think of when you hear the word fantasy.
You know what let's talk about the magic system in this series too. There's this constant debate between old magic and new magic. The problem is that we're not really given much information on what the different between the two. At most I get the gist that old magic is more connected with nature and it takes time to learn versus new magic where all you need is a staff or arcane focus to do the magic without major consequences (sorta). But this isn't explained. Even if it was it wasn't explain, or even explored, very well. Just another thing that this show seems to be vague on.
And speaking of being vague, what the fuck is a guardian exactly? Our main protagonists clearly want to be guardians and they go to a special school to become a guardian, but it's never explained what a guardian is in the context of this world. What does it mean to be a 'guardian'? Why does one want to be a 'guardian'? Is there more than one path to becoming a 'guardian'? Are they meant to protect something? If so, what? The school? The kingdom? The local bank? What does one do when they are a 'guardian'? It's amazing how a show that often explains what is happening they also explain very little.
My friends, I'm afraid it doesn't get any better than this. But I haven't addressed the worst that this show had to offer. Those who may be familiar may already know what I'm talking about and wish to know why I haven't mentioned it earlier. Simply because I've been saving it for the final part of this three part review. Please join me next time on how High Guardian Spice fucks up its own representation, and my final thoughts to the overall series.