If Bastard!! gets renewed for another season, I hope they improve on some of these aspects.
If you guys haven’t already, check out my in-depth review of the first 13 episodes of this fun Netflix only anime series.
With Dark Schneider making the ultimate sacrifice(kind of), since he knows he can revive—this takes the story directly to the last major battle to protect the last seal held by Princess Sheila that’s keeping Anthrasax, the God of Destruction, from being revived. Episode 14 slows us down from the epic fight of Dark Schneider vs Arshes Nei to prepare the audience for the next series of chaotic events leading up to Abigail versus Dark Schneider and the others.
Episodes 14-19 is all about fighting against creatures holding one of the three “Demonic Treasures.” Dark Schneider makes his miraculous return and fights each of these monsters until they meet Lich, the Eddie with the Satanic Ring. Eventually, all three treasures become one and Abigail uses them to Dark Schneider and crew. The season ends on an abstract cliffhanger where all of the people of Meta-llicana disappear for unknown reasons after Abigail dies.
More Dark Schneider, Less Lucien
Dark Schneider will make or break this show for you. By the end of the season, he defines what is Bastard!! and who is Dark Schneider. If you had some reserves about Dark Schneider being a character you like with his unrelenting and condescending laughs, along with his odd submissive behavior around Yoko.. well, he’s still kind of that. But your view of him should turn a lot more favorable by the end as the plot gets a lot more serious.
Out of all the characteristics that Dark Schneider display, the worst aspect of it all is when the anime leans into the humor of the worst qualities of Lucien. Dark Schneider acting out all of Lucien’s childish behaviors when Yoko berates him is a thought process I can understand, but the kind of humor the creators chose degrades likeableness of the character. Even though it makes a lot of sense for Dark Schneider to act like Lucien in ways, it kind of kills the appeal of what makes Dark Schneider a badass character!
It’s quite subjective, I know.
Not everyone likes the same comedians, right? But we can agree that some comedians are more popular than others, right?
That’s pretty much my thought process about the humor and I’ll elaborate more on it later in this blog post.
What the audience looks to Dark Schneider, he’s at his best when he leans into his villainous qualities. Remember, we are watching an ex-evil character become more unselfishly heroic. When he kills Lynch and pokes Doshi’s eyes out, those are the kind of actions we want to see out of a character like Dark Schneider. It’s characters like Yoko that present the ray of hope within Dark Schneider that scales back his evil tendencies. This clash of two souls sharing a body might be the most interesting aspect of Dark Schneider as it brings in this relatable inner conflict.
“Let’s lean into this Yoko vs Lucien sibling-like dynamic and ruin Dark Schneider’s image by turning him into this submissive crybaby version of Lucien..“
When Dark Schneider’s hubris comes out and his overconfidence gets the better of him, that is where things can get interesting from the aftermath of his decisions. What is most fun about Dark Schneider is when he actually has to dig deeper to win. For example, when he spectacularly pulls out his forbidden magic to kill Abigail and he laughs it off,
THAT IS THE DARK SCHNEIDER WE NEED!
Playing into that inner dialogue of good vs evil is the best Dark Schneider. Couple that with an endless bag of incredible powers with cool rock and roll references for attack names, you have a recipe within a character that you can use over and over that works every time. It’s shonen-like qualities, but with some demented anti-hero flair.
What is Dark Schneider’s most iconic moment? From episodes 1-13, it was Dark Schneider ripping his heart out for Arshes Nei. From Episodes 14- 24, it’s when Abigail blasts Dark Schneider’s limbs away and he’s forced to fight with his upper half of his body. The cliche trope here is that he’s backed into a corner and is forced to do something drastic. The twist on that take is that Dark Schneider is literally missing half of his body. Again, it’s very shonen, but it works.
This is more of a good story telling performance than character performances. The constant misdirection from episodes 21 and on were well accomplished. Balancing between informing the audience, the fighting and the drama taking place might be the best quality of the show.
Drama and tension is essential to hook the audience in!
The plot in the show didn’t feel grim until episode 21, when Abigail survived Dark Schneider’s forbidden magic and sliced off his body parts.
This was truly the first unexpected turn of events that happened, since he pulled out his heart for Arshes Nei.
A dripping and bloodied Dark Schneider standing up and his entire left arm falling off is peak Bastard!!. Backed against the corner and forced to pull out all the stops, it captures the essence of what’s good about this anime. Dark Schneider throwing away his hubris for the serious and darker side to his character is the rated ‘R’ griminess and gore I’ve been wanting the show to lean more towards. It’s the kind of scene that can catapult a character into stardom as an exemplary example of what defines Dark Schneider, defining Bastard!!.
These are the kind of moments where you can tell people “just get to this episode.”
In season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen, it was episodes 19. For season 1 of Demon Slayer, it was also episode 19. For Bastard!!, it’s episode 21. Survive long enough through a series and you can get the ultimate payoff.
Lucien vs Dark Schneider Ideals Collide
At the end of episode 23 as Dark Schneider and everyone else have been KO’ed, we have the cliche trope of an “unconscious morality” scene, where the hero sees the spirit of someone important that calls to some important means to “save the world” or “fight for your friends.” Lucien Renlen calls out to an unconscious and dying Dark Schneider and does just that, except what makes it different is that Dark Schneider isn’t the typical hero that’s going to blindly follow Lucien’s altruistic words—he’s a self-absorbed glutton for world domination and his lust for a harem of women knows no bounds. Rather than be motivated by some peace mumbo-jumbo, his selfish desires to not be sonned by his former underling is annoyingly enough motivation for him.
That’s the selling point of Dark Schneider and why I would watch Bastard!!; because of how differently he handles these cliche tropes.
Throw away that typical shonen hero’s journey and give into something more lust worthy and selfish, that is Dark Schneider. Ultimately, that is the selling point of Bastard!!. Toss away your inner Lucien Renlen and play into your pride and sexual desires. It may not be altruistic and perfect, but it still saves the world—at least your world.
By the beginning of episode 24, Abigail explains precisely the metaphor of Dark Schneider as it relates to Anthrasax. As the God of Destruction slowly gets awakened by the seals being destroyed, the stronger Dark Schneider becomes.
What does this ultimately mean? If Anthrasax empowers Dark Schneider, wouldn’t he want the seals to be broken? Does Anthrasax become an adversary to Dark Schneider’s will to take over the world? Is Dark Schneider Anthrasax?
These are the kind of questions I have for the Anthrasax and Dark Schneider relationship that we don’t get direct answers to. However, evidence by what all the characters say and how Dark Schneider gets a power boost from the darkness, one can have a good educated guess.
Execution of the Drama
Perceiving Dark Schneider’s Abilities
No matter how inexplicable or convenient Dark Schneider’s powers are it’s pretty much built into this 400+ year old character that he has plenty of unknown powers and experiences the audience is yet, aware of. On the flip side, the presentation of how powerful he is from all of his previous battles gives us enough doubt to question how powerful Dark Schneider really is. He is portrayed to the audience to be the the most evil and powerful sorcerer, yet we’ve seen him struggle against all of his previous underlings and Abigail was no different.
After his revival, it’s pretty clear that whenever Dark Schneider got stronger, it can be explained through the God of Destruction being awakened. Whether you think it’s a trivial explanation or a deeper explanation of this building metaphor between Dark Schneider’s strength and its ties to the darkness, it suffices as an explanation.
Tone Setting Moment
It wasn’t until episode 21, where the real drama truly sets in. Abigail survives multiple “he should have died” scenes and Dark Schneider unexpectedly gets his limbs hacked off in an unexpectedly gruesome way. What makes these scenes even more serious and gives off the sense that the stakes are very real is the fact that the supporting characters’ inner dialogue helps draws in the audience to how dire the situation is. These are the scenes and moments that make plot points more epic as those dialogues that gets shown to the audience brings in the importance of the context of the situation. That is what made episode 13 when Dark Schneider pulled his heart out, so epic. The same can be said from episode 21 and onward.
With the tone as serious as it’s been since episode 13, these moments are perfect for relief humor..
Larz as a narrator is very important for the story as he helps convey and dictate how the audience should be feeling and seeing.
After fighting back and forth with Abigail, it seemed like Dark Schneider won as he used a spell to pierce through Abigail. At the end of episode 22, the surprise of Abigail coming back once again was an incredible feat. Creating those moments where it all looked like it was legitimately over when it was not is hard to do.
Doing it for Love & Misdirection
Whether you agree or disagree with Dark Schneider throwing humanity under the bus by picking Yoko over humanity, a decision that her own father couldn’t do, this creates the best mesh of Lucien and Dark Schneider being as one soul. A king has to protect his queen right? No matter how many concubines you may have, there is always one woman at the top.
In the end, as Dark Schneider is fading away in an act of unselfishness, he confesses that himself and Lucius Renlen loves Tia Noto Yoko, creating another typical humorous ending, except Abigail COMES BACK AGAIN!
This is the “how many times is this dude going to come back,” WTF moment?!
With everyone juiced out, Yoko defends Dark Schneider by breaking the ledge that Abigail is on with both of them falling off, creating a proper dramatic ending. Abigail falls off and gets directly impaled. Once he gets impaled, a bright light casts itself over Meta-llicana and everyone starts to disappear in the light.
No one expects Abigail to come back again and no one expects Yoko to sacrifice herself, setting the audience up for a massive cliffhanger as Meta-llicana seems to get wiped out in this giant ray of light.
How do you break the audiences expectations with something unexpected when they expect it?
This was accomplished twice as Dark Schneider and Yoko have their humorous back and forth like everything was over. When the opening music gets played when Dark Schneider destroys Abigail, that’s usually the indicator of an ending. Playing into that expectation is a good way to give misdirection into the story, which the anime successfully did.
Making Sense of the Ending
There’s nothing like an unexplained explosion to close out an arc, while teasing the next big arc. After Abigail gets impaled, Dark Schneider astral projects out of his body, reaching Yoko as she falls. They kiss and Lucien starts to takeover as he watches over them. The scene shifts to Kall-Su and what’s left of the Dark Rebel Army members. He explains that Antrasax went back to sleep and questions the purpose of the God of Destruction.
Umm.. maybe evil-ing?
After the ending credits roll, the story teases some new characters from this secret samurai village that is trying to make sense of the fall of Meta-llicana. They get word of an “intruder.” The intruder at their doorsteps just so happens to be a bloodied Yoko and a bloodied Lucien as she cries for their help.
This scene was probably the most intriguing because everyone wants to know what happened and how they ended up here. We’ll only really know in the next season and there’s the whole “the people of Meta-llicana are missing” part. Where did they go?
What’s interesting to note from this ending credit scene is this samurai is weary that this “intruder” was a Dark Rebel Army soldier. Most likely, these hidden samurais are more of the “peaceful” persuasion. Even with the first season over, we don’t really know nothing outside of Kall-Su.
I’m not too sure how far the creators thought of for the next arcs, but this was relatively a weak ending in terms of projecting the next real big move. It’s pretty obvious that the next big villain is most likely going to be Kall-Su related as his underlings mention that “he has grander” plans. Although, everything is left for interpretation at this point. None of these villains have been very interestingly “depth” worthy. Kall-Su’s role in helping Abigail unseal Antrasax has been rather vague. None of his true motivations have been revealed to this point, so the creators can literally come up with anything and I would naturally buy it. It’s great from the writer’s standpoint, but it lacks depth of appeal from the audience’s perspective.
All I really care about is how everyone in Meta-llicana survived that explosion.
That’s pretty much why I would want to see another season and it’s not really that strong of a reason to be excited about season 2.
We all know that “good” guys always win. With those built-in expectations, its the storyteller’s job to find ways to tip the scale in the villain’s favor and cause havoc to the audience’s emotions. Whether that be killing some side characters or bringing some anger-inducing action upon the heroes. With the help of the plot and storytelling, audience should feel tons of tension when antagonists forces the plot.
When Gara used a little bit of his perversion of making Yoko turning naked when he kidnapped her, that creates a scenario where the audience feels distraught at the situation, compassionate towards Yoko and creates a sense of distaste(in a good way) towards Gara. That’s what interesting antagonists do.
When Dark Schenider and crew fought Doshi, Lynch, Lich and the cyclops, all of those moments felt minor and typical. None of those characters really displayed a quality of terror that the viewer didn’t think the main characters would be able to come back from. Characters have to be at least one of two things: an interesting character or do interesting things.
Lich, the Eddie Moments
There were some cool moments like seeing Gara pour out his heart and almost die by using a risky Murasame Blade power. This was more about making Gara do something important and incredible than anything. The prior fights against cyclops and Lynch felt very generic and cheap. When characters and battles feels like a means to an end without this dark ominous cloud of speculating what that “end” is, you start questioning why anyone would care about what’s happening.
Abigail, the Prophet of Mid
Abigail, one of the four divine kings a.k.a. the Prophet of Hell, sets himself nicely as a good antagonist showing all the hallmarks of being a despicable and despingly good villain—ends up just being kind of “meh.” It all starts with putting the “Accused” spell on Arshes that creates that first mental grasp of—
“You know what? Screw this guy.”
As he sends multiple underlings to fight against Dark Schneider and crew, it builds momentum where Abigail himself, finally fights. It’s not until the “Demonic Treasurers” are really expounded on that leads the audience anywhere interesting.
I get it. The bad guy is going to eventually use these treasures to beat up Dark Schneider and the others.
And then, that is what eventually happens.
What the earlier episodes lacked in this second part was that eerie feeling of some real “ish” going down. Story wise from the logic of each episode building up this crescendo of events, it makes ton of sense. Abigail is that character that is facilitating and driving this plot forward, building towards this looming feeling that he is ready to make an unexpected move. In the end, I think the execution of the lead up to Abigail fighting against Arshes Nei and eventually Dark Schneider could have been presented a bit better.
For example, when Abigail was with the Demonic Treasures with Yoko, he kind of just appeared. Yoko wasn’t even that scared. This was the type of scene where Abigail could have scared the living crap out of Yoko and did some perverted thing to Yoko, drawing up anger from the audience. Instead, it was kind of like—
It’s these kind of moments that felt like the “menacing bad guy” approach could have made it that much entertaining, which would have changed the way how Arshes Nei emotionally reacted a lot more interesting when she arrived.
Wanting to have destruction on the world is as basic as it can get. However, in the back of everyone’s minds, there’s something telling you in your subconscious that “there has to be more to it.” Abigail ends up being more plot device-y and cannon fodder than any character with real depth. Just another evil guy that just wants annihilation, which is fine if he actually does some “bad-assery.”
Does Abigail Do Anything Memorable
Even though Abigail is a very typical villain, a good villain always leaves its mark someway. That is when he inexplicably slices off Dark Schneider’s arm and leg. This was the first true moment where the audience can feel the blood gushing out as the—
“plot is thickening.” And it’s squirting red on my screen.
After being defeated, he comes back once again without the Demon Treasures’ powers. This time, he literally puts everyone in a bind and gets Dark Schneider to reveal that he would rather save Yoko than the world.
This was actually a crucial moment for Dark Schneider because he said the quiet part out loud. Antagonists forces protagonists to build their resolve.
In some cases, the storytelling did us a favor by Abigail coming back from the dead multiple times. Those were a couple holy crap moments that the storytelling helped with.
The first time it made tons of sense because he was using the Demonic Treasures, the second time when he came out looking unscathed, it was truly a W-T-F moment.
From a character perspective, he kind of just came back rather than some strong fiendish and relentless reason to keep push the protagonist’s buttons. His limbs wasn’t dangling off like Dark Schneider was. He kind of just waltz back into the scene like
“Yo, I’m here.”
Abigail severely needed to have good action scenes and an actor that could deliver menacing lines. In Abigail’s totality of dialogue, motivations and actions as a character, he was more bland than anything, which is a shame because there were tons of moments where the writer could have added a little more sauce to the character. However, he did meet his end in epic fashion, in a way no one truly expected him to lose by.
Still Have Issues w/ Humor
It’s a grimy and dark show. At least, that is what it is supposed to be. Sometimes keeping the tension and seriousness of events should be left alone. If you watched a lot of Marvel superhero movies and even DC films, you see this massive shift to making everything comedic. I feel like the show’s creators for this Netflix version of Bastard!! have taken this approach, especially with the Dark Schneider and Tia Noto Yoko relationship.
An Example of Bad Humor
Dark Schneider begs for Abigail’s forgiveness when Arshes Nei is held captive in episode 20. While in the context of how Dark Schneider has been in the entirety of the anime, playing to this over-the-top cheesiness of Dark Schneider pretending to beg to Abigail was a sight I’d rather not have witnessed. Again, having the humor of Dark Schneider become the spotlight of the character is a massive mistake by the creators—at least, in the way that they used it.
There’s a little boy inside Dark Schneider. I get it y’all!
**PAUSE** That sounds weird..
Add in the cheap way Dark Schneider’s Golem just unremarkably punches Abigail, the scene fell flat. With the cherry on top, Abigail reacts in the most unintelligible manner, being duped by a character seemingly being out of character. In the bad guy’s point of view, especially with the typical bad guy hubris, believes that people would grovel when backed into a corner. That’s the obvious answer to explain this scene, but it all starts with the punchline of Dark Schneider turning into this subservient boy.
Just because something makes sense, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be well received by a general audience.
I strongly believe a lot in how you want the audience to view a character. Personally, Dark Schneider is a heroic alpha male that displays anti-hero tendencies. When Dark Schneider acts like a goofy little weasel kid, it just seems so contradictory to that alpha male character that I view him to be. Personality is usually not as important within a main protagonist because the supporting characters help fill in the gaps, where the protagonists usually have simplistic altruistic personalities. In this case,
Dark Schneider’s personality is EVERYTHING for Bastard!!.
With this kind of humor built into the character, it kind of kills the allure of Dark Schneider being this badass character worthy of praise by all the characters and the lust of a harem.
An Example of Good Humor
In some instances, the humor 100% belongs like in episode 16 when Dark Schneider fights against Vivian, the cyclops with the Devil’s Mace. Gara makes a snide remark while speaking with Arshes and Gara gets a ding from Gara. That’s an example of when the humor goes with the flow of the scene considering Dark Schneider’s over-the-top confidence in defeating it.
The biggest difference between this “Gara scene” versus the “Dark Schneider groveling scene” against Abigail is one is of humorous relief and the other is the punchline. If the punchline is always Dark Schneider becoming an effeminate beta male, then what the heck is the point of creating an all powerful alpha dog magician?
I would have been happier with super basic charming cliche humor than make Dark Schneider look like a total pansy..
Another good use of humor was after Dark Schneider defeated Abigail. Split in half and all bloodied up, he had tears for all that happened.. At least, that is what it seemed like until he seemingly spoke his last words that “he fumbled the opportunity to accept Yoko’s offer.” That had to be one of the best written punchlines of the entire show; perfectly timed.
After railing on the Yoko and Dark Schneider humor dynamic, I feel like this punchline was setup for over 20 episodes. It might have been the biggest genuine laugh I’ve had for the entire season. Half dead with only his upper half intact, he cries out of being unable to hit the sack with Yoko.
That’s the kind of humor that embodies Dark Schneider!
It’s an okay show..
Most of my criticisms about Bastard!! have been a mixture of the creators’ artistic choices of humor, execution of certain scenes and the missed opportunities of using Abigail. Leaning into subservient Dark Schneider humor is a terrible look for a character that’s supposed to represent this alpha that has a harem of female booty continuously lusting over him.
It’s hard for me to put Bastard!! above that 7 rating because some of the payoffs in this show isn’t enough to overshadow some of the nagging issues I have with this anime. However, if you can get past the first 5-6 episode, the back half of the episodes where they start fighting Abigail is where the most enjoyable episodes occur. Episodes before the “epic turn of events” in episode 21, could have been a bit better. Some of the scenes were just way too typical and the fighting can come off as bland. Some of the characters’ motivations feel a bit too trivial. Above 7, I can recommend to people with confidence that this anime is good, whereas I only feel comfortable telling people, “give it a shot if you have nothing else to watch.”
When Dark Schneider shows off his incredible abilities and come from behind wit, Bastard!! shines bright. Characters like Arshes Nei, Gara, Yoko and the others provide great complementary pieces to Dark Schneider’s shenanigans. However, there are too many dry parts of the show that puts it at a 6.8/10. It’s not a bad show, but I’m hard-pressed to say it’s a good one either.
There are many fun and fan service-y characters that fill a particular role in the show. All of the main supporting characters enhances the overall quality of the show. The main protagonist, Dark Schneider, becomes very likable by the end.
Abigail lacks depth and has very basic motivations, which makes him come off more like a uninteresting plot device than anything. All of the other villains come off as basic cannon fodder. Characters with good lore like Lich had plenty of potential, but didn’t last long enough to make a noteworthy impression. Episodes 1-13 had significantly better antagonists.
This show has a decent lore and a big enough world where any kind of story is game. When the main plot gets going, so does the tension. The storytelling elements drastically improves as the execution of the fighting scenes against Abigail takes many unexpected turns.
I didn’t have much issues with the animation and thought the overall quality was decent, but nothing groundbreaking.
Source: Netflix, Liden Films