Netflix's 'Record of Ragnarok' May Finally Make You Love Anime
Imagine Dragon Ball Z but sacrilegious. Congratulations, you now have a rough idea of what the Netflix original anime series Record of Ragnarok is about. Here are some insane specifics:
Based on the manga by Shinya Umemura, Takumi Fukui, and Ajichika, ROR is the story of gods from every religion ever getting together and deciding that humanity sucks and that they’re going to kill us all. Which … yeah, fair. I’d say we had a good run, but horrible lies are probably one of the reasons why we’re going to be Armage-gone soon, so …
However, eons ago, the gods put a clause into the official Apocalypse manual that allows 13 humans to battle 13 gods to the death, and if we’re the first to score 7 victories, we get to live. The gods put the rule there “as a joke,” but the Valkyrie Brunhilde makes everyone take it seriously by asking, “What are you, chicken? Buck-buck-buck!” This is all established within five minutes of the first episode because Record of Ragnarok’s list of things to mess only includes one entry, and it’s “shit up” instead of “around.”
Before you know it, the first battle is underway, pitting the 2nd-century warlord Lü Bu – enhanced by the power of one of the 13th Valkyrie sisters – against Anime Thor. Technically he’s supposed to be just the Norse god Thor, but … Nah, he’s 100% Anime Thor, right down to the colorful hair, an attire that looks like the result of feeding a D&D manual and a Radio Shack flyer into a 3D printer, and the animest anime weapon ever: A Mjolnir hammer the size of the homemade-gin-bathtub that probably was the primary inspiration for this story.
The only other thing I’m willing to tell you about this battle is the fact that this Mjolnir is also “biological.” As in, it’s actually a mass of pulsating flesh and veins encased in metal, and I’m only bringing up this possible spoiler so I can post this:
Anyway, each battle lasts about 3-4 episodes because Record of Ragnarok is a proud graduate of the “Dragon Ball Z by way of the WWE” school of fighting where everyone spends 90% of their time talking about their backstories, transforming into their “ultimate” forms, and naming their kicks super-extra names like “The Divine Axe.” But that remaining 10% is a shot of pure, uncut awesomeness straight into your eyeballs, and, besides, the non-fighting stuff is equally insane, with a nice additional helping of blasphemy.
Take the story of the Biblical Adam who goes up against Zeus armed with a knuckleduster (hell yeah), and reveals through flashbacks that he hates gods because the Biblical Serpent tried to sexually assault Eve, and when she escaped from him, he framed her for eating the Forbidden Fruit. In court. Where one of the jurors was Cthulhu. Mmmm, sacrilicious!
By the way, not everyone is too cool with deities being turned into Mortal Kombat characters as envisioned by Ricky Gervais. One of the gods featured in the anime is Shiva, who is still very much worshipped by Hindu people, and whose portrayal in Record of Ragnarok actually got the show banned in India. It’s probably why most of the heavenly hitters come from Greek or Norse mythology cause, you know, those don’t literally have a billion followers.
But it’s the human fighters who are the most intense part of the show. Think Adam vs. Zeus is an insane set-up? The fourth battle is fought between Jack the Ripper (definitely the guy you want proving that humanity is worth saving) and Hercules, with future contestants including Nicolai Tesla, Nostradamus, Rasputin, Leonidas, and Simo Hayha, the insane Finnish sniper. I don’t think Hayha is even going to need any help from the Valkyries. They can just stuff him full of meth like that other Finnish superman, and he’ll soon be able to kill Beelzebub… who, by the way, is also going to be fighting in the tournament.
So pour yourself a glass of bathtub gin, put on Record of Ragnarok, and slowly come to terms with the fact that you are now an anime fan. Your official Anime Thor body pillow will arrive in the mail in 5 to 6 business days. No, you don’t get to choose the design. Yes, you are lying to yourself that you wouldn’t have gone with Anime Thor anyway.
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Top Image: Netflix