Series Recommendation: Yakitori: Soldier of Misfortune

Why do they call us “Grilled Chickens”?
Because we are weapons and expendable.

After many anime to live-action and live-action to anime adaptations, Netflix tried its hands with a novel to anime project. The novel in question is Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune by Carlo Zen – who wrote The Saga of Tanya the Evil. Yakitori is a sci-fi story with 2 volumes that Netflix trusted its adaptation to Studio Arect – who did the CG for Attack on Titan and Yowamushi Pedal, as well as assisting OLM with Shinkalion the Animation. And yes, this anime is fully CGI from head to toe. But don’t let that discourage you just yet!

Yakitori is about a group of expendable mercenaries. Our main character – Akira Ihotsu – is an orphaned boy with a crazy temper but a grand dream. Unfortunately, Earth has been subdued by the Trade Federation – an intergalactic coalition of aliens, and since then Earth has been a “meat factory” for them. Akira wanted to improve his life, but society got in the way because he is a “lowlife” at the bottom of the barrel. That is when he was scouted to be in the Yakitori – a millitary organization in name only. It is a place where people like him who could not rise up the ranks go to gamble with their lives by becoming dispensable weapons for the Trade Federation. Akira joins 4 others as they form Team K321 – a unique Yakitori team unlike any other. And of course, they are immediately shipped to war. Oh and did I mention they are assisted by an AI furry Hatsune Miku? Yep.

+ Plot: The series follow 2 main plotline – one take place in the current time where team K321 is in the midst of a battle and the other is an extensive flashback to when the team first form. Using this dual perspective, the story managed to expand upon the team and its members – interlacing their development with the crazy action that they are currently fighting through. It’s also a refreshing way to build characters: they present the characteristics at the time, then do a flashback to explain why they act the way they do. The series also contain a lot of political and legal talk that adds to the world building, but the character’s delivery of those lines is sorta boring for a lot of the time. And the entirety of the series feels long but in “real time”, it’s only 1-2 days. It’s a very detailed and continuous chain of events. The series could be shorter or expand to more missions, but it is what it is.

Animation: Well it’s fully CG with Netflix money, so you can pretty much tell. But to be fair, only the facial expressions are stiff, the action sequence are pretty well done, considering it has mostly tactical swat action so nothing too fancy or difficult. I can give this a pass. However, Yakitori is a pretty “insane” series in that it consist mostly of animal characters. We have a master-chief dude with a Pug’s head, we have humanoid bipedal mammoth and armies of mice fighting each other. The animation of such characters are quite unorthodox to the eye.

But the plus sign is, we have mecha action – like actual giant robot. We have walking tanks and walking pods like War of the Worlds and such. Those units are animated very well.

Mecha Design: The giant robots have a very western feel to them, with a mix of Metal Gear. They are mostly walkers with a turret on top and other auxiliary weaponry attached all over its body. It’s a pretty decent design job. The armored suit for the Yakitori really remind me of Kicker’s suit from Transformers Energon. It’s quite different from the novel illustration but I do think the anime version is more sci-fi-y. The weapon design looks like they are from an arena shooter game which isn’t bad but quite goofy.

Music: Well, Mozart is canon in the series (yes they literally said so). The ending is literally an electronic remix of one of Mozart’s Sonata. The OP is just an EDM song. Otherwise the series’ OST is average. There’s nothing too groundbreaking but all the BGM fit the series well.

+ Conclusion: Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune is a strange series by Netflix. The pacing is super dragged out and the artstyle isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, the characters and their dynamic are great. The series build up the team one by one, little by little and at the end, they became a real team. The anime feels like they are adapting the novel chapters by chapters, not missing a single beat in the story. Altho there are many aspects that are quite unusual, it’s worth to check out 2-3 episodes to see if it’s up to your taste.

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