Final Thoughts: Romance of the Three Kingdoms

A little over a year ago, I introduced the unintentional hilarity that was Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a 1991 series notable for its remarkable cheesiness and incredibly poor subtitles. Now, the series is finally complete but the question remains- was it really worth sitting through?

The answer to that, quite simply, is no, but since ending the post here would render it pointless, I really should go into more detail. As mentioned in the first review, the main draw of this series is not the plot- even Three Kingdoms fanboys will find little to appreciate in this compressed and even more edited tale of Liu Bei and his Warriors of Justice- but the fact that the combination of story and grammatically questionable subtitles made the whole thing into a laugh riot. Over the course of the series, I have tried to point out the amusement in a series of dedicated posts, but as far as actually watching it goes, it gradually became far less entertaining than the posts themselves.

The sad fact is that, whilst it only covers up to the end of the Battle of Chi Bi, ROTK’s poor quality makes forty-seven episodes of it far too much for any one person to handle. It’s amusing at first, to be sure, and even later on there are things to laugh at, but even at a rate of one episode a week (or less), the numerous dull stretches ensure that it all starts to feel like too much. When there is so much better anime out there to watch, there really is little motivation to tackle this Shu-centric attempt at conveying the general story of the Three Kingdoms, especially when you can get a far more enjoyable and equally historically accurate depiction of events from playing one of the Dynasty Warriors games.

Given the fact that it was animated some sixteen years ago, it should come as no surprise that ROTK isn’t the best looking of series. Villains are comically generic and ugly, with twitching eyes that may have as much to do with poor animation as any intentional measures, whilst heroes are equally generic, but at least have large eyes to convey their honest and open natures. From stills to looped footage, every budget saving trick in the book is used- even if you don’t particularly care about looks, it is hard to ignore how poorly drawn it is. Background music is generally bland and forgettable, whilst the OP and ED are done in a cheesy eighties style that ensures you won’t want to listen to them more than once.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, there is no real need for anyone to watch this series, especially now that most episodes have been summarised in individual blog posts. Subjecting yourself to the series firsthand is truly an act for masochists only, for no matter how desperate you are to see Liu Bei et al in animated form, ROTK the anime really isn’t worth it.

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