If you’re an anime fan with a Netflix account, then you’ll know the pain of waiting for new series to find their way to the platform. Indeed, you’ll often be left wondering if you should rewatch Sword Art Online or Hunter X Hunter for the fifth time (if you’re anything like me).
Unfortunately, unlike other companies involved in distributing anime (IE Funimation), Netflix tends to wait until an anime has finished its 12 to 24-episode run before releasing it. Such is the case with Ultramarine Magmell.
Ultramarine Magmell is the story of Inyo and Zero, a pair of rescue workers who venture into the dangerous and unexplored continent of Magmell. A landmass filled with all manner of hazardous flora and fauna, Magmell only recently made its appearance in this story’s world.
The anime is based on a manga by the Chinese mangaka Dainenbyo and has been running in Shonen Jump+ (the online equivalent of Shonen Jump) for the past four years. Currently, only four volumes of the manga have been published.
Inyo works as an Angler, a specialized individual who makes a living rescuing the scores of people finding themselves in danger as they explore the mysterious land of Magmell. He also possesses the power of Lacht, allowing him to create simple objects and structures to aid him in combat. However, little-to-no explanation is given of any origins, rules, or limitations of this power in the show.
The episodes are mostly episodic, but there is continuity throughout the series and small hints of an overarching plot that comes together towards the end of the series 12 episodes. Episodes tend to vary in tone between light humor and very dark tones, which can make for some uncomfortable viewing if you aren’t prepared for it.
The characters in UMM are a mixed bunch. Some of them have weighty emotional moments and complex personalities, while others exist purely for comic relief. The most significant sticking point for me is that the side characters mostly only exist to be saved by Inyo and his sidekick Zero. Most episodes revolve around one of the four main side characters venturing into Magmell to complete a task (only for them to be attacked and eventually be rescued by Inyo). However, this isn’t particularly anything new. After all, this is often the formula used in a lot of Shonen.
This isn’t to say that the other personalities are unlikeable, most of the characters in the show have emotional moments, but these are very few and far between. UMM feels like it wants to have an ensemble cast, but the focus on Inyo tends to overshadow the rest of the cast vastly.
Inyo himself is by far the most developed of the group. We progressively learn more about him as the show progresses, usually in the form of flashbacks triggered by the various dangerous situations the young Angler finds himself in throughout the show. The main subject of these memories is Inyo’s former teacher Shuin, another mysterious Lachter that takes Inyo under his wing.
Inyo is presented as an emotionally distant individual, who rarely gets severe and tends to approach everything with a lightheartedness that masks feelings of doubt and abandonment. It’s during impactful scenes that Inyo’s true self is most present. Should his friends or the wildlife of Magmell be hurt, Inyo insistence often lose his cheery demeanor and adopt a more stalwart persona as befitting of a rescuer.
Inyo is accompanied by Zero, his young assistant and fellow Lachter. She takes on a supporting role, often relaying information or using her remote-controlled drone to assist with dangerous situations
Zero, as a character, is the typical little sister type of character. At times, she is annoyingly hyperactive and at other moments, incredibly sincere. It’s only in the latter half of the season that we get to bond with her as a character, seeing more of what brought her and Inyo together as a team.
Design, Dub, And Animation
The anime adaptation of Ultramarine Magmell has been handled by Studio Pierrot. Known for titles such as Bleach, Black Clover, Tokyo Ghoul, and Naruto, they’ve got quite a lot under their belt. Their animation style is vibrant and beautiful, though this is to be expected of a senior animation studio.
The character designs are, for the most part, unique and exciting. The only exception would be a transgender female character who I feel could have been represented better stylistically.
Perhaps my favorite part of the anime is the designs for the wildlife and plants that inhabit the continent of Magmell. Creatures of all shapes and sizes make appearances and remind me of anime such as Avatar: TLA and Hunter X Hunter, which also included similarly odd creatures.
The theme of unknown creatures and a mysterious land also reminds me of Hunter X Hunter Dark Continent. It is described to be almost exactly like Magmell: a hidden landmass filled with dangerous phenomena. It should be noted that UMM was published after the start of the Hunter X Hunter Dark Continent arc. As such, it’s possible that the UMM was inspired by it.
My biggest issue lies with the sound design, specifically the characters’ inner monologues. Whenever a character switches over to thinking internally, their voiceover is distorted. It is uncertain whether this is done to differentiate it from regular speech. Unfortunately, this ends up being very uncomfortable for the listener during these moments, especially when a higher-pitched character such as Zero speaks. What more, this seems to be an intentional choice as the effect was present in both the English and Japanese dubs of the anime.
The English dub cast for Magmell is mostly made up of industry mainstays. These include talents such as Erika Harlacher, Kaiji Tang, and Christina Valenzuela, with newcomer Griffin Puatu voicing lead character Inyo. The performances as a whole are good, and it’s only the sound issues mentioned above that let the show’s cast down.
Ultramarine Magmell is a fun and exciting anime. There’s no doubting that. Unfortunately, its unnecessary comic relief ends up taking away a lot of the charm of the show. The tone of the show quickly jumps between light and dark, making it difficult to watch at times.
The animation style and fight choreography are alright, however, after the first few episodes, there isn’t very much variation in any of the fights. In truth, virtually the same techniques and animations are used throughout the story. Even the main villain of the show has the same abilities as the protagonist Inyo, albeit with a slightly different design and color palette. The final act is where the show tries to pull everything together. Unfortunately, it falls short of any genuine excitement as the main character seems almost impervious to any real harm.
Overall, I feel as if UMM was perhaps adapted into an anime too soon. For one, it’s only in the last couple of episodes that we see any real character development from the two main leads. I can’t help but wonder what the show could’ve been if it’d been developed if there was more content to work with.
If you’re looking for a show to play in the background, then this isn’t too bad of a show. If you’re looking for something with a little bit more engagement and emotional weight, then I’d check out something like Cannon Busters instead.
What do you think of the series? Did you watch it subbed, or did you wait for the dub? Would you be excited for a season 2? Let us know in the comments below. Feel free to contact me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts!