Popular Japanese third-party video game developer and publisher Capcom just released their latest entry in their beloved Monster Hunter series, a spin-off titled Monster Hunter Stories, as both a video game and a Japanese animation, or anime, titled Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On. The video game is getting plenty of love, topping the Japanese charts in its first week. The anime, on the other hand, is not.
For those who are unfamiliar with what Monster Hunter Stories is about, it is about the adventures of Lute, Naviloo, Lilia, Ayuria, and Cheval, five friends who live in a village in the fictional world of Monster Hunter. Straying away from the video game’s concept of hunting and capturing monsters, the characters in the anime are more about becoming one with the monsters, raising them as their own “monstee,” and even riding them. Villagers along with their “monstees” work together to take on numerous tasks which include defending their village from monster attacks. It also plays more like a traditional Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) with turn-based battles and world exploration.
If the provided synopsis sounds a lot like Capcom gave Monster Hunter the Pokemón or any kind of monster collection video game or anime treatment, it literally is. Given the animation style and how the stories progress, Monster Hunter Stories is far more light-hearted than previous titles in the Monster Hunter series.
To be frank, Capcom going in such a direction with such a concept was very smart given the popularity of the Pokemón series which is best observed with Pokemón GO. The proof can be seen in the sales numbers. According to an article written by Japanese new outlet 4Gamer and translated by Forbes, it reports that Monster Hunter Stories topped the Japanese charts in its first week. What is amazing about the sales numbers is the fact the game is aimed toward a much younger audience. Games in the series are often aimed at a much older audience and has been catering to such a demographic since its debut back in 2002. To put things into perspective, the last mainline game in the series, Monster Hunter Generations, sold 1,486,488 copies in its first week in Japan alone.
In all fairness, the sales for the game may include many hardcore Monster Hunter series fans who do not mind playing a kiddie game. That is how much fans of the series love it.
Unfortunately, the love Monster Hunter Stories video game received does not extend to its anime adaption. Sadly, Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On is getting panned with mediocre to negative reviews, especially those provided by Anime News Network. According to them, the anime is too by-the-book for what a children’s show should be which does not work with such animes these days. It is as if the animators tried to hard to follow in the footsteps of other animes they are trying to emulate with Monster Hunter elements like the Pokemón series, Digimón series, or even the Yu-Gi-Oh series. It is a formula that has been rehashed over and over again to the point it is mundane.
Hopefully, the direction Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On is pursuing is what the animators and FUNimation are aiming for. If it does get more kids to become fans of the Monster Hunter series, than it has done its job as an advertisement anime. But from what anime communities and websites are showing, it seems only seasoned Monster Hunter fans are watching.
Monster Hunter Stories released on Saturday, October 8 exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS. At this moment, it will remain a Japanese release exclusive. As for Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On, it is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
[Featured Image by Capcom]