King of Thorn

February 9, 202137/100107811 min
Alt. Name
Ibara no Ou
Release Date
Fall 2009
1 hr. 50 min.
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Art Style
Animation Production
Rating Summary
A film with an incredible amount of energy and potential utterly falls apart due to no plot. The animation is sub-par and lacks anything worthy of praise in general. King of Thorn's terrible CGI animation makes the earliest nineties anime look marvelous. Skippable and universally awful in almost every direction, only watchable if one enjoys torturing themselves.

King of Thorn is a 2009 Sci-Fi Action film by Japanese animation studio, Sunrise. Though this studio has created some very impactful anime series, they’re bound to be some errors within their vast catalog with so much success. While many studios fanbase enjoys their older series, the studio has yet to recapture a massive hit that hasn’t been a sequel or spin-off. Their recent releases have been somewhat lackluster. However, that doesn’t mean their backlog of creations isn’t worthy of people’s viewership, especially for series that aren’t a massive hit.

After a viral infection known as the Medusa virus becomes a worldwide epidemic. To escape from this deadly virus, a handful of people are chosen to be put into a cold sleep, laying in a hyperbaric chamber-like capsule hoping for the future cure. Kasumi, a teenage girl, is one hundred and sixty chosen for this procedure and is guided to a Cold Sleep Capsule Center (CSCD) inside an ancient castle. Though she is unwilling to leave her twin sister Shizuku, she reluctantly decides to go through with the experiment not to harm her sister, whom she cares deeply about.

However, something unexpected happens that suddenly wakes up everyone within the capsules. As Kasumi and the others awake, they notice the beautiful castle is no longer elegant and has turned to nothing but decaying ruins ruled by luscious jungles of trees and strange vines covered in thorns. Not only that, but the survivors soon discover that the entire castle is now filled with strange, dinosaur-like creatures and other monstrous aberrations of nature. Thinking that a significant amount of time had passed since their slumber, they soon realized that their sleep was too short to inhibit these massive changes. Differences changed not only the landscape but also the food chain entirely. As the situation grows deeper and deeper into desperation, the group soon finds out that the problem is far more deadly than ever imaginable.

While the synopsize may seem to be an exciting thing to watch, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The film has correctly used elements from action and science fiction to form an entertaining story that isn’t too compact or too challenging to follow. Though a viewer who’s brand new to the science fiction genre, this story will indeed challenge them, compared to other choices. However, that’s where the positives end and the vast amount of negatives begin.

When one watches King of Thorn, they’ll be wanting something entertaining, and this truly is – for about fifteen minutes or so. As stated above, this film has a great story, but unfortunately, it has no plot. While the Action and Science Fiction scenes are great, nothing supports the story other than tedious, unimportant characters and slow pacing. Another negative aspect is the thriller elements; they’re really bare-bones and even highly predictable. This overall story makes the viewer feel like they’re missing something, or they somehow skipped some crucial portions of the film. It’s a real shame when a film’s story falls into the Peter Pan category, meaning exciting stuff happened, but nothing happened that could connect any of the events.

The Art Style within this film is something to be desired, and that’s a real embarrassment when the art can’t stay consistent. The artwork itself is somewhat pleasing, the characters are nicely designed, and even the backgrounds are adequately done. Though the art style isn’t the best, the color schemes within the scenes are excellent. The well-appreciated location designs entirely make the tension feel more robust than the story is going towards. Albeit the beginning and a few periods throughout the film are decent, the film will suddenly go towards weirdly rendered 3D models and usually out of nowhere, leaving a potentially awful taste in the viewer’s mouths.

If the Art Style was lukewarm, the Animation Production wasn’t any better, if not worse. While some anime films and even live-action use Computer-generated imagery, they usually use it sparingly. Now, King of Thorns didn’t use CGI as sparse as it probably should have, but the bigger problem was that it was sometimes terrible CGI. For a film that makes films from the nineties look more polished, that is a real shame for any studio, let alone any director who oversaw this. Another unfortunate negative towards this film was the use of music, and it’s not memorable whatsoever. The music does change a bit throughout the film, which is a plus, but there’s nothing worthy of this soundtrack.

When it comes to characters within this film, King of Thorn was flip-floppy with them. Their characters are decent, but nothing makes the viewers feel emotionally connected to them or give the viewers a need to care about them. Kasumi Ishiki is the main protagonist of the story and is a participant chosen in the one hundred and sixty people worldwide selected as a potential cure testbed for the Medusa virus. She’s shy and gentle and was first to awaken and overall a fundamental starting character – boring and unoriginal.

Marco Owen is the main male protagonist. He is a fearsome-looking man with a muscular frame and many intimidating tattoos all over his body. Throughout the film, he’s seen as a tough, macho man, and his overall appearance gives the others more than unfavorable views towards him. While there are more characters within this film, these two are the clear focal points that the film cared most towards them. The others have no character arc or even development, which shows that this film was an extensively developed onset of mediocrity.

Throughout this film, the viewer will be questioning why they chose to watch this – and that’s if they make it to the end. There are many holes within the story, clearly due to the lack of a straightforward plot to the terrible looking dinosaur-like creatures. Additionally, adding to the fact that the film jumps around from present to past without any warning and can not only confuse the viewer but can and will derail whatever enjoyment the viewer could’ve had.

If someone is looking at this film thinking that it’ll have a great story or great artwork based on the poster, that’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This film could have been so much better if they focused more on the plot and less on the shock factors, and to be quite frank, it wasn’t that shocking since they can be seen an hour into the film’s runtime. Overall this film is a skippable entertainment piece unless one looks for an example on nothing but what-ifs.

Cody Senpai

Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.

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