I’ve played the SRPG this story was based upon. Now when I say ‘based upon’, that means 90% of the story, character, and dialogue from the anime was based upon it. What was the other 10%? Stuff they made up or changed about the original story, for some fool’s gold, I suppose.
This means that you didn’t get the original story or the original plot progression. You got an adulterated version that wasn’t too well put together. The fact that it is still emotionally appealing, means that the original story was 10x better in terms of orchestration and skill. The time constraint of 26 episodes weren’t too bad, but they wasted a lot of time with unnecessary things.
I saw the last 6 episodes and various other character introduction episodes, like Touka or Derihourai, of the anime right after I finished Utawarerumono PC. I’ll give a precise list of a little they didn’t cover. 5 and 6 contains spoilers that should be avoided if you haven’t seen the anime to the end or have not finished the SRPG.
1. Musashi, origin of name and early back story. This was crucial in understanding who Kamyu is and what the “Founder” was. At that point when she is introduced to Hakuro, he has no idea of his past and no flashbacks, except perhaps the fossil one. Now imagine if you saw Musashi calling them ‘otou-san’ and not knowing where she came from. Then you get the backstory of how Hakuro first met Musashi, but in an entirely different setting. Then you piece together the timeline, yourself.
2. Complete and jarring introduction of Hakuro’s identity. They should have showed the second phase flashbacks when they were actually in the location, fighting mysterious jellies. They mixed it up and showed the spoilers first, and then the actual events later. Most of the story plot and events were supposed to make the player question what the hell is going on and why people won’t talk about what they know. Instead, they show the spoiler and then there’s no reason to question companions or care about what happens cause you already know the answer.
3. Removed Touka’s other side of personality. She was the one that mistakenly cut the bridge, not Karura. In the SRPG, she’s always drawing out her sword and putting it back in after a kill. So when I say that she accidentally cut her hand one time in a social situation while sheathing her sword, you can understand what this means.
4. Kuuya’s story got majorly thrown about. She was supposed to be introduced early and her story told as the story progressed, rather than in one introduction episode. The mecha were seen first, then fought, and then you figured out what they were.
5. At the end, it should have been like Planescape Torment where the main lead covers all his companion’s concerns and emotions before finally going to the End. Instead, they somehow screwed that up by first putting him in a seal, then having some ghostly face appear and talk (out of order) to his companions. Eruruw and Aruruw were at the end for a reason. Everybody that came before just built up the tension of the final ending. There was no reason to change that. Also, when fighting the big God being to seal him, he was basically shooting out dark and light magic spells on everybody. Could have had an epic battle there to seal the deal.
6. Niwe was just somebody that likes hunting, not war. He came across Hakuro and set out to trap him. The crazy stuff was stuff they made up about him. He wasn’t that crazy. You don’t even know he is behind anything until you actually fight him and he tells you. Why did you know what he was up to in the anime? Spoiler. Intentional spoiler that destroys the whole point of the story’s introduction of Niwe, then fighting battles in Kucha kecha and the N Tan.
Essentially, there are huge little points that they needlessly removed or changed that made the story much harder to comprehend and prevented the full emotional impact. Probably the most egregious act they did, if you care about the love relationship, is that Eruruw’s contract forbade her from speaking about it or the god. This was true of everyone else who signed a contract, in Hakuro’s company. Eruruw exposed the reason why she never spoke her love, because it was forbidden. Same reason why Genjimaru and others could not speak. They were under contract to a god. So she essentially pretended that she was ignorant and thus spared Hakuro some grief. But you shouldn’t have known about this until the end. So they spoiled that one as well.
Everything made perfect sense in the SRPG, as the gameplay, plot, characters, and dialogue were very consistent in ramping up suspicion and suspense until almost the very end. It was a very satisfying conclusion, on par with Planescape Torment’s ending. I would have forgiven them if they had simply gotten some things out of order, but they intentionally went out of their way to change the plot and battle scene dynamics in order to switch things around. All the material was given to them. Utawarerumono was made as a light visual novel, tactical game, orientated around a story. The anime is like ruining a masterpiece, and they were only partially successful.