REVIEW: ‘Record of Ragnarok’ is an Absurd Ride Worth the Watch

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Record of Ragnarok

Record of Ragnarok is a tournament anime that aesthetically hits elements from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and other Netflix Originals like Baki. But this isn’t just any tournament shonen, nope, it has gods and heroes from across human history. The series is outlandish, loud, and very very violent. Based on a manga series of the same name (officially being printed in English by VIZ Media in 2022), Record of Ragnarok is a Netflix Original Anime animated by Graphinica of Hellsing: Ultimate fame, and directed by Masao Ōkubo.

In Record of Ragnarok, we see the God’s Council, a group of gods from across the global and temporal pantheon Every, who review whether or not humans deserve to live for another 1000 years. But after 7 million years of human history, the gods come to the decision that humans are irredeemable and must go extinct. Citing pollution and war (which after 2020 I’m kind of on their page) it looks like humanity’s number is up until the Valkyrie Brunhild proposes to give them one last chance to prove their worth and the gods agree to hold the battle of Ragnarok, a tournament with 13 notable humans from across history against 13 of the most powerful gods engaging in duels to the death. Humanity will be spared if their side achieves 7 victories in the competition. To even the odds, each human is granted the assistance of a valkyrie who transforms into a powerful weapon tailored for their user’s combat style called “Volundur”, at the risk of losing her life if the user is killed.

While the story is extremely thin – humanity needs to win and also look cool while trying to thwart the gods – the fact that the series works in mythological backstory for the individual gods and their pantheons throughout the series is both needed to ground them but also to add more weight to each fight. Additionally, these moments of exposition come with a voice-over and a different art style that breaks up the episodes in a way that allows the tension from the individual fights to build. But where it takes into account mythology, Records of Ragnarok also completely reimagines it.

The best part of Record of Ragnarok isn’t its fight sequences, but its creative take on designing the gods and personifying their godly powers. Additionally, the inclusion of mythical humans and historical figures are done with the same care and creativity. Plus, the crowd features historical figures that add commentary and context to the battles. All of this works perfectly in sync and the additional world-building offered by the 13 Valkyries is an element that brings more to the series. The Valkyries while they support the humans in the fight, have a history and personality all their own. In fact, the fights take ridiculously long to finish because of mountains of exposition and storytelling of the god and human histories, which leaves us with 10 match-ups left to see by the end of the season.

That said, Records of Ragnarok stands out because of its animation style, blending of aesthetics, and the complete absurdity that is packed into character designs. In fact, if I had to sum up Records of Ragnarok it would be a cross between Baki and JoJo’s Bizarre AdventureFrom the ridiculous muscles, giant boobs, and also more traditional anime aesthetics, the series is a blend of art styles that works extremely well. The more absurd the aesthetic the more interesting the battle. But the hyper-stylized characters also come with comedic moments (both visual and otherwise) that balance with action. Whether it’s Aphrodite’s breasts being held by statues because of their size, Ares with his tiny teacup, or the insane muscle contortion of Zeus or a giant Mjolnir that makes no sense, this series delivers on visuals, a great soundtrack with a heavy metal intro, and even some heart. In fact, the last two matches of the series actually tell a story of resiliency and willpower that helps the series go beyond its aesthetic.

When you take any number of screenshots from the series, you can see the fan service, humor, and dedication to art styles that push the body in ridiculous ways. Record of Ragnarok is a fun and wild ride thats only fault is how short it is. With a story that ends just after three matches, there has to be more in store for the series in order to deliver on its overall narrative. That said, what we get in Season 1 is well-worth binging for the animation, the music, and the characters.

  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

When you take any number of screenshots from the series, you can see the fan service, humor, and dedication to art styles that push the body in ridiculous ways. Record of Ragnarok is a fun and wild ride thats only fault is how short it is. With a story that ends just after three matches, there has to be more in store for the series in order to deliver on its overall narrative. That said, what we get in Season 1 is well-worth binging for the animation, the music, and the characters.