Tales of Byston Well: Garzey’s Wing

Share This Review!

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing anime poster

DirectorYoshiyuki Tomino
StudioJ.C.Staff, BMG Japan
GenreFantasy, action, comedy (unintentional)
Original run1996 – 1997
Number of episodes3 (OVA)
Purchase DVDClick here to purchase from Amazon.

From the mind of the creator of the Gundam series came a particularly infamous anime called Tales of Byston Well: Garzey’s Wing. It was released during a time when anime was still a niche market and poorly made direct-to-video garbage ended up on our store shelves. Alas, times are different and today’s anime selection is much better than ever.

You know how movies like The Room and Birdemic: Shock and Terror have this unusual quality of being “so bad, it’s good?” Well, Garzey’s Wing can also be classified as such. Even though it wasn’t “tasteless bad” per say, it still ended up on some people’s lists for worst anime of all time.

What we got here is a three-episode OVA that runs about as long as a feature-length movie. And while the original Japanese dub was bad, the English dub (courtesy of U.S. Manga Corps under Central Park Media) was what brought attention to this travesty.

At this point, you might be thinking that I sat through Garzey’s Wing with a negative preconception of what’s to come—and you’d be correct. I already know this anime is going to be awful. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve given a negative review on something (2015 for Alpha and Omega).  And I don’t want to come across as someone who just gives high scores to everything. But we’re going to see how and why this anime is awful.

Stay tuned, everyone! Because a shitstorm is brewing…

 

“From the Byston Well Story”

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Rumiko Nakato

So right off the bat, Garzey’s Wing starts off with one of the worst beginnings for an anime I’ve ever seen. It introduces two characters in the modern world, Christopher Chiaki and Rumiko Nakato… for 30 seconds. We just learned that Chris failed his college entrance exams twice, so he decided to attend a friend’s pool party because… to cool off, I guess?

Chris just leaves on his bike and Rumiko ends with the awkwardly passive-aggressive line, “You are so easygoing!” as if trying to chastise Chris.

Yeah, thanks for the compliment, lady! I shall now angrily reply with, “And you are so attractive!”

…Sorry, what?

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing glowing swan

So while Chris is on a highway and… for some unexplained reason, a necklace he was wearing (which we just learned about) begins to rattle. He thinks it’s the work of some god named Yamato Takeru no Mikoto—or as the English-dubbed Chris calls it, “Yamatotakerunomikoto!?”

Then a giant flashing swan appears out of nowhere and a naked clone of Chris gets carried off by the swan while the other Chris on the bike keeps on riding.

…Again, WHAT!?

Are you starting to see the problem here? This first episode doesn’t bother establishing anything for no longer than a few seconds and it fails to provide context for anything. Aside from completely half-assing the introduction of our characters, shit seemingly happens at random.

Oh, but this is just the beginning! Just you wait.

 

My Ears are Bleeding

So what apparently happened is that the glowing swan thing separated Chris’s spirit from his real body. Then the swan took the spirit over to a fantasy world inspired by medieval… Europe? I have no idea. The setting was so generic that it doesn’t even matter.

Even though the words “From the Byston Well story” briefly appear on the screen, they’re very misleading. Byston Well is not the name of a person. It’s the name of the alternate world, which the anime itself clarifies it’s somewhere in the middle of Heaven and Hell.

…Shouldn’t that be Purgatory then?

But because the anime doesn’t point this out from the beginning. it makes you think it’s the name of some author.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki

So after all this pure mindfuckery, Chris’s spirit abruptly encountered a Ferario (fairy) named Falan Fa and the two ended up on a battlefield… while Chris was naked. And for some reason, there were glowing white wings coming out of his ankles…

So he fights some random soldiers naked and some more random soldiers referred to him as Garzey’s Wing or the “Holy Warrior.” And from there on, this sloppily paced story continues to feed us random bits of exposition while going through some pointless scenes…

Okay, let’s stop here for a bit. In order for you to understand my points better, I want you to watch this bit so you can get an idea what this anime’s problems are.

Getting a handle yet? Okay. Let’s go.

First off, the English dub is GOD AWFUL—out there, I can hear some anime snobs snickering, “But all English dubs are god awful!” But no, this is not some average run-of-the-mill dub. This is a special kind of awful where the anime’s overall voice direction is completely half-assed. The voice actors talk like they’re all asleep and their overall performances sound unnatural. Two characters that are clearly supposed to be young girls both sounded like 30-year old women. There is not a single performance that sounded good—well, okay, Chris’s grandmother actually sounded like a real old lady. But it’s all so bad to the point where they can’t make the act of LAUGHING sound natural.

It’s even worse when no one here can pronounce the Japanese terms correctly, alongside trying to pronounce the fantasy terminology. The botched pronunciations make it even harder to understand what’s going on.

Special mention goes to the voice actor behind Chris, who makes screaming sound weird somehow. Screams like “UWAAH!” or “HUWAGH!” are just hilariously bad. And his voice sounded so same-y throughout, whether he’s supposed to speak normally or yell at the top of his lungs. It just sounds so overly dramatic no matter what situation he’s in.

Furthermore, there were scenes with multiple people talking or screeching, making their lines even more incoherent. Just a lot of NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE!

Combine this dub with a script full of haphazard translations and stupidly worded sentences, you have some of the funniest shit ever. The lines often don’t make much sense and tend to disrupt the flow of conversations, as if several people were translating the script. But no one bothered to read the script after the translation is finished, so no one made the appropriate changes to make it sound more natural.

Well… at least the musical score is passable…?

 

Endless Fighting and Dull Characters

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki and Falan Fa

So here’s the general gist of Garzey’s Wing. This is an anime with an isekai premise made by the creator of the Gundam series. The protagonist somehow has two clones of himself: one in the real world and one in the fantasy realm (who is apparently Chris’s spirit). But they share the same memories and still operate independently from one another.

In the fantasy realm, a group of slaves known as the Metomeus tribe is rebelling against King Fungun (yes, that’s seriously his name). When Chris descends from the sky with the power of Garzey’s Wing, the Metomeus tribe acknowledges him as the Holy Warrior who will lead them to victory. Chris just goes along with it and helps the Metomeus tribe by introducing new technology and war tactics to them, which he gets from the real-world Chris from reading an encyclopedia.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing King Fungun

Meanwhile, King Fungun wants to suppress the rebellion. But later on, he sort of changes his mind when he discusses his plans with his general named Zagazoa (or Zaguzou???) He wants the Metomeus tribe to escape to find some magical MacGuffin called the Baraju Tree, which is somehow supposed to make them more powerful. So King Fungun wants the Baraju Tree for himself.

But then the rest of the show doesn’t make any sense since King Fungun’s forces continue attacking the Metomeus tribe for the rest of the way. If he wants them alive in order to find the tree, why is he trying to kill them?

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki

Furthermore, Chris’s stake in all this is that his counterpart in the real world is getting mysteriously ill because his spirit is fighting in Byston Well. If the Chris in Byston Well dies, the Chris in the real world dies too… supposedly. But the part of this that makes no sense is that Chris in the real world is somehow getting bruises, even though the Chris in Byston Well is not getting hurt.

And somehow, the two Chris clones can communicate telepathically with each other through the bells they wear on their necks. When the Chris in Byston Well first reached out to Chris in the real world, the latter somehow doesn’t react in shock to this incredibly bizarre situation. He just accepts that a clone of himself is talking to him immediately.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki

And the rest of the show is just one nonsensical scene after another. Supposedly, Chris was summoned to Byston Well by a priestess named Hassan. And she intends to make Chris into the Holy Warrior by using eight Earthen Bells and the power of the Baraju Tree. And supposedly, this whole rebellion could have only succeeded during a leap year, but we have no idea why that’s the case. These plot points get lost in a sea of tedious battle sequences with abrupt expositional dumps.

Chris is just a fucking dull protagonist. Through some painful exposition, we only know that he’s “easygoing.” And even though he failed his college entrance exams, he’s somehow a fighting and tactical genius. And that’s just because his real-world self read from an encyclopedia and explained to his Byston Well self. Apparently, he also studied kendo and archery in the real world. But once at Byston Well, he fumbles around like a moron. And through convenient bullshit, he’s able to win his fights (i.e. defeating someone with a broken sword or using a makeshift trampoline to jump high enough to stab a dinosaur at the top of its skull). This kid somehow got skill, leadership and charisma faster than fucking Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates!

The power of Garzey’s Wing is inconsistent. It grants Chris enhanced speed and flight. But it always just appears out of nowhere with no known method to activate it. I’m assuming Chris can gain control of it if he visits the Baraju Tree. Regardless, it’s a very lame power that only seems to grant Chris with a bit of plot armor. Because let’s face it… Chris can either suck at fighting big time or pull off the most bullshit stunts to defeat his enemies. I guess it depends on if the plot feels like letting Chris win.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Falan Fa

Falan Fa is probably the best character in this whole schlock-fest. Other than her character design being better than everyone else’s generic appearance, she’s actually helpful. Yeah, she’s a bit cowardly and tends to complain. Furthermore, her voice can get really grating, especially when she screams her lines. But she actually portrays other emotions other than bored indifference. She can get excited, angry and sad. There’s even a short scene where she weeps about people dying (though it’s ruined by the fact that she’s right next to a horse butt, using its tail as a handkerchief). Furthermore, she’s got a bit of a backstory and she does remain proactive, despite not being able to fight herself.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki and Falan Fa

There’s even one gross-out scene where she helps Chris apply special gunpowder to one of his arrows, using sticky resin that she produces on the roots of her wings. Yes, I know that part is gross but she DID help Chris test out explosive arrows. That counts for something.

But for some reason, almost everyone in the Metomeus tribe treats Falan Fa with disdain just because she is a Ferario. Even Chris sometimes treats her as a nuisance, repeatedly calling her a “little creature.” Hooray for Fantastic Racism! The reason for this was revealed later: apparently, Ferario were mischievous creatures that liked to curse people for shits and giggles. But because Chris accidentally brought Falan Fa with him into Byston Well, she turned good… somehow. Yes, that explanation was fucking stupid. But bottom line, she did nothing but help these ingrates by doing reconnaissance and got little thanks in return.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Leelince

There were subplots that went nowhere: Chris’s true relationship with Rumiko, General Zagazoa somehow knowing Hassan, the discrimination against Ferarios, Leelince’s hinted crush on Chris which randomly ended for no reason, the possible romance between Chris and Hassan and even the construction of guns (which was brought up once and never mentioned again).

Most of the time, it felt like Garzey’s Wing was just skipping across any plot or character development just to get to the fight scenes faster. But even the fight scenes themselves aren’t impressive. They have poor, inconsistent pacing and the animation is sub-par at best.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki

And speaking of which, the art style is quite bland and unimpressive. Every character design, with the exception of Falan Fa (a green-haired fairy in an orange blouse and skirt combo), doesn’t stand out. It’s bad enough to the point where I’m mixing up characters—female warrior Leelince and priestess Hassan, both of which who were blonde and looked similar. Also doesn’t help that the show tends to use ugly shades of green and brown.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing hydra Dragorol

Chris himself looks unremarkably boring. Even the monster designs are generic and forgettable.

And the animation? It’s like this production has the budget of a pawn shop. The lip syncing is awful, sometimes playing voice clips whenever the characters are not even moving their lips. Many of the fight scenes overuse a panning shot of a single frame to simulate movement, and it gets old pretty quick. Not to mention overuse of speed lines. Makes me feel… dizzy…

Even the violence in general is boring to watch. People get impaled and dismembered, but all I can say to that is, “Seen it!”

And whenever the power of Garzey’s Wing appears, the wings on Chris’s ankles look goofy as hell. And what does the prophesied Holy Warrior look like?

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Holy Warrior

Ha… oh god. Nope. Sorry. I thought the Inca warriors in Nazca looked silly, but this isn’t much better. What the hell is up with the damn crotch plate? It’s like he’s got a big golden dick. I… hee hee hee… ha ha ha… someone thought we should take this seriously…

 

Fantasy Terminology and World-Building

So aside from the occasional Japanese terms which the actors couldn’t say properly, we also had to put up with fantasy terminology. Oh, dear. You can’t be Watership Down or The Lord of the Rings, guys. If you can’t clarify what people are actually saying, then don’t use a fictional language!

We need the help of an xkcd comic here.

xkcd Fiction Rule of Thumb comic

Terms like “gauda,” “daragau,” “dragorol,” and “gabajuju” are quite distracting. You can’t just use them immediately and expect people to pick up on them. An important element of a story is clarity. If your target audience doesn’t understand what’s going on from the descriptions and dialogue, then you’re not doing a good job telling the story.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing Chris Chiaki

I noticed that much of Garzey’s Wing spends a lot of time on showcasing war tactics and tools, like how to make fuses and clay bells. And rather than relying on fighting ability, Chris relies on tactics to get the upper hand on the Ashigaba army. This is neat and all, and I appreciate that the protagonist is trying to fight smart rather than using a bullshit power to solve everyone’s problems…

But that is not worth sacrificing the story and characters for! You got to give us a reason to care about what’s going on first! Chris, Falan Fa and the Metomeus warriors are so generic that you don’t give a shit about what happens to them. The dialogue is so robotic and awkward that you wonder if they’re actual human beings (obviously, Falan Fa is a fairy but even she is able to emote more than the rest of those blank slates). And the worldbuilding is minimalist and gives little context about anything. Due to contradictory statements by various characters, you can’t even tell if the world of Byston Well is some spiritual world or planet Earth in another time period.

And seeing as how Chris is a foreigner who happens to come across a world where the people speak the same language as him, the anime tries to handwave this odd inconsistency as “telepathy.” That is just lazy. In an alternate world setting like this, you can’t just do that and expect people to buy into that bullshit.

Furthermore, the setting is just… odd. The Chris of Byston Well claimed that “12th and 13th century foreigners surround me!”, but that doesn’t explain why there are fairies, dinosaurs, horses with horns on their heads (no, they’re not unicorns), and European-looking people.

So after several tedious battles, Chris and the Metomeus tribe were victorious. The Chris of the real world got ill for some reason even though Chris in Byston Well didn’t get injured a lot. But conveniently, his possible romantic interest Rumiko was there to give him energy, allowing him to survive. And somehow, Rumiko knows of Byston Well and even Garzey’s Wing. Bull-fucking-shit.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing ending

And thus, the story goes unresolved while we assume that the Metomeus tribe continues to search for the Baraju Tree. And I guess Chris’s spirit is stuck in Byston Well too.

But in the real world, Chris and Rumiko were on a motorcycle and just so happened to come across the fucking tree along the way. Then, Garzey’s Wing activates, causing the motorcycle to float into the sky, no doubt confusing a lot of drivers on the highway.

THE END.

…What does this ending even mean? Does that mean Byston Well is basically a past version of Earth? And somehow, Chris’s spirit didn’t cross a different dimension, but rather traveled back in time? Eh, you know what. Fuck it. It’s over.

Wow. This is… dumb. I don’t know how else to describe it. What was Yoshiyuki Tomino thinking when he wrote and directed Garzey’s Wing? This guy created one of the most famous, longest and oldest sci-fi anime franchises of all time. But he also created one of the dumbest anime I’ve seen in my entire life!

It’s fine if a content creator wants to try something different and I don’t find fault with it. Maybe Tomino just wanted to try a more traditional fantasy setting and write a story about a prospective college student’s rite of passage. But he’s also gotta know to still apply basic storytelling techniques to make it work. Garzey’s Wing felt rushed to all hell, had a nonsensical story, had one-dimensional characters, had awkwardly written dialogue and had one of the worst anime English dubs I’ve heard in my life.

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey’s Wing was already a bad anime in the original Japanese dub, but the English dub added a whole new depth of hilarity to it. This masterpiece of shit had to be seen to be believed.

So if you’re searching for a good isekai anime, hehe… STAY AWAY FROM THIS ONE.

But if you’re looking for a good time making fun of bad fiction, then Garzey’s Wing would be a good choice for a bad movie night.

Here are some quotable gems, with some commentary from myself. And trust me, there’s a bunch of them. You’re welcome!

Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing

Price Varies
Tales of Byston Well: Garzey's Wing
2.3

STORY

1.5/10

CHARACTERS

1.5/10

ART & ANIMATION

3.5/10

SCORE & VOICEOVERS

2.5/10

Pros

  • A hilariously bad English dub that can be considered "so bad, it's good." That is pretty much the ONLY reason you would want to watch this trainwreck.
  • The protagonist at least tries to fight smart at times, using war tactics over a lame powerup.

Cons

  • Terrible pacing for the story, making it difficult to grasp what is going on.
  • Terrible sound mixing, leading to character voiceovers conflicting one another.
  • The voice actors can't act to save their life. They also end up botching pronunciations for Japanese words and fictional words.
  • The plot is so inconsistent that it opened holes the size of Russia.
  • Most of the major characters are terrible and one-dimensional. Falan Fa (the annoying fairy) is the closest one to showing some damn emotion.
  • Unremarkable art and animation. Terrible lip syncing and dull fight scenes.
Liked it? Take a second to support Orion on Patreon!

Leave a Reply