This is a different sort of anime in the sense that it isn’t really an anime at all. The things that sets Thunderbolt Fantasy apart from other shows is the style of its animation. All the characters are puppets. Most of the settings are small replicas. There is some CGI in it but not much. Most people are set off by the strange puppets whose mouths don’t move that much requiring the puppeteers to make the character who is currently talking move significantly more than those who aren’t.
The series starts off with Dan Fei and her brother being attacked by the Xuan Gui Zong for the sacred sword guard and handle which they carry with them to protect. The sword is called the Tian Xing Jian and was used in a legendary war to drive demon gods away. She manages to get away but her brother dies and his piece falls into enemy hands. Shang Bu Huan is a traveller who is walking through, borrows an umbrella from a buddha statue, and comes across Dan Fei who is being chased for her piece of the sword. He saves her but she is unconscious so he carries her to the nearby shrine where he met a strange man earlier by the name of Gui Niao. The three then go on an adventure to retrieve the stolen sword piece, but first they need to find some more allies.
One thing you will notice is that the names are unpronounceable unless you know Chinese. Knowing how to pronounce Japanese names will do nothing for you here. I found myself calling characters names based on their appearances such as priestess clothed woman or white haired man. However despite this I was still able to follow the story pretty well.
The plot takes several confusing twists and turns. It also doesn’t reveal information until it is needed to further the plot line. The best part about Thunderbolt Fantasy is the fact that it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen next. There is also some humour though not much. Mostly the plot is suspenseful.
I would recommend Thunderbolt Fantasy to anyone who either likes epic fantasy stories similar to Lord of the Rings in the sense that there is a journey based around a mystical object, as well as to people who enjoy different “animation” styles. There is a sequel in the process of being made. I can’t wait until it comes out so that I can watch more of this fantastic story. The major plot of Thunderbolt Fantasy may have ended but there will always be more stories for the protagonist to find himself in.