Genre: Epic / historical drama / romance / sci-fi
Length: 26 eps
Rating: 12 for complex themes
Score: Excellent

An injured man is found unconscious in the forest by Eruruu, grand daughter of the local healer Tuskuru. With their help, he is nursed back to health. His face is covered by a strange irremovable mask and he occasionally sees beastly visions. Eruruu now cares for him as he becomes accustomed to the village and its inhabitants who all bear strange ears (the women have tails too). Though these people venerate the forces of nature, desecration of an alter forces them to take drastic measures to preserve their lives from the wrath of Mutikapa-sama, guardian of the forest. The unknown man quickly rises in importance as a natural leader who helps those in need.

This is a truly epic story of one man’s life, spread over (probably) a great many years, from his leading of a rebellion against the local corrupt ruler, to his conquering of a nation, through to their conquest of (and defence against) other nations. It’s kinda like what Lawrence of Arabia is to Western film – an epic depiction of events over an extended period of time. And it works bloody well.

The main character gains allies and foes as he rises in importance, each of which (ally and foe alike) have individual personalities and goals. Every character in the series exists for a purpose and their dreams, aspirations and those of their relatives are explored in detail. The depth to which each character is explored is quite incredible in what is a fairly high-level series – the series deals with events on a global scale, but portrays them through the eyes of a select few individual characters.

This series is fairly complex and does take a reasonable number of episodes to “get it”, so I would shy away from showing this to an anime newbie. But for those of you who’ve seen plenty and fancy something on an epic scale, but with the benefits of deep character exploration of nearly every named character, this is well worth a watch.