With the first episode of this series, we get hints at something big. We're talking an event of biblical proportions, real apocalypse level stuff. There's talk of dragons of heaven, there are mystical weapons and powers, there's even a mysterious princess who seems to be overseeing everything.
Beyond that, we aren't given much in the way of information. The first half of this episode quickly (and I do mean quickly) introduces us to about a half dozen characters over the course of seven minutes. We're given names to most, but beyond that, we don't get much as the episode has to jump to the next character.
The only character who gets any real screen time is Kamui, who, I guess, is the protagonist. He's established as very powerful and isolated. At first, it's implied that he leans more toward the heroic side, but the last few minutes of the episode suggest that it may not be the case.
A lot is thrown at the viewer in this episode and we're not really given any context for any of it. Even "Serial Experiments Lain" did a better job of establishing the main characters than this did, and while "Witchblade" had bizarre stuff going on, it at least gave you some exposition to give you an idea of what was what. Here we have mystical spell papers and shape shifting creatures that appear out of nowhere and take on the form of agents in the Matrix.
I think that this episode would've benefited from a slower pace. If nothing else, it would allow us to firmly establish characters as opposed to knowing nothing more than their name and the fact that they live in a monastery somewhere. The first episode is meant to act as an introduction sure, but this didn't feel like much of one. Hopefully, over the course of time, this gets remedied.
The animation really is quite good. It's nice to look at and the action sequences looked impressive, though they were a bit on the brief side.
The show seems like it has big ideas and it is reaching for something epic, but the 20 minute run time wasn't enough to establish, well, much of anything. I don't want to write the show off completely, but it could have used a more grounded start so that viewers can get a better idea of how this world operates.