The Empire of Corpses, also known as Shisha no Teikoku, is a science fiction steampunk anime by Wit Studio and released in 2015. It is set in an alternate reality in the 19th century London, 100 years after Victor Frankenstein had created a way to reanimate corpses. Within one century, the corpses technology has improved to the point that they are being used in daily life labour and war. Although these corpses are inserted with a fake soul, they can’t speak or think and only do stuff that they are programmed, using ‘Necroware’ software/hardware.
The main character is John Watson, a corpse engineer who illegally reanimate his friend’s corpse, who he named Friday, to research about the true soul. His action is discovered by the government and to avoid capture, he volunteers to become an agent. In one of his missions, he is tasked to get The Memorandum, Frankenstein’s original research which includes creating corpses with a true soul that can think and feel. Along the way, he discovers horrible secrets and also has to find ways to get back his friend’s soul. Also, his actions would have terrible consequences on the existence of mankind.
First of all, the animation quality is top notch. It may not be Ghilbi but still is really good with details to be seen in the background. The animation is pretty smooth with some 3D effects added in for semi-realism, like fire and smoke. The characters are quite unique but only for the main 3 characters, otherwise other characters can sometimes look similar and hard to tell the difference. The music and sound design are of excellent quality and appropriateness. You can hear the satisfying explosion, smoke and environmental sounds in harmony with the music. Together, they create some impactful moments.
Character interactions are quite the cliche ones and their characteristics are also fairly commonly seen in this anime genre. There is the main character who possess the heart of justice and would do anything to resurrect his friends. Then there is the tough guy and beautiful lady character as side characters. Even the villain’s motive is laughably familiar to those who have seen anime before. Basically, the characters are not that unique, which is a pity as the story concept is quite interesting. I like the way they use well-known fictional and non-fictional names from the English’s folklore or story or based on real people. But that’s where the interesting part ends, as there are virtually no story growth or character development at all. Imagine a roller coaster ride that you have ridden before, and the story also flows more or less like a flat track roller coaster.