High Guardian Spice

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High Guardian Spice
This is why you should not be overambitious over budget constraints when they happen. Because in the end, you will end up destroying your product, and this is the perfect example of that.
Genre: "Magic"
Running Time: 22 minutes
Country: United States
South Korea (Animation production)
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Network(s): Crunchyroll
Created by: Raye Rodriguez
Distributed by: Funimation Global Group
Starring: Briana Leon
Lauren White
Amber Romero
Michelle Deco
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 12

"The issue here is a lack of true innovation, or at the very least innovation that seems natural. Characters are one-note or adhere to traits already used in other shows, the plot is just as flat and basic, the animation... I'm not gonna complain about a western cartoon being featured on an anime service, but this animation is pretty subpar. Basic movement, mediocre art direction, often lazy backgrounds. The writing suggests the writers are out of touch with the world or have no grasp on natural progression or presentation. It feels more like meeting a quota than providing true representation. Not all LGBTQ+ individuals have garish hairstyles or a punk look, it's a borderline caricature. It's less "A lesbian character" and more. "Look, it's a lesbian character, are you satisfied?" I'm all for representation, but I fear it will always be handled in the worst possible way. If these characters are based on the writers, then it's less about representation and more of a warped interpretation of it. Either the wrong people are representing diversity, or this is just a poorly written show that was not worth the delays and vague initial details, plagued with cliches, bland characters, stories, and low-quality animation. Both. It's both."

Channeleven on IMDB

"Extremely disappointed in this show. When I first saw the level of representation in this, I was pretty excited about it. It seemed like a nice change of pace from the average cartoon/anime thing. This novelty was short-lived as I soon realized that this show is completely devoid of any mark of quality. The animation shuffles between mediocre and terrible. The characters are bland all around. The writing is downright atrocious, lacking any sense of cohesion or humor. Truly a dire show all around."

Ben on Letterboxd

High Guardian Spice is an American "adult animated" streaming television series created by Raye Rodriguez, who formerly worked for Danger & Eggs as a character designer. The series is produced by Crunchyroll Studios (formerly named Ellation) and was originally slated to be Crunchyroll's first original series before it was delayed for approximately 2 years.

After some delays since 2019, the series premiered on Crunchyroll on October 26, 2021.


A group of four young girls attend the High Guardian Academy and are training to become guardians of the city. At the same time, they deal with friends, allies, and betrayals, as they attempt to protect everything from an unknown threat.

Why It Got Expelled From The Academy

  1. The major problem with the show is that the creator and the group of writers were being overambitious when doing their work on the show. Due to this, the show has many problems shown below.
    • To make matters even worse, when the big two-year gap from 2019 to 2021 happened, they did not bother to go back and at least improve the writing or animation, because of how they outsourced the animation, which shows that they are not good at improving the work.
  2. While the characters' designs look okay, they look way too simple and cutesy. They seriously look like Tumblr or DeviantArt OCs or something out of a How-To Draw Anime/Manga book. It also looks unfitting in an anime-influenced cartoon due to being rather too colorful. Sometimes it may be okay to make character designs simple and colorful, but not like this.
    • The very rounded character designs make the characters, especially Parsley who is supposed to be short but strong, look quite chubby, and lack edges and body sections to know if they have muscles or not.
    • Most of the characters look way too similar to other characters from various media except blander and more uninteresting. For example, Rosemary looks like a bland copy of Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica (though to be fair there are many pink-haired female characters (mostly from anime) with or without pigtails that look alike, and Rosemary looked a lot like Madoka in the original pilot.), Amaryllis looks like a poor man's Amity Blight from The Owl House (doesn't help that they have similar sounding names) and Parsley and her mother vaguely resembles Sadie Miller and her mom (Barbara) from Steven Universe and its follow-up installments, but the former as a dwarf blacksmith wannabe type character, and her mother as a fanatical dwarf housewife.
    • Some of the characters are self-inserts of the creators or writers, which makes them even more like original characters created by users from Tumblr or DeviantArt.[1]
    • Professor Caraway is the worst offender when it comes to self-inserts as he is not only transgender like the creator but looks very similar and even voiced by him as well.
    • The naming system is inconsistent. Professors Wyverna Dretch and Hakone Civet, as well as one-off student character Aster Tourmaline, are the only characters to have first and last names. Moss Phlox, as he is named after the plant of the same name, has a compound name rather than two names. Especially, the show went into development 5-10 years, as well that since the Guardian occupation is a form of militant armed force in the animated show's universe and has even more valuable meaning, it could make sense that almost everyone needs a last name, as means to avoid confusion.
    • Every magical animal in the anime, while a little cute, looks like they are refused pets from Terraria or a rounded version of the Allies of Trove.
  3. The show's main setting (including the city, where the main characters currently reside) doesn't know what it wants to be, especially goes with its transportation, technology, fashion, and aesthetics. Even they're trying to take on Little Witch Academia's 'Magical' fantasy. Instead, it blends lazily with Dungeonpunk, Gaslamp, Medieval, and Urban fantasy elements, all in one take, which ends up confusing a few viewers, along the way.
    • Sure, this can be done well, but only if you manage to blend the locations well in some way and not be too bland with your ideas. Take Disenchantment for example it takes place in a normal medieval kingdom (Dreamland), but there is also a steampunk (Steamland) and a kingdom of sands (Maru). However, the way medieval characters interacted with futuristic elements (as in they compare a flying airship to a dragon), as well as machine designs, was well done. Here it is as if someone had snapped their fingers and put everything together messily and disgustingly.
    • Much like both episodes like Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble" and Life of Brian, it can't even decide if it wants to be very serious or comedic in terms of the tone. It tries both ways when it comes to action scenes, but it just simply doesn't work. However, it can work if done right.
    • The Magic System also doesn't know what theme it wanted to be. At the start, the Old Magic vs New Magic is like Stable vs Unstable element (e.g., Windmill vs Nuclear Powerplant), however, it becomes the political theme with the whole Conservative vs Progressive message (with Anise saying that Sage's mother and her older sister are so conservative). The rot plot point which was a major point was not brought up again as it turns out that New Magic is fine; and this was later doubled down at the season 1 finale, where it shows, that it's okay to use both of them in dire situations, as Professor Caraway is using both them at the same time when fighting Mandrake and protecting the girls. As it pretty much abandoned the entire theme in the first place, forsaking an action drama scene.
    • The characters' design also does not help matters as some may have medieval-style outfits (Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme for example), but others had Steampunk/Gaslamp Fantasy/Victorian outfits like Caraway and Parsley or even Modern-day/Urban fantasy like Anise, any of the Guardian Academy students (including the central six characters, wearing them), and the Firefighters at the end of the series.
    • It also doesn't help that the worldbuilding is very basic and shallow.
  4. The show itself was possibly rushed due to it just coming out of nowhere for the release. This leads to the problems shown here. It doesn't help that the show has troubled production, and it was announced to be released in late 2019, before being delayed to October 26, 2021. Also as mentioned above they did not use the delay to go back and fix it making the show look unfinished.
    • Such things like the bread and lamp poles look very detailed but clash with the cheap environmental and character designs. It was revealed that the lamppost was originally a stock png image from Shutterstock. Yes, we're not kidding, the lamppost was from Shutterstock.[2]
  5. As a contributing factor (if point number 4 was true), the animation looks rushed, unfinished, and extremely glitchy, as it is just a copy-paste of elements here and there, due to the problems during its production, and also due to the animators from Lotto Animation and DR Movie having a hard time doing their job right, due to pressure from time and money. The palette, while colorful, just like in The Problem Solverz, is extremely bright with too few shades. Again, stock images have been used to get around it.
    • The worst part about the stock images they stole is that they didn't even bother to remove the watermark in some of them.
    • Animation errors are also really common, including such errors as:
      • During a scene from the first episode, the carriage just moves without any wheel or body movement.
      • In the market from one episode the main characters are moving but the background characters are not moving, which makes the world look rather flat due to this.
      • Another character appears way bigger than the other students and Caraway as they leave the classroom.
  6. False Advertising: While this show was made to promote diversity, the only things that were diverse are that the witches are of different races and the fact that there is also one trans-male character. There are only seven male characters in this series, which makes no sense, as in real life, there are around 105 boys per 100 girls according to the ‘natural’ sex ratio. Not only is that considered sexist, but it also actively makes it pure feminist propaganda because of this.
    • Reminder that Hanazuki: Full of Treasures; which promotes diversity, only has two boys (Kiyoshi and Maroshi) per three girls (Hanazuki, Kiazuki, and Miyumi), which while not sexist, is due to Hasbro putting the series on hiatus. While High Guardian Spice has been accused of racism and sexism against not just white males, but every male regardless of race and skin color
      • There is one scene when Professor Caraway even tells Rosemary without subtly or acting human about how being transgender works.
        • Keep in mind that other media like The Owl House, Looney Tunes Cartoons, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, and Cookie Run: Kingdom have more diversity than this, making this show incredibly hypocritical.
        • Even some feminist propaganda films like Ghostbusters and Charlie's Angels at least tried to do diversity with these films being made in both 2016 and 2019 from each other.
  7. Bad voice acting; with some of the characters either sounding like they have a sore throat, are bored out of their mind, or just wanna leave the production. Even ProZD, who voices Cal and Demon and is normally a talented voice actor and YouTuber, sounds bland and cannot carry the show (and to a lesser extent, Cam Clarke, who voices Neppy Cat and Sorrel).
    • On top of this, the dialogue is unbelievably horrible. It acts and looks unfinished as if they only used the first draft script.
    • Bad Sound Mixing: in some scenes, there are times when there is poor audio quality to the point where you cannot hear as much voice acting, most notably Slime Boy in his scenes to the point where it makes him sound like he is mumbling most of the time (though Julian Foster does a decent job voicing him).
  8. Almost all of the characters are unlikable, bland, and one-dimensional as they do not have anything that stands out.
    • Rosemary is just your stereotypical plucky, Genki girl type who's inconsiderate, self-absorbed, and annoying. That's it, nothing else. She also counts as Mary Sue since she effortlessly learned magic without any struggles and even beat everyone effortlessly.
    • Sage is a smart, studious witch, but is a terrible friend of Rosemary. She is also very sexist as she compares male and female friendship saying that friendship between girls is deeper yet her relationship with Rosemary says it all.
    • Amaryllis is just your mean girl-type character. She is pretty much likable to the rest of the cast.
    • Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and Parsley, or any character except a couple in the show, are named after herbs (grasses in Latin), which are not spices. None of the other characters (such as Amaryllis or Snapdragon) are named after spices either.
  9. Executive Meddling/Misrating: The tone, while being promoted as for mature audiences only, does not do anything to justify the mature rating. (e.g. swearing). Due to the most part, until the end, the show is light and childish and when it gets dark, it is a tone whiplash due to not being shown from the very start. It was later fully revealed originally in the Daftpina video on the show and its budgeting, that the show was exactly meant to be for younger audiences at the very beginning, but Crunchyroll higher-ups force them to add the mature content (via forcing them to age up the main girls and Guardian Academy students to teens, adding sexual and non-sexual cursing, and animated non-fantastical blood) during mid-production, solely because it's viewers are young teen/young adult males, thus majorly explaining the abrupt sudden of tone shift in later episodes.
    • It also doesn't help that the very first trailer about the crew talking about the show was taken out of context from Crunchyroll approaching them behind the scenes without their knowledge of it being in the trailer.
  10. The show is an inferior wannabe of other anime (e.g., Little Witch Academia (which later the creator admit to being majorly inspired from), Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and especially Akazukin ChaCha) and even some (anime-like) western cartoons (e.g., RWBY, The Owl House, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Steven Universe, and Star vs. the Forces of Evil) making the show somewhat unoriginal and bland.
    • In fact, this show copies a lot from Akazukin ChaCha, to the point that you wonder how they didn't get sued for doing so. The things this show copied include:
      • Character designs: Rosemary isn't directly taken from anyone per se, but has the same hair color as Marin. Snapdragon, Carol & Elodie are even closer to Marin's design, especially since Marin is also a mermaid. Meanwhile Sage is a poor woman's combination between Shiine & Riiya, Thyme is a gender-flipped Jamaican version of Poppy, Slime Boy looks like a younger version of Seravy, & Aster looks like the manga-exclusive character, Rinosuke. Parsley's brothers look like Rinosuke's sister Orin, who does appear in the anime, Professor Caraway looks like Rascal, both of which are teachers in their respective shows, & most notably, Amaryllis looks like Yakko(not to be confused with the Animaniacs character).
      • Premise & plot: Both shows star 3 friends, 2 of which have magical powers, while 1 isn't. They also involve the 3 going to a magical school & both have an episode about them going through an obstacle course as an assignment. Both also combine medieval settings with modern things such as machines & the like, as well as the main character having trouble with their swords, a missing mother(though Akazukin ChaCha has 2 of our main characters deal with that), & even cross-dressing male characters, which was a bad moment in the latter because the crossdresser in that show, Doris, is treated very poorly compared to the other characters. It'd be like copying the good elements of SpongeBob SquarePants, then copying the Splinter episode!
      • Personalities: Amaryllis is straight up just Yakko with an axe & no love for Seravy/Slime Boy, Rosemary is a poor woman's ChaCha, Sage is a poor woman's Shiine, Aster & Cal(full name: Callum Agrostis) are just the insensitive parts of Riiya with none of the charm or kindness the latter had, Neppy Cat & Olive are poor attempts at copying the Mikenekos & Professor Caraway is a poor man's Rascal without any of the charms the latter had.
    • Speaking of the warning, the show itself looks more appealing to younger audiences due to the bright color palettes and soundtrack. It tries way too hard to pander to mature audiences; an example is the violence of the monsters. For some reason, they have red blood instead of other colors like blue, green, etc. It’s okay if you want a monster’s blood to be red sometimes, but not when it’s done like this. Another example is the characters using profanity out of nowhere. Due to this, it feels like it doesn't have any idea what target audience it should be made for, similar to Beast Machines but on an even worse scale.
  11. This show treats male characters (except somewhat for the first main characters' male relatives, Professors Hakone, Caraway, and Moss Phlox) like absolute garbage, which heavily panders to feminist propaganda, by the way. They portray mostly all of them as stereotypically lazy, muscularly fit, idiotic, and sexist characters who barely even do anything for the plot. They also use the same character designs of every male character that was inspired by some shows and movies. There is an entire compilation on YouTube that sums up the problem in a nutshell.
    • Speaking of Moss Phlox, in spite of being ironically less demonized than other male characters in the show, by personality he's still given a somewhat unfortunate implication that he's a closet pervert due to his voice sounding sexual, and him being the only character in the show that has his eyes closed, and in a fact, a satyr, who are usually, but uncommonly portrayed as sexual perverts in uncensored popular culture.
  12. There is also the lack of English subtitles, which makes it hard for people with impaired hearing to watch the show due to this.
  13. Other than having some bland storytelling, the show likes to over-rely on the "Idiot Plot" trope to move along with the story.
    • Sage's main arc is the pretty dumbest out of the five main arcs, as for some reason, she didn't consider asking any of the Guardians of switching her class (the New Magic class) to a new class (the Old Magic class, if there any at all?) if she couldn't stand how New Magic works, which could be easing her cool down and avoiding it altogether. That alone also would've been not trash-talking her mother, like treating her as some sort of minor antagonist for her and Anise, despite being a background character, for the audience.
  14. The humor is mostly reliant on being hip, with unneeded pop culture references, such as characters quoting lines from The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Skyrim.
  15. Sequel Baiting: It is revealed that Lavender, Rose's mother, is working for the main overarching villain, Triumvirate. There's no explanation as to how she turned evil and it's left to the viewer's interpretation considering the show's cancellation.
  16. Hypocrisies/Missed Opportunities: Despite Anise trash-talking Sage's mother and her older sister for being an Old Magic-user (conservative), when she's married to an Old Magic-user with Aloe (regardless of her political beliefs). This comes out extremely weird and could unintentionally insult her wife, if she was there and misheard it, and that alone could create a possible recurring subplot about the potential flaws of the two's romantic relationship, for the rest of the series. But didn't happen, for some reason.
    • Along with that the major theme (as stated in #3) between the New Magic vs Old Magic, where throughout was heavily leaning on the former, as a "progressively" superior compared with Old Magic, despite its flaws. Where now suddenly, changed its mind in the season finale, where Caraway is using both of them to defend the girls, from Mandrake.
  17. Aside from the sequel baiting, the ending is not very good; it just ends on an unappealing cliffhanger that never got resolved because of the overwhelmingly negative reception the show has.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. While it came across as pandering and being a self-insert of the creator, having a trans-male character known as Professor Caraway being a supporting role was an interesting concept.
  2. Despite being unfitting, the soundtrack is decent, besides both the intro and end credits.
  3. The backgrounds and sometimes the characters' designs are nice (take Wyverna Dretch, the devil ethics professor as an example).
  4. Some funny moments, like the running gag of Amaryllis going crazy with an axe when things don't go her way and Slime Boy's entire dialogue like "What ya need,… Bumbleseed?", "This is like a dream I had about hygiene", "It's okay, dude. Broken instruments make great new sound!", "I'm not good with names, or faces, but your aura's always really rad and dark, like old blood.", and "They're just sleeping. Maybe this is part of finals.".
  5. Snapdragon, Parsley, Amaryllis, and Slime Boy can be more likable than all the other characters (with Slime Boy being one of the best parts of the show because of how polite and friendly to everyone and his dialogue, unlike everyone else, is more natural and it helps leads to funny quotes mentioned above).
  6. The original pilot is better than the final show.
  7. Even though the voice acting is poor, Julian Foster (despite the bad audio quality) does a decent job voicing Slime Boy.


Similar to Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go!, people littered a bunch of hate pictures on the IMDb page to protest against this show.

High Guardian Spice received mixed reviews from critics, but was universally panned by audiences due to the childish tone, cliched dialogue, poor voice acting, laggy animation and the bad representation of diversity. It was also review-bombed with only 11% of Google users saying they liked this show. It currently has a 1.3/10 on IMDb, making it one of the lowest-rated animated series on that site, as well as a 2.3/5 on Crunchyroll. Not long after the release, some people went as far as to outright trash the photos section of its page, similar to the IMDb vandalism of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go! by adding pictures ranging from memes that poke fun of the show, to some of them adding poop emojis on the characters' faces. These photos were taken down about a few days after they were posted. Outlets focused on LGBT issues, however, were generally more positive.

Chiaki Hirai reviewed the first episode of Anime Feminist, describing it as a comfortable and "enjoyable show", praised the show's setting and story, and said that the "explicit LGBTQ positivity" stands out. However, she criticized the lack of English subtitles, saying it makes it hard for people with impaired hearing to watch the show. Evan Valentine, in an article for ComicBook.com, described the series as having a "unique aesthetic." Jade King of The Gamer described the series as not being "afraid to showcase its queer identity" and called the characters "bright, colourful, loving." David Kaldor of Bubble Blabber was more critical, describing the show as "far below average", called the show's tone inconsistent, with occasional swearing and blood, and said that he felt the plot development was slow, and not a "breakthrough hit", not making him excited for another season. Samuel Gachon of Collider said that anime-inspired series like High Guardian Spice and RWBY are "not always great."

One of the show's writers, Kate Leth, made horrendous hate and misandrist tweets towards men on Twitter, which soured the show's image for a lot of people. She refused to apologize for it by claiming "She Was Tumblrpilled" showing she can't take criticism for her actions let alone make her incompetent when doing story writing.[3] Raye is also guilty of this as he tried to use the budget excuse to dismiss the criticism of his show.

Crunchyroll is even starting to move away from the series. At Anime NYC, they did not mention anything about it, showing they are aware of how bad the show is.[4]


  • A Twitter user, under the name Idiotanation, sent HGS Rule 34 links to Leth and Rodriguez through their Twitter accounts as a vendetta for wasting the money that was supposed to support anime/manga creators.

The Original Pilot




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