The newest Crunchyroll original series uses the Aztec culture and mythology as the basis for a dark fantasy focusing on a war between the Gods, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.
As a dark fantasy, Onyx Equinox wastes no time in setting a rather grim tone with it's opening episode. Human sacrifices, blood, gore and demonic possession are abound in this rather intense opening episode. The opening scene quickly establishes the incredibly vast destructive power of the Gods and the effects their battle has on the human population.
The Gods are fighting over the blood of humans, which is becoming increasingly scarce. To mitigate this, The Gods agree that their best course of action is to close the gates to the Underworld, however they cannot do so directly as the gates are made from Obsidian which has the power to repel Gods and Demons. Thus the Gods agree that a human champion will be chosen to close the gates for them.
After this exchange, we get a brief respite in the form of some world building; showing the audience the main aspects of the Aztec religion, city life and our protagonist, Izel. An apprentice cloth weaver with little in the way of confidence or self-esteem, he's your typical weak-willed, unlucky kid who will no doubt be caught up in these ethereal matters.
In terms of first episodes, Onyx Equinox does a lot of things really well in order to grab audience attention. It has a unique location, setting and mythology that has not really been explored all that much in anime, save for shows like the Mysterious Cities of Gold. The show quickly establishes the stakes with Humanity and the World being in danger, sets up a journey for an underdog/unlikely hero and presents it all with a decidedly macabre tone.
The music really sets the grim mood, and the voice acting has a natural feel to it. The action is fluid and stable, with a consistent art style. It's not the best looking show, but it has a good overall quality. The gore at times is a bit much, with characters dying out of nowhere and some rather gruesome body horror scenes, but it works in establishing the scale of the threat and just how dark the story will get.
The first episode of the show usually acts as the main selling point. It is the answer to the audience questions of whether or not a series is worth following, and the answer to this is a a resounding yes. Its a very interesting take on Mesoamerican culture and mythology, and sets an unlikely hero on a quest with really big stakes. The polished look and feel promises to deliver a truly dark mythological fantasy quest - here's hoping it delivers!