OP: 「ユニバーページ」 (Univer Page ) by 三森すずこ (Mimori Suzuko)
「気が付けば異世界」 (Kigatsukeba i Sekai)
“Awakening in the Other Realm”
Fantasy fans need to watch this. Comedy fans need to watch this. Romance fans need to watch this. Fans of world building need to watch this. Fans of Hataraku Maou-sama! or Scrapped Princess need to watch this. Fans of good storytelling need to watch this. You need to watch this.
Not As Crazy As You Think, Crazier Than You Imagine
The premise behind this show isn’t as crazy as it first appears. Japan stumbles across another world, and they want to use their soft power (culture) to become better allies with the nation on the other side of the portal. Unfortunately, government bureaucrats keep bungling the job, so they bring in hyper-otaku Kanou Shinichi (Hanae Natsuki) to bring their entertainment to this new land. While the “portal” and “other world” parts are far-fetched (if familiar), Japan trying to export their unique forms of entertainment for geopolitical and socioeconomic gains is something that happens in real life (not to mention the products of Hollywood, Bollywood, Broadway, Hong Kong cinema, and every other great entertainment media producing area). And who better to spread the word than someone who truly understands it?
Where it gets crazy is the comedy. The entire show is so genre aware (trope!), and Shinichi plays the role of the hyper-otaku to the hilt. Watching him react to adorable half-elf meido Myuseru Foartan (Mimori Suzuko) or explode upon seeing loli supreme ruler Petrarca Ann Erudanto III (Fuchigami Mai) were a treat to watch! It’s the energy I love, as the show plays the tropes for hilarity at every chance they can get.
Attention to Detail, Good Storytelling
But there’s more than just comedy here, far more. The attention to detail in this fantasy tale reminds me of nothing so much as Hataraku Maou-sama!. An easy parallel to make – the translation rings. Aliens or demons or magical monsters from another world suddenly speaking English (or in this case, Japanese. Also, trope!) is an old pet peeve of mine, and it’s the shows that bother to incorporate at least a handwave (or even better, just deal with it) that rise in my estimation. Here they take care of the problem with magical rings. That’s not even the part where it was used the best, though – that distinction belongs to the scene where the three Japanese characters took off their rings so they could speak without Myuseru understanding them. Good writers will take care of all the inconvenient details, but great writers use them to their advantage. This is just one example.
Another example of good storytelling – and a good adaptation by studio Feel – was in the comedic timing. Take when Private First Class Koganuma Minori (Uchida Maaya) was introduced. The bit where he inappropriately asked about her F-cup size was hilarious, I’ll grant you that, but the skill shows shortly thereafter, when after his two delusions about why he is there, there’s a solid second-long beat (trope!) where Minori just stares at him, and then calmly asks “Are you done?”. Comedy is all about timing, and one of the hardest things to do (in my humble opinon, naturally) is to wait. Silence is powerful, but the tendency is to keep barreling through. Little things like that make the comedy work.
Add on top of those other examples like Myuseru attending to Shinichi’s nosebleed and Matoba Jinzaburou’s (Fujiwara Keiji) glorious smug grin and laugh (with like four seconds of silence, for the beat, glorious!) upped things to a new level in both comedy and attention to detail. The two are intertwined, and so far, this story is doing them right.
My one qualm so far: the weird “da da da da da” OST stuff that they keep playing. A couple of time I thought a character was trying to speak over whoever was talking at the time, which is just distracting. A minor qualm, to be sure, but I hope they knock that out.
Finally, a Main Character I Like!
If I have a gripe lately, it’s that storytellers assume empathy for the main character. This guy is the main character, they say, so you should be interested in what happens to him! Why? Because he’s the main character! This kind of circular logic is how we get protagonists like Infinite Stratos’ Ichika. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the show, but it isn’t because of Ichika – they’ve never given us a reason to like him other than as an audience stand in, and if I ever act like that, I hope someone doesn’t miss with the knife. You need to earn our empathy for the main character just as you do with every other character.
This is where flawed, interesting main characters are useful. Personally I’m a big fan of the shameless main characters, of which Kanou Shinichi is certainly one, a trait he shares with High School DxD’s Issei. That’s certainly not the only way to do it though, as Hanae Natsuki’s last starring role as Haimura Kiri in Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge shows. Flawed is interesting, and as a former hikikomori and current NEET who gets emails from his mom where she threatens to disown him, Shinichi isn’t a perfect man by any means. He’s way too into his hobbies, he has outbursts and inappropriate times, he causes inter-dimensional diplomatic incidents, and he wants to quit this new great job he just found where he gets his own meido because he wants to set his DVR and has a bunch of purchases from Mamazon on hold. He has many flaws, but he also wants to help Myuseru learn how to read. He’s also interesting, which I’ll take that every day of the week. And the funny thing? That makes him more relatable to boot.
Looking Ahead – What Kind of Plot Will We Get?
Or will we get much of one at all? That is the question, and in trying to answer it I will throw out one little detail – the original creator, Sakaki Ichirou, also created Scrapped Princess, among many other works. I will bet what little credibility I have as an anime blogger (it’s really not much) that this won’t be a vapid affair, but I don’t know what precisely the plot will entail so far. It’s a fair bet that diplomacy and intrigue will factor in, which gets my blood pumping.
I’m not sure whether I’ll continue blogging this or not. I’m going to play it by ear for now, so make sure to mention in the comments if you’re really digging this show, because I’m less likely to blog something no one is watching. It’s not impossible either way, but we’ll see.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Attention to detail, good comedy, budding romance, interesting chars, good world-building. #yushibu isn’t the new #maousama, this is! #ob_c
- Gentleladies and gentlemen, if you ever see a job ad as shady as this one on the internet, STOP. Do not apply. You will not be transported to a magical land. You will be sodomized. Put the mouse down and back away slowly.
- What a bitch! Just ’cause he’s a little nerdy. Okay, maybe a LOT nerdy…
- D’aaawww, look at that couple in the OP. That’s adorable right there, folks.
- No no no Shinichi, she only doesn’t get full meido marks because she lacks thigh-highs. Tsundere personality TBD.
- By the way, I love that here, the fanservice served the plot instead of the other way around. That’s the way to do it. Seriously Japan, I will give up the flagrant bouncing boobs today if you give me fanservice like this in every story. TODAY! Just try me!
- Your country’s racism against half-elves means nothing to him, Myuseru. All it means to him if MORE BONERS!
- What a good teacher. She’s right; there’s far more to life than what you learn in textbooks. Like what you learn in other books, for example.
- Ahahaha, has to cover up his morning wood from the kawaii meido-san! Been there, done that, amirite guys? …no, I’m not. Not with a kawaii meido-san. *hangs head*
ED: 「私の宝石箱」 (Watashi no Houseibako) by 渕上舞 (Fuchigami Mai)