「運命の二人」 (Unmei no Futari)
“The Destined Two – Boy Meets Girl”
Boy meets girl. Girl kicks ass. Boy kicks ass. Girl and boy kick ass together.
What Makes This Different
high school middle school boy battles supernatural threats. He’s the best there is, and there’s at least one girl so far signaling interest. So what makes this different from the glut of other similar magical-fantasy-action series? I’m glad you asked, and thank you for letting me put words in your mouth like that. Let me tell you!
Notice how I called it a magical-fantasy-action series, rather than my usual appellation of magical-fantasy-action-harem (and possibly ecchi) anime. The chief difference, both from this first episode and from what I understand of the plot, is that there’s no harem here. This is a straight up romance between Enmadou Rokuro (Hanae Natsuki) and Adashino Benio (Han Megumi), and also there’s a bunch of spirit-battling action as well. Which, so far, I really like. Partially that’s because I have a weakness for melee girls, magic that enhances physical abilities, and for couples (or potential couples) who fight alongside each other with sword and fist. But I also love how equal their relationship is so far. There’s no damsel in distress here, unless you want to count the little girl and also her brother. Rokuro and Benio are fighting together, and she’s as much the protagonist as he is.
Bonus: It’s the heroine who’s wielding the sword(s) this time. Huzzah! So that’s another difference.
He Didn’t Save Her. She Saved Him
What I especially liked was that Rokuro didn’t save Benio. Not that the guy saving the girl is necessarily bad, 51% of the population is women, so raw percentages alone would suggest that a quarter of savings would be a guy saving a girl (other options: girl saving girl, girl saving guy, guy saving guy). But we all know that fiction tends to skew that just a wee bit, and besides, it goes to that partners/equality thing I’m liking about their relationship.
Benio doesn’t need to be saved because, at the point that Rokuro steps forward, she could have still run away. She wasn’t going to, because of her vow, but she could have. No, it’s Benio who saved Rokuro, though not in a physical sense. Her espousing the same dream that 12-year-old Rokuro held two years ago, before the Hiinatsuki tragedy, spurred him to action in a way that running away and desperately failing to get a girlfriend never would have. He would have been haunted his whole life, whereas her being there with the goal she has allowed him to face his past, even if for just a minute. The work isn’t done, of course, but Benio unknowingly helped set Rokuro on that path.
Animation, Character Designs, & Other Considerations
My favorite element of this so far is undoubtedly the relationship between Rokuro and Benio. It’s not been without its bumps so far—at first Benio was coming across as rude, though that largely went away after she snacked on that ohagi, which suggested that she’s weird rather than cold—but it’s the bedrock of this show’s appeal. The actual action is neat but not a selling point in and of itself, especially since the animation is decent but not astounding. It cheaps out sometimes, but largely it gets the job done, so it’s not a huge detriment to me, though if I wasn’t enjoying the main duo it might be enough to push this into three-episode rule territory, instead of the “I want to see them get married!” hopeless romantic hype mode I’m currently in. What can I say? I’m a big softie.
Character designs are in a similar territory. They’ve got some personality, but I’m not going to gush about them to a potential viewer. They’re fine, they do the job, they don’t bother me, but not a selling point. No, if you want to know whether you’ll like this, I think that’s all about Rokuro and Benio. I’m a hopeless romantic who loves magical action, so I’m in. How about you?
As we did last season, we won’t be announcing our coverage until 2-3 episodes of most shows have been released. Please comment if you want to see Sousei no Onmyouji receive regular coverage. I’m enjoying it so far, and Wednesday shows are nice, but I’m still thinking on it. Tell me what you think.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Boy meets girl. Girl inspires boy. Boy and girl kick ass together. It’s all about that main couple #souseionmyouji 01
- Just because this doesn’t seem like a harem doesn’t mean there aren’t multiple romantic options. I don’t know anything about Otomi Mayura (Serizawa Yuu) other than what was seen this episode, but she has Unlucky Childhood Friend (trope!) written all over her. Mark those spoilers, source readers.
- About the only thing that both Sousei no Onmyouji and Hundred both did right—which is to say, the only thing Hundred did right—is to not pretend that the main character isn’t special. Ditto with the [main] heroine, though here it’s more explicitly shown.
- Haha, she literally came falling out of the sky and into his life. Mixed feelings about that little gem.
- I guess he didn’t notice the talismans on her leg when she was first drying off. He was probably distracted.
- I like that the battles are in another world, since it means they can get their collateral damage on (and no fridge logic where the hero destroys half the city, ala Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman). Though on the other hand, it lessens the opportunities for drama. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad yet.
- Also on the magic system, I appreciate how talismans are required to cast spells. That opens up the opportunity for tension when those talismans run low (or out), even if the animators aren’t bothering to make the talisman stack reflect actual supply.
- If you’ll excuse me, for once I’m going to bluntly self-promote: If you like a lot of what this series is doing (explosive melee combat, magic that enhances physical attributes, men and women fighting back-to-back, a strong focus on romance), read my book (see below), and also the upcoming sequel. This is the kind of anime that most inspires me to write what I love to write. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a second book to finish editing. Motivation!
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Even if you see it coming, it can still work, Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill., Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, and Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay.
OP: 「Valkyrie -戦乙女-」 (Valkyrie -Ikusa Otome-) by Wagakki Band