OP: 「教えてダーウィン」 (Oshiete Darwin) by Purely Monster
「なんだかんだで、みんな、キスって大好きだよね. マラソンって人生の縮図だって、知ってた?」 (Nandakanda de, Minna, Kisu tte Daisuki da yo ne. Marason tte Jinsei no Shukuzu datte, Shitteta?)
“When All Is Said And Done, Everyone Loves Kisses. Did You Know That a Marathon Is a Microcosm of Life?”
With most of the shows out of the starting gate, not many of the protagonists this season have quite the gallop that Centaur no Nayami has. Mainly because our heroine, Kimihara Himeno (Fukagawa Seria), knows how to gallop. Kidding aside, it balances the nuances of a cozy anime by the virtue of being a slice-of-life about the daily lives of monster girls in a world where being a mythological creature is the norm, and the darker aspects of how the people of this universe got together. In this particular episode, it melds the two evenly through two parts that exemplify both the series’ comfier moments at school and the implications that race have in the law of the land.
The first part of the episode shows us how the kids at school interact like any humans would with each other aside from an instance where class president Mitama Manami (Kamakura Yuna) stresses the idea of reinforcing a vulnerable makeshift staircase so Himeno could walk on it without it breaking. There are also twists of playful yuri when Himeno’s demon friend, Gokuraku Nozomi (Kuwahara Yuuki), gets flustered about Himeno fully kissing her after her script was botched by the original actor in Nozomi’s role who originally wanted the kiss. Only time will tell if they are serious about creating a solid lesbian relationship, especially with the two girls on the side here being hinted as a couple in the OP, but Nozomi and Himeno would be very cute together if they choose to go that route.
The first section about the play as well as the second half’s jogging segment helped me appreciate the trio within the main cast. Himeno comes off as a relatable high school girl who cares about her friends and trying to stand out when she tends to blend in too easily as an average student. So far, my favorite character is Nozomi, who is a cocky trickster that doesn’t take crap from anyone. Seeing her be as mischievous as she is flustered was a good way to tug at my heartstrings. We didn’t see as much of Naraku Kyouko (Shiraishi Haruka), but she established herself well as a girl concerned about her lacking cardio and the race laws that could get her in trouble quickly due to any repercussions.
It’s with this aspect where Centaur no Nayami sets itself apart from other slice-of-life options this season by offering social commentary with its blushy schoolgirls. Not only is there a long, complicated history with some races enslaving or mistreating others, but as a result, there are strict laws for not upholding model behavior that stresses equality over civil rights. It was infodumpy how we got those details since the class lecture and government muscle aren’t prevalent in the episode, but Kyouko’s stress over not wanting to be caught by police riding Himeno explains the extent of the universe’s decency laws in much better detail; anything to undermine or demean another race’s abilities is to be punished. Similarly, learning about different obstacles Himeno has to face such as maintaining a slim figure so she can wipe properly or how races are split off when competing in events like sprinting clubs offer more explanation as to how seriously the show and its universe takes its mythological beings.
Centaur no Nayami is starting out as a promising comfort anime with a sprinkle of social commentary for those who want some food for thought while you watch cute monsters doing cute things. There’s still some fanservice and art hiccups that might factor in on whether you’d enjoy it in the long run, but I had a great time with the first episode, and look forward to seeing whether the scales will teeter towards the cuteness, the heavier themes, or remain at a balance.
ED: 「Edelweiss」 by Asaka