「エンドロールにはまだ早い〜！」 (Endorooru ni wa Mada Hayai〜!)
“It’s Still Too Soon for the End Roll~!”
The End—and then start again.
Endro~! is one of the winter series that I, Stilts, was personally most interested in. I use that term deliberately; I didn’t necessarily think it would be the best (though neither was I expecting something bad; it’s pedigree is quite good), I was just most intrigued by it. It has all the appearances of a solid slice-of-life series, and Studio Gokumi is good at those, but as I noted, “…the last time Studio Gokumi released an original anime that had something to do with heroes, it turned out rather different than we expected.” With the first episode on the books, do we have standard slice-of-life, Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru redux, or something else?
It’s hard to say, but what is clear is that it’s not following any one script thus far. Th episode starts out with the Yuusha’s party fighting and then defeating the Demon Lord, and then we get the End card. So, uh? Guess we’re done? But then we’re back in time (as we later learn) with the Hero Team before they were the Hero Team, and that’s where it gets interesting. The Demon Lord is now Mao-chan-sensei (Kuno Misaki), and teaching a class at the Adventurer School that includes “classless” hero girl Yuuria “Yusha” Chardiet (Akao Hikaru), priest girl Ellenoar “Seira” Seiran (Natsukawa Shiina), warrior girl Fai Fai (Ozawa Ari), and mage girl Mather “Mei” Enderstto (Minase Inori). And suddenly it’s a cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime, only Mao-chan-sensei is trying to defeat the Hero Team before their realizing it, which backfires. Where is this going?
I’m getting ahead of myself. More immediately important is, whatever this series is trying to be, is it doing it well? So far, yes! The conceit of the first episode leads to some off pacing, but once the score becomes clear (to us, at least—Yusha and her party still have no clue), it moves along naturally. The characters are also vibrant and lively, if not exactly deep. (This is acting like a CGDCT anime, even if it maybe isn’t in the end.) The animation, character designs, and color palette are also all lovely, and while none of the seiyuu are knocking my socks off yet (honestly, Misaki Kuno can get annoying in “uber stuffy loli” mode, but she’s good at disarming arrogance, so she’s selling it best so far), they’re all largely fine. So far, I’d watch another couple of episode easily just because what’s happening is nice. That’s a good start, if nothing else.
But back to the original question: What is this series, exactly? Because I see paths forward which could end in something amazing, or something serviceable but ultimately predictable, albeit perhaps not predictable in the expected way (not clichéd, in other words). Mao-chan-sensei sends the hero party off to get expelled, and they come back with the Hero’s sword—is Mao-chan-sensei training them? Did she do it the first time around? Are they destined to do this forever? If so, this could become rote, albeit in an unexpected manner. Or it could smooth out into a squishy cute-girls-doing-cute-things slice-of-life series in earnest. Or it could do something else. After all, the first episode has already proven itself to be something other than expected, and there’s the matter of Yuuki Yuuna. What will it be?
I don’t know. But I’ll definitely be watching to find out!
My second novel, Freelance Heroics, is available! (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Third book in progress now! Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the last two posts: Celebrities’ Political Opinions, An Author’s Review of: Freelance Heroics.
OP: 「えんどろ～る！」 (Endoro~ru!) by Akao Hikaru, Natsukawa Shiina, Ozawa Ari, Minase Inori