OP: 「闘魂! ケモナーマスク」 (Fight! Kemona Mask) by NoB and Konishi Katsuyuki
「レスラーx召喚」 (Wrestler x Shoukan)
“Wrestler x Summon”
You may be tempted by the few anime this season that feature anthropomorphic characters, but why not settle for one that centers around a guy who really loves to pin them down into submission? With Hataage! Kemono Michi, we enter territory that is figuratively and literally hairy when pro-wrestler Genzou Shibata (Konishi Katsuyuki) is teleported into another world to take advantage of the local wildlife, one glomp at a time.
On paper, it would sound like nice, harmless fun to see a wholesome animal lover thrown into an isekai setting to create a pet shop for otherwise horrific beasts. In fact, it’s a novel concept for an isekai battle to be won by having the main protagonist turn monsters into calmer, more friendly creatures through the power of wrestling. However, our first impression of Genzou by the end of the episode is that his love for animals comes from a less pure place and the heart-warming veneer of his bond with his puppy Hiroyuki is merely a facade to mask his brazen lust for animals. People thought he was a pervert when he ran around town wearing his wrestler trunks, but their suspicions would end up being unfortunately true when he locks eyes with Wolfgang von Craftman (Kenichirou Matsuda), a wolfman eventually becomes the first victim of Genzou’s urges. Him rubbing Wolfgang’s belly is made far worse when you see the undisclosed darkness of Genzou’s groping and a flower bloom to coincide with the wolf man’s submission. This wouldn’t be as questionable if later in the episode, his solution for defeating a Cerberus wasn’t to pin the monster to the ground and sniffing its butt until its yelps signify its defeat. Genzou’s antics make it difficult for jokes to land that are centered around his love for animals because of how much it borders on outright molestation or how much of it is framed as him seeking out animals to violate. It’s funny not because it’s genuinely hilarious, but because of how flippant the tone of the show is with Genzou gleefully takes advantage of animals.
The saving grace behind the cringe humor that comes from Genzou’s uncouth exploits into pseudo-zoophilia is how strong the supporting cast is in elevating the show’s comedic relief. Misha (Tamegai Hana) manages to make Genzou a funnier character with her peeved and disturbed reactions to by his reaction to the wrestler’s proclivities. Likewise, the guildmaster’s response to Genzou’s interests in owning a pet shop are funny as he tunes out of the passioned speech Genzou makes about his love of animals. But the most humorous standalone character in the anime is Shigure (Sekine Akira), an eccentric dog girl who tries to weasel her way into risky economic ventures and attempts to get sold into a wealthy household where she can eat filet mignon for every dinner. Hataage! Kemono Michi looks like it will be a diamond in the rough if the anime is able to get past the initial shock factor of Genzou’s desires and tap into the humor that would come from a pacifist wrestler looking to open a pet shop. It might be distracting for Genzou wish to cuddle with monsters against their will to look as crude as it does, but if the supporting cast can help reign in some of the lewder aspects of Genzou’s interactions with animals, it might be able to become king of the ring this season.
ED: 「アネクドット」 (Anecdote) by Momosu Momosu