OP: 「EVOLUTiON:」by Nanjou Yoshino
「知らないうちに異世界人生!」 (Shiranai Uchi ni Isekai Jinsei!)
“Before I Knew It, I Was Living in Another World!”
As an experience, Shinka no Mi’s first episode evaporates as quickly as it lands. If it wasn’t for Saria, the pink gorilla who wants to claim Seiichi as her new husband, it would be a watered-down version of Kumo Desu Ga, Nani Ka? that revels less in the premise’s absurdity and more in the symbolic victory Seiichi has of being a cooler version of his unflattering real self.
Isekai anime tend to get a bad rap for being wish fulfillment, but while some of the weirder ones go all-out with its unusual premise, Shinka no Mi shows enough restraint to fall into the trappings of being wish fulfillment. If you remove Saria altogether from this episode, you still have a good 20 minutes of Seiichi happily experimenting with his newfound powers in the RPG world while he celebrates being strong and attractive in this new world. It would help if we were given a little bit of what his life or interests were like outside of being bullied, but he has no hobbies or life experiences outside of being verbally torn apart during school.
Even the first few minutes play out like a version of Kumo Desu Ga that pulls back its punches. Some blank slate classmates treat Seiichi horribly only for everyone to get cheerful, optimistic news of being warped into an RPG where they get to be cool and avoid their classwork. It wouldn’t be so painful if Seiichi had more to him, but his entire existence revolves around being a gross, obese kid that can finally lead a life where he’s too powerful and thin to mock for being gross and obese.
It’s funny to see Saria as an actual pink gorilla, but it’s also apparent that her appearance and her lust for Seiichi are present merely to provide cheap laughs for an otherwise dull experience. You’re either left laughing because this imposing gorilla wants to force itself on Seiichi or you’re laughing because Saria in her human form is starting to make Seiichi feel aroused. I know this first episode isn’t indicative of how she’ll be throughout the entire show, but it’s not the best representation of what we can expect with Saria if she ends up existing for the sole purpose of being attracted to Seiichi.
Absurd or wacky comedies can be a wonderful experience, but with Shinka no Mi, the cheapness of the animation, the action, and the comedy make it feel more immature than eccentric. It doesn’t do much to have fun with the RPG world aside from being empowering to Seiichi and only has a few funny moments with Saria’s desire for Seiichi. I might be wrong and this might be a pleasant isekai that ends up being surprisingly decent, but the only thing that kept the first episode from being yet another bland isekai was seeing our MC reject modernity and return to monke.
ED: 「Moonlight Walk」by Poppin` Party