OP: 「It’s My Soul」by Nanami Hiroki
「勇者ヘルク」 (Yuusha Heruku)
“Helck the Hero”
For all I like my isekai, there’s no denying it’s truly done a number on fantasy as a whole, enough so that when a legitimately strong fantasy series comes by you honestly have to blink twice to ensure you’re not dreaming. Am I going as far to say Helck is one of those series? Not entirely – but in a sea of alternate world shenanigans going back to the basics is definitely a breath of fresh air.
Much as alluded to in the RC Preview, Helck is an older (if 2010s is old) fantasy work which is effectively a mashup of comedy and tournament chaos. The previous demon king died, so what is the demon race to do? Why hold a martial contest to determine the next one of course! Except all the top competitors got their asses handed to them by a black horse who’s poised to take the prize. A human black horse. A human hero black horse. Yeah, I dare say that synopsis reads itself. You know exactly where this one is going.
Considering Helck is a finished series and also a two cour affair though, naturally there’s more to it than basic fighting and that’s what this opener does a pretty good job of showcasing. The main tournament overseer – and one of the demon world’s top dogs – in Vamirio (Komatsu Mikako) is case in point, being a literal pint sized hothead who cannot believe a mere human is upsetting the status quo. She’s all tsun with little dere right now, but you can start seeing where the calm after the storm resides in between bouts of rage and sheer shock of professional house of cards building. A lot of the comedic moments with Vamirio are more chuckle-worthy than gut-busting for me at the moment (likely down in part to Mikako’s voice acting), but when you’re slinging Shokugeki no Souma moments with slapstick humour, you know something will hit right before too long. She’ll find out the hero’s secrets, one way or another.
That, however, brings us to the eponymous star of the show in Helck (Konishi Katsuyuki) himself, who naturally is a veritable black box. Besides quintessential martial tropes in action (mental focusing do be like that) and Helck’s penchant for laid back combat, it’s the guy’s backstory where you get a real sense of where this series is heading. Besides the sly reveal of being Helck being the brother of the actual hero, he also supposedly killed said brother and is a wanted man. Couple on the fact nearby humans are nowhere to be found and a winged army of vaguely human beings is descending on demon lands and not hard knowing something else is at play behind the main premise at work. After all, this again is a two cour series adapting a completed manga series, twists and turns are to be expected, and from what I at least know of the source material rest assured there’s going to be a few.
Might take a few episodes for Helck to start ramping up the suspense and get into the groove of things, but I fully expect this one to be a very fun – and very entertaining – fantasy ride once it does.
ED: 「スターチス」 (Sutaachisu) by saji