So how’s this episode? So here’s the thing, people don’t like when a thing they like is criticised. They take it personally, they think “wait, the thing I like can’t be bad, because that means I’m wrong? And I’m not wrong because I like the thing!” But that’s the thing about opinions, everybody views a piece of media with a different sets of biases; emotional triggers, empathetic leanings and intellectual deconstructions. So your opinion may be wildly different from another person’s opinion, it doesn’t make you wrong nor does it make them wrong. And even if a person does voice their opinions and you don’t happen to agree with any of their points that doesn’t mean you have the right to belittle their stance because you ~think~ it’s wrong.
Oh dear, we’re in for another ‘Goblin Slayer’ situation, aren’t we? On the surface it would seem that way, but these shows are “controversial” and “problematic” and “triggering” (did I get all the buzzwords in?) in far more interesting and different ways than I’d initially expected.
Strap in folks, I can tell by how hard he’s hitting the keys that this is going to be a bumpy ride! So where do we start? A brief synopsis of what happens in this 45 minute (preview) episode that Crunchyroll afforded Premium Members–feel free to skip this if you’ve already watched it. An “otaku-ish” guy named Naofumi is summoned to another world to be a hero, along with three other males, they are to be heroes of this world and are designated magical weaponry accordingly: Sword, Spear, Bow and Shield. Our protagonist is designated the Shield, something he’s none too happy about but goes along with it anyway. We later learn that each of the “heroes” while all from Japan are each from alternate versions of Japan and while each of them have played a game similar to the setting of this world–Naofumi has not, hence why he got the supposedly “dud” hero weapon. The next day at the ceremony for ‘partying up’ with other adventurers, nobody picks Naofumi because word has spread about how much of a ‘noob’ he is with regard to knowledge in this world. After some bargaining and pleading with the other heroes an attractive woman decides to join up with him and go adventuring so he can ‘level up’ his combat abilities. To cut to the chase (because this is getting long and I’m getting bored) the woman accuses him of rape, they take her side despite his protests of innocence and while normally this crime would be punishable by death he’s still designated as a hero and thus is more or less left with the shame and public humiliation of being labelled a “rapist”. He becomes an angry and bitter man as a result and then one day is approached by a strange man who as it turns out is a slave trader or beastmen and demihumans and offers him the chance to buy some. End of episode.
Well okay, certainly not the most clear-cut universe with regard to morality, what’s irked your ire so much exactly? Before we get to that I want to just say, if I’m judging it strictly on the merits of the episode and not talking about anything else. I’d say it’s a 7/10 (or 70ish out of 100 if we’re using my rating scale), it’s an interesting isekai world with some unique variations on tropes but it’s also dull looking, slow-paced and predictable and despite the soundtrack having been done by Kevin Perkin who was responsible for the absolutely sublime ‘Made in Abyss’ soundtrack comes off more like a Game of Thrones-lite. So, you know, it’s just a dark isekai, nothing to rave about but still watchable.
That’s a fairly even-handed reaction… though I take it things are about to get rant-y now? So there’s a trope called ‘Self-Insert Fic’ you can read all about it here, but basically the writing in this series just feels like an angry Japanese man who’s bitter about his life deciding to take it out on the world. And my god is the last thing we need as angry men writing fiction. Like the scene where nobody decides to ‘party up’ with him for adventuring just felt like a grown man having a whine that nobody picked him for *insert generic sport* at school. And then the hot popular girl (her name’s Medea, but like I care) tricks him and was actually just using him to steal his money and humiliate him because she’s a bitch and is in on the whole plot to ruin him because she’s with the handsome blonde boy instead! You could ~literally~ take this plot and put into any generic high-school setting and this series would be the equivalent of a trashy American teen drama. I mean say what you will about the plot of ‘Goblin Slayer’–it was literally a DnD campaign made into an anime but at least it was ~vaguely original feeling~ it wasn’t this tired and predictable tripe.
Okay, settle down with the insults. Get back to the point. And if it had just stopped at being generic and tropey and lame ‘angry guy gets back at the world who wronged him’ it wouldn’t be so bad but then we have to get to the ~problematic~ stuff. This fantasy world is set in a ‘Matriarchal’ society! *blows brains out*
Why’s that a bad thing? BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A MATRIARCHAL SOCIETY. I mean for fuck’s sake they have a King ruling over them. And okay, ~maybe~ this was a lie Madea told him to try and assure her plot would work and lull him into a false sense of security. But no, I think this author is doing something far more insidious with this, but the following is pure speculation so bare with me.
*dons tin-foil hat* Ready! It won’t be hard for many of this ardent show’s fans to do, but put yourself in the authors shoes, your an “otaku-ish” virgin who has been frequently scorned throughout your life, the popular kids didn’t like you, the girls especially didn’t like you. And you want to take out that rage in the only way you know how, by writing a generic isekai novel! So you’re designing the world and what’s the biggest enemy to your world–well that’d be that women have rights and stuff! So obviously the ~evil~ fantasy world that has to be rebelled against with its rulers who ignore you and townsfolk who scorn you and women who betray you, well it has to be a ‘matriarchy’ that’s the worst thing imaginable to your unpopular virginal brain, isn’t it? Yes, let’s make our protagonist a hero that fights against that thing that’s so relatable to our fellow readers, women having power and control!
I was going to stop you but I thought I’d let you just get it out of your system so I didn’t have to deal with this again next episode. You done yet? You wish! We haven’t even touched on the slavery aspect of this show!
Oh ffs… Settle down, I’m not going to go to ham over it just because this anime has slavery. So do a lot of isekai anime (for some reason) but I defended it in ‘How NOT To Summon A Demon Lord’ and I pretty much brushed it off in ‘The Master of Ragnarok and the Blesser of Einherjar’ because those were two shows who were seemingly written by ~adults~. All I’ll say is this, this show is about to have a female slave join Naofumi’s ‘party’ this much is obvious–and what’s a bet that the fact that the only likeable female character on this show is going to be a character who’s a demi-human who’s blindly obedient to the protagonist out of the fear of death for breaking the master/servant curse that’s put on her. Real subtle message there, Mr. Author, that the only good woman is one who’s blindly obedient to you regardless of how you treat her.
I mean okay, if you word it like that but I’ve been reading into this show while you’ve been frothing at the mouth like a dog with rabies and isn’t the protagonist supposed to be an “anti-hero”? An injustice is done upon the protagonist, an, up-to-the-point of his false rape accusation, “~NICE GUY~”. Except even in this supposedly ‘Matriarchal’ society, where rape is usually afforded an immediate no-questions asked death sentence our author insert protagonist is literally just left all the autonomy and freedom of men accused (and even some of whom are found guilty) of rape in this real world, this patriarchy we live in. The reasons in the show are spelled out, “oh we need him to help save the world, can’t give him a proper punishment! But, uhh, you still suck and we hate you, bye for now! Hate you! Kisses!”* (*Not an actual quote but close enough). You want to make me believe this is a matriarchal society worthy of scorn, fucking castrate the guy, he can still save the world without a dick then you’ll have me sympathising with him and the ~supposedly~ harsh world he lives in. But no of course not, can’t have all the 12 year old boys disconnecting with their “otaku-ish” protagonist can we!
So you done now? Yeah, yeah… I’m done. Wow, this went on a lot longer than I expected…
Right, so, uhh… how do we wrap up this mess? I was adamant I would not write more than a tweet about this show, and now, here we are 2000+ words later and i’m left wondering if this will even make a dent in this shows rabid popularity. Of course, I don’t exactly ~care~ if people out there like this show but I feel like a lot of the things people find “compelling” or “dynamic” or “rich” about this show are things that are pedestrian and cliche at best and obnoxious and cheap at worst. And let me just say, before some high and mighty type swans in here–no I don’t think you’re a bad person if you like this show, I mean ffs its 2019 and there’s gigabytes of rape hentai out there that’s a million times more explicit and problematic than this show, I simply don’t care what gets your rocks off or what makes you happy or even what you find to be harmless entertainment. I’m not trying to take away your anime, I’m just giving my two cents. Just please don’t go through life pretending like your opinion is the only one that matters when there’s 7 billion other people on this planet whose voice and opinion is just as fucking important to be heard as yours.
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Categories: Winter 2019 Anime