Follows the school life of a teenage centaur named Himeno, and her friends, who happen to be mermaids, angels, and other mystical creatures.
Source: Anime News Network
Over the course of both watching this show and writing this review, I was assured from multiple sources that lots of people really like the manga, and that it improves drastically after its first chapter. I cannot judge this future potential, because it is not here in front of my eyes. And if it is indeed true, this premiere does the single worst job of selling that promise I’ve ever seen.
Y’know that moment where Charlie Brown runs toward the football and Lucy pulls it away, like a boot stomping on a human face forever? This episode was that for me.
The show opens with a kiss between two of the female protagonists… and focuses the camera on their very shiny, sexualized lips. Then we learn they’re just rehearsing a play, and the part of the prince was supposed to go to a boy originally, and he wrote the kiss into the centaur girl’s script to trick her into kissing him. Whomp.
Then it turns out that maybe centaur girl Hime and demon girl Nozomi really do have feelings for each other… but the student council president forbids them from kissing because it’s “weird.” WHOMP.
The play they’re putting on ends with a cute cheek kiss and the audience loves it!…but it’s preceded by multiple fat jokes at the expense of Hime and one of her classmates. W H O M P.
The opening theme has shots of several couples, including two girls… and also the main trio in lingerie and battle bikinis. WHOMP WHOMP.
Over and over the show would do something to pique my interest and then slam me into the dirt. By the end of the first short (the episode is comprised of two stories), I was thoroughly annoyed at the squandered potential. Not only were the rather likable protagonists squashed under all this interfering garbage, but the crush between Hime and Nozomi doesn’t come up once in the second act, so I have no way of knowing if it’s genuine or a one-off baiting joke.
A N D T H E N.
The second half opens with a world-building lecture on the evolution of the various subspecies of monster people. Sure, fine (and, point in its favor, male and female versions of monsters are basically equitable). During that lecture, the episode makes a sharp tonal shift into talking about the atrocities of discrimination perpetuated between the races throughout history, complete with sepia-toned image plates that are genuinely horrific. Forget the Made in Abyss manga; why’d nobody warn me about this?
The teacher caps off the lecture by positing that if humans had grown up to “only” have differences in skin and hair color, there probably wouldn’t have been much discrimination. I think this was the show trying to include some kind of (very ineptly delivered) social commentary, but I couldn’t articulate that for you because my jaw was busy hitting the floor.
Then, as I knelt to pick up said jaw, the teacher comments that “equality is more important than civil rights or life itself” while shadowy government agents watch her from the doorway and nod approvingly, and what are you even trying to say, show? Why have you separated “equality” from the struggle for civil rights, as though they are oppositional forces rather than the latter striving to achieve a state of the former?
“Ah,” I thought to myself, already knowing I was deep within a well of willful deceit, “perhaps this is meant to be a narrative about how the most privileged group holds all others to their standard without acknowledging the baked-in societal prejudices and hardships faced by oppressed minorities.”
Then the show cuts to the trio going on a school run.
Satyr girl Kyoko can’t keep up with her friends, y’see. Worried they won’t be back in time for their next class, Hime offers to carry her. This is when we find out that centaurs were previously oppressed and used as slave mounts, and modern laws were conceived in order to prevent that from ever occurring again. How does the episode spin this?
Kyoko says she can’t ride on Hime because she’d be accused of discrimination and taken to a “correctional clinic.” Yes. This poor innocent member of an oppressed group just offered to help her friend, totally fine with being a mount, and the mean ol’ law stands in the way of the interaction. IT IS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAAAAAAAAAAAD, READERS. THERE ARE LITERAL PC POLICE.
(And, again, if the manga’s intent was to foreshadow the continued existence of discrimination that’s being wallpapered over or outlawed in discussion, then the anime is completely failing to convey that by focusing on anti-discrimination laws as the silencing force.)
I had difficulty absorbing things after that point. This is like the anti-Interviews with Monster Girls. Sure, that turned into kind of a creepy harem show at points, but at least it attempted to talk about discrimination and disability in a meaningful way. This is some borderline Red Pill shit, here, and it puts an indelible black mark on what seems like a potentially sweet series.
I just don’t see the appeal at all.
Read the ANN Preview Review Guide.
Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; they. what. how. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, listen to them podcasting on Soundcloud, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.
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