A Salad Bowl of Eccentrics – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson April 5, 20240 Comments
Closeup of Sara holding up a copy of the manga Detective Conan, pointing to it and looking seriously at Sosuke

What’s it about? Sosuke is a private detective struggling to make ends meet, but his life changes when a runaway princess from another world falls out of the sky and takes an interest in his line of work.

The first thing I can say about A Salad Bowl of Eccentrics is that it’s very silly—and I don’t think the creators of the show would disagree with me on this. This reverse isekai (a rare example!) is so far lighthearted and light on logic. If this premiere wasn’t so sodden with fanservice I’d be inclined to call this charming and be intrigued for more, but as it is I’m left a little wary and weary.

Mercifully, there’s not out-and-out sexual imagery of the 13-year-old Princess Sara, just… slightly skeevy storyboarding that has my hackles up. When she falls through the portal to Earth, she gets stuck and temporarily exists as only a pair of legs and some underpants. They’re old-fashioned frilly bloomers that cover everything, but still, it’s hard to get past the decision to introduce Sara to Sosuke undies-first. Later, the outfit she’s given to blend into her new surroundings features a short, short skirt. We’re not allowed to forget this: soon after is a scene where the camera angle repeatedly cuts her off at the waist, leaving her as only a pair of bare legs for a discomfiting amount of screentime. 

Sara standing on a coffee table while Sosuke sits on the couch below her. The shot cuts off the view of her body so the audience can only see the hem of her skirt and her legs

Again, not overtly sexual imagery—the more traditional fanservice is reserved for Sara’s (20-year-old) lady knight protector, Lyla. She’s a very clean gal, Lady Lyla: she bathes in the river shortly after following her princess to Japan, the audience treated to multiple closeups of her getting undressed and more than one shot of her bare butt; and we get to see her in the shower in the next episode preview. The camera also dives down her cleavage in the opening credits—which, I can’t help but notice, introduce us to a cast full of similarly-cute young women, with the hapless and ordinary Sosuke in the middle of them all. 

It’s not that the premise isn’t interesting; like I said, at times this premiere is quite entertaining. But at this stage, I can’t help but sigh, and sigh, until I start deflating like a dodgy air mattress, when I see a lineup like this. A lackluster male protagonist, designed to be as visually generic as possible, is positioned as the relatable “everyman” at the center of a cast of much more colorful, quirky, out-of-this-world female characters.

Sosuke staring in comical horror as Sara points ahead, looking confident

I can see it now: every episode or two, a new weird and powerful girl joins the cast, the detective agency expanding and Sosuke’s sad little apartment becoming more lively as they solve case-of-the-week mysteries. Sosuke’s life becomes forcibly more vibrant as these manic magical girls pull him out of his rut, and he gets the chance to be a hero that he’s been secretly wishing for all these years. Sara’s magic always pulls them out of trouble at the last minute, and lady knights take lovingly-animated showers every now and again. Wheeeee.

Okay, listen, that could in fact be a bit of fun—like I said, Salad Bowl is affectionately aware of its own silliness and seems to be leaning into it with a grin. But the charm is smudged by the relentless ogling of Lyla and the iffiness with which the camera frames Sara, and by the narrative’s presumption that the audience needs an “everyman” male character as the anchor point for its wacky adventures. Maybe the fanservice will taper off, maybe Sosuke will emerge as a much more nuanced and distinct character than I’ve given him credit for. I’d be interested in giving this three episodes to see. But as of the premiere, something tastes off about this particular salad and I think I might put the bowl down. 

About the Author : Alex Henderson

Alex Henderson is a writer and managing editor at Anime Feminist. They completed a doctoral thesis on queer representation in young adult genre fiction in 2023. Their short fiction has been published in anthologies and zines, their scholarly work in journals, and their too-deep thoughts about anime, manga, fantasy novels, and queer geeky stuff on their blog.

Read more articles from Alex Henderson

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