BACK ARROW – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser January 9, 20210 Comments
a naked man gesturing broadly with smoke covering his crotch

Content Consideration: Animal death (hunting)

What’s it about? The land of Lingalind is ringed by a wall said to represent the edge of the world; within it, two warring nations race to claim the contents of ships that fall from parts unknown and contain powerful weapons. One such ship falls in an impoverished village in the neutral lands of Iki, and contains not weapons but a naked amnesiac who claims he came from beyond the wall.

If watching this premiere feels like you’ve stumbled on an erstwhile Studio TRIGGER anime, there’s a reason for that: the series composer is Nakashima Kazuki, who worked as the series composer on Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill and wrote the script for PROMARE. This first episode already shows a lot of the broad highs and lows that his male-led stories in particular are known for—we’ve got a doofy himbo of an action hero (you can tell because he passed my patented Brendan Test, which asks, “could this character be played by Brendan Fraser?”), some broad nudity-based comedy, and female characters (at least one of which wears a boobtastic outfit) that seem neat and interesting but have to sit on the sidelines when it’s time for the really important stakes to kick off.

split screen of a raider and a cute pink and white robot. subtitle: My conviction is "I'll manage somehow!"

Combine that with a very Escaflowne-esque fantasy aesthetic where advanced technology is mostly contained to “magical” weapons of war, and there’s a very comfortable familiarity to this premiere. After an opening misdirect that sets up several high-ranking players from the Republic of Rekka, it’s fairly easy to count the beats of the mysterious stranger who becomes the hero of the small town that’s unwittingly adopted him (after they try to eat him).  But familiar doesn’t have to mean bad, especially when it’s executed as well as it is here. The whole staff feels unified on the kind of series it wants to make, from the goofs to the robots.

a robot thrusting a halberd toward the camera

Oh yes, did I mention the mecha? It’s the main combat gimmick for the series, with magical techno armbands (Bind Warpers) that sense your inner conviction (basically, your strongest ideal) and visualize that as a robot (BriHeight). Yes, it’s the most Nakashima thing I’ve ever heard too. In Back Arrow’s case, his lack of identity means his BriHeight has the malleability of the T-1000, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eager to see what kind of cool action stunts the series intends to pull off with that kind of concept. Experience tells me this is setting up to be a “no thoughts, only feelings” type of ride with a lot of engaging spectacle, and I’m okay with that.

Back Arrow with children trying to bite him. subtitle: cut it out, you jerks! Ow, ow! Let go!

The biggest mystery hanging over this whole affair is the fact that director Taniguchi Goro is splitting duties this season between this and the also-promising Skate-Leading Stars. Could be that I’m wrong, but given the grueling nature of anime production I doubt that a person could pour themselves equally into two simultaneously airing shows and stay alive. More likely one will have to fall by the wayside a bit on sheer practicality, and I don’t wish that on either show. Back Arrow might be a title I end up dropping purely to keep my watchlist manageable, but for now it seems like a fun, light way to spend some time.

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: