Chained Soldier – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson January 4, 20240 Comments
Closeup of a young woman in military-style uniform, smirking down at the camera with a bright white light behind her. Subtitle text reads: It's time to bow down.

Content Warning: fanservice, enslavement

What’s it about? High schooler Yuuki is just trying to live a meaningful life in a world where portals to a demon realm spontaneously open, and a squad of superpowered women are routinely deployed to fight monsters and keep the populace safe. He gets his chance to be a hero when he ends up caught in one of these battles and meets Commander Kyouka, a girl with the power to “enslave” and temporarily control monsters. It turns out her power also works on Yuuki and turns him into the most powerful fighter around if he consents to being chained by her magic… and if she gives him an appropriate reward afterwards.

Where do we start with this one? The worldbuilding makes it clear that only women can get superpowers from exposure to the otherworld’s magic, and this has created some kind of matriarchal society where men and boys live life “on hard mode,” at least according to our male narrator. The action-fantasy set-up requires one person to “enslave” another, and at the end of that contract, the “enslaved” party must be rewarded for their service with something they desire. So… this series already wants to tackle gender inequality, gender roles, and consent through its fantasy set-up, which are all very gnarly topics. Is Chained Soldier going to be a story that digs into these themes in an interesting and complex way? Look, never say never, but… this premiere is so silly that my expectations are pretty low.

Two schoolgirls, one floating above the ground, the other using her hair to hold her schoolbag. Subtitle text reads: Peaches don't grant powers to us guys...
A teenaged boy looking out a window, down at the girls in the previous screencap. Subtitle text reads: From the second we're born, we're living life on hard mode.
Wow! What a dystopia that must be, being treated differently because of the gender you’re assigned at birth!

This premiere is also much tamer than I was expecting, given its kinky premise, and given how keenly HIDIVE announced that it was streaming the UNCENSORED VERSION. All in all, the sexual imagery and content in this episode is light, albeit odd and uncomfortable. Yuuki getting magically dominated consists of him licking Kyouka’s fingers and then transforming into some sort of Digimon-looking thing, the sequence emphasizing the collar around his neck and the chains spiralling around his body. His reward is Kyouka rubbing herself against him and kissing him sloppily with full tongue, to which he appears horrified at first, but later reverently whispers “My first kiss…”

Kyouka is apparently compelled to make out with Yuuki (presumably as part of the magical contract?) and dives at him, blushing and ravenous, while protesting that she doesn’t normally do this sort of thing. Yuuki practically faints from shock. Is either of them actually enjoying this? Some short camera shots highlight the squish of Kyouka’s boobs against Yuuki’s chest and the hem of her skirt inching up her thigh, but aside from those moments of perfunctory fanservice, I’m not actually 101% sure this scene is meant to be sexy. Yuuki is comically wide-eyed the whole time, Kyouka moves her tongue like a lizard trying to eat a bug, and the whole thing feels a bit ridiculous. The viewing experience is not unlike awkwardly walking past two newly-dating teenagers sucking face when you just want to get to class. Parodic sexy saxophone music plays quietly in the background for this whole scene, by the way.

Closeup of Kyouka and Yuuki's faces. She is holding his cheek with one hand, tilting her head, and beginning to stick her tongue out. He is blushing and looks shocked. Subtitle text reads: I'm usually indifferent to this kind of... behavior...
Is she going to unhinge her jaw and eat him?

It’s difficult to get a read on the show’s tone—it has elements of dark fantasy, with hyper-serious action scenes and tragic backstories, but it also has wacky, upbeat ecchi comedy elements like above-mentioned lizard-kiss and Yuuki getting hired as the housekeeper for a dorm full of superpowered demon-hunting girls. Despite how kink seems baked into the premise via fantasy contrivance, this is probably not the series to follow if you want a nuanced (or even fun) depiction of sub/dom relationships, or any kind of conversation around power dynamics in partnerships. Given that the fight scenes are just okay, the monster designs are pretty dull, and the characters flat, there’s not that much else here that appeals, either. It’s a vehicle for an awkward, adolescent version of a dominatrix fantasy that doesn’t seem to have much of an actual story propping it up.

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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