Content Warning: Blood, nudity, dementia as punchline
What’s it about? Saitou is your everyday average Joe: a man who’s an ordinary handyman. Well…until he gets reincarnated into another world with a haphazard party of adventurers in need of a jack-of-all-trades capable of doing just about anything!
As Kel of Keenan and Kel once said… Ah, here it goes. And goes it does, though this time, it’s with Handyman Saitou in another world (hereafter Handyman Saitou): a series that, on paper, focuses on a Bob the Build-esque blue collar dude in, well…another world. It’s another entry into this season’s theme of guy with a normal personality does stuff in a fictional world that doesn’t involve him being OP.
In execution? Whelp. That’s part of the equation. This is a comedy, so jokes also factor in, and let me tell you, this is a very Your Milage May Very kind of show.
Episode 1, “The Handyman Who Got a New Life in Another World,” begins with Saito opening up his toolbag and putting the “handyman” in “Handyman Saitou.” It’s immediately emblematic of what this series is going to be about: Saitou traveling with a crew of otherworldly creatures through dungeons, picking locks and plundering goods.
Saitou’s crew of motley adventurers includes: the wizard Morlock, a man whose joke is that his memory is failing him due to dementia; the pixie-sized fairy Lafanpan, who doles out healing magic like a strict parent doles out allowance and fully expects to get paid for her hard work; and the awkward but very pretty lady knight Raelza, who’s no Alanna of Trebond nor a purple-eyed knight of the realm, but just kind of a nerd who’s almost always in armor. They’re the most hodgepodge crew of adventurers: even the group in Delicious in Dungeon is more together than this.
From there, this is just kind of a story about Saitou’s life as part of this adventurer party, armed not with the gift of the gods nor some sort of cheat, but years of knowhow and common sense as a blue collar worker, leaving you with the sense that Saitou will be okay…even if he’s with some really quirky folks.
One thing that sticks out is how brown this is–and I don’t mean the cast.The color scheme looks like someone spilled a pot of paint into the bright colors, and suddenly, Oops! All muted tones! It’s kind of jarring in a show that’s suppose to be a comedy, which to me, indicates brighter colors. There’s times when we get a bit of brightness, but by and large, it’s just jarringly grim.
That said, the animation is actually quite good at times. I was a bit shocked at some of the action sequences, which feel like they have really good impact. I can’t tell if this is because I went in with such neutral expectations or not: either way, this show looks pretty dang good.
However, that’s not enough to convince me this needed to be one twenty-four minute episode versus, say, two shorts—or maybe even three. There’s enough here to be an average show, but I think things would really shine if we got little snippets of adventures with Saitou fixing things or using his blue collar “thief” skills for the sake of the party. Then again, this is just the premiere: I fully expect this one to grow on me.
The concept of a blue collar worker suddenly being thrust into a fantastical world is enticing, I’ll admit: it’s one of my top five jobs I’d select for otherworldly travel. (The others tend to be doctor, therapist, people who go on Naked and Afraid, a plumber, and that guy that can use the fushigi ball really well in the commercial because that’s a magic all its own.)
I actually quite liked Handyman Saitou: I think its narrative of needing others and wanting to be needed is a strong starting point for a comedy that’s got a bit of heart to it. I also think the fact that we just don’t how Saitou came to be in this world is a nice touch too, adding a healthy dollop of mystery. My vote? He probably like, fell down a manhole he was fixing and BAM! Isekai’d, baby!
Honestly, my biggest complaint is that I did not like that the world’s measurement was based on a famous King’s gigantic genitalia. I laughed only because I felt so shocked and uncomfortable, especially because we get a big ‘ol eyeful of blacked out penis and like…this just isn’t funny. Like, could you imagine if inches or centimeters were because of someone’s sizable wizard’s rod? I mean, you could, but like, you don’t have to. On a more minor note, I just don’t think jokes about memory loss or dementia are funny, and I worry that that’ll continue to be a running gag with old man wizard over there. It’s one note and it’ll likely never appeal to me: I just hope that maybe, the joke changes, just a little.
Ultimately, Handyman Saitou in another world is perfectly good entertainment. It’s not necessarily the most hilarious gutbuster, but I found myself drawn in enough that I’d like to watch more, just to see what happens to Saitou. Give it a try: it might be the laid back anime Home Improvement you’ve always wanted (sans right-wing jackass).