Content warning: Mild gore, gender dysphoria, potential homophobia
What’s it about? Tachibana Hinata can’t catch a break. His best friend Jinguuji Tsukasa is smart, tall, handsome and fit while he’s average in every respect. Outshined by his best friend, he’s never had any luck finding a girlfriend. After the umpteenth time finding no one to go home with after a mixer, he drunkenly wishes he could just be the girl and be fawned over for a change. Good thing the Goddess of Love and Beauty was listening, because she granted him his drunken wish and sent him and Jinguuji to another world to defeat the demon lord. Befuddled by the turn of events, the two friends tell the goddess to go away, angering her and dooming them to be cursed to find each other romantically irresistible. With a burning passion to not fall in love with each other, two 30-somethings embark on a journey to defeat the demon lord before it’s too late.
When Life With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy Knockout was announced, I made a called shot. I said this was going to be a bad show. And honestly, I wasn’t expecting MUCH from it, given it’s kind of a niche story. “A dude gets turned into a girl and they go on a fantasy adventure where everyone is awful and they accidentally kill a god or two” isn’t really a show I expect to headline the season, but…
The production values are actually kinda really good?!!
If anything, it’s probably the best looking show this season featuring a man in a girl’s body, which is oddly enough a whole three shows. How did this veritable shitpost of an anime get so much love and attention? I mean, the art looks good, the OP and ED are solid, and the comedic direction is on point.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful. I am astounded and in awe. My crops; they are watered. My pores; they are cleared. Please, make more TSF anime and give me the worst kind of horny gender-feels. I have a bunch of other great properties you could maybe make into an anime. Call me, anime studios.
But is LWaOGWRIaTFK …. Good?
Starting the series off, the set up is pretty solid. There’s not a lot to get about Tachibana and Jinguuji, but what’s there to set them up as shitlord best friends is solid. As far as character designs go, Tachibana has shark teeth and Jinguuji looks like Roger Smith from The Big O, which is honestly a net positive for me too.
Once the goddess curses them with finding each other irresistible, we’re entreated to what will likely become the running gag of this show, and also the crux that will make or break whether you enjoy it.
Personally, I find it hilarious when two people are doing everything in their power to deny they like each other, and it’s doubly so when there’s some gender bullshit rolled into it. The palatable sexual tension is delicious. Yet, this also can be seen as an elaborate and protracted game of “no homo.”
There’s a kind of underlying homophobia to all of this, or at least a lot of denial, given the protagonists are actively trying not to be honest with themselves to maintain that Tachibana is 1) a dude, and 2) only into women. Their reaction isn’t that unreasonable when you consider the fact that Tachibana is being coerced into being someone he vehemently disagrees with on paper, yet my brainworm addled mind can play some mental gymnastics to say, “no, no, this totally works, you see.”
For one, Jinguuji’s reasons for hanging around Tachibana for all these years partially stems from his inordinate neediness to be with his childhood friend. Having grown distrustful of women who all tend to obsess over how hot he is, Jinguuji’s only source of social solace in the world is his best bud. It’s implied that he has even sabotaged his friend’s chances at meeting any girlfriends so that the two can continue to hang out as bachelors. Regardless of whether this man is gay or not, he’s got feelings for Tachibana that I don’t think either of them have ever recognized.
Meanwhile, Tachibana takes on his new form fairly readily. Usually, winding up in a woman’s body would entail massive dysphoria and panic, but Tachibana wastes no time weaponizing his newfound sex appeal to bewilder his best friend. Really, the only real thing he’s vehemently against seems to be the fact he finds his best friend hot.
Going further, you can also argue that Tachibana explicitly wished himself to be a girl. He explicitly wishes: “I want to be a woman. If I’m always going to feel this small and miserable, I’d rather just become a woman. I want to be a girl so beautiful that I couldn’t possibly exist in this world, and have everyone fawn over me.”
Drunken stupor or not, people usually don’t wish they’re girls unless they are trans.
And with that, I’m kinda okay with this trainwreck of a romance in the making. I think it’s affirming.
Also worth noting, the show does have some grotesque monster designs and gore to boot. Jinguuji dispatches a ferocious monster rabbit with gory ease, and it’s worth noting that there are more such monsters to come. So, do keep that in mind as well.
Having read ahead on the manga, sexual situations are generally kept relatively tame in Fantasy Knockout. The first episode even largely avoids its biggest male-gaze oriented character, the goddess, by giving her a sparkling ethereal body which considerably tones down the sexualization that was present in the manga, so maybe this show will do alright on that end.
All I can say is, I love these assholes. They’re genuinely funny to me. I want horrible things to happening to them. I love to hear them scream. I love to watch them suffer. This is the best anime of the season. But hey, if you’re thinking it’s not quite your cup of tea, go for something a little more toned down.