Content Warning: sexual assault, false accusation narratives
What’s it about? Nick is a veteran adventurer who spent years dedicating himself to his team until he was suddenly thrown out of his party with no explanation. Despite his bitter outlook on life, he eventually meets other jaded adventurers and together they decide to form a party based on their mutual desire to earn an income for their daily survival.
I’ll admit the first thing that took me by surprise was the fact that idols exist in this fantasy world at all. While it makes sense that Nick needed some semblance of joy in his life considering what he has been through, it just felt extremely out of place and I have to wonder how Agate (the idol) will factor into the plot later on. Maybe she’ll join the party and defeat the Demon King with the power of music? Who knows! Jokes aside, I’m surprised by how competent this premiere turned out to be.
Even though this isn’t an isekai series, the point I made in an earlier review still stands: it’s going to become much harder to talk about isekai and fantasy shows if they keep following the same formula. The premise for this series is at least a bit more innovative since all the party members are extremely frustrated and angry with how their lives have turned out. No one has any grand ideals of helping people or saving the world since nothing good has ever come out of them doing the right thing. The main players just want to earn a livelihood in order to be able to eat and sleep at night.
Nick’s story takes up the bulk of the episode, but Tiana’s story (the mage) surprisingly reminds me of tropes I often see in stories about villainesses. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
Her fiance breaks up with her because she’s supposedly bullying his side-chick at school – check
The fiance overall has a severe inferiority complex to her because she’s so powerful – check
The fiance forces his ex-fiancee to quit school – check
The list goes on. However, Tiana isn’t a perfect character and her attempts to find anything joyful in her life leads her to develop a gambling addiction, which pushes her to find a job since she keeps losing her money betting on horse races. It’s a shame that Tiana’s backstory is skimmed over so quickly in favor of getting to know the rest of the cast. I honestly think that if they had cut out the idol portions of the episode then there would have been more time to cover all main characters’ backstories instead of trying to rush everything for the sake of moving the plot forward.
Having said all of that, I wasn’t prepared for how uncomfortable Zem’s (the priest) backstory would make me feel. The gist of Zem’s story is that he was a kind priest who helped out his community and a young girl named Miril had a crush on him. Zem rejects her confession and this is where things really took a dark turn. Miril couldn’t handle the rejection, so she lies to the entire community that she was raped by Zem and he’s ex-communicated from the church. It’s important to mention that Miril is still a young girl and the way the episode frames her anger frustrates me because it falls into that gender essentialist nonsense that “women can’t control their emotions” and therefore they will do “irrational things”.
Everything about Zem and Miril is awful, because every time anyone brings up “some folks lie about rape,” it usually leads to bad faith arguments. False accusations do happen, but they generally make up less than 1% of cases. More often than not, abusers are always given far more grace than survivors of sexual violence; and fiction about false accusations is overwhelmingly less interested in acknowledging this “small percentage” element (rarely do they acknowledge that harassment and assault IS common for many — they’re more likely to replicate other elements of that same rape culture for titillation or wish fulfillment) and more in holding up a narrative where men in power are actually the most victimized group in society. The world already makes it hard for survivors to come forward with their stories, and most of the time there isn’t much of a safety net for survivors to rely on for protection after they speak their truth. I have no idea how Zem’s storyline is going to be handled, but if that close up frame of Miril’s angry crying face is any indication then I’m not looking forward to future episodes.
Frankly, it’s a dark shadow to an otherwise decent premiere and while it does try to do something new with its basic premise, I don’t think it’s strong enough to keep me around, but maybe the few interesting aspects of this series will at least keep isekai and fantasy fans entertained.