Re:Monster – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser April 2, 20240 Comments
an orc carrying a stone arrowhead

Content Warning: implied sexual slavery, gore, animal death, fanservice

What’s it about? After being stabbed to death, Tomokui Kanata wakes in the body of an infant orc. By day three he’s full-grown, and determined to survive in this new world. Fortunately, he seems to have carried over some abilities from his previous life.

I am, frankly, appalled. The opening theme for Re:Monster is one of the worst I’ve sat through in a while, with an extremely leaden rap performance that includes the phrase, if I am hearing correctly, “ding ding dong, like King Kong.” The characters—of which there are way too many to realistically fill out in 12 episodes—have an unpleasant plastic flatness to them. There is a woman with a bad case of bushnip.

a woman's breasts with the nipples covered by leaves
And yes, she smokes weed

It’s a hypnotic kind of bad, but then it ends and the show plays the biggest joke of all: it’s just a-fucking-nother one. It is another reincarnation power fantasy isekai with status screens and leveling mechanics where the protagonist gets OP real fast by absorbing enemy skills, and that in this spontaneous-evolution-based universe the men get buffer and more monstrous while the women stay curiously thin and curvaceous.

It’s not like it doesn’t have the potential to be bits-to-the-bus unhinged, tasteless, and visually creative, with Chio’s School Road and Birdie Wing director Inagaki Takayuki at the helm and the scriptwriter of the original Bastard! OVA Yamaguchi Hiroshi at his side. Easily the best thing this premiere has going for it is the revelation that our protagonist, Tomokui-nee-Gobrou, isn’t your average ordinary salaryman; no, he came from a different overpowered fantasy universe with silly wannabe-cyberpunk outfits before having his chest ventilated by a woman who we know only for her horny murder voice and ominous 2000s sticky lip gloss.

Sure, the result of leaning into those brief moments and the mammary parade of the opening would likely run this show headlong into the arms of objectifying misogyny, but at least I wouldn’t be so bored. It’s not like there’s a rich vein of female character writing we’d be derailing. While I’ll give the designs in the opening some credit for showing women in states of dress from “none” to “full armor,” the only girls we actually see in the episode proper are the miniskirt murderer and Gobmi, who joins the hunting party exclusively because of how strong and hot and smart and awesome Gobrou is.

Gobmi holding a crossbow
Don’t worry y’all, she does evolve an hourglass at the end. Crisis averted.

I tell a lie. There are some more women: they’re naked, faceless human ladies trapped in a back cavern, because at some point the idea that goblins are primarily rampaging rapists went from being a specific porn trope to an accepted bit of worldbuilding for a particular kind of hack fantasy writer. Gobrou decides not to think about it, and the topic doesn’t come up again.

Then again, I’m not sure how bombastic the show can get under the auspices of Studio DEEN. I’ve long had a quiet admiration for how the studio’s longest-tenured artists can stretch limited assets into excellence, a skill that only becomes more valuable as the industry continues to break itself on an untenable output level. But it’s a model that heavily relies on clever boarding and strong source material to achieve the best result. Inagaki definitely created something incredible with those golf girls, but he’s got a much weaker hand to start from this time around. Less rainbow bullet, more speed lines and dead animals.

Maybe it’ll shake off the doldrums and commit to being memorably tasteless, but even then I can’t see myself getting excited about it when I already find the protagonist uninspired, the setting rote, and the visuals alienating. If you’re a big isekai fan and the fact that it might do something a little bit different with Tomokui’s previous life is enough to bait the hook, you could conceivably peek your nose in on this one. Everyone else should probably step safely outside the splash zone.

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