The Executioner and Her Way of Life – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser April 1, 20220 Comments
Menou swinging a knife toward her target

Content Warning: Gore, body horror, brief nonconsensual groping

What’s is about? Menou is a priestess tasked with helping the weak and powerless; she is also an executioner for the church, tasked with dispatching the “Lost Ones,” whose terrifying powers make them a danger to the common people. But she also has dreams of a certain stranger—and the most recent Lost One has been dreaming of her too.

Happy spring premieres, AniFam! To celebrate the occasion, I’ve gotten you a “just go watch the show before reading this review” disclaimer, because the first ten minutes of this are a real delight to go into unawares.

Alright, consider that your warning. Now we’re going into the details for everyone who wants a bit of heads’ up.

menou pointing at something. subtitle: and it looks to me like you're in need of money
Pictured: the pitch meeting for a new isekai anime

Since this site started up, there’s almost never been a season without at least two new isekai titles. I’ve reviewed almost two dozen, and I duck those titles whenever I can during the seasonal draft. Not every modern isekai and its cousin VR fantasy is bad—some have been really thoughtful, and some are just a nice, fun time—but I think we can all agree that the genre is well and truly glutted. And I, personally, could happily go a year or two at least without looking at one.

And that is why it is so satisfying when, after nine minutes spent shackled to a typical isekai potato-kun with a ever-less-latent case of megalomania, Menou stabs him in the skull with a knife. It’s beautiful. It’s cathartic. It scratched the same itch that watching School Days does for me, but from a show that’s actually good on purpose.

“What if the denizens of an isekai world got real tired of all these high schoolers with unbridled magical power popping into their world” is a solid twist on the formula, the kind of reversal that seems to straightforward in hindsight that you feel surprised it hasn’t really been done before. And my petty glee aside, this isn’t actually a terribly smug premiere. After that very satisfying stabbing, for instance, the show takes a quiet beat for Menou to mourn the teenager she’s just killed and ruminate on the fact that he was essentially a victim of circumstance. It’s restrained enough not to feel like torture porn and quiet enough that it doesn’t quite turn into empty action spectacle.

I had to include the whole monologue. Because it healed me.

Its world-building is still a little on the basic side, with three societal tiers broadly comprised of “Commons (NPCs), Noblesse (evil nobles), and Faust (The Church of Fancy Magic Priests),” but there are a few nice flourishes that have room to grow. Menou’s monologue about isekai protagonists causing Japanese culture to become prominent in her world, such that the citizens even speak Japanese, has some colonialist undercurrents that would be pretty damn interesting to see explored. And the magic system revolves around materializing concepts and bits of Faust’s scripture into spells, which I’m an absolute sucker for. The action sequences are also slick and inventive, with a good eye for how horrifying these magic powers are meant to be.

And if all that weren’t enough, this is categorized as a yuri series. There are crumbs of setup here for some dramatic, popcorn-munching star-crossed lovers business: Menou has been dreaming of being a high school student with a “very best friend”; meanwhile, the other isekai protagonist still at the king’s castle (y’know, the one it’s Menou’s job to kill?) has been dreaming about going to another world and meeting her “special someone.” While I’m nervous about how the show might contrive ways to keep the couple apart (the phrase “based on an ongoing light novel series” truly sends shivers down my spine), conceptually I am completely on board for this.

Momo squishing her face into Menou's chest. subtitle: demonstrating my love for you is never a waste!

The only downside to report is Menou’s assistant Momo, who I would like to have surgically removed from this series. She’s your stereotypical handsy stalker type, worshipfully nuzzling Menou’s thigh and contriving a reason to take photos of her in a maid costume. It’s agonizing, and the whole scene is less a light reprieve from the drama before it and more a jarring swerve into forced zaniness. The upside is that the visuals themselves are fairly restrained about the goings-on, with minimal camera ogling. Even the maid outfit Menou puts on is completely covering, and the thigh-high split in her normal outfit is drawn pretty neutrally. Maybe my bar for this kind of crap is on the floor, but the amount of relief I felt at how much worse it could’ve been was flooring–particularly since premiere episodes tend to have higher levels of fanservice than the series average in order to draw eyeballs. While I imagine a lot of people will end up sleeping on this one because it got snapped up by HIDIVE, it’s got an ironclad spot on my watchlist.

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