Yuichiro UmeharaShizuka ItouManami NumakuraKoji Yusa
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2020: P-Q
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Hiroyuki Kanbe
Writer: Masashi Suzuki
Original creator: Suu Minazuki
Actor: Aoi Ichikawa, Aoi Yuki, Ari Ozawa, Hiroki Touchi, Kei Shindou, Koji Yusa, Manami Numakura, Rina Honnizumi, Shizuka Itou, Toshihiko Seki, Yoshiki Nakajima, Yuichiro Umehara
Keywords: anime, fantasy, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 24 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=21996
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 12 October 2022
plun derer
It's very odd. It's two shows. One is a dumb silly romp with lots of fanservice and a hero who tries to look up unwilling girls' skirts, but they'll fall in love with him anyway. The other is a horrific show of trauma, 300-year-old war and anguished, messed-up heroes who had to kill tens of thousands of people just for the sake of reducing the population. Including children.
I quite liked it, overall, but it has problems. That's the fanservice, mostly.
The weirdest thing about this show is the world it's set in, Alcia. It's ruled by numbers. Everyone in Alcia has a count, branded somewhere on your body. This will rise or fall based on something arbitrary, e.g. the number of press-ups you've done in your life, or the number of times you've saluted a superior officer. If your Count is high, then you can give orders to someone with a lower Count and they're not allowed to disobey. (The show doesn't really explore this, oddly. The scope for abuse of power is terrifying, especially if you bear in mind that your Count also controls your superpower level, if you have one.) Conversely, if your Count falls to zero, disembodied hands will appear and drag you into the ground, never to be seen again.
Our hero is Licht, a goofball who takes nothing seriously, wears silly masks and tries to molest women... but his second, secret Count is the number of people he's killed. There's a girl called Hina who's walked 44,100 km to find Licht, although she doesn't know his name or what he looks like. And there's a lady called Nana with big boobs and a skimpy top that wouldn't reach most people's nipples.
There will be other characters too, but that's how things start. For a while, the show's silly with, occasionally, more serious bits. Our heroes have fights, show off their superpowers and occasionally do nice things. Let's make a children's playground! Let's try to invent a plane! The latter is ep.6 and for a while my main reaction is "why is big-boobed aviator girl still alive?" Her comedic flying attempts look suicidal and she's reached #9, which must be a miracle. Then, though, we learn another strange fact about Alcia and the episode turns genuinely shocking.
I was quite enjoying this light, goofy show... and then, a third of the way through, we suddenly get people getting killed and a WHAT THE HELL? twist. The show goes places I'd never dreamed. The tone gets darker. Then even darker. We learn horrific truths and see how our heroes got broken. Sonohara circa ep.22 is just distressing to think about. Licht had promised not to kill, you see. Lots of fictional heroes do that, e.g. Batman. This show, though, shows the unintended consequences of that promise, explores the related actions Licht took to protect his friends and asks what effects his noble self-sacrifice actually had. You'd have had viewers opening their wrists if this show had had a realistic tone, instead of being candyfloss nonsense.
"Uneven" is the word we're looking for. Some really dark themes are being explored, with gore, pain and lots of killing. At the same time, though, you've also got silly toplessness, bath scenes and panty displays. (No nipples, though.) The characterisation is pretty goofy and shounen manga knockabout, which is unsurprising since this is a Monthly Shounen Ace adaptation... and yet, underneath that, certain characters have hundreds of years' worth of almost unimaginable pain. You can see why some viewers got whiplash. It also has some fascinating worldbuilding that it then doesn't really explore, being more interested in the revelations of how it came to be that way. What would it be like to live in this Count-dominated world? How does society control the inevitable gross abuses of power (many of them probably sexual), or is it this considered inevitable and anything goes? Then there's also the question of why no one ever just ordered the Althing to make food. Are its actions zero-sum, then? These are all huge questions that I can't answer. This anime doesn't show us.
I like this show, though. It's interesting to think about, albeit a bumpy ride. I don't imagine I'll rewatch these episodes, but I'd definitely watch a second season.