Yet another light novel adaptation from 2015 in which a pure and saintly hero of INCREDIBLE HIDDEN POWER goes to magical fighting school and acquires a harem because all the girls worship him. As does the narrative. If you want to see a hand job in the form of a script, this is the genre for you.
I know of four such shows from 2015 alone. I've probably missed one or two. They're like weeds. Going through in order of palatability for normal people... (a) The Asterisk War is actually fine and I liked it, although its second season was a bit boring. (b) Absolute Duo has some regrettable unintended consequences of its harem set-up, but otherwise I liked that too. (c) Chivalry of a Failed Knight is downright creepy in its implied views of sexual behaviour and I regard the show as fundamentally broken, but it's also the strongest of the four dramatically. I managed to enjoy that show too.
World Break, on the other hand, is bloody awful. It's clearly the worst of the four (so far). The show's first half was so bad that it damaged other anime, because I'd made the mistake of trying to watch them without recovering properly from watching World Break. The second half is better and I actually sort of liked it, but it's still pure protagonist-wank.
The difference between this show and the other three is that World Break is a harem show that eventually develops some magical fighting, not the other way around. It doesn't have a main girl. The harem nonsense in the other three was basically just genre self-indulgence around a central romance, but here the harem is the point. We have two main girls (both romantically linked with our hero in a past life) and an army of secondary haremettes. The cast includes:
MOROHA HAIMURA (m, protagonist) - almost unwatchable, in my opinion. He's a walking cliche. There's nothing there. Almost everything he says and does is defined by his plot role of "Mr Awesome, Perfect And Wonderful." At the start of ep.3, he's modest to the point of mental deficiency about having defeated ep.2's monster. He's so nice to all girls that I thought he crossed the line of leading them on. He's a plot function, not a person. That said, though, he does have two occasionally glimpsed personality traits. Firstly, he's a bit tight-fisted, which in fairness could have been funny if they'd used it for more than half a dozen throwaway lines throughout the entire series. Secondly, he can get a bit dark (seen twice in later episodes). The latter has some potential.
Part of what I don't like about him, especially in the early episodes, is that it's all too easy for him. He can do anything. Any time he's in trouble, he pulls out another power. He's so ridiculously strong that nothing has any cost and everything is cheap. At least that's not true of:
SATSUKI RANJOU (f, big boobs) - Moroha's sister in a past life. Naturally they'd been incestuously shagging. It's anime. It would have a surprise if they hadn't been. Satsuki's throwing herself at Moroha non-stop and you'd think she'd be excited about the prospect of a legal relationship with him, but in fact she keeps calling him "big brother" and jealously guards her status as his little sister. All this is pretty annoying and she has a lot of anti-fans, but personally I thought she was one of the show's strongest characters. She keeps getting into fights that she's going to lose and admits to some fairly shameful motivations for her behaviour. She has to work hard to raise herself above the level of "joke character", until by the end she's genuinely heroic and can go toe-to-toe with baddies alongside Moroha. She earns her victories. Unfortunately the show keeps using her for idiot harem hijinks.
SHIZUNO URUSHIBARA (f, huge boobs) - Moroha's wife in a past life. Personally I didn't really like her, preferring Satsuki, but she's certainly the calmest, most level-headed girl. She has serene, wifely conversations with Moroha... although she's always ready to start bickering with Satsuki and calling her inferior because of her cup size. She also lets Moroha chat up other girls.
MAYA SHIMON (f, frighteningly underage) - sleeps with Moroha, calling herself his body pillow and future harem candidate. I'm pretty sure they don't do anything, though.
ELENA ARSHAVINA (f, huge boobs) - the show's one worthwhile character. She's a Russian assassin who gets a crush on Moroha and... good grief, it hurts to continue. However she can be funny (e.g. her cultural cluelessness and suicidal gloom attacks) and she brings the show to life dramatically when she shows up. You could almost say that it gets good. Unfortunately she ends up calling herself Moroha's sister and having "I'm his little sister" fights with Satsuki.
TOKIKO KANZAKI (f, huge boobs) - talks non-stop filth and introduces herself by grabbing Moroha's arse or crotch. At one point, she mock-rapes him in public.
SOPHIE MERTESACKER (f, huge boobs) - American, blonde, also fancies Moroha. Speaks annoying Engrish.
HARUKA MOMOCHI (f, normal boobs) - magical skill: speedster. Technically yet another harem member, but less overtly than most of the girls and she's actually more important for her relationship with Satsuki.
MARI SHIMON (f, huge boobs) - the headmistress of Akane Academy. Yes, even the academic staff is basically there for the fanservice.
VASILISA YURYEVNA MOSTVAYA (f, huge boobs, always half-naked) - the evil Russian Lightning Emperor. Yes, even the villains are basically there for the fanservice.
ANGELA JOHNSON (f, huge boobs) - English secret agent and, unbelievably, a girl with no romantic feelings for Moroha at all! She has a crush on her boss instead. However that won't stop them waking up naked in bed together at the start of ep.10, with Moroha suffocating in her boobs.
Male characters can also be seen upon occasion. Also, in fairness, the show's fanservice is more restrained than it might have been. The camera keeps leering at clothed boobs, but this isn't a nudity show and we don't see nipples. It's an eye-roller that the school's uniform for magical practice is swimsuits, but at least those swimsuits are standard school issue, i.e. modest one-piece leotards.
What else is there in the show? There must be something. Umm... well, there's the "past lives" gimmick. Magical power comes from your past lives. Moroha's so mega-super-awesome partly because he has not one but TWO!!!! past lives, despite the fact that you'd think everyone would have a string of them. I'd decided that this was bullshit by the start of ep.2. However I like the idea in principle, since it's fairly original and allows extreme backstories.
I also liked the Russian story arc. Moroha's response to the Elena situation is pretty extreme, plus of course Elena herself is cool. The samurai-like Russian warriors made me roll my eyes with their "my duty is death!" wank (Not Very Russian), but the Lightning Emperor is everything you'd expect from a Russian warlord dictator. (Well, apart from the stripperiffic outfit.)
It's just that everything's about Moroha. Everything. The main girls will get story arcs or B-plots, but their heroism tends to be shunted offscreen and/or immediately overshadowed by Moroha. When he walks through a window in ep.4 to confront the baddies and rescue Shizuno (which looks cool, yes, but there was also a door), she was being threatened with the torture of... studying abroad. Away from Moroha! Shock, horror! The authorities command their armies not to fight back against monsters, forcing Moroha to disobey orders and save the day! I was briefly hopeful when a dragon attacked in ep.11 while Moroha was in Russia, thus making the supporting cast band together against it. Fantastic! A crisis for once that's not Moroha-centric... oh bugger. I spoke too soon. "Our faint wish is for Moroha to return." The dragon turns the town into an apocalypse and there's nothing anyone can do but wait for Moroha! Their ultimate weapon is a teleportation spell to bring our hero back!
That's without mentioning the harem silliness. Girls fight over him. "I'll prove to you that I'm the most worthy of being Moroha's love!"
If it helps, mind you, the light novels' fans also hate this anime. I'm not going to be reading the books any time soon, but apparently the studio tried to cover five volumes in these twelve episodes, plus an anime-original dragon arc. That's just silly. Even if the original books are as thin as I'm currently imagining them, they'd surely still have far more depth and polish than this. Apparently the anime made lots of cringeworthy changes and simplified the story. Incidentally it really won't have helped that the studio, Diomedea, were doing four shows in the January-March 2015 season. (The other three are Unlimited Fafnir, Kantai Collection and Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!) Perhaps for that reason, the budget and production values here are poor. Ep.11's pillow fight looks terrible, while I'm not sure Kaito Ishikawa isn't sometimes phoning in his performance as Moroha. ("Omoi. Dashita.")
I've been bashing this show so much that I should emphasise that I basically liked the second half. I'm also clearly not the show's target audience and there will be plenty of people who really got into it. A lot of what I'm objecting to is simply the genre. However I don't think it's just that. Moroha really is painful. He breaks the show by failing so dismally to become a person, instead merely being a vehicle for adolescent wish-fulfilment. Similarly the black hole of Moroha-gravity keeps sucking the focus away from characters I think are actually getting an interesting story arc, i.e. Satsuki.
Oh good grief. I've just seen the title of Diomedea's other 2015 show. (They made five that year.) Sky Wizards Academy...