The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth
How would you rate episode 1 of
Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth ?
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How was the first episode?
Much as I love reverse harem and otome games, I'm forced to admit that they don't always make for the best anime adaptations. That feels like it may be the case with Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth, if for no other reason than it spends most of this first episode introducing the truly staggering amount of potential love interests for protagonist Rei without actually getting to the meat of the story, the new anti-drug crimes unit known as STAND. Basically, we learn that STAND is happening, that Rei has the power to resist virtually all drugs, and see that she tries really, really hard to be a good cop.
Honestly, it wouldn't be quite so much of an issue if it wasn't so apparent that the main goal of the episode was to make sure that all of the fans' favorite romanceable characters showed up. It seems apparent that the romance itself is going to be narrowed down to one or two of the guys, which will almost certainly include Sosei. He's introduced as a “lone wolf,” which is romance novel code for “total asshole,” and that in turn usually means that he's who she'll end up with. Sosei's entire problem with Rei is that he thinks she's a terrible cop who relies on her status as the precious drug-resistant princess of the force to get things done, a theory which Rei herself doesn't understand. She actually does try hard and does her best, but her earnestness seems to get in the way, plus the fact that she appears to be required to wear high heels, which certainly isn't going to help her. Essentially it looks like Rei needs a few more self-defense lessons and to learn to think outside the box a bit, which we do see her start to do when she takes off her heels to pursue a bad guy in this episode. She gets caught, of course, and Sosei has to save her, but at least she tries.
Does this put Rei into the category of “useless otoge heroine?” It certainly runs that risk, and that's something that could continue to hamper the show going forward unless we see her continue along the path of getting rid of her heels. Since she wants to impress Sosei, or rather, get him to acknowledge that she does have something to contribute, it's a real possibility. Unfortunately, along with some truly stiff walking and fairly dull character designs, this isn't going to appeal to many people who aren't already fans of the genre or desperately looking for something female-oriented. Because I am that person, I will give it another couple of episodes – but I can't say that I have tremendously high hopes.
This season sure is heavy on the cop dramas! Following up on the fantasy-action Section 7 and the more traditional procedural Babylon, we now add the unusual Stand My Heroes. So what unique twists does this one offer to the mix?
Well, it's certainly the only one that's more or less an otome game adaptation. Though I initially figured this one would have some sort of sentai twist, given its title and early allusions to heroism, it turns out Stand My Heroes is actually based on a mobile game. In both that game and this episode, the protagonist works as a recruiter for a new special investigation unit, STAND, and tries to pick out the best possible candidates from all across society.
In practice, that combination of variables made this episode feel more dating sim than cop drama, in spite of its dramatic conclusion. Most of this episode was taken up by our heroine Rei Izumi being introduced to a rolling cast of similarly attractive young men, who all offer a line or two of support or flirtation before rambling off screen. Though this is technically supposed to be a police drama, Rei's position within this organization felt so improbable, and her interactions with her coworkers so unprofessional, that it was difficult to really invest in the substance of her problems.
In spite of theoretically all being adults, most of the cast consistently acted like mopey teenagers. Their reactions to Rei run the gamut from “I'll never accept you” to “do you think you'll be able to tame him?”, offering a reasonable cross section of dating sim archetypes, but nothing resembling a functioning police force. You really have to be here for the boys for this show to work; the narrative itself offers only the thinnest possible justification for their relationship with Rei.
Stand My Heroes visual execution is also fairly mediocre. In spite of presumably being this show's main appeal, the designs of the male characters all felt awkwardly similar to me, and there's very little character animation or dynamic direction to speak of. The one brief action scene was actually quite neatly choreographed, but all in all, Stand My Heroes is a largely functional production. Ultimately, Stand My Heroes just feels like a reverse harem with extra steps - the police drama framework chafes awkwardly against the quasi-dating sim tone, making for an oddly stilted experience.
I began to suspect Stand My Heroes' mobile game origins when we were introduced to roughly the 13th pretty anime guy whose looks, nearly identical to every other fellow we'd met so far, were made only barely distinguishable by his somewhat differently styled hair, and his one fashion accessory. I want to say he might have had glasses, or maybe a quirky scarf, but I must admit that by about halfway through this premiere I stopped furiously typing out my character name and backstory chart. I usually need something like that to keep track of large casts (I'm no good with either names nor faces), but Stand My Heroes makes it pretty clear that there is simply not enough time to actually introduce all of these men and their indistinguishable characterizing features. To get more than your basic, first-chapter-in-a-gacha-game levels of introduction, you'll just have to wait another week, or two, or maybe even three. Then again, there's always that free game you could just download if you really wanted to find out more…
I'm not naïve. I know that commercial ambitions are what the whole of the anime industry, because all of the artistic vision in the world won't amount to a hill of beans if nobody bothers to buy your stuff so you can keep the lights on in the studio. That being said, I've never at all be comfortable in productions that so blatantly exist to act as a glorified commercials, especially for products so consistently sleazy in their business practices as free-to-play games. Sometimes, the stars align just right, and you get a creation that transcends its origins and stands on its own as genuine art or entertainment (examples of which include Rage of Bahamut Genesis, Kemono Friends, or even 18if). Other times, fate has no concern for the whims of mere mortals, and you get pablum like Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth. I will give it this: I continue to appreciate more adult driven stories that focus on genres other than fantasy and science-fiction, and the show's execution is functional enough to get you from OP to ED without much to fuss over.
Then again, it's also the kind of otome story where the central heroine, Rei, who has about as much personality as a freshly squeezed cheese-cloth. That is to say, she is mostly limp and featureless, she serves a very limited purpose in the story, and what few defining features she does have sort of stink. Her single useful quality is that she is somehow immune to all drugs, which I suppose is useful for an agency that primarily deals in drug related crimes, but the show acknowledges that she's not even that good at her job, so it isn't like she's a ball of brilliant but uncontrollable energy that will do anything to get the job done. She's just sort of a dweeb, but since she's the hero of a schlocky mobile game anime, the dozens of comically handsome men that surround her are all bound to be captivated by her and drawn in to her world, one way or another. The show is also barely animated, save for a single moderately successful fight scene near the end of the episode, so even though the show presents itself in a functional manner, it's hardly the kind of show that will inspire excitement or passion in its fans. If you're looking for hard-boiled investigative drama this season, stick with something like Babylon. Only diehard genre fans will be able to get much out of this one.
By the end of this first episode I was convinced that I had found the series that I am least likely to follow this season. That's partly because it's just not the type of thing that I like to watch, but much more because the episode shows a litany of problems that I can't see it overcoming anytime soon, if at all.
The source for the series is an otome dating sim with a puzzle element to it. The influence of the latter is glaringly obvious in everything the series does, especially in the broad array of young adult bishonen which are introduced over the course of the episode; there are well over a dozen, I believe. The personality distribution uses most of the most common archetypes seen in otome games, and lead protagonist Rei is placed in a position where she is surrounded by all of these hunks with literally no female competition; I don't think a single female character besides her even has a line of dialogue, and the only ones that even appear are in crowd shots. Further, her job is to scout these hot guys for this elite task force, so she has all the convenient reason she needs to interact with all of these guys and swoon over.
In theory, there's nothing wrong with all of this, as male-oriented dating sims have been plenty guilty of equivalent set-ups over the years. However, even by dating sim standards this all seems painfully contrived. Rei is as bland as they come so she can be the audience stand-in, with even her supposed dedication and enthusiasm for justice not being very convincing; I almost feel sorry for seiyū Misato Murai, who is pulling her first “name” role as Rei, as she was clearly restricted from making Rei too expressive. And how does her curious ability to resist all drugs make her ideally-suited for scouting candidates? I could see it being very useful if she were an undercover agent or a task force member leading the charge, but here it only seemingly exists to assure that she can't be subdued by chloroform. Also, Rei is abysmally stupid. She at least had the common sense to take her heels off before going down a staircase where they would have been detrimental, but what was she going to do if she actually caught up to the assassin? She's got enough moves to escape from a hold but is not shown with a weapon or any skill or capability to subdue a larger adult man. I could almost buy it if she was deliberately setting up a situation to test the white-haired guy, but she shows no indication of being that savvy. Being dedicated to justice means nothing if you're an idiot about it. Of course, if she doesn't do that then you can't have one of the guys come and rescue her.
Yeah, this is just the tip of the iceberg in how patronizing this series already is. Although the one brief action scene was a bit interesting, the series won't be impressing anyone on artistic or technical merits either. Maybe this series might work for dedicated fans of otome games, but even on that judging standard I find it quite weak.
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