The Summer 2020 Preview Guide
Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time
How would you rate episode 1 of
Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time ?
What is this?
In a fantasy setting, adventurer Peter Grill has just become the first human in 150 years to win the decennial Grand Fighting Tournament, which earns him the title of strongest warrior in the world. He wants nothing more as a follow-up than to wed his beloved Luvellia, whose father has been reluctant to grant his blessing. The problem is that becoming the strongest has made him a target for women seeking him as breeding stock for strong children, and two sexy ogre sisters, who are also fellow guild mates, are especially persistent about it. Can Peter remain faithful in the face of such temptation when Luvellia is so innocent that she seems unaware about sex?
How was the first episode?
Occasionally, perhaps once every three or four anime seasons, we end up with an anime production that really, desperately wants to actually be porn. What narratives these shows possess are essentially vestigial; the goal here is displaying copious boobs and butts, and if the entire narrative can be summarized in the cold open, so much the better. This season, Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time clocks in as a new entry in this genre, and once again, I'm left wondering why it's not just porn altogether.
Okay, I actually do sorta know the reason why - if a show like this can air prior to its bluray release, and tempt potential buyers with lots of soon-to-be-removed light beams, it can vastly expand its potential audience. It's thus no surprise that this episode's big climax involves two ogre ladies entirely shedding their clothes, while promising even more softcore nudity from the eventual disc release. Outside of this episode's copious fanservice, Peter Grill mostly seems to be cashing in on the recent monster girl trend, by presenting a narrative where all sorts of fantastical ladies want to claim Grill's high-quality semen. This episode has essentially two jokes: “girls want Peter's junk,” and “Peter's girlfriend Luvellia is sexually oblivious,” and the combination of those two jokes in repetition and a whole lotta fanservice makes up the entirety of this first episode.
Peter Grill's plotting and character writing are too basic to warrant any emotional investment, and its visual execution is strictly functional. Pretty much the only sell here is the fanservice, and even the fanservice seems to be telling audiences to wait for the blurays - additionally, since it's all framed as a series of comedy gags, this episode isn't even really “erotic” so much as it is just full of nudity. On the whole, even when compared to other softcore porn anime, Peter Grill just doesn't have much to recommend it.
Man, I just got done writing my preview of Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!, and I finished it by saying people looking for a good comedy would be better off watching “almost anything else”. Well, here comes Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time to give you an idea of what the “almost” in that statement might refer to, because boy howdy was this premiere all kinds of bad. It has only one redeeming quality so far as I can see, which is that at only twelve minutes long, it is mercifully short…though not short enough, unfortunately.
If we look past the ho-hum artwork and awfully generic fantasy setting that Peter Grill offers us in this first episode, all we have left to dissect is the premise: Peter Grill is such a super cool and awesome badass knight that he's just constantly mobbed by women of all types (and species), just for the opportunity to get some of Peter's potent procreation potion all up in their loins. Peter's engaged to the sweet and virtuous Luvellia, though, and he would never betray her faith just to get down and dirty with horny ogre girls and the like…OR WOULD HE!?!?
That's it. That's the show. On one hand, Peter doesn't want to cheat on his fiancé, but on the other, there are just so many naked bodies being thrust in his general direction. Blegh. As far as I'm concerned, a dumb-on-purpose anime sex comedy needs to have, at the very least, a functional understanding of how sex and comedy work. Based on this premiere, Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time fails even at that, since it isn't terribly sexy, and it sure as hell isn't funny. In a season that is already incredibly light on material, ecchi fans are living in a veritable wasteland this summer. I guess there's always Interspecies Reviewers to rewatch?
As a half-length show, Peter Grill has to get to the point very quickly, and it does so by just dumping its premise in your lap. Peter Grill is a super strong fantasy hero who loves his girlfriend, but she's so gosh darn sheltered she doesn't even know what sex is. (Un)Luckily his status as the strongest man in the world means every fantasy race girl from here to Mordor is just aching to spermjack him and foster some ubermench babies. What follows is the first of presumably many voluptuous fantasy women trying to ride his bologna pony bareback and stir up some clam chowder. If that sounds crude let me point out the official translation uses phrases like “goof juice” and “junk spunk” so really I'm just operating in the spirit of this show.
There's really not much to pick at, however. Peter Grill's absurd premise and tawdry delivery leave it barely 1 step removed from any given hentai doujin, just with all the nipples whited out before the pay-cable release a few days from now. And like most porn the deciding factor on whether you'll like anything about it is if you get off to cheating-fetish softcore. Does the thought of a guy gradually but inevitably giving into his sexual desires with a pair of ogre sisters get your motor running? If so then this is the show for you, and everyone else need not apply. Otherwise you'll be left scratching your head over questions you're really not meant to ask.
That said there's not really much to partake in here even if you're just after some fetish fodder. Peter's “seduction” scene is barely 10 seconds long thanks to the run time, and immediately after touching his first boob it cuts to the next morning with him ashamed and miserable. Aside from 3 frames of whited out nudity there's not really much titillation outside of the concept, almost like reading a doujin and skipping the middle pages. Maybe the uncensored version will have more to it, but that's not the version you're getting unless you have an AT-X subscription. Which kind of leaves this show adrift – it's too dumb to watch as anything but porn, but too neutered to work that way either.
The thing to know about this title which may not be obvious from the synopsis is that it uses half-length episodes. That it is a total fanservice fest is probably more obvious from the above description. While it is not going to be Interspecies Reviewers-level fare, it is not on the tamer side of the fanservice range, either. Essentially, if fantasy babes getting stripped down and into sexy situations are your kind of thing, then this title is probably for you. If it is not then I recommend avoiding this one, as there is almost nothing more to the first episode than that.
The basic premise here comes across as a convenient excuse for various women to try to aggressively jump Peter's bones, but is it actually that far-fetched? If a woman's goal is to have strong children and emotional attachment is not a consideration, then why wouldn't a continental tournament champion be an attractive prospect? The potentially more problematic part of the concept is that the show conflates Peter not getting with Luvellia – because, as Peter puts it, her father has “brainwashed” her into childish innocence – as a contributing factor to his difficulty in resisting the advances of the ogre sisters. In fact, they even try to sell their appeal on that exact argument.
There are all sorts of bad ways to interpret this, but I won't get into that since such considerations are pointless when dealing with the appeal (or lack thereof) of trashy fan service fare. Peter does at least try to resist, and clearly regrets it when he fails, so I guess he gets points for that. But how will he dodge the complication of Luvellia showing up at the end of the episode?
The fanservice present is pretty good quality, with episode content easily explicit enough to require some censoring. The closer is also loaded with near-nudity, and it, the opener, and the title of the next episode all suggest that more naked or near-naked ladies are going to pop up to get frisky with Peter. Since the series does not show any signs of greater ambitions, that's perfectly fine, and the half-episode format should keep it all from getting too old too quick.
Clearly Friday is not going to be my day this season, because Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time is just as irritating as Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!, albeit in a totally different mean way. The story's main issue is in how it presents itself – now that Peter has won a combat contest and been named the strongest man in the world, every lady of all of the many fantasy races wants to partake of his genetic material…but Peter just wants to remain faithful to his girlfriend Luvellia, who is naïve to the point where I really pity her. If Peter were all for having heaps of sex with lots of willing ladies, that would be one thing, but Peter really, really seems to want to save himself for when he marries Luvellia, which makes his giving in and having a threesome with ogre sisters Lisa and Mimi something he feels awful about. Again, if he'd been enthusiastic about it, that'd be fine; that he can barely cope the next morning is entirely different.
Unfortunately this looks to be the trajectory of the show for the foreseeable future – ladies will throw themselves at Peter, he won't be able to say no, then he hates himself in the morning while feeling the need to hide his activities from his fiancée. It's clearly supposed to be funny and/or titillating, but it treads a very fine line about consent that's troubling. Adding insult to injury is the censorship, which is decidedly worse than in other shows this season – it looks like someone has just stuck the art in a paint program and erased a sloppy streak down the women's bodies.
The script at least puts forth some effort at coming up with a variety of ways to say “sperm” and “sex” without actually saying them for the most part, and that's kind of entertaining. Peter also seems a little unsure about precisely how naïve Luvellia is; it could cause some definite issues on their wedding night and he does seem at least a little aware of that. But even the thirteen-minute length of this episode can't make it more appealing in its pursuit of sexiness at the expense of its protagonist, and even if that's what you'd watch for, the censorship takes part of it away. This is a mess in plot, art/censorship, and characters and there are better fanservice shows out there for you to watch.
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