The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
The World's Finest Assassin
How would you rate episode 1 of
The World's Finest Assassin ?
What is this?
When a great assassin is reborn in another world, he finds himself the heir to a long line of killers from the shadows. With both his modern-day knowledge and experience and the special magic and techniques of this new world, he could very well become the most unstoppable assassin in history.
How was the first episode?
This series has a fun hook: What if our world's best assassin was reincarnated in a fantasy world and told to assassinate the hero destined to save it? Now, despite his mission being given by the goddess of this fantasy world, it's not hard to guess that her reasons for having the hero killed are less than pure. Thus, she is, broadly speaking, a villain—as is our protagonist by proxy.
With this kind of a setup, it's important to make our protagonist if not likeable than at least sympathetic. There has to be some emotional connection between us and the legendary assassin—something that makes us root for him despite being... well... a life-long mass murderer.
That is what this episode attempts to give us in showing the legendary assassin's death in our world. Finally too old for the job, he is given one last mission alongside a fledgling assassin. Here we learn a bit about his history, but more importantly, his plans for the future—becoming a teacher to new assassins. He actually seems to look forward to teaching, as we can see by how he interacts with his temporary apprentice. Despite her overinflated ego, he is constantly trying to teach her how to be a better assassin—how to survive in the life she has chosen. In fact, it is his instinct to protect her that gets him killed in the end. In his hurry to get her out of harms way, he isn't as careful as he should be—allowing his own organization to kill him off.
This directly connects to the “in media res” opening of the episode. We see that, in the not too far future, he will be the teacher he wanted to be—leading a group of young, fantasy world assassins on a mission to stomp out the evil and the corrupt. This glint of humanity beneath his calm, admittedly badass demeanor is enough to make him a character we can get behind. And judging by how his last employer treated him, I doubt he plans to simply follow the goddess' plans without question. Due to this, he exists in a gray area. Will he ultimately kill the hero or end up aiding him? We'll just have to see as the story unfolds.
Has anyone ever told the staff of The World's Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated as an Aristocrat that “assassin” isn't a compound word? Because the first few minutes of the show are basically “ass ass in this here anime”! Get it?? Boy, I sure get funny halfway through the preview guide as my brain starts to melt into incoherence. I'll keep these chuckles coming!
Semi-delirious puns aside, the episode's first five minutes, in which a pair of young female assassins infiltrate an auction where old men bid on young teenage girls, presumably for sex slaves, almost drove me off completely. They talk out of both sides of their mouths, tut-tutting about how terrible it is that these poor thirteen-year-old girls are being put through this while all the while showing their ass cracks before we get even a glimpse of their faces. Despite being in the early stages of adolescence and none of them weighing above 90 pounds, are all stacked as the camera insists we know. Even the assassins flash their panties as they take out the buyers and sellers alike.
But then the camera pulls back and it turns out the show isn't about sexualizing a bunch of barely-teenagers who just barely avoided spending their lives being raped by rich old men, but an old man assassin and his young female assistant. After narrowly avoiding being killed by a drone, they banter in the way that every old veteran/young newbie pair does - he calls her a novice, she objects, he threatens to kill her but not seriously, she doesn't seem to take it totally seriously. He tells her to keep her emotions separate from her work, and describes his plans for retirement after this one last job because he's getting too old for this shit. While it's not a comfortable or easy night, they both make it through alive. It may be cliche, but it's perfectly acceptable spy thriller action. Even if it's not my genre of choice, I can respect it. Even the fan service was fairly restrained, keeping it to a few shots of the novice's clothed ass.
And then the assassin becomes the assassinated, and the real hook appears: a goddess offers to reincarnate him into another world of swords and sorcery with all his memories and skills, so long as he puts them to use against the Hero of that world. It's a pretty strong hook, especially since he's not an otaku whose big skill to be used is his knowledge of games or whatever, and guaranteed to bring about lots of schlocky action. However, considering this was written by Rui Tsukiyo of Redo of Healer fame, I have a deep mistrust of the source material. I'd have to hear good things from some people who I really trust to keep going further.
But perhaps you feel differently. Perhaps The World's Finest Assassin sharing an original creator with some of the nastiest revenge porn ever animated for TV won't put you off, and you enjoyed all the goofy cliches of the first episode. I won't blame or judge you, I promise. I'll be keeping an eye out for your reactions.
I'll give The World's Finest Assassin this much: it's trash, but it knows it's trash and advertises that fact from minute one. The very first shot of the show after the (admittedly neat looking) OP is a shot of a girl's ass crack through her backless dress' conveniently placed butt window. And not just any girl, but a girl in handcuffs, being prepared for a human slavery auction where she tearfully begs for her freedom. And just in case there was any doubt, the auctioneer tells us she's 13 years old as we pan up through her cleavage. Don't worry though, then another girl in a similarly ass-less dress summons a magic gun and shoots all the auction attendants while her partner, disguised as a maid, flashes her panties in between reloading her thigh-holstered magic six-shooters!
It's an opener that certainly tells you what you're in for, is what I'm saying. It is an exuberant, trashy whirlwind of otaku id, and while not good, it's stupid and shameless enough to be fun if you're into it. And that's more than I was expecting to say considering this is from the same creator who made the clunky, noxiously meanspirited Redo of a Healer series. There's still a bunch of black-and-white characters as the villains, so our heroes can ruthlessly murder them without a sliver of guilt or conscience afterwards, but at the very least the heroes aren't spending the entire episode trying to equivocate about why it's OK for them to rape and mind control people, so I'll call it an improvement.
That said, whether this ridiculousness is charming or eye-rolling is going to be the deciding factor for this show. Our main character is less a person and more a walking amalgam of Badass Movie Assassin cliches. In his past life he was a stoic, deadly serious, constantly practical murder machine who's always 8 steps ahead of everyone around him and capable of thinking his way out of any sticky situation. He spouts off a billion lines about how emotions cloud judgment, and to never trust anyone, and that you always have to be ready to kill or be killed. If you put every Jason Statham and Steven Seagal character in movie history into a blender with the guy from NCIS, then hit puree, this dude is who'd you get. It's so ridiculous I have to laugh, but I'm not entirely sure I'm supposed to be. Still, it made this premiere a lot less miserable to sit through than I expected, so I'll call it a win.
The World's Finest Assassin is not good, or even fine, ironically. It's a thinly written jumble of cliches stiched together around an even more cynical “inversion” of isekai staples. But it's also exactly what it wants to be, and I have to respect that.
This show is the kind of classy that not only opens with a villain who's auctioning off young teenage girls to a room full of masked middle aged and older men, but also that shows you two of those girls' butt cracks before you ever see their faces. After that, the repeated shots of the assassin maid's butter- yellow underwear as she reaches for a concealed weapon feels like small potatoes; if nothing else, it's at least more familiar fanservice of the sort you can just sort of brush off. And I do have to say that it's a better, or at least more interesting, start to the story than the source novel, which I found irredeemably dull.
At any rate, this is another one of those stories where the title tells you a good deal of what you need to know: the main character, whom we meet first as Lugh de Danaan (Irish mythology makes everything better!) and later as the pseudonymous Allen Smith, was an older gentleman assassin in our world. Then when he decided to retire, his organization took him out – along with a planeload of innocent bystanders – and a goddess dressed like a bride offered him a new life as an aristocrat. The catch? He'll have to assassinate the Hero at some point. She doesn't mention what will happen to him if he fails, possibly it'll be a revocation of his reincarnation or his past life memories, but since “Allen” was in fact the world's finest assassin, it doesn't seem like he's going to refuse the mission or fail at it.
If this feels like fairly low stakes, well, they might be. After all, when we meet him in both guises he's expertly carrying out difficult missions; as Lugh he leads a team of lovely girls to remove Lady Collide and her minions while freeing the captured maidens, and as “Allen” he's able to kill six mafiosi, take out a drone, and save himself and his partner, all while imparting important spy lessons to her. While this can be exciting to watch – and some of the action scenes really are – there's never really a sense of urgency to either mission. After all, we already know that he's the world's finest assassin: it's right there in the title.
Certainly I could be reading too much into that, but experience with the novel does make me wary about what's to come. The opening auction scene is also fairly rough viewing, with leering men and crying girls, although certainly not as bad as it could be. (The source novels are by the same author as Redo of Healer; that's more just trivia than any statement of how this episode goes.) I do like the opening theme, which has sort of a classic James Bond feel to it, but there are just a few too many things here that are turning me off. About the only thing I can say for sure is that I hope he doesn't trust that goddess too much – she seems about as worthy of that as “Allen”'s former agency who had him killed.
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