The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
RPG Real Estate
How would you rate episode 1 of
RPG Real Estate ?
Community score: 3.4
What is this?
Kotone is a mage who ends up working at a real estate agency in a fantasy world. Kotone helps various clients, from a necromancer to a guild receptionist raising a pegasus, find a place to call home.
How was the first episode?
Oh look, a light-hearted anime about cute girls in a fantasy world running a real estate agency. As they eat food, meet people, and go on everyday adventures, the show pokes fun at RPG tropes like adventurers looting people's homes or the prevalence of bikini armor. The first episode even comes with a good moral for those in the service industry: listen to what the client wants, not what you think they'll want based on appearances.
But here's the thing about RPG Real Estate: it's not really a fantasy story despite its outward appearance. Rather, it's a social commentary on modern Japan. With the fantasy aspect stripped away, Kotone is just your average Japanese college graduate. She studied hard, graduated—and then gave up on her dreams and is moving to Tokyo to get a job that has nothing to do with what she studied. Upon arrival, her first challenge is finding an affordable place for an entry level (read: underpaid) worker in the most expensive city in the country.
Of course, all the places she can afford have some sort of terrible downside. One has a shared living space (where people are guaranteed to steal your stuff). Another is an ill-maintained high-rise that lacks an elevator. And, worst of all, the last apartment has *gasp* foreigner neighbors! Oh, you didn't catch that? Yeah, demi-humans are non-Japanese people in this fantasy analogy. They're look different, have “strange” customs, and don't speak the same language, after all.
I've lived in Japan for 17 years now and am on my sixth apartment. I can't count the number of places that wouldn't rent to me because I was a foreigner. (Many rental ads even go so far as to list “no foreigners” right along with “no pets” and “no musical instruments” in their rental requirements.) So I appreciate this anime has the inclusive message that having foreigner neighbors isn't a downside. Rather, the foreigners are seen as kind and welcoming. Heck, the real-estate agency even has a foreigner of their own, Fa, who can breach the language barrier—making RPG Real Estate a company that actively supports the city's foreigner population. (Though the fact that Fa is portrayed as a child due to her not understanding local customs [like the need for clothes] is a whole different can of worms.) But frankly, when it comes to Japan addressing their institutionalized xenophobia and speaking out against it, I'll take what I can get.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: an adaptation of a Manga Time Kirara “Cute Girls” manga, featuring a handful of candy-colored anime girls who are ostensibly teenagers but look no older than 10, where they have low stakes comedic outings and occasionally wind up in fanservicey outfits. But what if I told you this time the cute girls were in a generic RPG fantasy world, and they occasionally made very tired jokes about the kinds of houses you see in fantasy settings? If that sounds like a good time, then you have far more patience than me for RPG Real Estate.
Watching this show felt like trying to eat a bag of dollar-store cotton candy as fast as possible. I feel mean for saying that after loving the equally saccharine Healer Girl and enjoying other low-stakes comedies like Aharen-san this season, but something in the execution here just doesn't work. The characters are too flat (no not like that) and simple to be entertaining in their own right, and the premise of an RPG Real Estate company wears thin surprisingly quickly. By the second house tour of the episode they aren't even really making RPG-specific gags about the houses anymore, and the entire humor of the premise starts feeling like an afterthought.
So okay, then this is maybe meant to be more of a workplace comedy, where the joke is that the girls are basically an adventuring party doing mundane paperwork and real estate things. But that only really works if the characters are funny or have good chemistry, and that's not the case here. Nobody's personality is very strong or memorable, and their conversations are pretty dull. The only one who stands out is Fa, the monster girl who exists somewhere between child and pet, and whose gimmick is she hates wearing clothes and is always trying to strip naked while at work. That's not a great joke, but I unfortunately remember it, and that qualifies her for the funniest thing in this premiere.
So without character-based humor or a unique hook, all that's really left is if you just want to watch these generic girls get shipteased together, and there's certainly plenty of that. Fa and Kotone share a bath together. Rakira gets blushy when Kotone calls her pretty, and her adventuring outfit is a tube top and mini-skirt combo with the show literally calling her an exhibitionist. At the end of the episode Rakira and Rufria sleep in the same bed so the latter can be “comforted” after a rough day at work. It's about as blatant as you can get, but without any personality and with the blobby artstyle, it all comes across like smacking plastic dolls together and making kissy sounds. But honestly even that sounds more engaging than watching another episode of this. I'm not immediately opposed to this style of show, but RPG Real Estate is too vacuous to work.
If you've been waiting for you CGCT show, here it is! RPG Real Estate has all the hallmarks of a genre standby: women who all look impressively young, a bathing scene with soap bubble censorship, an adorable theme, and a little yuri bait. And really, I'm being unkind with the censorship statement, because while the bubbles are strategically placed, the bathing scene isn't meant to be particularly prurient, and it isn't really framed as such – it's really just Fa and Kotone taking a bath.
The concept is probably the best part of the episode. While it's a bit of a stretch that the real estate agency RPG is actually called “Rent Plan Guide Real Estate,” the way it functions is like a much more adorable Dragon Goes House-Hunting. The idea is that fifteen years after, for all intents and purposes, the game ended (i. e. world peace was achieved), the fantasy realm functions an awful lot like our boring old world, and that means that everyone needs a place to live. But there are still entertaining vestiges of the old sword-and-sorcery way of life that pop up, such as a house that's also a dungeon or one that requires you to just let adventurers to come in and riffle through your drawers and take your stuff as “loot.” There are also remnants of how the world used to work in that everyone still has classes that can be used if necessary – Kotone is a wizard, Rufuria is a priest, and Rakira is a warrior. But there are little bits of commentary on those scattered throughout the episode, with the standout moment being when Kotone sees Rakira in her warrior uniform – a bra top and short-shorts – and remarks that it doesn't appear to be quite enough armor to be of any use.
The story itself is mostly in the soothing and sweet vein, which certainly isn't a bad thing. The stakes are low-key, with the main plot of the episode revolving around finding homes for two people, with a little lesson about listening to what the customer actually wants as opposed to what you think they want thrown in. Fa runs the risk of being kind of annoying (although she has a real point about her tail making wearing clothes tailored for humans uncomfortable), but for the greater part this is pleasantly bright and gentle, which is absolutely not a terrible thing if you'd just like to relax with some fantasy.
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