The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Skeleton Knight in Another World

How would you rate episode 1 of
Skeleton Knight in Another World ?
Community score: 3.8



What is this?

A gamer falls asleep—only to wake up in the world of the game he was playing. Arc has the powerful skills and weapons of his character, but there's just one problem, he's stuck looking like that character, too. An adventure in a fantastical new land awaits him, if he can get used to being a walking skeleton.

Skeleton Knight in Another World is based on Ennki Hakari's light novel series and streams on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.


How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore
Rating:

Jesus Christ. I started up Skeleton Knight in Another World determined that I wouldn't just repeat everything my fellow reviewers were saying, but that rape scene really casts a pall over the entire episode, doesn't it? Let's leave behind for a second that it's tawdry and potentially triggering and holy fuck Crunchyroll, couldn't you have tried to head it off with a warning screen for at least a couple seconds? Okay? Let's move on from that. It's still a spectacularly bad choice purely in terms of mood, character, and narrative structure.

Once the ridiculously graphic scene ends, the show jumps back to Arc waking up one day in a bunch of high-level gear from his favorite MMORPG with access to super powerful magic skills. But uh-oh! He's a skeleton! So he farts around getting excited about his powers and going gaga over an elf. He needs to interact with people in town without letting them know he's a skeleton, which I imagine is a lot like those dreams where you forget to put on clothes and now you're walking around naked trying to find something to wear before someone notices. I found its mishmash of isekai clichés boring, but I'm sure someone out there would like it, and overall it's pretty inoffensive.

Oh but wait! Back to the graphic rape! And all at once we've gone from silly skeleton antics to rape again, but this time we get to see Arc debating whether or not he should intervene. In a brutal rape. When he knows for a fact he's ridiculously overpowered. His hemming and hawing is even presented as comical, as he ponders whether it would be like entering PVP. It's extreme tonal whiplash, and the heaviness of the subject matter is out of place and totally overshadows everything else that happens. It's also a really, really bad look for Arc, especially as Tomoaki Maeno continues his goofy performance as Arc talks himself up between shots of the bandits ripping off the girl's piss-stained pantaloons, and her maid's breasts jiggling as another bandit slams her face into the ground.

And then, after a short scene of him accompanying them, we're back to goofy skeleton man enjoying some tasty food while trying not to let anyone notice he's a skeleton!! So funny!!

So, you know, it's not just about being offended about on-screen rape being used for cheap shock value. It's just a bad narrative choice all around, and deserves to be criticized for that in addition to being crass.


Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

Holy crap. Hit that play button and you get both barrels, don't you? So let's get this out of the way first. I'm not going to say rape can't be used as a plot device, but it should be used carefully—and be integral to the plot/characters when used. It should not be used for simple shock value or for shorthand to show us the hero is good because he kills rapists.

Moving on, can I say how nice it is to see someone who's having fun being whisked away to a fantasy world as the game character they've put so much into? There's some real joy in seeing Arc play with his powers and get pumped up about seeing a real-life elf. Even better is that, even with his excitement, he's still smart enough to realize the immediate issues he has to face. Arc is way overpowered, sure, but he can't even afford a meal, and he has no idea how to clean and cook his own food.

So it makes sense that he would immediately think to do what he already has some knowledge of: become an adventurer. He doesn't complain about the entry test, and the lack of “epic quests” doesn't really matter to him as long as he can get enough for food and a place to stay. It makes him rather likeable as a character. He's not a gun-ho fool nor is he an angsty complainer. He's just a guy enjoying the cards fate has dealt him.

The bandit scene, despite its subject matter, works well on a character development level for Arc. When coming upon the bandits, Arc doesn't intervene immediately. It isn't because he doesn't care about those being harmed but rather because he thinks he might lose. This is interesting because it shows that he doesn't see the bandits as NPCs or monsters; he sees them as other players. Not only does this mean he views them as real people, but it also makes him associate what's going on with PVP—and in PVP, numbers almost always matter more than gear. That said, he does eventually step in because he feels he has to—he sees the women as real people too, after all. The whole internal conflict speaks volumes about how he views the world he has become trapped in.

Other than that, I liked the little touches the episode threw in here and there, from people noticing his armor and deciding he was a knight to him questioning why he didn't feel bad about slaughtering the bandits despite it being the first time he had ever taken a life. The subversion of him peaking over at the women not because he's a horny asshole but because he wants to make sure they aren't looking while he excitedly loots the bodies was fantastic—and can I just say I love his oversized armor with its giant pauldrons? Him riding a horse was a great visual gag. All in all, despite the rough start, I really enjoyed this episode and can't wait to see where things go from here as he inevitably forms a party and answers the call to adventure.


James Beckett
Rating:

Skeleton Knight in Another World might just be a front-runner for two Preview Guide World Records, though they are dubious achievements indeed. First off, we have the elephant in the room, which is the “Shortest Ever Gap Between A Content Warning And The Content In Question” Award. The literal first shot of this series is of a surprisingly graphic sexual assault, and I don't know what is worse: That the scene is so lascivious and needlessly cruel right off the bat, or that we're forced to watch this twice in a show that is ostensibly a breezy isekai comedy. It isn't more than five seconds after the rapists are violently vivisected in front of their already traumatized victims that we transition to the show's cheesy OP, which I must remind you serves to introduce a main character whose sole defining character trait is that he's a goofy-looking cartoon skeleton. It is as catastrophic failure to read the room as I've seen in a long ass time, and there are a good many viewers who will understandably recoil in disgust and reject this anime outright before the opening credits finish.

The second award that Skeleton Knight in Another World is up for is a far less offensive one, though it also represents a problem that you can't simply fast-forward through. It's the “You Don't Even Really Need To Watch This Show, Because Literally Everything You Could Ever Possibly Need To Know About It Is Right There In The Title” Award! If you take the “…in Another World” half of this anime's title into consideration, then practically every single element of this premiere will fall into place, immediately, in your own head, before you even set eyes on it (except perhaps for the terrible and stupid rape scene, but you get my point).

The main character is somehow reborn into a real, flesh-and-blood universe that just so happens to perfectly mirror his favorite generic fantasy MMORPG. He is improbably strong and gifted in literally every aspect of the game, and he also spends a bunch of time breaking down his “in- game” stats sheet and skill set, as if that is somehow a substitute for having actual world-building and a plot. He then meanders around, talking to people and narrating to himself about this completely bizarre and insane scenario that we've all seen play out so many times before. He also might be a genuine sociopath, since he is completely unfazed by the horrible suffering and pain that he witnesses and inflicts upon others, and seems to live only to hoard loot from the mangled corpses he leaves behind. The ”Skeleton” part of the title tells you that the main character is a skeleton.

And look, I'm a fair critic, and I will give Skeleton Knight in Another World credit where it is due: It is somewhat amusing when when the skeleton guy makes goofy faces and gets unreasonably excited about loot. I chuckled once, near the end of the episode, because of the funny skeleton faces on the screen. For that alone, I will grant this premiere a bonus half-star to its rating. Everything else about it sucks, though, so it can wear its two Premiere Guide World Record badges like the marks of dishonor that they are.


Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

If any other show this season has a worse start than Skeleton Knight I'll be horribly surprised. It's not “just” that this premiere starts off, from the literal first second, with an attempted rape sequence. Nor is it “just” that said scene is gratuitous and directed with an eye for titillation for the audience, and is a cheap attempt at setting up paper thin bad guys from our hero to kill. It's that this would be a gross and crummy opening for a dark fantasy like Goblin Slayer, but it's a truly abysmal first impression for a premiere that is 90% goofy bullshit with our skeleton gamer protagonist Himbo-ing his way through a bog standard isekai setup.

Because that's what nearly this whole episode is actually about. Our hero, Arc, wakes up in a skeleton body and a suit of magic armor, realizes he's been isekai'd, and basically stumbles through a tutorial fetch quest with his overpowered skills, laughing all the way. And while the actual story is generic as hell, Arc himself makes a pretty good introduction. He's just excited to be in this new world, doesn't think to ask any questions about how it happened, and rolls through every new discovery with an almost infectious zest for fantasy life. It still slows down too much when he's shuffling through his various video game skills, and the world itself is devoid of anything interesting, but I could honestly picture myself following this literal bonehead for a few episodes, especially if the wacky slapstick from the OP animation is an honest promise.

But all that goodwill died once we circled back around to that rape scene. It's just such a lazy, shameless bit of shock-jock writing that stops the episode in its tracks. It exists solely to create some indisputably evil bandits for our hero to gallantly kill, letting him take lives without guilt (literally, the show admits this right after) and gaining him the affection of the victimized waif he saved. It's the same kind of hacky, exploitative garbage that showed up to ruin Sword Art Online every season like clockwork, and it's especially out of place in what is otherwise a goofy comedy. Plus, it's all made even worse when we see the attack from Arc's perspective and know he could have stepped in sooner, but was busy fretting over his chances in a PVP fight and waited until literally the last second. Then once it's over we're right back to silly funtimes with The Bone Boi as he celebrates his new life in this fantasy world, making the entire thing feel like a bad joke.

So congrats to the story for ensuring I'm not going to bother with any more of it. Ya took any charm or fun you managed to generate and threw it in the garbage. If other viewers have more tolerance for this kind of crap writing, maybe it's worth sticking it out and see if this is a one-time aberration. But for me, there's nothing interesting or special enough in the rest of this show to risk sitting through another scene like that.


Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

Do you have a boilerplate isekai story to tell that borrows heavily from about four hundred other similar series? Do you need a way to spice it up and get eyes on your project? Well then, may I suggest not using rape to do that? Skeleton Knight in Another World's first episode opens with a graphic (or at least graphic enough) rape scene that comes back almost shot-for-shot at about the fourteen-minute mark. It does establish that our hero, who is helpfully not the rapist, is a good guy, because he saves Lady Lauren and her maid Rita, but there seems to be no reason to show us the exact same scene of sexual violence twice in the same episode. The opening salvo seems to be a cheap bid to make viewers pay attention, and while I do recall the same scene happening in the source material, that's not an excuse. If your story's not interesting enough to appeal to viewers without shocking them, maybe you should rethink your plot.

That out of the way, the rest of the episode is also a bit shocking – shockingly bland, that is. Arc, the eponymous skeleton knight, fell asleep playing his game and woke up as his character, only he forgot that he went with the skeleton build when he was creating him, so now he's afraid to take his armor off in public. If he wanted to be a bad guy like his bone-related cousin Ainz from Overlord, he'd be all set, but in this story, his character is a holy knight, so the whole skeleton thing is a bit of a problem. So is the fact that everyone sees his ridiculously nice and powerful armor and assumes that he's gainfully employed, because that armor's all he's got and he's hungry. Watching him try to integrate himself into a very run-of-the-mill town is the most amusing part of the episode, because he's both making things up on the fly and getting random backstory assigned to him by townsfolk.

He's also incredibly excited to be having his very own isekai experience, although he doesn't phrase it that way. Arc's disappointed that his new world seems more plain old Medieval than fantasy based on Medieval Europe, and any little bit of fantasy that he can find is thrilling to him, be that an elf, an orc, or the fact that he can use magic. (Why he doesn't use his fire magic to roast himself some food is never answered.) Of course, he teleports himself right off a cliff trying to figure out how to use it, but that actually sounds about right for how this would work.

If the sexual assault had been left out, this would be an okay-ish show. Not innovative, but bland in an inoffensive way. But it does have the rape scene and that is enough to make me say that steering clear is the better option here, because a combination of insipid and offensive doesn't leave this with a whole lot to recommend it.


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