The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
The Executioner and Her Way of Life

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Executioner and Her Way of Life ?
Community score: 4.1



What is this?

The Lost Ones are wanderers who come here from a distant world known as "Japan." No one knows how or why they leave their homes. The only thing that is certain is that they bring disaster and calamity. The duty of exterminating them without remorse falls to Menou, a young Executioner. When she meets Akari, it seems like just another job until she discovers it's impossible to kill her. And when Menou begins to search for a way to defeat this immortality, Akari is more than happy to tag along.

The Executioner and Her Way of Life is based on Mato Satō and Nilitsu's light novel series and streams on HIDIVE on Fridays.


How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore
Rating:

To be honest, as someone who has over the years slogged through isekai premiere after isekai premiere, there was a bit of spite to my anticipation for The Executioner and Her Way of Life. I pictured Menou hunting down bland Kirito clone after bland Kirito clone, ruthlessly taking them out so that their narcissistic, overpowered tomfoolery didn't upset the balance of her world. I assumed it would be a brutal action series that flew in defiance and gave voice to the frustrations of those of us who cry out, “For the love of God, please make an anime about something else!”

That's not what The Executioner and Her Way of Life is at all. The defining emotion behind the production isn't cruelty or spite, but melancholy—a very real sadness as Menou swiftly and efficiently eliminates the teenage boy she had just lured to her church. He didn't ask for this, and even though his potential to become an existential threat to her world once he fully developed his powers was clear, he was more a victim of circumstance than anything else.

What really makes the episode work is its incredible sense of balance, never pushing too far in one direction or another. The time Menou spends with poor Potato-kun before dispatching him is just enough to feel like they're building a rapport and introduce the world, but doesn't go long enough to feel like they're faffing about. The on-screen deaths are swift and matter-of-fact instead of leaning into gratuitous, bloody spectacle, but also just graphic enough that they aren't shying away either. There's comic relief but never at an inappropriate time (although I would prefer that Momo wasn't like that), so the emotional ups and downs of the episode flow smoothly from one to the next.

No, The Executioner and Her Way of Life isn't what I expected at all. But I like what we got way more.


Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

The Executioner and Her Way of Life isn't the first anime to take the tropes of its genre, deconstruct them, and play them straight. For magical girls, we had Madoka Magica. For giant robots, Gurren Lagann. Heck, in the isekai fantasy genre, we've already had several—e.g., Re:Zero, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, and The Rising of The Shield Hero. What sets The Executioner and Her Way of Life apart from its isekai peers is that the viewpoint character isn't the fish out of water from Japan but rather one of the people whose world is being invaded.

This is a world where random Japanese high schoolers have been summoned dozens if not hundreds of times. Each one of them has styled themselves as some kind of “fantasy story protagonist” and set out to effect the world. Some of these changes have been good—like an increase in overall technology. Others... not so much. The world's original culture and language have been largely supplanted by Japan's. But worse still is the fact that every summoned kid is basically a walking WMD—and there's not even a “Demon Lord” to pit them against.

So what we have are unstable teens, stolen from their homes, given godlike powers, and feeling like they are the most important people in the world. Is it any surprise that after the first few of them went crazy, a revolution occurred that basically set up a hierarchy where the church was tasked with killing the summoned kids and punishing the people who summoned them?

One thing I love is that the church assassins have learned to play into the fantasy world tropes that the summoned Japanese kids are familiar with. Every assassin we've seen so far as been a woman—a strict teacher, a kindly grandmother, and a precocious little sister. Menou herself plays the pure and kind priestess role perfectly—including just enough of her own personality to make her feel like a real person and not an actor. Each would work as a solid cover for getting close to the summoned kids.

I also love how the episode doesn't waste our time. It didn't give us 22 minutes pretending to be just another isekai power fantasy with a milquetoast protagonist. It only takes 10 minutes for his butt to end up dead on the floor—and that 10 minutes is used to introduce us to the world more than anything else. Honestly, it is great writing that allows the back half of the episode to expound on the twist and layout the complications facing Menou and her order. It also shows us that Menou doesn't see the Japanese as evil nor herself as a hero for killing them. She is doing what she needs to do to protect her world. No more, no less.

After one episode, I'm all in for this series. It seems to be perfectly tailored for me and I can't wait to follow it each week.


James Beckett
Rating:

Even before we hit that moment, I was digging The Executioner and Her Way of Life quite a bit. I'm used to seeing isekai anime with self-aware protagonists, but I really loved getting to see an entire world that has grown used to treating visitors from another world as old hat. It was funny watching Mitsuki get tossed out on his ass and basically ignored, and I appreciated how Menou's world runs with the concept of a cliché isekai setting that has actually incorporated Japanese culture and technology into its own. The show was well-animated and confidently directed, and so for the first half of its premiere, I was expecting Executioner to be in the same territory as Re:Zero, where it would operate within the realm of fairly predictable isekai tropes, albeit with a level of polish and creativity that would entertain even an old crank like me. Really, the only concern I had was Mitsuki himself, who was a real nothingburger of a protagonist, and easily the least likeable aspect of the episode.

Then Menou shoved her blade right into Mitsuki's skull, and I realized that The Executioner and Her Way of Life might actually kind of rule. It isn't just because seeing Mitsuki bite it was a cathartic release of the pent-up rage I've built for every lame isekai potato-boy that we've seen over the years, either. It was that flash of cruel callousness that Mitsuki exhibited right before he bit the dust that really got me tuned into this show's wavelength. Executioner doesn't just recognize the inherently problematic aspects of having a bunch of angsty teens from another universe fall out of the sky with almost godlike powers at their disposal; it builds that tension right into Menou's tragic origin. As it turns out, most kids in the position of an isekai protagonist would probably be scared and confused, and they might end up doing things like accidentally turning a village of innocent civilians into terrifying salt monsters in a desperate attempt to return home. That's more than just a creative spin on well-worn genre cliches. That's solid storytelling, straight up.

I'll admit that the scattershot tone of the premiere's second half didn't wow me as much as what came before it. Momo's relationship with Menou is cute, but the “hypersexual lesbian comic relief” bit feels like a cliché that's being played straight, which is disappointing, and the shift to overly comedic banter felt at odds with the very dark and exciting elements of the first part of the episode. Still, Menou is a very cool character to be following in a story like this, and the “other” Lost One that got summoned in by the sketchy royals looks to be an interesting “heroine” in her own right. Time will tell if The Executioner and Her Way of Life turns out to be the absolute barnburner that it could grow into, but it's got my attention at the very least, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.


Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

I don't have the words to express just how big a gulp of fresh air this premiere was. Every season we get what feels like a half-dozen versions of the same show. Some Melvin gets tossed into a fantasy world that oh-so-conveniently works just like his favorite video game, develops Übermensch fantasy powers that make all the pretty girls want to date and/or be enslaved by him, and we have to pretend we haven't seen that exact premise 40 times in the past year. So to have a show with an honest-to-god clever take on the standard isekai setup – not a wacky gimmick to stick on the front cover, but an actually interesting idea that runs deeper than a kiddie pool – and one that takes place in an instantly fascinating and fleshed-out fantasy world? It feels like a minor miracle.

Really, everything about this premiere is just damn good anime storytelling. From the moment Menou reaches out to our nameless isekai potatoman there's a sense that she's not quite the innocent maiden offering to help him out of the goodness of her heart she presents herself as. But even before the ruse is up, she expresses a ton of personality: sarcasm, humor, and just stuff you want to see in a character that so rarely gets highlighted with the female leads of isekai story. And the premiere wisely doesn't wait its whole runtime to reveal its hand, with Menou executing her charge with brutal efficiency the moment he unlocks his OP special ability, less than halfway into the episode. By not stretching out that bait and switch, we get to actually see Menou in her element, learn about who she is and why she works as an otherworld executioner for the church, as well as a ridiculously compelling glimpse into the world around her.

That part is especially important for me. This is a world that, while having some similarities to other standard isekai fantasy settings, feels like it has a history to it. This is a world with an established caste structure that is nonetheless in contention between the church and the nobles. This is a place that has been summoning randos from Japan for so long that their influences have greatly shaped the culture of the people living there. This is a place with really cool and clever fantasy devices, like our executioners' Scripture books that allow them to communicate and cast spells with vastly different effects. It's just a cool, interesting world that you want to spend time in and learn more about, and it's such a rarity in the current isekai zeitgeist.

And while its riffing on isekai tropes could have felt like inside baseball, so far it's been a pretty thoughtful – if critical – look at the very conceit rather than just self-aware references. It's certainly not the first series to posit that giving insecure teenagers god-tier powers is a bad idea, but the show zeroes in on the cruel tragedy of it all instead of going for edgy shock value. The scene of the Lost One who unintentionally killed Menou's whole village by turning them into pillars of salt is effective both in its horror and its function to show that these people Menou and her compatriots are sent to kill are dangerous, but not inherently evil. They're people in way over their heads and even if Menou feels killing them is the right thing to do, she recognizes they didn't deserve that fate. That's a really compelling conflict for both the story and Menou's character, and I'm really interested to see it play out with her next target. Though if I were here I'd have murdered the first guy the moment he talked about introducing mayonnaise to her world. That's the real danger worth snuffing out.

In all this is the best kind of premiere you can ask for. It's exciting, compelling, excellently animated, and gives you every reason to come back for more. If you're understandably wary of yet another isekai fantasy story trying to be dark and edgy, put those worries to the side, because this one is absolutely a keeper.


Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

This show has a good premise, although not entirely unique, and I think I prefer the way it was done in Kazamidori's Goodbye Otherworld, See You Tomorrow, which teems with melancholy and is a bit less on the nose than The Executioner and Her Way of Life. Both stories take the idea that all of those pesky Japanese teens who keep getting summoned to their fantasy worlds are causing more (or at least just as much) harm than good, where the world has undergone an apocalyptic event by the time our hero is summoned, and in the latter the object is to prevent another apocalyptic scenario by killing Lost Ones, as the isekai victims are known. That opens the door for our eponymous executioner, and I must say that her introduction is nicely handled. The misdirection that we're just getting another everyday isekai story about a bullied teenage boy summoned to another world is well done, and when Menou pulls out her knife and stabs it into his skull, it comes out of nowhere.

Or does it? There are some good details leading up to the reveal that work in the first half of the episode's favor, such as the way Japanese culture is slowly taking over the indigenous culture of the fantasy world and that Mitsuki's first thoughts upon realizing that he's got the power to “nullify” (as in erase from existence) are that now no one can mistreat him because he'll destroy them before they ever get the chance. It's an abrupt shift for him from being fully dependent on Menou and a little bit of a sad sack, but given that his first words in the new world are that no one can ever pick on him again, they're not completely out of the blue. It definitely feels like a statement on the kind of character we typically see in isekai power fantasies, and while murder is objectively bad, it's also not hard to see why Menou and the members of her church kill the Lost Ones and reprimand those who summon them.

The first half is much stronger than the second, largely because it doesn't involve Momo, our requisite predatory lesbian. Momo's obsession with Menou (and her grope-fest) sucks all of the tension and interest right out of the plot, and while the story tries to recover from her ill-advised entry on the scene, it's a struggle. The potential that Menou and the other Lost One summoned with Mitsuki, a girl who's being kept in the castle he was thrown out of, could have a romantic or other link based on mutual dreams of each other across the worlds is a definite mark in the show's favor, but the way that Momo's handled makes me worried that the storytelling won't be up to the task. It may be worth another episode to see how that plotline develops (and how much Momo's going to be in the story), but while this is fine, I think the other book does it better.


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