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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero

How would you rate episode 1 of
A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero ?
Community score: 3.0



What is this?

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Kaito Takagi is a high school student with a mob character and low status. He's an ordinary explorer who hunts slimes every day in dungeons that appear in Japan. One day, he encounters a golden slime that he has never seen before. Baffled, he still manages to defeat the slime and get an extremely rare item called the "servant card," which can summon mythical beings and has a value of hundreds of millions. He then summons a valkyrie, a beautiful warrior maiden. Kaito starts his adventure to rise from being a mob to a hero.

A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero is based on the Mob kara Hajimaru Tansaku Eiyūtan light novel series by Kaito with illustrations by Arumikku. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Sundays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

While I watched A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero, I ate lunch. I sauteed a shallot in butter, then added chopped up oyster and shiitake mushrooms. After a few minutes of stirring, I added a bit of white wine and covered the pan for five minutes. Once all the liquid cooked off, I added some cream and brought it to a simmer. Meanwhile, I toasted some shokupan, then buttered it and sprinkled with chives. Once the mushrooms were done, I piled them on the toast. It was delicious, and probably the only thing keeping me from shuffling off this mortal coil over the course of the double-length premiere.

I took the time to describe the recipe because I can guarantee you, it was much more interesting than anything about the actual show. The fact that there's some actual promise to the setting just adds insult to injury! When a dungeon appeared in modern Tokyo, the powers that be decided to build a theme park around it and open up the fully explored floors to the public. The floors are floodlit and have security cameras and you can earn money by defeating monsters and getting monster cores. Even low-level monsters are pretty dangerous for normal people to take on, but once in a great while, they drop cards that explorers can use to summon servants, powerful magical beings that will fight on their masters' behalf. There's even a cute moment where they drop some exposition via a trivia show that happens to be on TV!

And all of that is completely squandered. Kaito doesn't interact with the theme park. There is no bustling monster-hunting economy. Anything distinctive about the setting gets washed away in favor of identical empty dungeon chambers with harsh fluorescent lighting as Kaito fights identical monsters. For an HOUR. At first he sprays them with bug spray, then he flails at them with blunt objects. Occasionally he wanders out and gives monster cores to the receptionist. FOR. AN. HOUR. And friends, Kaito has no more personality than the dungeon around him.

Oh, and don't get me started on Sylphy. Actually, you know what? I should. Kaito summons Sylphy via a card that wouldn't have been out of place on the Las Vegas strip circa 2008 (before the city decided to renew its efforts to clean up the seedy image and outlaw the hordes of men handing out advertisements for sex workers). The actual being he summons, however, looks to be all of eight years old. And while her outfit isn't sexy, there's just enough dog whistles to put me on high alert: the breathy voice Kana Hanazawa uses as she calls Kaito “Master”; the repeated cuts of him hand-feeding her monster cores; the ending theme that includes her and his other servant, who shows up at the end and also looks like a little girl, in their underwear. Somehow, the underhandedness makes it even creepier than if they had looked like Jack the Ripper in Fate/Grand Order.

I almost gave the episode 1.5 stars because there are some fun ideas in the setting but you know what? You didn't use it at all. Screw you A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero. *Takes away half a star.*


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

Who was it? Who was the monster who decided to drop two episodes at once for this stultifying pile of crap? Bring them to me, right now, so I can tie them to a patio chair in my lawn and force them to watch grass grow, as vengeance for all my extra time they wasted.

Seriously, this thing did not need two episodes to try and make its case, because it has no case. While I initially hoped that this being set in the “real” world rather than yet another isekai, it quickly squandered that hope by spending an entire episode on a flavorless sack of potatoes grinding out levels in the world's most boring dungeon crawler. The extra 20 minutes allotted didn't do anything to develop that idea, or give it an interesting twist, or provide even a single engaging character nor line of dialogue. Instead it cycled through the same pattern of this dude killing slimes and/or goblins, badly lying about it to his love interest at school, and then doing the same thing again. It's the perfect combination of formulaic and sleep-inducing that part of me thought I'd dozed off mid-episode and the video had started to loop.

It doesn't help that the whole show looks like poop. While there are maybe a handful of isolated cuts with some personality, the rest of the visuals are constantly on the verge of falling apart. The designs for all of the human characters are as bland as possible, rendered in that particular modern style that I can only describe as “Cheap Afterthought” – with our protagonist's two pet anime girls being the exception. That pair of little girls look like summons from a short-lived Gatcha game with single-digit doujins all made by a single artist. The real killer is that so, sooooo much of this episode takes place in anonymous gray caves fighting generic monster designs. It all combines to make for a visual experience as dull as the writing.

Literally the only reason I gave this thing half a star more than rock bottom is because episode two features a weird in-universe TV show called “Dungeon Love Story” that was just stupid enough to make me chuckle. Granted, it was only slightly more hacky than the actual show, but being bad on purpose is at least slightly more admirable than being bad because nobody making this thing cared to make it compelling.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

I had the worst case of déjà vu watching this show. I'm not sure if it's because I read the source material at some point and completely forgot it or if it's due to me having consumed enough similar stories, but either way, there's something alarmingly familiar about the entire set up of this show. It takes the tried-and-true formula of a regular schlub exploring a dungeon that has mysteriously appeared in his world, finding a way to summon hot girl “servants,” and, uh, yeah, that's about it. It's remarkably bland, both in plot and presentation.

That said, there are a couple of elements that aren't awful. I did appreciate that the information about the dungeons' appearance and whatnot wasn't done via a lengthy conversation or narration; instead, we get the pertinent details first from a TV quiz show playing in the background and later from an in-World TV drama, which was both amusing and unsettling. Either way, someone took the time to save us from an infodump, and I, for one, am grateful. I also admit to finding it at least a little funny that our hero fights slimes with bug spray (made by the Geek Ou corporation); I would have gone with salt, myself, but I guess these slimes are more bug than slug.

Sadly, those are all the kind words I have for these episodes. Absolutely nothing else stands out, from our protagonist Kaito to his summoned girls who reside in “servant cards.” Naturally, he is adored by his summons, and the entire set up is unpleasantly close to the usual slave fantasy, with bonus loli content, as they look like adult women on the cards but appear as little girls in person. Their designs are at least more interesting than most of the rest of the creatures and people – love interest Katsuragi's headband is giving me major flashbacks to 1990s character design trends – but that's really too little to save this. If you're really in the market for this sort of story, I'd suggest going with Solo Leveling in any of the forms it's available in in English (novel, manhwa, anime), because there really isn't enough going on here to recommend it.


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James Beckett
Rating:

You would be shocked at how long it took for me to compose this little preview, but it's only because I kept having to erase all of my work on account of it always devolving into borderline incoherent ranting. Even now, I am so tempted to just submit a bullet-point list of everything wrong with A Nobody's Way Up to an Exploration Hero, but even that would threaten to take up too many hundreds of words for my poor editors to bear. It's as if someone in the anime industry decided to precision engineer a television program that would make me, specifically, feel like I was going insane with every passing minute of its runtime.

Here's the thing, too: I started out feeling pretty optimistic. Sure, it's another bargain-bin “I'm a Dork with a Stats-Screen Who Does Dungeon Stuff for Reasons” anime, but this series at least takes place in a hybrid world of magical dungeons and modern technology? That's…well, it's not original, at all, but it's less overdone than the usual isekai shtick! That one kind-of-but-not-really novel element to Nobody's otherwise completely inane premise is the only nice thing I have to say about this show, though. Everything else that it spews forth over the course of its first two excruciating episodes is inexcusable.

Where do I even start? The ridiculously lazy dungeon design that sees our hero spending most of his time in a single gray cavernous hallway? The bizarre direction and pacing that makes every single line of dialogue and internal monologue go on for just a little too long? The monstrous void of nothingness the creators of the show seem to have mistaken for a protagonist? Oh, wait, I know: What killed me the most is the show's music. On the surface, it might not seem so bad; just your usual pastiche of the kinds of quirky comedy songs that you see used correctly in all sorts of places. Imagine any scene from a Final Fantasy game that stars a moogle, or some other comedy relief character. Here, though, in Nobody, the music is not only consistently playing over scenes where not one single interesting thing is occurring on screen, but it's so damned loud that it feels like the show is getting up in my face and demanding that I be amused. My brain cannot handle such a paradox of pointless whimsy and aggressive boredom.

I don't know what else to say. I hated this premiere, in such a way that a new episode hasn't made me feel for a long time. If I ever decided to take up a career in espionage, this show is what my interrogators would use to torture me, and you'd better believe I'd be giving up every one of the state secrets in my possession for a chance at relief from it.


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