A Centaur's Life Episode 4
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Centaur's Life ?
I can't believe it - A Centaur's Life finally delivered on adapting the manga's first chapter, aka the “horse vagina” one. That's right, this story originally opened on a chapter about the girls looking up each others' hoo-hahs. This even happens before they start on its much-vaunted world building or even explain the premise. It's no wonder why they changed this for the anime, but if there's a better encapsulation of A Centaur's Life's tonal eccentricities (namely its ability to shift from cute slice of life to sexual frankness or even serious social satire on a dime), I don't know what it is. Of course, the rest of the episode is dedicated to the girls preparing for a test, ruminating on the existence of UFOs, and discussing their nation's ongoing Cold War with Antarctica. So all-in-all, a pretty average episode of this show, as well as an accurate depiction of your average school study session.
As promised last week, I'm coming into this review after having checked out the first volume of the manga. I'd heard complaints about this anime as an adaptation, and I can see where folks are coming from now. While the manga does have its share of awkward tonal jumps, they're all made worse by choices of this anime. For example, chapters are all quite short in the original. To fill its runtime, this anime has to jam several into each episode, with mixed results. It's one thing for these vignettes to take place side-by-side when there are clearly demarcated chapter breaks, but it's quite another when they're delivered as part of the same 20-minute story. Another big issue is that the chapters they choose to combine can be fairly discordant. For example, the visit to the merfolk school from episode two didn't actually take place close to Himeno's modeling stunt. While the manga does juggle its focus frequently, all the anime episodes that combine these chapters tend to juxtapose segments that are quite far apart in tone and intent. The most cohesive episode so far was last week's, and that one was adapted from a single double-length chapter. Even then, that strange bit from the end about the shrine ghost didn't happen originally. (Whether it was moved up from later in the manga or just a unique invention of the anime, I'm not sure.) So from what I can tell, it looks like they've been scrambling the manga around while not making the best choices about which material to combine.
Not that the production is helping either. While the manga has some nice art, this show looks iffy even during its best moments. The direction is plain, and the score tends to be either that jangly horn tune or dead silence. Basically, the show's watchability rests 100% on the narrative. Fortunately, that aspect of the show is still pretty interesting, tonal hiccups aside. I love frank discussions of the (demi)human body by teenage girls. Poor Hime-chan – it must be rough when your ladyparts are out of arm's reach. So do some heftier centaurs need a mounted instrument to wash their behinds? Otherwise, the characters remain likable, the worldbuilding is still unique, and the social commentary is certainly going...somewhere. The best part is that we're about to meet one of the snake-headed Antarcticans: Himeno's new classmate, Sassasul Quetzalcoatl! She may be a spy, owns a UFO, and is probably a very nice girl. She's beautiful, I already love her, and so should you.
A Centaur's Life is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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