A Centaur's Life
Episode 8

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Centaur's Life ?

I really appreciate A Centaur's Life's commitment to dishing out something totally bizarre and unexpected every single week. While it's still a fairly average episode overall, this week delivers perhaps the most inexplicable moment in what's already a very WTF show.

The first half of the episode consists of a fairly ordinary (by this show's standards) exploration of a cultural practice among centaurs. It's customary for them to perform archery, because the sport is historically entwined with their matchmaking ceremonies. At one point, Hime invites her friends to watch her perform in a competition, where they meet her archery kouhai Ayaka, who's hostile to Hime for no real reason. While Hime is stumped by the situation, Kyoko gets what's going on immediately and comes up with a solution. It turns out that Ayaka has a crush on Hime, which she expresses by being overly competitive. So when Hime offers to go on a date with Ayaka if she wins the competition, the younger girl gets super motivated and takes home the prize. With that, Ayaka's competitive anxiety is alleviated, Hime's peace of mind is restored, and this show gets even gayer. We don't see how their date turns out, but I doubt that Ayaka will become Hime's permanent romantic interest – Nozomi would get jealous if that were the case.

The episode's latter half is where things really get weird. This section starts out benignly enough – we're taken back to mermaid town to learn more about how these specific demi-humans live their lives: wet and naked. Their area of town is inundated in ankle-length water, (which makes me wonder how so many of their buildings are still several stories tall – does water flow up them somehow?) and the girls all go around topless. This latter element of mermaid culture is, of course, explored immediately. Two mermaid boys sit around ogling pictures of bikini-clad women, which are apparently illicit over here. Then some girls come over and ask them what the big deal is with concealed knockers – theirs are just hanging around in plain sight, after all. (Or they would be, if not for the rays of white light assaulting the screen. Buy the disc release for fully uncensored fish titties!) The boys respond that it's hot when girls are coy about their boobs, because mermaid girls aren't like that. They do, however, have the hots for one of their classmates – a recently arrived half-breed who's still not quite comfortable letting her frontal flippers fly free. The conversation ends after that, and this girl, Eri, stars for the rest of the episode.

You see, Eri has been chosen to participate in a religious ritual for mermaids, wherein she swims over to a rock in the middle of the ocean and sings a song. Some dolphins frolic around in response, and it's all very spiritual and stuff. Or that's how it was supposed to go. Instead, an enormous bipedal fish monster emerges from the depths of the aquatic shrine, declares itself their god, and demands obedience. That's right, there are now actual kaiju in this show! Well, considering that there were already shrine-gods and UFOs, this isn't much of a stretch. Maybe next time Hime and friends will discover the subterranean city of the molemen? (Who likely already constitute a registered ethnic group, considering this show's universe.) But back to the kaiju, Eri and her chaperone are smart enough to get the hell away rather than listen to any of its demands. The chaperone insists that the “god” is a fake, so they run off to report it to the authorities. In the distance, we see the monster swimming toward a large ship crewed by an aquatic variety of Antarcticans, who react to it with what seems to be either bafflement or curiosity. (Don't ask me which. I'm not an expert on made-up snake body language.) And with that, the scene ends.

Yup, that was weird! My best bet is that this monster was the Antarcticans' genetically engineered attempt to study human religious practices. It doesn't seem like it went that well. On that front, Sassassul's philosophy of earnest cultural exchange probably works better. They even let her try out archery this week! The boob part of the episode was also an interesting look at the eroticism of bodily exposure as a cultural construct. I expect many similar moments to come in later episodes, and perhaps just as much censorship.

Grade: B

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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