A Centaur's Life
Episodes 6-7

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Centaur's Life ?

How would you rate episode 7 of
Centaur's Life ?

Apologies for missing last week's episode writeup – I was at Otakon and didn't have a chance to write. With that out of the way, write-ups should be regular from now until the show's conclusion. Since this review covers two episodes of what's already a very segmented show, I've decided to pick out the outstanding moments rather than recap the whole thing beat by beat. In the end, I found this format pretty congenial to the experience of watching A Centaur's Life, so I may stick with it going forward.

The first vignette concerns retracing Hime's (potential) family history. I found this one relatable - in my experience at least, it's always funny to think back on who your ancestors might have been, how they lived, and what they likely experienced. It's especially strange to ponder how your genealogy may be shaped by acts of violence (conquest and pillaging, for example) that seem so distant from our modern reality. Part of Hime – her distinctive red hair – seems to have originated from a history of violation, and that's something that must be awkward to accept. I have to say that A Centaur's Life excels in capturing (if not commenting on) these specific everyday conversations that I've never quite seem captured in another work. It'd be nice if they were part of a more cohesive story, but it's still enjoyable enough in these fragmentary moments.

The next segment focuses on the vague theme of “work.” We see that Kyouko helps her dad out with his job as a writer, proofreading manuscripts and dealing with his editors. My favorite bit is that Kyouko has a “cute girl” voice that she uses when she wants to get something from someone over the phone. I certainly do that, and I know a lot of ladies who do too. We then cut to Manami as she does part time work performing exorcisms. It's amusing that she thinks such mundane thoughts – like what to cook for dinner – when performing such a hallowed task. In the end, she has to awkwardly insist on being given a donation, which can't have been any fun.

Well, it pays the bills anyway. It's the part that comes right after this that's really brutal. Manami's family issues were brought up a few times in earlier episodes. Her mother seems to be dead, and she's left taking care of her four younger sisters while her dad plays at being a painter. This week, she once again confronts him on his noncommittal stance toward the venture that he's sacrificing his family life over. Her stance is that he could be a committed painter and neglect the family, or he could be a half-assed painter and neglect her. If he's going to neglect her either way, he should at least make it in service of something. Poor Manami – she's had to grow up so fast, and her father is being irresponsible. A daughter shouldn't have to give up her adolescence in order to support her father's ambitions. At least she's making some friends. Hime, Nozomi, Kyouko and Sassasul seem perfectly happy to tag along while Manami babysits.

The third story consists of one of these adventures. The girls, Manami's sisters, and Hime's cousin Shino all go to the pool together. This section is mostly just little kids being cute, but there are also some interesting bits. We learn more about Antarcticans – namely, that Sassassul had raised a younger sister in a sort of assigned childrearing relationship. I assume that this is the norm for her people, since their actual mother – a single egg-bearing queen – wouldn't be able to do that much parenting. It hope Sassy's little sister shows up at some point in the show. Other tidbits include the fact that Antarcticans don't have breasts, which makes sense since they don't nurse their young. Everything that we learn about Antarctican society is fascinating, and I'm happy to see them get more focus in the show. Sassasul has really done a lot to improve the series by giving us both a “stranger in a strange land” perspective and something truly alien.

The last vignette was my favorite of the bunch. The girls all get roped into scary story club in order to help their classmate ask someone on a date. This turns into another moment of cross-cultural exchange between them and Sassassul, wherein they discuss the role that superstition plays in both of their cultures. It turns out that in spite of her society's professed atheism, Sassassul is capable of believing in superstition, albeit of the “step on a crack, break your mother's back” variety. She's delighted to find this commonality between herself and humans, and her wide smile (which treats her friends to a solid look down her esophagus) was the best part of these two episodes as a whole. Sassy's voice actress (Yuu Ayase) deserves a lot of credit for making the character so lovable – her clear, sincere speaking style is very charming. In the end, they all get spooked by a characteristically eccentric story about the ghosts of ancient arthropods. I swear that between its fascination with conspiracies, history, pop culture, the day-to-day minutiae of everyday life as a schoolgirl, and homosexuality, A Centaur's Life accidentally replicates the experience of scrolling through Tumblr. It feels like the anime version of some people I know, so maybe that's why I like it so much, warts and all.

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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