Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero
Sometimes it happens that people are spirited away to alternate fantasy dimensions to become heroes. This is known as “summoning syndrome,” and when the people (usually teenagers) return, they have to be retrained to fit into society. Since that's happening anyway, why not groom them to use the powers they acquired in other worlds to help this one? The institution that does this training is called Babel, and its two newest students are the titular rogue hero, Akatsuki Ousawa, and Miu, the daughter of the demon lord from Akatsuki's other world. The demon lord asked Akatsuki to take Miu back with him, and now they are posing as brother and sister as she tries to adjust and he gets into a whole lot of trouble...while still managing to always save the day.
How much needs to happen in six episodes to constitute a plot? This is the question Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero inadvertently asks as it hops around its introductory episodes without ever quite answering. We first meet Akatsuki as he is preparing to leave the fantasy world where he has been working. The show leaves little doubt in the viewer's mind as to who its target audience is as our hero is attacked by a platoon of killer maids. They pose no threat to Akatsuki, however, who quickly reveals his signature move – he takes off their (strangely contemporary) bras and underwear without removing other clothes. This sufficiently embarrasses the maids so that he can escape with his ludicrously large knapsack. Upon arrival in the “real” world, it is revealed that he has a naked girl in there. This is Miu, the daughter of a demon lord killed by Akatsuki, and he has promised to bring her to his world.
Ostensibly this sets up the premise of the show. The two Ousawa “siblings” are quickly whisked away to Babel and enrolled in classes with the rest of the cast being quickly introduced: the aggressive lesbian, the prickly student council member, the sneaky student council member, and the girl who is way too young for this school. Everybody except Miu is strictly monochromatic, with the same color eyes and hair, and very little effort is made to make the supporting cast stand out at all. Not helping is that everyone is equally stocky in terms of build with plain, slightly squat faces and perfectly round eyes. From most angles thighs are disproportionately thick, and there is a definite lack of fluidity in the animation. Miu's design is the most distinctive with her pink pigtails and turquoise eyes, but really her defining characteristics are her breasts. They make her gym (?) uniform bulge and episode five is entirely devoted to finding a bra that will fit them. Akatsuki also spends an alarming amount of time with his hands on them.
This leads us to the central problem with this series: Akatsuki himself. On the one hand, Akatsuki displays more gumption and sexual awareness than the average harem lead. Episode six shows us that he is not stupid and throughout the show he demonstrates kindness to Miu and other girls and the quick thinking necessary to get him out of dangerous situations. But that kindness is very self-serving – in the aforementioned bra episode, Akatsuki takes it upon himself to help Miu adjust her breasts in the bra cups, taking time to (publicly) fondle them as well. He almost forces himself on Miu at least once, and another time he shows up attached (via energy manipulation) to the ceiling of her shower...naked. This is clearly taking “watching over” too far, and many viewers will find themselves uncomfortable with the casual way his predatory actions are depicted. He also appears to have no problem with humiliating girls, particularly in the semi-infamous urination scene. In other words, he gives all the appearance of being a good guy without actually being one.
Not that he alone is at fault in terms of slightly degrading fanservice. Babel apparently suffers from a fabric shortage, bringing girls' skirts to “long shirt” length, and in episode six the prickly student council V.P., Haruka, gets her clothing exploded off of her and is forced to fly around wearing only Akatsuki's jacket. (Hopefully no one looked up.) Lesbian character Chikage also indulges in some unwanted advances on other girls, and Miu is constantly uncomfortable with the way people fixate on her breasts, possibly implicating the audience in her humiliation, metafictionally speaking. For all of this, however, nudity is censored with spinning magic circles or bars of arcane text, so all you get to see is the molestation rather than the body parts themselves.
As of its sixth episode, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero does not appear to be going anywhere. A terrorist group was introduced in episode six, and the student council president has spent a lot of the show being ominously mysterious, but the preview shows all the girls in skimpy bathing suits, which doesn't seem promising plot-wise. One can only hope that the light novels that birthed this series were better about explaining Akatsuki's motivations, because as of now, this is less than likeable. With its lackluster animation, fairly unattractive designs, and uncomfortable amount of sexual harassment, this is a show whose intended audience will likely find fun, but the majority will feel better staying away from.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : C-
Art : C-
Music : B-
+ Interesting premise, some promise in terms of shady organizations. Hints dropped about Akatsuki's family are fascinating.
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