Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious ?
Cautious Hero has soundly fallen into its own trap by this point, I'm afraid. As of this episode, there's barely a hint of parody or satire to its proceedings, instead being populated with some extremely simple procedural plotting with only a sprinkling of comedy beats throughout. Lacking even the interesting battles of previous episodes that took themselves more seriously than I initially expected from the show, this one comes off interminably dull. This may be a story all about its titular hero being overly careful, but that shouldn't mean the show itself has to play it so safe!
As befits the pattern of events Cautious Hero has locked in for itself at this point, Seiya's latest triumph takes him back to the world of the Gods for training, this time with new
wards baggage carriers Mash and Elulu in tow. This means more time can be spent showing off other gods and what kind of quirks and ability-bestowing they may have to offer. There's Hestiaca, who's here to teach Elulu flame magic and comment how she kind of sucks at it. There's Valkyrie, who I probably couldn't use screenshots of here without some sort of NSFW warning on the front page. And there's Adenela, here to be Seiya's next-level swordsmanship teacher and build up to exactly one joke. It can't be overstated how little these new characters actually do beyond existing in proximity to the heroes as we follow some vague notes of their progress dotted with mild humor. The most frustrating is probably the build-up to Adenela's gag. Cautious Hero's humor hasn't exactly earned a ton of faith from us as an audience, so we're just left counting way too many minutes as we wonder what simple punch-line the storytelling's weird skirting around Seiya and Adenela's situation is leading to. Sure, the eventual sight of Adenela's cutesy makeover from her previous goth self is a little funny, as is Seiya's expected flat dismissal of her, but it was hardly worth all that lead-in.
But that's the spirit of the lion's share of this episode: Going through the motions of fantasy training arcs with a miniscule amount of world-building and character-based humor. Elulu's lack of aptitude for fire magic is barely touched on, with us only getting an idea of why that is at the very end of the episode. It does allude to one idea that seems specific to this series: That your skills and ability levels are something that's just immutably inherent to you, baked onto your ‘character sheet’ as it were, with guys like Seiya winning the magic lottery while Elulu is stuck carrying his bags. That's there, but the show doesn't really do anything with it right now, like so many other meta-ideas it seems aware of but uninterested in.
I can't be completely down on this stretch, Cautious Hero does do at least a few things decently here. Frustrating as all the flitting around on Adenela's plotline is, like I said that reveal is pretty funny. Plus it was just nice to see another character besides Ristarte who was allowed to be truly, overtly silly in this show. Too bad she's not coming along on the main plot. And for as little as he's pointedly still doing overall, Seiya actually picks up a second whole character trait this episode: He doesn't like cake! No, I don't really get it either, and the way Cautious Hero has been going it's likely to be a bit that gets milked for way more than it's worth, but it's kind of neat to see it as it starts up here.
But the presentation on all this is so flat this go-around, largely devoid of outrageously-voiced Ristarte asides or even funny reaction faces from her until towards the end. It's to the point that after the team got out of the godly realm and back to adventuring, my mind started to wander to the points about isekai storytelling this show was only incidentally making. That is, would being on an adventure with the kinds of absurd power-boosts inherent to the genre actually be ‘fun’ in the sense of the games they're emulating? So much of modern isekai is built on entertaining escapism, but even though no one wants to die trying to save some alternate world, what value is there in the fantasy when you can cruise through the whole quest while hardly lifting a finger? At what point do these over-power-fantasies stop being entertaining to those projecting on them? Cautious Hero touches on this as Seiya's automatic monster-destroying magic phoenix steals kills from the eager-to-prove-themselves Mash and Elulu, but again doesn't go much further than acknowledgement of this odd aspect of the fantasy. That phoenix at least delivers the funniest moment of the episode, spitefully swatting away Elulu's arrow before destroying the enemies itself.
It's that utter disinterest in itself that ultimately sinks this episode of Cautious Hero. It's hardly committed to its humor this go-around, it has hardly anything to say as a parody or pastiche of its genre, and even its straight story beats feel disregarded. Marvel as the show rushes through Mash getting a dragon-transformative power from his homeland while the end-credits roll over the scene! There's still bits of this show I enjoy, and that potential from way back at the beginning is still in there somewhere, but it's easy to be dismissive of Cautious Hero at this point when it seems to feel the same way about itself.
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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