Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious ?
Both the Cautious Hero and the story he lends his title to are moving at an unstoppable rate now. It's kind of astounding the way this anime just keeps barrelling through its plot, clipping out that bizarre heavy rock number opener regularly just to jam more air-time in. I'm not sure how much Cautious Hero's unplanned break early in the season affected its episode count or space for the production to finish telling whatever amount of the source story it's set out for, but it's hard to deny that things are feeling rather rushed in places. To the point that Ristarte, resident meta-commentator that she is, finds herself complaining about the lack of a break she and the rest of the party are getting as they're pointed towards the next plot-point by the gaggle of soldiers that confronted them at the end of the previous episode. I thought Seiya was going for a no-damage playthrough, not a speedrun!
Even though it feels like we're fast-forwarding through all the setup, there is still a lot of it to get through in the first half of this episode. It almost feels pointlessly repetitive now for the anime to show off the new villain Seiya will need to defeat, since it's pretty well established as a given that he'll do so easily once he's had all his prep-time. We can't even expect some gorgeous fight animation or well-played humor to come out of the situation a la One Punch Man either, so it really comes off as going through the motions. The main impression new fly-monster baddie Beel Bub makes is in his surprisingly gory ‘reverse fireworks’ dispatch of the sacrificial soldiers that Seiya and pals see just as they arrive. It's back on that odd predilection for serious presentation Cautious Hero has found for itself intermittently in recent episodes. And if the show pointedly isn't going to be funny all the time, this at least works in keeping my attention on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
The real reason for that burst of violence, however, is to lead into the introduction and characterization of this episode's new addition to the cast: Rosalie, the knight who is also royalty of some sort, in charge of protecting the fortress that Seiya and co will be saving now. Honestly, I'm not wild about Rosalie so far, mainly because I can't quite pin down her character. At first she seems simply to be another adventure-series straight-man to bounce off Seiya's stoic pragmatism, but then the joke escalates to her apparently seeing herself as the main hero of her own story. The dialogue after her and Seiya's big scene tries to spell out that she's his ‘opposite’, a headstrong warrior who charges into anything regardless of whether she actually has any hope of winning or not. That mass death of soldiers earlier ends up being the key demonstration of their divide: Rosalie scolds Seiya for not jumping in to save them because he wasn't completely certain he'd be able to do so, and he, in turn, chastises her for her reckless lack of risk assessment being what led her men to their deaths in the first place.
I'd always taken it as a foundation for humor more than anything, but this ideological clash in this episode made me wonder how Cautious Hero's author, one Light Tuchihi, actually feels about the pragmatism of heroic quests. As outrageously as Seya's over-preparedness can be at times, the fact remains that he's been victorious with no sacrifices all the way through. By contrast, here we have a much more traditional type of adventurer character who's ‘never give up’ heroism is directly blamed by the main character for the needless deaths of others. The genre-aware, reflective nature of isekai light novels lets those writing them comment directly on their personal feelings about some of the worn-out tropes within, one of the genuine boons I'm willing to acknowledge in the medium. Cautious Hero keeps teetering on the edge of meaningful commentary about its forebears and influences, and this is the closest it's felt to a breakthrough so far.
Which is what makes it annoying that Rosalie's characterization is pulled back to become that more murky mess I take issue with. Right after we get that piercing declaration of her failures from Seiya, the whole thing devolves into an over-long comedy bit about him just slapping Rosalie repeatedly, and her getting angry and compared to a dog by Ristarte. It shouldn't be that frustrating, given that we're likely to come back to Rosalie and her clash with Seiya to be explored as this arc goes on, but when the writing is right on the verge like that, it comes off as a tease. Adding insult to injury is that Seiya and his entourage just leave the whole scene at that, retreating back to the realm of the Gods for more training shenanigans.
Here the show tries to shift back into a more comedic mode while also setting up skills Seiya will be using to fight those flies in this storyline. One thing I'll say is that for as naturally overpowered as he is at picking up and using abilities, I appreciate that Seiya still gets most of his power-ups via learning and training in new things. There are lots of heroes out there who just stumble into new powers and weapons handed to them, but Seiya at least has to make a rudimentary effort to pick them up. Is that supposed to be another meaningful commentary on the progression of fantasy heroes by the author? That one's probably not that deep, but it is neat nonetheless. And it's a point of interest I need, since despite its efforts through this section, the comedy just isn't all that funny. Most of the jokes are protracted takes on material the show's already done before, especially as it keeps returning to the godly realm, with only a brief shoujo-style aside making an amusing impression. Then the episode just trails off, with a mere hint that a more complex, surprising plotline will be coming up within this arc. So there are a few straws for me to grasp at in this episode of Cautious Hero, but overall it's far less than the sum of the parts it's racing through.
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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