Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious ?
Outrageous, raunchy humor often has to ride the fine lines of taste if it wants to land. Far from overcooked concerns about ‘offending’ people, it's simply that the all-important timing of its tastes must be managed so it actually lands as funny rather than simply trying too hard. There are ways to temper possible reactions though. In Cautious Hero's case, after what felt like several weeks of exhaustively average action, I was ready for anything that made the show's presentation roar back to life. The humor in this episode ends up toeing some serious lines, but it turned out to be the shot in the arm Cautious Hero needed after all this time.
It ends up being an effective turnaround from the expectations the last episode's ending set me up for. Archery goddess Mitis seemed to have some sinister scheme to herself, some sort of surprise villainous complication that would upend Seiya's plans (as much as Seiya's carefully-calculated plans can be upended, anyway). But there's no shocking betrayal as the truth is much simpler and conducive to the show's oft-neglected comedy: Mitis is just terminally horny. It's certainly an outside-the-box issue for Seiya's skills to overcome, and just from the initial explanation of her pervy predilections the production comes off like it's having way more fun with itself than it has been. Ristarte hasn't had many chances for her ridiculous vocal delivery to shine in recent weeks, but panicking over the notion of Seiya getting some both because it would mean his expulsion as a hero and because she wanted to be the one to tap that first? Comedy gold.
The actual depiction of Mitis's audacious advances is where things get a bit dicier for Cautious Hero's comedic prospects. It's actually all pretty above-board by sex comedy standards when things start out. In particular, Mitis's absurdly direct declarations about what she wants to do with Seiya coupled with her strung-up presentation and ridiculous detailed animation of stuff like her butt flexing had me admitting in spite of myself that this was all pretty funny. After Rista's grotesque nip-slips and the lascivious lizard fanservice in prior episodes, I'd say this puts Cautious Hero up to three-for-three on outlandish nudity gags. When this bit is all Mitis flinging her light-beam-censored self at Seiya only to be casually shot in the face with magic arrows, it's a terrific reminder of the kind of outrageous gags that endeared the anime to me way back when it first premiered. Everyone's even busting out some A-rank funny faces, just like those good old days! On top of that the animation on Mitis herself here has been cranked up to top-notch, the over-the-top styling enhancing the ridiculousness of the situation.
So successful is it for most of this part that I can forgive myself when Cautious Hero gets carries away a bit more than it needs to for the sake of its own gag. Mitis turning her audacious attention to Mash and dang-near assaulting him while he screams and pleads will likely cross over into the ‘not funny’ line for a lot of people. Thankfully that part passes relatively quickly to resolve things with Seiya's trademark deadpan dispatching. So is it over some key lines of taste? Yes, but it's also something in this show that caught my attention after so many bowls of warmed-over isekai oatmeal.
That tonal goodwill manages to hang over the rest of the episode, even as it U-turns back to the more expected ways this show has been handling storytelling the past few weeks. Of course after all that time spent preparing for it we've now got to see what Seiya's actual plan for dealing with Beel Bub and his fly guys is. To its credit, the storytelling here does a good job of teasing out what Seiya's doing as it happens to keep it mildly interesting, but the real news is that it's still remembering to include some jokes along the way. There's a great play on the over-preparedness of the main character that drives this whole show, as other players keep butting in to mess up his perfect readiness only for Seiya to counter that such screw-ups were still totally within the realms of his planning. That's a good way of keeping the central conceit of the show in-frame while also messing with it to make us laugh. Similarly, the team here knows that Ristarte is a delight, so they give her a more direct role in the action as things ramp up here, letting her trademark delivery carry sections that might be too boilerplate otherwise.
It's still not perfect. After two episodes with her now I feel like Rosalie is pretty much a waste of a character. Her role countering and questioning Seiya's approach to heroism (and in process interrogating more expected notions of the ideal) isn't fleshed out beyond bare contradictions. Even when it seems like she's headed for a baseline compromise in her worldview after being saved by him at the end, she reverts back to immobile stubbornness. It makes any ideas Cautious Hero was driving at in this little story line feel like mere exercises in circular logic, so it's a good thing it was at least funny while it was wasting that potential. On top of that, it still seems the show's scheduling is working overtime to shoehorn a missed week's worth of plotting into whatever margins it can, as this episode foregoes an ending-song sequence (no big loss, have you seen that thing?) in favor of running the credits over a major upheaval that might have been better suited to opening the next episode. But at this point the series is doing what it can, and this week, the disparate positives were entertaining enough to outweigh the parts I'd grown weary of.
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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