Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious ?
If you thought that plot twist at the very end of the previous episode of Cautious Hero was a case of tonal whiplash, just wait until you watch the beginning of this one. This has always been a show that clearly had no clue how serious it wanted to be, and that's on full display here. Right in the opening minutes we're off the surprise-evil shopkeeper waving his family's severed heads around then killing himself to summon an unstoppable reaper-monster, then immediately switching to gags about Seiya dismayed at losing a single health point and dealing with said reaper-monster by leading it on a full-on Looney Tunes chase through the divine realm. They even throw in some Street Fighter cameos for flavor.
Once again the stuff this episode does well serves to remind me that I like Cautious Hero alright when it's being a near fully-comedic farce. Its funny answers to biting questions about the internal logic of isekai seem more fully-realized than any attempts at real commentary it's made. In this case, it shows the villains going all-out now that they've become painfully aware of the threat-level Seiya presents. As such, their solution to dealing with a totally broken hero is to summon a totally broken monster! Seiya's temporary solution of just continuously running from it is another funny display of his pragmatism, but it also serves to underscore just enough one of the more serious aspects creeping into the plot that has actually caught my interest: That even for all his unstoppable powers and preparation, Seiya is starting to be truly challenged by his enemies.
That's a point that hovers in the background this whole episode in particular. Seiya still wants to train to prepare to fight the late-game foes, but he's given less and less time to ready himself. He's noticeably having to improvise more in his plans, and struggling a bit because of it. As he heads off to battle again towards the end of this episode, Ristarte even notes that he's eschewed his readiness-affirming catchphrase this time. For all the jokes that Cautious Hero makes at the expense of Seiya's seeming invincibility and the anticlimax of how a lot of his encounters play out, it's still demonstrating at a less-visible level that just because a hero is super-powerful, doesn't mean they can expect to always cruise through their quests. It's the kind of more understated serious elements the series would do better to utilize more often, rather than just parading out some decapitations to let us know when it means business.
How Seiya ultimately opts to deal with this new escalation throws further into question what he'll actually be able to handle moving forward. Sure the initial joke of provoking Valkyrie is great as a continuation of that upward overpowering: The broken hero handling a broken monster by siccing a broken god on it. And it's interesting in how it makes clear that Seiya has no qualms about not being the one to actually handle a threat so long as it's dealt with. I remarked in my review of Episode 7 that I appreciated that Seiya isn't too proud to simply request tutoring in new skills and powers when he needs them, and here that also extends to stepping aside and letting someone else take his kills if they're the best ones for the job. Valkyrie's power levels also serve to demonstrate that even as he's outclassed some of the gods, there are still others out there proving that Seiya isn't the strongest entity in this setting, hero or no.
Valkyrie herself, however, proves sadly less entertaining than the comedy and concepts that lead to her role in this episode. About the only solid gag is her ridiculous bloodspray and reaction after activating her ultimate move, then it's off to the exhaustingly-treaded path of co-star molestation. That works itself in oddly as the show reaches for yet another training portion that doesn't last as long as you might think, culminating as it does with Rista and the kid sidekicks walking in on what looks for all the world like Valkyrie carrying Seiya off to Valhalla, if you know what I mean. The thing is, as my comedic senses have been keenly-attuned from watching such a carefully-constructed show as Cautious Hero, I kept waiting for a funny explanation of what was really going on that never actually came. Seiya insists what they're doing is ‘training’, but we don't get more than that brush-off before we're onto a tangent about Ristarte gifting him a doll made of her hair. It feels like the show trying for overtly non-sequitur wackiness in a way its comic timing can't manage, all built off this inexplicable sex-shaped question mark.
It's too bad that everything with Valkyrie makes for such an odd stumbling block this episode, since after that extreme opening scene, this still feels like one of the more balanced episodes of Cautious Hero. We do move on quickly enough, which takes us through those aforementioned points of Ristarte worrying that Seiya's not as prepared anymore as he's used to being. And it does repeat last episode's structural choice of ending on a sudden twist that will be the actual plot for the following episode, but flows a little better here. So perhaps it says a lot that this still feels like Cautious Hero on the upswing.
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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