Handyman Saitō in Another World
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Handyman Saitō in Another World ?
Community score: 4.5
Last week I compared this current arc for Handyman Saitou to a goofily escalating Dungeons & Dragons tabletop session, and I'll continue to stand by that here. I think any of us who have dabbled in that hobby have been here before: What begins as a throwaway gag about a dog biting off a party member's magical member somehow escalates into one of the most intense, exciting encounters the crew has role-played through. Absurd rolls are being made for million-to-one saving shots. Anguished characterization being built up as everyone scrambles to save each other. There are chips flying everywhere. People are yelling.
That makes for an escalation that still fits with the tone that's always worked for Handyman Saitou. It's shifted into "serious" again, sure, but in more of a "fun" way than it had in those previous sorts of swerves. That mostly comes through once things really pop off in the second half of this episode, after the dick-driven demon dog has been mostly dealt with, and the Saitou squad finds themselves squaring off with another one of those sick-ass hand demons. Turns out there was actually a pair of them, a righty and a lefty, which is just brilliant, in my opinion. The densely layered backstories that tried to inform confrontations like this in the previous arc have mostly been eschewed here, and instead it's simply a sequence of complicating obstacles to make us question if our heroes will be able to retrieve Morlock's magical man-thing to restore him, and how many of them might get themselves killed in doing so.
In place of trying to pull out any pathos for the procession of greater demon bosses our main characters have to deal with, Handyman Saitou instead lays out the runway in the first part of the episode by detailing the feelings of the lead characters themselves. By all indications, they might actually be getting ready to progress the Raelza/Saitou relationship, Morlock pretty much insisting his blessing upon the handyman. Saitou does protest that Raelza should probably be the first party to make this decision, and even as we know she's definitely into him, I do kind of agree with the spirit of his point here. It feels odd that the biggest leap in the closest thing the show has to a romantic thrust comes not from anything Raelza herself does, but instead from Morlock being the one to tell Saitou to marry his adopted daughter. To her credit, anyway, Raelza gets pretty much the whole of the fight this episode to prove her own devotion to Saitou (and the rest of the party), setting things up for more potential catharsis of following up on the relationship once this is all over.
Besides, the real reason for this coming about on account of Morlock's characterization is so Handyman Saitou can push the "family" angle of this story arc as fast and furiously as possible. The parallels certainly aren't subtle, with the demon dog's adopted wolf puppy turning into a selfless bargaining chip also on Morlock's account, as the wizard muses multiple times throughout this episode on the lengths he will go to for his "children". Having Saitou implicitly set to become his son-in-law is thus there to cement that connection. I mean, I always jibed with the found-family angle of the team regardless, but I can see how the writing wanted to make things extra-clear to anyone else in the audience at this stage. There's an earnest simplicity to it, which I can't fault Handyman Saitou for.
Also, Raelza does get to show off how much she cares anyway, and she does so with probably the coolest stretch of battlin' that the series has let her have in a while. It's basically everything I think I've asked for from a fight in Handyman Saitou:a stretch of concentrated combat, focused on our main heroes, in an open, brightly lit area where we can see it all, primarily concerning my awesome armored wife and her huge sword. It is perhaps appropriate that Morlock moved up Saitou and Raelza's relationship via conversation, while the lady herself expresses her love primarily through chopping up monsters. It's a mutual arrangement too, with the fist-pumping moment of Saitou coming to the rescue with his super-strong wire cutters, or utilizing the magical knowledge he picked up helping Morlock to know how to take an ice-magic hit for Raelza. LIke I said, you can just hear the players making these rolls and saving throws cheer as they pull off gambits like these.
It's all Handyman Saitou at its most primal, and I think I prefer that when it's in serious mode versus attempting to mine pathos or melodrama. Give me the simple pleasures of a gang of adventurers magically messing up some demons real good any day. Being out and openly visible really lets us appreciate how nice things continue to look during this battle as well. A special shoutout to the impressively gnarly healing magic animations, whether it's Lafanpan restoring Raelza's torched arm, or the greater demon's head-halves joining back together via a sequence of tiny gripping hands. Handyman Saitou is imaginative and impressive, and has me all caught up in the actions of this found family and their quest to help Grandpa get his groin back.
Handyman Saitō in Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.
Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.
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