Handyman Saitō in Another World
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Handyman Saitō in Another World ?
Community score: 4.5
Okay, there is a very faint thematic thrust capping all this off, appropriately settled back on Saitou himself. The titular handyman had felt only a little like he'd fallen by the wayside, focus-wise, over the last few episodes. Yes he was still instrumental as an emotional core for the stories we were getting for Morlock and, to a lesser extent Raelza. But the idea of Saitou, his role, and his potential to fulfill that and find fulfillment wasn't critical to the illustrations of found family that the last arc was about. Thus, this season finale tries to curve things back towards that establishing central idea using some of the same threads from that last story. The main party members follow snippets of the last adventure to realize how cool they think Saitou is.
Settled back into sketch mode, the details and quality of those revelations vary. Morlock understandably gets the least time to meditate on the subject, given a huge chunk of the last arc was about him coming to consider Saitou a surrogate son after all. So instead, we get a perhaps overwrought gag about the old wizard flashing back to some fleeting moments of gender fluidity and how that might have made him appreciate Saitou as his adopted daughter does. It is an odd bit but passes quickly anyway, and after so much of the "serious" story centered around him, it's almost refreshing to have Morlock back to pure comic relief for the parts he puts in for this episode.
The most prominent round of the Saitou-appreciation aspect thus comes from Lafanpan. That's appropriate since she had a relatively small role (pun intended!) throughout the series, despite her main-party-member status. So giving her more of a spotlight here at the end is a fair way to try to make up for it. Interestingly, her episode-driving interaction with Saitou actually plays off some of the same ideas introduced with that earlier-mentioned Morlock gag. IE: The circumstances of Lafanpan's identity and existence initially made her lack any consideration of being attracted to Saitou romantically before a temporary transformation lets her reconsider her circumstances. It makes for a nice mix-up especially knowing how hard the fairy works to wingwoman for Saitou and Raelza otherwise. And if this episode's final arc is mostly about characters coming around on what a dreamboat Saitou is, I won't tell them they're wrong.
The episode eventually ups that ante to play it up as the heart at the end of everything. Seeing Saitou's fame spread, at least to the degree that he's instantly recognizable by everyone in town now, gets to feel like a more organic version of the kind of fame fantasy you see play out in other isekai series. It's not just that Saitou's deeds in adventuring are impressive and memorable; his more practical tendencies as a handyman have also let him make a name for himself. He's taking on more tasks like what got him by in his home world, but he feels more fulfilled and appreciated, just as was spelled out in the first episode of this anime. Maybe that's the real "fantasy" as presented by this fantasy world in Handyman Saitou: That a world thoroughly populated by eccentric gag-comic weirdos is going to be more compelled to appreciate an individual like Saitou and his unique talents, rather than viewing him as just another disposable face in the masses.
The anime is naturally happy to bring back every side character for a final bow at the end. And that big crowd scene devolves into characters running through their jokes and catchphrases too many times, but it's not like I was expecting exceptional density at this stage. Still, even running the clock out that way and filling out the rest of the episode with its old style of one-off jokes, the Handyman Saitou finale here still winds up having to pad out its final three minutes with an ending theme song montage and a decently animated little dance party sequence. Maybe there were more comics they could have pulled from to make this finish feel more full, or maybe they could have included a few more character interactions or even teased a few of their lingering plot concept threads for a potential sequel season. But it's overall okay and marks Handyman Saitou as a fun little series that could be surprising in its ambition at times. The craftsmanship wasn't always perfect, but like a reliable local handyman, you could always count on it to show up and get the job done.
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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