by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Isekai Quartet ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Isekai Quartet ?
Isekai Quartet is exactly what its name implies: a crossover between four of the most currently popular isekai series in one grand meta-fictional exercise. This is effectively a double-isekai story, where characters who have been transported to another world get transported to yet another world, this time a modern school setting with their supporting casts along for the ride. Based on the first two episodes, this series is clearly targeted at genre superfans who are fully familiar with all four contributing anime series: Saga of Tanya the Evil, Konosuba, Re: Zero, and Overlord. Experienced fans will have the richest experience with this series, though I think you could satisfactorily follow things if you're familiar with at least half the material and know the basic premises of the others. I am going to assume that not everyone following these reviews has seen all four series, so I may periodically provide explanatory notes for character gags that do not explain themselves in context.
Since episode two was all about more thorough character introductions, let's start with a brief primer:
From Re: Zero, we have the characters Subaru, Emilia, Rem, Ram, Beatrice, and Puck. Emilia and Puck are largely explained in episode two, but Rem and Ram are actually twin oni and Beatrice is a powerful mage who's hundreds of years old. Subaru is a normal human from another world except for his “Return by Death” ability, which allows him to time-jump back to specific save points when he dies. The unnamed homeroom teacher, Margrave Roswaal, is also a mage of substantial ability from this series. Based on Subaru and the girls' conversations in episode one, Isekai Quartet can be assumed to happen after the events of the Re: Zero TV anime.
From Konosuba, we have Kazuma (the reincarnate), Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness. Their respective specialties and quirks are mostly laid out in episode two; Darkness always has her mind on masochism, while Megumin has a hyper-strong explosion spell that she can only use once per day because it's so draining. (I have to think that will come into play at some point.) Also watch for Kazuma's nefarious Steal ability (often used to filch panties right off his target's body) to come up at some point. It's less clear where they're coming from in the Konosuba timeline, but it's probably after the first season at least.
From Saga of Tanya the Evil, we have the reincarnate Tanya (who was originally a middle-aged salaryman) and her chief subordinates in the 203rd Air Mage Battalion. The first episode alluded to Tanya's struggle against Being X, the godlike entity who made her into an orphaned girl in a war-torn world to teach her a lesson of some kind, and her magic is extra-potent due to a special-class computational jewel and the ability to heighten her powers with “prayers.” The two older men in the Principal's office are the two top generals in her series. (Why they seem to know what's going on remains a mystery at this point.) This could be happening anywhere after the halfway point of the TV series based on who's present.
Finally, from Overlord we have the skeletal Momonga/Ains Ooal Gown, a VRMMO gamer who was locked into his character in a world where his game became real. The other monsters are his utterly loyal subordinates in the Great Tomb of Nazarick, the original home of his party's guild, and he reigns from the shadows as the supreme sorcerer of his world. Their conversations in the first episode refer to events in the third anime season, so this takes place fairly far into Ains' adventures.
Bringing all of these characters together in a school setting, where their participation is mandatory, offers wonderful opportunities for all of these strong personalities to bounce off each other. We are already seeing signs of that in episode two, especially in Aqua's predictable confrontation of the Overlord crew and the far less predictable impact that has on Ains; this just goes to show that Ains and his ultra-powerful crew won't automatically be untouchable in this new world, and that's awesome. Seeing how each character's powers balance out when compared to one another on neutral ground will also be a real treat, as the character dynamics whip up new opportunities for conflict and companionship. The opener suggests that a certain degree of respect will develop between Ains and Subaru, but there are all sorts of other fun possibilities to anticipate.
Frankly, these first two episodes are just pure silly fun. Everything from the chibi-fied art, to the abundance of amusing character quirks, to the jolly opener and a closer featuring female characters from each series singing together. The animation is decent, the musical score is spot-on, and the Japanese voice actors sound like they're having fun. By episode two, the script is smoothly cycling through all four franchises almost equally and nailing all of the characterizations well. The only negative is that there aren't more than 12 minutes of entertainment each week.
Isekai Quartet is currently streaming on Funimation.
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