Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth
Rei Izumi is the only female detective on the narcotics squad, a position that wins her some not-entirely-welcome infamy. She's dedicated to the pursuit of drug-related crimes due to a traumatic experience in her past, and recently the same drug that the perpetrator of that incident was on has resurfaced. As the female face of the unit, Rei is asked to court members for a new unit, code-named STAND, and as she seeks out more and more new faces for it, the illegal substance Plus seems to be increasingly involved.
There are many ways to adapt a game with multiple routes, with some working better than others. The major trap that many anime versions fall into is that of trying to include parts of all of the routes in an effort not to leave out someone's favorite romantic option. That's the major failing of Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth, which is based on a mobile otome game with a gacha element – where a series like Brothers Conflict has thirteen options, this one has twenty-two, and all of them put in an appearance in the show. And while Brothers Conflict manages to balance out the stories and boys to a very decent degree…well, let's just say that Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth is no Brothers Conflict.
The heroine of the story is Rei Izumi, a fully adult woman who acts rather like an overly innocent high school girl. While she's not nearly as naïve as, for example, the heroine of Amnesia, her naivete is a problem because of her line of work: Rei is a detective on the narcotics squad. This leaves her very little room for the sweet innocence she evinces, but it is worth mentioning that she's not entirely to blame for this. Rei is often treated as “The Girl” by her male coworkers and superiors, to the point where she only gets the position with STAND because they think that potential recruits will react better to a woman than a man. That this is something Rei doesn't realize at first leads to what is probably the only truly serious moment in a show that ought to have a few more real-world parallels: when Rei tries to tell the leader of STAND (which is an acronym for STand Alone National Department) something she feels is important, he brushes her off, informing her that she's not a “real” member of the group, just the pretty face they needed to form the team. Rei is understandably shocked and angry, but instead of exploring this further or allowing Rei to prove her worth to the misogynist, the whole incident is brushed aside within an episode. This is particularly problematic in a few ways, but one of the least controversial is the fact that Rei has spent the weeks previous building up a rapport with numerous male recruits, all of whom only agreed to join STAND because of her. The revelation that she's not a member should have had repercussions, something we never see. This is just sloppy storytelling, which may result from combining too many character routes into a single twelve-episode story.
Rei's agency and lack thereof aside (and she does have a decent amount of it when she's allowed to use it), another issue with the show is that there are simply too many characters, most of whom are brown-haired men in suits. While this certainly gives readers of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle a new empathy for Princess Syalis in the chapter where all the demons put on suits and she can't tell them apart, it does not help viewers to form attachments to a favored romantic interest or even to get everyone's names and faces (hair?) matched. That they are all divided into separate groupings is doubtless intended to aid in that, but again, the ratio of guys to girl is simply too high, and their sheer numbers become a distraction. Viewers looking for any sort of solid romance plot are also destined to be disappointed, as nothing is really developed with anyone. There are small moments – actor Kyosuke actually asks her out and they go on a couple of dates, she has a distinct rapport with Go, and there are strong hints about her relationship with her fellow cop Aoyama (plus STAND member Arakida acts like he hates her, and we all know what that means), but again, the effort to give everyone airtime sabotages any real moves in that direction. Given that this is a reverse harem story, and that romance is usually part and parcel of the genre, this is a surprise. It doesn't have to be a bad one, but with the general lack of coherency in the main drug-crime plotline, a romance element would at least have offered something to latch onto.
Also a disappointment are the music and animation. Both theme songs could easily be put on an album entitled “Lounge Hits of Anime,” which is less important than the fact that they feel far too long, even though the opening and ending credits are standard length. The animation is perhaps a more serious issue. The focus is much more on still shots of groups of guys sitting together looking handsome or pans up or down the male characters' bodies, but when things are more fully animated, there's a very stilted quality to them. Walking is especially poorly done, and there are often problems drawing the front of Rei's pants, which just look uncomfortable. There's also an odd tendency of characters not to wear socks in wintertime scenes, but that's really the least of the problems.
All of this speaks to a show with wasted potential. We don't often get series about fully-grown professional women in jobs like “narcotics investigator,” and to see it fall into a series of adaptation pitfalls – be that the attempt to include too many storylines and characters or a too-faithful adaptation – is disappointing. It isn't painful to watch, but that's almost too bad, because even if it had failed spectacularly, it would still have been more memorable than it ultimately is.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : C-
Art : C-
Music : C
+ Adult protagonist in a professional setting, interesting potential plot.
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