I’ve seen many Harem/School Anime because I am that kind of guy who watches them. I know, it’s a pretty sucky style of Anime to watch. However, in rare cases, there are times where that kind of style really works out. However, Hagure Yuusha no Aesthetica is not one of them.
Disclaimer: Today’s blog is going to a ‘just talk’ kind of blog. So if you’re not into those types of things, then feel free to click away!
The story sounds promising from the start. It begins with our conceited, overpowered protagonist Akatsuki leaving a foreign land to which he was summoned to defeat an evil Dark Lord. Instead of taking home a trinket as a souvenir for his efforts, he decides to go a few steps further and kidnap the vanquished Lord’s daughter as his own personal “consolation prize”. Once they return to Earth, he and Miu are “forced” to join BABEL, a school focused on extracting and enhancing the skills Akatsuki and others learned during their time in the foreign land of Alayzard.
Now I’ve never really delved into the ecchi genre, so I figured Aesthetica would be a decent place to start, given the cocky nature of the main character. The main problem is that the writers spend an unnecessary amount of time justifying Akatsuki’s lecherous actions, that it amplifies the perverted nature of the show. If he grabs a girl’s breasts, he’s just trying to show her how to make use of cleavage. If he steals a girl’s panties, he’s just trying to prove a point.
These moments are so prolific early on that you end up not taking the show seriously. The number of ecchi moments is plentiful too, with a unique mix of lesbians, random crotch-grabbing and heinous nudity to go around. And some of the scenes I was downright ashamed to watch, including an excerpt involving Akatsuki using his divine powers to cause three girls to pee themselves to prevent one from being embarrassed. I can’t even make this stuff up. I can see why the light novel is so popular around Japan…
Most of the show’s 12 episodes are eaten up exploring the generic cast, and by the time the real story comes into play near the end, Aesthetica has already lost its steam. Any inkling of hope I had for the serious elements to play out was eradicated by the copious amounts of fanservice plaguing the anime’s beginning. The overpowering nature of Akatsuki also eliminates any feeling of drama throughout the series. Most efforts at backstories are waived off to promote more ecchi scenes or are truncated due to the series’ short run. Considering it’s been five years since Aesthetica’s release, I don’t see a sequel in the works either so the five of you out there that actually enjoyed the show can wait with bated breath.
When I first saw Akatsuki, I was delighted. Finally, we get a protagonist who isn’t shy around women and doesn’t get caught up in melodramatic inner monologues! But, it only took an episode for him to show his true colours, and before long I despised his presumptuous personality. Egotistical doesn’t even begin to describe him, and you could even go as far as to call him sexually sadistic. Akatsuki is so much better than everyone else in the show that they seem almost irrelevant.
Generic iterations of various tropes are scattered throughout Aesthetica, leading the viewers to feel cheapened by the lazy writing. Miu has her fair share of, um well, “development” but again this is overshadowed by the extraneous amount of time spent on Akatsuki’s perverted acts. The whole show is like some kind of messed up harem where instead of having girls fawning over him, they’re forced onto him against their will. But instead of hating him for what he does, he always finds a loophole excuse or convenience to make it okay. It’s almost as though the writers are saying to their viewers, “It’s okay to grope women as long as you make up a good reason!” Truly disgusting.
The animation is a constant reminder of what Studio ARMS is not known for. It’s one of the same reasons I didn’t care for Elfen Lied. Everyone that’s not the main character is a pain to look at, as the models are a generic wreck. Even the protagonists leave a lot to be desired in the art department. The action scene’s animation was lackluster at best and had some framing issues. Honestly, the most accurate part of the entire anime is the nudity. Depravity at its finest. The animation in the OP reminded me a bit of the old Dead or Alive Extreme Volleyball games with all of the breast bouncing. I should’ve known then to run for the hills.
The music in Aesthetica is reminiscent of something I’d hear in a cheesy DDR ripoff. It’s BAD. It’s almost as though the creators went down a sorted list of cheapest to most expensive when it came to purchasing the musical rights of the tracks here. At least the ecchi-ness helps drown some of it out. The ED is better but still misses the mark for me. All of these begin to blur together after awhile. On a positive note, the English dub is actually pretty good. It incorporates some better-known actors and is cast well. Some of the translations were altered to make them a bit more Westernized, but nothing really detracted from the scenes.
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