Two light novel adaptations, one of which I genuinely regret giving a chance.
Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home.)
Nope. Nopenopenope. I suppose that I should on some level be judging the quality of the show itself rather than just the plot – the general storytelling and execution, the depth of characterization, the production values as far as visuals and music are concerned, etc. – but the truth is, it’s pretty hard to do that when presented by a story about a salaryman who allows a runaway high schooler to stay with him in exchange for doing his housework.
I’ll be frank, pretty much everything about this concept rubs me the wrong way, and I’m pretty sure I’d be saying that even if the high schooler had been a legal adult. Yoshida is immediately presented as the victim when it comes to his romantic relationships, and the series clearly views him as some kind of white knight solely because he chooses not to physically assault a vulnerable teenage girl. Congratulations, you’ve achieved a baseline of societal awareness and human decency! Moreover, ensuing events seem to perpetuate the idea that good, hardworking office men are naturally deserving of a good woman to keep house for them (after all, how could a young bachelor possibly work and cook at the same time?), and that this is at the heart of what makes said good woman attractive. All while the camera insists on repeatedly showcasing lingering, close-up shots of Sayu’s breasts and thighs, of course.
Sure, things could be worse. “Could be worse” is an extremely low bar to set though, and personally, I’m not about to watch more of something just because it didn’t happen to involve sexual assault. So my recommendation is to skip this one – it may have pretensions of being about “a touching relationship between a heartbroken adult and a runaway high school” (thanks, MAL), but whatever life lessons Higehiro may have to offer, this is not an ideal mode of exploration.
Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu (The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent)
I wanted to like this show – and in some ways, I did. A 20-year-old female office worker whisked away to a fantasy world when she’s summoned there by a ritual on their side, but whose would-be role as ‘Saint’ is instantly overlooked by a rude prince in favor of a second woman who’s also brought there – presumably because our main character isn’t as outwardly ‘pretty’ or traditionally feminine? And then, instead of spending most of the episode worried, panicking, or sulking at this turn of events, she rolls up her sleeves and decides she’d rather research potions than just sit around being bored and waited upon by the palace servants? Count me in!
Sei’s almost total lack of blushing, pouting, or any kind of typical maiden-in-distress behavior is extremely refreshing, especially in this kind of isekai/high fantasy setup, and that makes her character immediately rather likable despite very little being revealed about her old life or even specific personality traits. Moreover, while every other character seems to be of the (extremely generic) bishounen variety, at least visually, there’s as yet zero indication that Sei is in any way dazzled by or physically attracted to them; she simply responds to kindness with kindness and doesn’t really seem to care, or even consider, the possibility of romance. I have no idea if this story is leading up to some kind of love/hate relationship with the still-mysterious prince or if it’s going to be more of a reverse-harem kind of deal (according to MAL, one of the listed genres is romance, so one of the two seems likely), but either way, I’m digging the notable absence of any sexual or romantic element thus far.
On the other hand, Seijo no Maryoku seems, for lack of a better word, aimless. Even if this is intended to be a more or less purely slice-of-life title, it feels like there’s very little here driving the story forward. We meander from scene to scene with little to no significant plot points, and with even the magical aspects of the story being treated in a very ho-hum kind of way. For a while, I was half-expecting a twist whereby one of the male characters revealed some ulterior motive, or a development by way of one of Sei’s potions having a drastically unintended effect. But nope – the story just keeps plodding along until, literally in the final minute, it’s finally implied that Sei will, after all, eventually turn out to be the Saint (which, to me, feels like it undermines the entire premise of a show, which was until this point purposefully steering clear of the whole ‘chosen one’ isekai trope).
I’ll give this a second episode to see if the pacing picks up a bit, but despite its otherwise endearing qualities, Seijo no Maryoku is going to have to work harder if it wants to prevent boredom from setting in.