For me the Winter season is up and running now. I will say this first episode has positives and negatives that are familiar to a lot of anime fans. The first episode is a bit rushed. But I understand why it is rushed. A lot of first episodes want to establish the premise and hit a certain defining moment before the credits roll. Despite a “3-episode rule” being out there, the reality is many can decide on a series with just one episode. So, the first episode here gets us introduced to the cast, mostly gets through their backstories, and ends with the premise of them forming a team together. The downside is that some weren’t well explored (like the dragon girl). And even the ones that were explored were somewhat limited in their impact since we only spent a few minutes on each of them.
I think Nick suffers quite a bit from this. We just didn’t get much about why things went south for him. His backstory was told at the start almost in passing while the show was hurrying along. Why was he really kicked out of his party? I presume there is way more than we saw. Since it’d be downright ridiculous to kick him out because he was taking more leadership within the party. I can buy that Argas is a petty loser that can’t handle others taking away from his voice within the party. But that seems like a minor reason to cut Nick off without ever approaching him on that subject earlier.
At least with the girlfriend there was a dream (that probably happened) that showed her basically just treating him like an easy mark and draining him financially. And once he was out of his former party he wasn’t as valuable to target anymore. But even then, I think a bit more time might have let his depression land harder. The one benefit for Nick is that his situation is familiar enough in fiction that you can give him some sympathy points by association.
Tiana went a bit better. We got a good look at her situation as it unfolded. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more though. The aftermath of her fiancé dumping her was left mostly unsaid. Did she graduate still or just drop out? Did her father kick her out or something? Maybe considering that engagement must have had some motivations beyond affection. But in the end, we still could empathize with her. She just worked hard, gave her all to learning magic, and just tried to be a good person.
But in the end her pathetic fiancé couldn’t handle her outshining him. And honestly pathetic is the only way I can describe that guy. Tiana being talented was too much for him, so he ran away from it. Even buying that she was bullying someone…who she didn’t even know the name of. Not sure if I’m impressed by the other girl or just think she’s equally pathetic. Lying about bullying just to end up with this guy that is only with her because he feels superior to her. So, she’ll spend her life massaging his ego for the sake of whatever political benefits are gained. I get it to some degree. Her family has money but not status so this is a win for her. But it’s still sad.
To this point I’d say Zem wins the most horrible backstory award. He really was just doing good things overall up to the point where everything went wrong. He let down Miril gently and just went about his business. If anyone understandably lost faith in people, it would be him. The girl straight up made false claims to get him arrested and ruined his life because he wouldn’t go out with her. Yeah, she wasn’t running around collecting herbs/etc with her dress because she wanted some extra cash. So maybe he could have seen her initial confession coming, but he still didn’t do anything wrong. Now it seems like with the rumors that his fall could have been partly motivated by politics. And maybe that’s why no one investigated that case very hard. But still…shame on Miril and anyone involved. Ruining someone’s life over that is just awful.
I expect we’ll get more from the dragon girl later. Since…we didn’t get anything this week. The most we saw was a very brief and drunken explanation. That can be summed up as “she was betrayed.” At least we did get a good look at what ‘vices’ the various characters picked up after being betrayed and what gave them some peace. Good for Zem and Nick. They both clearly met nice girls that gave them something to believe in and directed them to where they are now. Nick being a mega idol fan isn’t a bad thing. And Zem visiting “clubs” isn’t bad either. It’s all about working within their means. The problem of course is that none of these characters can trust people enough to make some money.
Going to admit some bias here. I can’t see anything good for Tiana’s solution. Gambling is just a good way to lose a lot of money fast. Nick may be overspending on idol goods, but at least he’s got stuff at the end of it. I’m sure people do have fun gambling, but for me I’m just “eh” on that one. Dragon girl’s drinking can be a problem if she gets too into it. Honestly compared to the guys, it feels like the girls just stumbled into bad habits that made their situations even worse.
This wasn’t a bad first episode and I’m still hopeful. After all the premise is what got me. I want to see how this group that has suffered so much actually manages to interact. Can they really trust each other and get by? And can they avoid sinking too far into their various interests and throwing all their money away? The narrator (and title) kind of spoils it by saying they will save the world eventually. But at least it will be interesting seeing how they get there. Hopefully they all end up happy and get chances to face down the demons of their pasts. If nothing else, I look forward to seeing how they find bright spots in their lives. Such as if Nick might interact with the idol more as time goes on. I probably won’t pick this show up, but this was an ok start.
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