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Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari: Weirdly entertaining mecha harem

Been watching an episode of Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari here and there with some friends, and I must admit, I’m enjoying it more than it seems like I should be.

It’s a fairly hardcore fanboy-type show—a lengthy series of hour-long OVAs (boy, you never see that anymore) with surprisingly high production values, a blatant harem premise, and a boatload of fanservice.

The set-up is yet another insulting Tenchi Muyo spin-off not involving the actual Tenchi Muyo characters fans from the old days love. Here we have Kenshi Masaki, another Tenchi look-alike (though at least he has reason to, being a half-brother, unlike GXP‘s pointless-clone protagonist) getting sucked into yet another alternate world where he’s surrounded by oodles of attractive women with an inexplicable interest in him, plus some wacky magic-powered fantasy mecha to supply the action. About the only way to make it more generic would be if he had amnesia.

The series is certainly good looking; a wide range of memorably attractive character designs in the large harem cast, a decent amount of alternate-world architectural flavor, quality art, and relatively high-budget animation. And the world—which is either set in another time and place in the Photon universe, or borrows nearly every name in that show as well as the Ryo-ohki-substitute Koro designs—has plenty of interesting cultural twists, including a passably plausible reason for a large group of women being abnormally interested in one guy.

So that helps. It also starts out quite well; rather than the standard “guy gets sucked into alternate world on his way to school” setup that these things almost always have, it starts out from the perspective of the natives, who run into the transplant kid when he shows up working for the villain. That works because a) for once the hero didn’t just stumble into the good guys’ castle, and presumably had no idea that who he was working for was the villain, b) the world feels more “real” because our point of view starts there, while the Earth-kid is the one who feels out of place, c) it bypasses the whole “I’m in some crazy alternate dimension” section that we’ve already seen way, way too many times, and d) the hero is introduced right off the bat as being a serious badass and none too happy about what’s going on. He doesn’t even need some inexplicable reason for being really good at mecha piloting—he’s been here for a while, and presumably already got sufficient instruction added to general non-mecha-specific prowess.

So that’s a good start. Also breaking with tradition for a harem show is that Kenshi has more personality than the friendly everyguy intended to serve as a mental placeholder for the viewer usually does. He’s also anything but an average Joe—being from the Masaki household (and not female), he’s hyper-competent in pretty much every possible way. For once you can see why so many women would take notice of him.

He’s a badass both inside and outside a mecha, he cooks, he cleans, he builds, he hunts and gathers (yes, seriously), he’s polite, he’s relatively intelligent, he’s a fast learner, and he’s a dangerously good masseuse. A significant portion of the humor comes not from “what situation has the loser gotten himself into now” but the other characters wondering if there’s anything he’s not absurdly good at. I liked a hugely self-sufficient hero who is in no way unsure of his abilities for a change—sort of the anti-magical-girl. Him being a bit feral (Tenchi’s profession was a farmer, after all, so there’s precedent) is a nice touch, and he even unapologetically kills small animals with his bare hands because they’re tasty.

But that’s not really what’s most unusual about the series, either. What’s really surprising is that nothing happens. After the relatively dramatic, action-heavy first-episode, the next four—and that’s four hours of anime—consist of nothing but Kenshi getting familiar with a boarding school for the world’s rich and powerful and learning about the culture, or at least as much of it as pertains to their ritualized form of warfare based around ancient magical mecha.

There is essentially no action—a few sparring matches here and there—and the “plot advancement” consists of somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds of the pleasant teacher-with-secrets talking to subordinates about some plan he has that the viewer knows absolutely nothing about. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest, either—easily less than a minute per episode, which does nothing at all but remind you that there will, presumably, be a plot eventually.

And that’s why I’m so surprised; despite nothing happening but a mix of education and rampant fanservice, I’m actually rather enjoying it. (And no, not because of the fanservice—I’d have liked Kanokon and Popotan if that had anything to do with my criteria.) I’m guessing it’s because I’m a fan of well-realized alternate worlds, so I don’t really mind getting to experience this one in no particular hurry, and the general schoolyard hijinks/infighting/politicking is handled in a casual, consistently entertaining way. Come to think of it, the casual slice-of-wacky-life sections are one of the reasons I love the Tenchi OAVs so much, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. Fans of plot-driven anime would probably hate it, though something will presumably happen eventually on that front as well.

One other strength as a Tenchi spinoff: While half of me is annoyed that they stuck what is a completely unrelated story nominally as a branch of the Tenchi-verse, it drops a handful of very good in-jokes when Kenshi mentions his upbringing. Specifically brief mentions of his various sisters, and the fact that he was pretty frail growing up “compared to his family,” despite being obviously borderline-superhuman. That crew would make just about anyone feel frail. Also some funny offhanded comments when he suddenly realizes that, actually, space ships don’t exist in his world… so why did he grow up around one and didn’t think anything of it? The shadowy implied answer is rather hilarious to the Tenchi fan viewer, of course.

Anyway, the fanservice is pretty shameless, but it’s still entertaining enough to keep watching, and while the jokes are rather obvious there are still a number of good laughs.

2 Responses to “Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari: Weirdly entertaining mecha harem”

  1. Ghostwriter Says:

    A few random thoughts:

    1.I’d like to thank Chainclaw for doing research into “Baron Gong Battle.” For me,it’s interesting that the manga author tried to combine Hollywood action movies with the shonen genre. From what I read,it had all the right elements for a successful manga but didn’t exactly do it right. The lead character was not a likable person and the world that was created,too unbelievable for anyone to take seriously. I hope the next person who tries to combine the spirit of the Hollywood action movie with the shonen genre does a better job than “Baron Gong Battle” did.
    2.There are a couple of manga that I wish this website would review because I think they’re pretty good. One is “Kimikiss,”a well-done romance manga that I think deserves far more attention than it got. The artwork is superb and the lead character is a nice guy instead of the Neanderthals that would normally be there. You actually root for this guy to get the girl over the series. I think that you’d really like “Kimikiss” once you give it a chance. Another is “Mistress Fortune.” It’s created by Arina Tanemura. I read it and liked it. The best part is when the female character goes to California. Her trying to wrap her head around American life is well done and humorous. It’s very funny and fun to read. It’s a great manga once you give it a chance.
    3.After reading the “Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari” thing above,one thought entered my head. What would it be like if someone set a harem manga in America. I hope that happens. I’d love to see it. I also saw the “Tenchi Muyo” anime and manga and hoped they would have an adventure in the United States. What do you guys think?

  2. gandalf8 Says:

    I’ve never watched the original Tenchi, nor do I have any inclination to for now, but I did watch this one thinking that it might give me a feel of what is so good about the Tenchi Muyo series. I also found myself quite entertained by the series’s first half which consisted of the aforementioned wacky slice-of-life with just a little sprinkling of plot advancement. Although by the time the plot did start to kick in in the second half, I gradually lost interest in the series. This is mainly due to the rather thin plot, in my opinion, and also due to some rather stupid battle sequences (look out for that train). I’m not looking for realistic battles ala Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS team, but I just can’t stop myself from banging my head on the wall after some of the “fighting” sequences. I guess you do need some familiarity with the original Tenchi Muyo series to get more enjoyment out of your watching experience.