A story of a pathologically cautious protagonist in a fantasy story.
Out there in the multiverse are a pantheon of gods who pride themselves on empowering champions to save various worlds. Ristarte (Aki Toyosaki/Jamie Marchi) is the goddess of healing and is tasked to save a planet that has the highest-rank of dangerousness. Knowing that no ordinary champion will be able to defeat the evil there, she searches for candidates and finds a man named Seiya Ryuguin (Yūichirō Umehara/Anthony Bowling) who has naturally superior abilities. When she brings him in, however, she discovers that Seiya is incredibly paranoid and pathologically cautious. He refuses to engage in any fight unless he is absolutely sure of victory. Even when facing low-level opponents or easy situations, he cannot stop himself from overreacting. Eventually, the pair are joined by warrior Mash (Kengo Kawanishi/Chris Thurman) and mage Elulu (Aoi Koga/Sarah Wiedenheft). However, it turns out that the world they’re on is dangerous enough that Seiya might be the only one cautious enough to save it.
I literally picked this because the full title, “Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious,” was the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in awhile. I share a Hulu account and I don’t know exactly whose views led to this being suggested, but I’ve never been so pleasantly surprised. This series is another version of taking a typical trope-filled premise and turning it on its head. In this case, Seiya is literally summoned from Japan to a fantasy realm which is deliberately modeled after various RPG games, to the point where everyone has “Stats screens.” Despite that, he shows no interest in actually playing the game. He doesn’t even want to leave the opening area until he is “sufficiently leveled,” basically treating the actual mission like a gamer who won’t move the story forward until they can one-shot every enemy. The humor mostly comes from how much this drives the other characters insane. After all, they’re mostly denied the ability to play their traditional supporting roles by having a protagonist that ends the fights immediately.
The other thing about the show that tends to make it worthwhile is that as much as everyone complains about Seiya’s behavior, a lot of the time he ends up being completely justified. It turns out that most of the villains in the series are particularly genre-savvy, which means they consistently try to disrupt the usual cycle of how the game works. To counter that, Seiya frequently looks to Ristarte’s fellow gods and goddesses for training. The gods’ domain in this series is interesting in its own right, as the deities are just as flawed, if not more so, than the humans.
The series is only twelve episodes long, which keeps the premise from running too thin. It also contains a decent number of late-series reveals that justify some of the more unusual aspects of the show. It’s a short and self-contained story that actually ends up having some genuinely moving moments, so it’s not hard to get through.
Overall, it’s a pretty decent show if you like goofy anime. Or just goofy titles.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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