Whenever you decide to watch an ecchi romantic comedy, you know exactly what you’re getting in to: cliches, fanservice, and humor based on sexual innuendos. This doesn’t make this particular genre “bad” per se; I rather find many of them funny and entertaining. Enter Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero (Hagure Yuusha no Estetica), the latest title to be released by FUNimation.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment
The story of Rogue Hero revolves around an international training organization named Babel which protects the young people returning from other worlds. One such person is Ousawa Akatsuki, who has just returned from the land of Alayzard with a beautiful girl named Miu, the daughter of the last Dark Lord. With such an interesting setup brimming with potential, does Rogue Hero succeed in being a funny, entertaining ecchi show?
Unfortunately, Rogue Hero isn’t as entertaining as I would have liked it, which shouldn’t come at a great surprise considering studio ARMS was behind the production. In case you’re not familiar with ARMS, they’ve done the infamous Ikki Tousen, Queen’s Blade, and Samurai Girls series. In other words, the fanservice might be a tad too much. This is really a shame, since Rogue Hero had some interesting angles that were worth exploring (the politics behind Babel, the other magical lands, etc.).
Some of the terminology and current ways of the world are explained, but they are quickly glossed over in favor of fanservice shenanigans. These shenanigans boil down to Akatsuki terrorizing the various female protagonists via stealing their undergarments, massaging and groping them until they orgasm, or in a certain case, making them…pee themselves. Yup, you read that right. I must admit that I did find a lot of these antics funny, but I wish they didn’t takeaway from some of the more interesting things that could have been explored.
Another thing that detracted from the entertainment was the action. Yes, there are action bits thrown in, being a show that involves magic and heroes after all. Only problem is, the action is rather boring. Fight sequences are very straightforward and look as if little choreography was involved. Most involve the casting of a few spells with a victor then emerging. And the victor was always Akatsuki. It’s very important to note that Akatsuki is clearly the most powerful character in the show, with no one being able to match him save for the throwaway antagonist at the end. I don’t really have a problem with Akatsuki being so grossly overpowered, but fights simply weren’t interesting. If the action was better animated and planned out, it could have been a high point for this show. Instead, we’re left with another aspect that I wish was done better.
But if you’re going to look for highlights, you would start with Akatsuki. Akatsuki can be described in a short phrase: badass, perverted, but caring. I’ve already touched on Akatsuki’s perversion and badassery, but some readers might be surprised to know that he’s quite the caring individual (stating he hates seeing girls cry), especially when it comes to Miu. As far as voicing goes, both Nobuhiko Okamoto and Eric Vale do a great job portraying Akatsuki. Each actor gives him a different feel. While Okamoto portrays Akatsuki in a more carefree, boyish manner, Eric portrays him as more of the typical action movie badass.
Miu is another highlight of the show. She’s incredibly sweet and innocent, not to mention extremely cute and well-endowed. While character development in ecchi rom-coms is sparse, especially in a show like Rogue Hero, we do see some in Miu as the show progresses. Most of it is brought about with her interactions with Akatsuki. While she is usually the target of Akatsuki’s antics, there’s always something to be learned about her. Ironically, one of the best cases can be seen in the episode where Akatsuki helps Miu pick a bra. Long story short, Miu rips a bra, and Akatsuki helps cover for her, which causes her to break down and cry due to his kindness. Weird? No doubt.
Like with Akatsuki’s voicing, both the Japanese and English renditions are different but equally good. Yoko Hikasa portrays her with a much higher pitched voice, making her seem more innocent (I didn’t even recognize it was Yoko’s voice until I looked it up). Relative newcomer Felecia Angelle doesn’t reach the same pitch, but gave off, at least to me, a more “girly” impression.
The rest of the main cast are pretty unremarkable in terms of personality. You have the elementary aged class rep Kuzuha Doumoto (Kana Hanazawa/Monical Rial), lesbian Chikage Izumi (Kana Ueda/Ryan Reynolds), slacker Motoharu Kaidou (Atsushi Abe/Joel McDonald), and Student Council VP Haruka Nagase (Marina Inoue/Alexis Tipton). However, for Haruka specifically, her constant embarrassment at the hands of Akatsuki never ceased to entertain me. None of the voice overs were bad, but unlike Akatsuki or Miu I did have a preference for either the Japanese or English.
For Kuzuha, I preferred KanaHana, since she was better able to pull of a younger, more innocent character. For Chikage, I really liked Ryan’s take, as she made Chikage more sassy (Kana’s rendition was higher pitched and more girly). For Motoharu, I enjoyed Joel’s a bit more due to getting a better “slacker” feel from his voice. And for Haruka, I greatly enjoyed Marina Inoue’s rendition because, well, I really, really like Marina Inoue. Alexis did a fine job, but there’s something about the way Marina Inoue injects passion into her roles.
As far as art and animation go, they were lacking. Characters look very “cardboard cutout” like, each having merely different hair styles or different sized breasts. Background art is also very bland. As mentioned earlier about the action, the animation was poor. There was even an instance where a character’s mouth was moving yet he wasn’t speaking. Talk about bad. For the soundtrack, it actually wasn’t half bad. The best one was this quaint little theme that played every time one of the girls was caught in an embarrassing situation. Lastly, the opening theme is “Realization” by Faylan and the ending theme is “Ai no Sei de Nemurenai” by Aki Misato.
Included in the DVD/Blu-ray pack are two episode commentaries: one for episode 2 featuring Monical Rial, Alexis Tipton, and Felecia Angelle and one for episode 8 featuring Joel McDonald, Ryan Reynolds, and Eric Vale. Like all commentaries, they’re mostly fluff that include feelings about the show and personal backgrounds for the various actors or actresses. All 6 OVA’s are also included.
Overall, despite my criticisms, I enjoyed Rogue Hero, although it could have been much, much better. If you’re a fan of gratuitous fanservice akin to other ARMS produced works, then go ahead and pick this one up. Otherwise, stay away.
-Akatsuki and Miu
-Wasted opportunities in terms of interesting plot points
-Perhaps too much fanservice
-Sub-par art and animation, the latter which ruins much of the action
Rating for both Japanese and English: 3.5/5
Director: Rion Kujou
Writer: Ryunosuke Kingetsu
Character design: Hiroshi Sukada
Music: Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo
Original creator: Tetsuto Uesu (light novel)
Original run: July 6, 2012 – September 21, 2012
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