Rating: 4 (of 5)
Based on the stated premise for this straight fantasy series, I really wasn’t expecting much here. Part of that might have been because it sounded too much like the dreadfully dull Drug Store in Another World from the previous season (even though this is not an isekai series), but I also had serious concerns about whether the premise was sustainable. The first six episode have proved me wrong, instead providing a thoroughly enjoyable tale about a companion of the Hero who leaves the Hero’s party when he seems to not be needed anymore and winds up cohabitating with a female adventurer who specifically retires from her active life to join him. In fact, it has risen to become one of my most-anticipated titles of each week.
One key of the show’s success so far is the developing relationship between Red and Rit. While I could easily see them being too teenagerish in their interactions for some tastes (all the blushing does get to be a little much), the series earns major points for making one critical move early on: it clearly establishes a foundation for why Rit might fall for Gideon/Red. While he doubtless impressed her with his general competence in their early encounters (as told in flashbacks), the way he bolstered her resolve when she was at her lowest point – and facing her greatest crisis – and did so without any hint of manipulation or ulterior motive would be a potent attracting factor for anyone. Episode 5, in a strong move, then goes on to show how she was convinced by another woman who cared for Gideon to shed her pretensions and tsundere-like behavior and actively and unambiguously try to win him over when the opportunity later presented itself. That makes her behavior after meeting Gideon as Red feel more genuine and raises questions about how much of the sexy flashes Red occasionally gets from her are deliberate enticements. She’s certainly adorable whether being overtly sexy or not.
A second key aspect is that the Hero’s party isn’t being ignored. The ambitious Sage, Ares, convinced Gideon that, while he was crucial to the group’s success early on, everyone else has surpassed him and he’s now only holding them back. (Red accepted this readily because he already at least half-believed it himself, since his advancement had stalled compared to the others.) As flashes over to the Hero’s party show, though, the group is gradually falling apart without him. Two members have left – one thinking that Ares had eliminated Gideon, the other in search of Gideon – and one replacement, despite having a rare and potent Blessing, has yet to prove herself. The Hero (Gideon’s younger sister Ruti) is also clearly less stable without her brother around, to the point of nearly killing Ares when she believes that he did something to Gideon. There are definitely some glaring warning signs flashing here!
As the series has progressed, the unusual emphasis on the impact of the setting’s mechanics has become increasingly more intriguing as well. Everyone in the world having a granted Blessing (or something equivalent) is hardly unusual for a fantasy setting, but I cannot think of another case where the nature of that Blessing has a stronger impact on the behavior of the person, rather than just the person’s position in society. Blessings are portrayed here as being a kind of compulsion, one that can shape a person whether they like it or not. For instance, a Champion cannot help but be brash and aggressive, while a Brawler is naturally inclined to solve problems with violence and has a knack for skills towards that end, and a crafter will naturally find joy in building things. Individuals can, to some extent, choose how to use a Blessing; a Weapon Master might specialize in a bladed weapon with the aim of chopping down trees efficiently, for instance, and natural affinity with one’s Blessing can also be a factor.
Perhaps the most interesting implication of this so far is that the more exclusive and powerful the blessing is, the stronger the impact it has. Ruti, as a Hero, is incapable of deviating from the Hero’s path (even if she really wants to), and while her Blessing gives her benefits like immunity to temperature extremes or no need to sleep or eat, it also tends to deaden emotions that could get in the way and can urge her even to take contradictory actions, like fatally injuring a companion one moment only to turn around and heal him the next because that person is still important to the mission. This also leaves some interesting implications for Rit, whose Blessing of Spirit Scout makes her more inclined to exercising her freedom but also can drive her to abrupt violence in defense of that, to the point that she’s even had to learn how to disarm herself when killing isn’t her intent. Can she really settle down peacefully with Red like she wants to with a Blessing like that? That Blessings can only be leveled up through killing other creatures or people with Blessings is also an interesting and potentially volatile point, though the series has yet to come back to that after first bringing it up in episode 3.
The one consistent negative so far is that Red is a bit on the dull side. He is a level-headed, practical, and dependable guy, the kind who would be a stabilizing influence on any group he joins, but that also results in him usually reacting rather than acting. Nearly everyone around him – even minor characters – has a more clearly-defined personality. So far that’s not a major drag, as Rit’s sexy adorability easily compensates, but I would like to see him developed more. The technical merits can also sometimes be shaky, and action animation tends to be rather limited. The occasional fan service moments can be a plus or a minus, but they are not pervasive; aside from the flashback bathing scene where Rit and the elf girl talk about Rit winning over Gideon, it can mostly be overlooked.
On the whole, I don’t expect anything great from Banished From The Hero’s Party going forward, either, but it has nonetheless been quite enjoyable so far.
Other Series That I Am Following:
Irina the Vampire Cosmonaut – This series will be featured separately in an upcoming week.
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – The last two episodes (16 and 17) have been two of the strongest yet for the series. The reunion of Rudeus with Paul was a rough one, but it played out quite credibly and satisfyingly in the end.
Restaurant to Another World 2 – It still is what it always has been: a fantasy foodie series. Nothing much else can be said about it.
Taisho Otome Fairy Tale – This series will be featured separately in an upcoming week.
The aquatope on white sand – Still humming along fine, though this season wants for the wondrous magical elements of last season and some underlying sense of tension; the closest this half comes to that is Kukuru’s struggles to fit in the role she’s been assigned.
The Fruit of Evolution – This series gets bad-mouthed a lot (some justly so), but I think some critics are losing sight of the fact that this is supposed to be a silly romp. It will never be a weekly highlight, but I have consistently found it to be at least mildly entertaining.
takt op.Destiny – I was not originally following this one, but I took time to get caught up on it recently, and now believe that it will just barely hang on as a regular view. While its “travel from battle to battle with a vague objective” plot feels generic, the series shines when it devotes itself to its musical elements, as it did with the most recent episode.
Yashahime: The Second Act – Generally, I have found this season to be a bit stronger than the previous one. It has shown a greater and steadier sense of overall plot movement and consequences. Still feel Moroha is being underused, but it’s doing enough to keep me watching.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero: The Great Mankai Chapter – After seeing six episodes, I have very mixed feelings about this one. It will probably get highlighted towards the end of the season, so I will hold off on discussing it further now.
There are a couple of others that I have fallen behind on but haven’t entirely given up on yet. They may get mentioned next time around.