What do you get when you form an adventuring party out of rejects and cast-offs from other adventuring parties? You get the Survivors, a bunch whose members all developed bad habits after having been betrayed and/or screwed over, hence resulting in them having deep distrust of humanity (or humanoids in general, if you prefer, since one of the members isn’t human) and, at least initially, each other. But they manage to find common ground in their misery and work towards some common goals, a process that a narrator regularly reminds viewers will eventually, way down the road, lead to them saving the world.
If this sounds like your typical story about a bunch of misfits coming together to accomplish something great, is isn’t, and that’s what makes this series interesting despite a number of potential knocks against it. All four of the main members (the two on the left become involved later) are jaded to varying degrees, and with good reason: leader/swordsman Nick was played for a patsy in love; mage Tiana lost her noble house and status to the machinations of a fiance jealous of her magical talent and accomplishments; dragonoid warrior Curran (Karan in some sources) was used as monster bait by her former party, who deliberately abandoned her as they took off with both the treasure and an item precious to Karan; and human priest Zem (in easily the most controversial case) was falsely accused of improper behavior when he wouldn’t reciprocate the feelings of a girl who had a crush on him. Because of this, trust issues are a major part of the group dynamic, to the point of being the focus of the early episodes. Though each is capable enough in his/her own specialty, they have to learn the hard way to coordinate and believe that they can rely on their fellow party members. I have rarely seen a fantasy RPG-styled series emphasize this point as heavily as this one does.
The storytelling alternates between group and individual stories, which is facilitated by a rule the Survivors establish early on: no interfering in each other’s personal lives. This is important, since three of the four have developed vices which have left them in poor financial situations: Nick has become an idol otaku, Tiana is a gambling addict, and Zem frequents hostess clubs. Individual stories explore these elements and how that character philosophizes about them, and those vices sometimes come into play in group stories as well. Along the way. the Survivors pick up the boy Kizuna (whose true nature is rather spoilerish) as a fifth regular who becomes a counterpoint to the more cynical attitudes of the others. Cases they deal with as a team vary from dungeon adventures to a showdown with another adventuring party to a casino caper to a trip into the slums in search of a kidnapper, though each has a bit of a peculiar flavor.
That’s the other thing which sets this series apart a bit: it has a rather weird sense of world-building. Some of the elements – Adventurer’s Guild, dungeons to explore, and so forth – are totally RPG fantasy-standard, albeit sometimes with with nonstandard twists: for instance, and one of the races Tiana bets on at one point features underwater mounts with flags sticking up out of the water to track them. But the setting also throws in random features, like modern umbrellas, casinos, idol concerts, host/hostess clubs, and tabloids, which feel anachronistic. Unquestionably the weirdest element is a whole episode devoted to a “Mathematics Bare-Knuckle Brawl,” which is pitched as the obvious way to settle a dispute not-fatally between bloodthirsty adventurers and yes, involves doing math problems to earn a strike against the opponent. This winds up feeling lazy, like the original light novel author Shinta Fuji just threw things into the setting that he liked/was interested in rather than making any coherent attempt at a world-building theme, but it isn’t a deal-breaking distraction.
The shakiest aspect of the series is its technical merits. This is far from the best-looking series of the season, with mediocre, undistinctive character designs (except for the very tall Curran) and unsteady quality control. Action scenes are typically quite limited, too, although the series does occasionally manage sharper sequence, especially some of Nick’s more nimble moves. The series partly makes up for this with little details, like the former adventurer who gets around on a crutch or a lack of party coordination which results in Tiana accidentally very narrowly missing Curran with a spell. Musical score is serviceable but not especially memorable.
An English dub is available for the series through episode 9 as I write this. Major roles seem solid, with Brittney Karbowski being particularly fitting as Curran. (She’s the first English VA I thought of when casting the role in my head.) While some of the minor supporting roles are distinctly weaker, the dub is serviceable overall.
On the whole, Ningen Fushin is a series which marches to its own beat without straying too far from genre staples (including a final episode which is introspective rather than climactic). It’s just enough of a departure from typical fantasy RPG fare to not feel totally generic and be worth a look.
2 thoughts on “Ningen Fushin: Adventurers Who Don’t Believe in Humanity Will Save the World (series review)”
I found that the central premise of quirky people who struggle to trust was quickly overruled by power of friendship within the first 3 episodes. After that it felt like the slightly quirky distant cousin to the more mad cap isekai like Konosuba. Its only identifying point being the inconsistency of theme. I am not saying they shouldnt of learnt to function as a team. Just that perhaps they shouldnt of gone from accidentally ice blasting each other to performing unity magic and risking their bodies on unspoken faith of team mates in the span of 2 episodes.