There are lessons to be learnt in everything we do. Yes, even when watching anime. These are my observations from Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious. You might learn something!
I find that I am constantly absorbing information and one of my favourite topics is storytelling. In my reviews, I try to focus on a story element and see what I can learn from it. To cut a long story short, I have decided to compile all of the lessons learnt from a season into one post, making it easy to digest. There will be spoilers for Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious.
One of the things that really caught my attention was how unlikable Seiya is. It’s an interesting beginning to have the hero basically rubbing everyone the wrong way. I’m sure it won’t stay that way for long, but it is a brave thing to do. There will be people that will instantly give this a pass, after all, who wants to spend their time with someone annoying. That said, I’m sure there will be others like me that find it hilarious and in the end, we’re going to be the target audience. It’s clever that it has been able to clearly define itself so early in the series.
I thought the use of varying times was awesome. It was one of the things that really caught my attention when I watched Interstellar with the planet close to the black hole. That’s definitely something I have used in my series, but with an alternate realm like this one although, in my series, it was in inside someone’s mind. It’s definitely a great way to advance the characters without having the story barrel on before they’re ready. There needs to be a limitation to it though, otherwise, they’d stay there forever.
So, I’m going to look at Seiya’s caution here and how that could be used. Well, not that exactly, but something similar. It’s possible to have someone being paranoid about something, maybe they’re just scared of something specific. You can have them going on and on about it, but keep it as pointless and irrelevant chatter. Then, when something happens to justify their concerns it will have a much larger impact. This series seems to take this idea to its ultimate form and so far, it’s working.
We’re starting to see a little bit of the reason that Seiya is so prepared and that there appears to be some sort of connection to Ishtar. I love it when different elements in a story start to come together to make it all work in harmony. It definitely stems from the idea that no action or dialogue should be wasted. If it doesn’t move the story forward or develop the character, what is it doing there? It’s all right for that to not be apparent as it happens, but there needs to be that moment where it all comes together. There’s obviously more to it in Cautious Hero and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all fits together perfectly.
When introducing new characters, it’s nice to ease them into the story. With Valkyrie, we get a very brief meeting where she attacks Ristarte and then wanders off. Of course, Seiya ensured that she remains in our head, even beyond her fashion sense. That was all we saw of Valkyrie in this episode, but it was enough to make her interesting, memorable, and make us want to see more of her. Next time, when she shows up, we won’t need any long introductions as we already know enough about her character from this brief interaction. It just goes to show that introducing characters through action is far more effective than a narrative dump.
I loved that they’ve set this up to make it so that Seiya had to make a choice between the weapon that would kill the demon lord or a party member. It reminds me of the sacrifice in the forgotten Disney movie The Black Cauldron. I’m still not sure why Disney has chosen to bury this one as it’s one of my favourites. Anyhow, oftentimes on a heroes quest there is the need for sacrifice in one form or another and ironically, there was a sacrifice in this episode, but not in the usual sense. Seiya sacrificed the weapon. It will undoubtedly make his quest harder as a result, but it’s hard to argue against the decision.
I’ve learnt that a lot of people are quite upset about Seiya hitting Rosalie… Really? This is frankly ridiculous. She is the second most powerful character in Gaelbarde, but she is a terrible leader and couldn’t take any criticism. So much so that she attacked Seiya. Maybe, hitting her repeatedly was over the top, but she kept attacking him, further proving how bad she is at making decisions. I feel like I should point out that I am not advocating hitting women, frankly, there’s no real reason to hit anyone but to attack Seiya for what happened in this episode is absurd.
Seiya is unflappable! Seriously, that guy is so calm and collected, it’s a little frightening. I love that there is obviously more going here than we’re seeing and small parts are being dropped for us to attempt to piece together what happened to Seiya to make him so cautious. I wonder if he has been involved with another hero or situation where he wasn’t prepared and it cost him dearly. Either way, the fun is in the speculating and leaving little breadcrumbs for the readers to try to work out the puzzle makes the ending that much more satisfying, especially when you can see how it all fit together after the fact. It’s also a good way to avoid the old deus ex machina ending, which would be oddly appropriate in a series with gods and goddesses!
I noticed that Seiya didn’t say that he was ‘Perfectly Prepared’ before heading back to Gaelbarde and I was a little disappointed that Ristarte commented on it. It would have been a great moment to flashback to at a later stage when things get dire! This showed a lack of faith in the viewer to notice something like that, which is annoying. It’s by no means a deal-breaker, but I like to think that you should give your readers/viewers the benefit of the doubt and if you need to confirm something later, do it then. I like the more subtle things, and Seiya not saying it was enough for me to think that something might go wrong. Ristarte’s narration at that point wasn’t necessary.
In this episode, we finally got to see Warmaster and the direction he had taken wasn’t completely surprising. The best thing about this is that it was subtly foreshadowed. Rosalie had done the most to prepare us for this. She constantly berated Seiya for not acting how a hero would and how he wasn’t a true hero like her father. This is understandable, but I think they pushed it just enough for you to register it and that was enough for me to question his position. I love little details like this because when something unexpected happens, it feels much more satisfying when you’ve been prepared, even if it’s been the slightest hint.
I want to talk about the foreshadowing of the events in this episode, but that would mean going back and rewatching everything to make notes… Oh, all right, I’m going to do it, but not in this post. For now, I’m just going to say that I am a huge fan of foreshadowing. There’s nothing quite like a twist that feels natural and this series has done an amazing job at setting up this moment. I was floored by the revelation even though I remember someone mentioning it on the web way back. It was far enough back that I ignored it as nonsense, but I saw it coming to be as the foreshadowing crept into each episode. I hate spoilers, but it can’t be helped now. Regardless, this story has been beautifully crafted.
I’ve mentioned about how I’m a big sucker for the hero sacrificing themselves and I also get annoyed when the writers pull a switcharoo and everything was fine in the end, but I think this one worked really well. The idea that the Gate of Valhalla swallowed the Chain Reaction too was a nice touch and meant that Seiya only died on Gaelbarde and his soul returned to his real body back in Japan. Ishtar then punishing Ristarte by sending her to Ixphoria, a SS Danger Class world and giving her Seiya as her hero was a great moment. Then, when you realise that the world they’ve got to save is the one they failed to save the first time around, it all comes together. I really hope there’s a second season, but I’m also equally happy with this ending.
These are just my observations and ideas to help develop my own stories, however, if there’s anything here that’s resonated with you, let me know. I’d love to know that I’ve been able to help another writer.