In the first instant of the opening scene, a man rips the front of a girl’s dress off as she screams in terror.
Advisory warning comes up: “This show contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.”
Me: “No, really? A little slow on the draw there!”
Then the hero appears to slaughter the bad guys with ease.
And that was my introduction to Skeleton Knight in Another World.
It is (yet another) isekai fantasy adventure, where the game has become real and the protagonist has become his character, a very overpowered hero, so he goes around doing good, helping people, and beating bad guys. And yet, for having such familiar tropes, there are a few tweaks to the formula we’ve come to be far too familiar with, which makes it feel fresh, unique, and amusing!
The first tweak is that Arc, the lead protagonist, suffers from a curse that turned him into a skeleton. He can still wear clothing and armor as if he had flesh, and he needs to eat and drink to stay alive, so he’s not undead. He’s just… well… a skeleton in a suit of armor. Thus the “Skeleton Knight” part of the title. He’s still himself, a real person that just happens to lack flesh and blood at the moment, and he turns out to be quite a fun character!
Where we get far too many of the usual bland self-insert type of heroes, Arc stands apart from the crowd. Far apart. He is loud and unreserved in his enjoyment of life, but not obnoxious. He steps in to help those in need, simply because he cares about them, but he won’t hesitate to profit from it – largely by pillaging the villains’ vaults – and he doesn’t just charge in with reckless spirit. Like when he rescued the young lady in the first episode, he did not let the bandits get very far in what they were doing, but he took a moment to think through his course of action. He’s powerful, but learns about his limits the easy way instead of by magnificent failure, because he takes the time to think. And yet, for all his thinking, he does not realize the impact he’s really having on the world around him. He means to pursue a quiet, inconspicuous life, but he is so powerful that when he steps in to help, he kind of alters the course of history without even trying to. Oh, and though he does not scream in fury, he answers the wrongs that he sees with absolute retribution.
Speaking of righting wrongs, this is what brings his path to intersect with those who become his comrades and friends. Ariane is a strikingly beautiful and sexy dark elf lady – or, at least, they call her a dark elf, though her skin is pale as anyone’s – and a strong warrior of sword and magic. Chiyome is a ninja beastgirl, also formidable but more stealthy, alongside her strong, silent beastman companion, Goemon. And little Ponta is a tiny spirit fox with several tails and a very keen ability to judge a man’s character. Together, this group of friends and allies fights to protect their respective peoples from human wrongs, to rescue from slavery those who have been taken.
Which does bring me to my first complaint about this anime. I realize it’s a trope for a reason, but it’s a very worn out trope, and it was repeated without limit here: they always established who the bad guys were by having them threaten, hurt, and violate women. Off the top of my head, I can recall at least… one, two, three, four, five… six different instances of it, within twelve episodes. Call me crazy, but that’s way overusing it! It got tiresome, even mundane.
A slightly less powerful complaint: every episode began with Arc narrating, “It’s me, Arc.” Come episode twelve, I answered, “Yes, Arc, we got that the first eleven times you said it.”
Outside those complaints, my only real issue is that I can’t possibly share this anime with the kids. The advisory about the content referred not only to the several instances of sexual assault, but also less rape-oriented sexual content, as well as the bloodshed and the horror of what humans do to each other and to non-humans.
Mind you, that last makes for one of the more touching moments of the show, when they find a number of bodies left to rot in a dungeon alongside their surviving, enslaved people. After rescuing the survivors, and destroying the fortress in which such evil took place, Arc, Ariane, and the others stop to give them a funeral. They set the bodies to burn, and the spirits of the dead rise up from the flames, to dance their way into the heavens. It’s probably my favorite moment of the anime.
So there’s content that is not child friendly, but it can prove quite touching, as well as thrilling and humorous. Arc’s friendship with Goemon is particularly masculine, this is how men bond. Arc’s occasional, gleeful greed when he steals fortunes from bad guys shows that he is very human despite being a selfless hero. Chiyome is cute as a button and fierce in a way I could not help but appreciate, but I’m thinking Ariane is definitely the one catching feelings for Arc. And I loved how even though Arc is super-powerful, he has obvious limits when it comes to precision, subtlety, and adaptability, but he is aware of those limits and seeks to address them… such as when he met Ariane’s mother and she instructed him in swordplay in a manner that looked quite reminiscent of getting his butt thoroughly and absolutely kicked, with ease.
Basically, Skeleton Knight in Another World is a fun little adventure with a lovable hero or two or three. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a second season in the near future. 🙂
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.