Review: Should The "Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero" Level Up?
Returned from a world not his own, Akatsuki defeated the Dark Lord and has been entrusted with the fate of the Dark Lord’s daughter, Myuu. Despite literally getting the girl and saving a world, he’s off to a special school for those that have traveled to other dimensions and gained access to special powers. While Akatsuki might be the a rogue hero comfortable with everyone, Myuu is new to this world. Masquerading as a long-lost sister, Myuu has to find her place, figure out her new roles, and possibly find some clothes that she can fit in without bursting at the seams. Is Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero all window dressing, or is it the final fantasy cartoon we need?
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero is a show that likes to thrive on adult situations and fanservice, but that alone doesn’t make a show. Sure, it can work in small doses, but you can only make that last by having a significant plot. Set out over twelve episodes, Aesthetica surely does try, but it has some notable faults. The basic plot is rather interesting: in a world where people can be sucked up into alternate dimensions akin to RPGs, those who return might just be master magicians to fight the evil that reside in their home world. Akatsuki is just one of these who’s returned, but he brought a traveler, Myuu. While Akatsuki is very much the “alpha male” that’s worked in a brothel and is extremely comfortable with the female body, Myuu is the amnesiac Princess-type that is incredibly uncomfortable with her own body. Together, they’ll team up with the archetypes of “serious student,” “way too young student,” and “tomboy lesbian student.” Yes, there are a lot of stereotypes here, but the characters do all have their own stories that make them distinctive enough. Aesthetica also breaks from the norm because it could easily have been a harem show, but never fully dives into that territory, and also has a male lead that doesn’t automatically run away from the female form.
The largest problem with this series is the pacing. Twelve episodes and a few shorts included in this set feel like they should be part of a twenty-six episode series. For a twelve-episode series, the beach episode would be forgivable, the motorcycle episode could have had some build up and some return appearances, and the biggest tease of a plot point could have been explored. It’s teased in the first episode and an integral plot of the world they live in that people have been randomly chosen and taken to different worlds, with no guarantee of returning. This would have been a great subplot in the series: searching for someone, with no knowledge if they just missed class or if they’re going to be gone for weeks or longer off on an adventure.
Visually, the show has a certain design that will stick out, and that’s only barely a pun about Myuu’s chest. It’s a rare animated work that has realistic builds. Sure, Aktatsuki is Batman-levels of peak human, and Myuu and others might be a little more than graciously endowed, but bodies are built and framed more realistically. If she’s going to have that rack, she’s not going to be a One Piece twig, and nobody’s a CLAMP-designed leaf in the wind. It’s not fully human, and it does decidedly lean towards fanservice for all, but it does stand out amongst others for this aspect. Mind you, costumes are all traditional RPG and anime-stylized, with pink hair and impractical battle garters being par for the course.
FUNimation’s box set is very nice, collecting the series and a host of extras over two Blu-ray and two DVD discs, all in two Blu-ray cases in a chipboard box. There are six special mini-episodes that are only subtitled, promotional character bio videos, the standard textless opening and ending, trailer, and two commentaries. It’s as good and as comprehensive as you can expect with a series like this; there’s always more that could be here, such as character designs, notes on where the series deviates from the source material, but commentaries and video extras are always enjoyable.
Is the show great? Horrible? Sad to say, it falls somewhere in the middle. What we have is rather entertaining, but it feels just like the leftover scraps of a bigger meal, or the extended trailers for movies you’ll never see. There’s much more that could be expounded upon and enjoyed in the series, but what you have is not as offensive as it could be, and even feels a little unfinished. A second take or look through the source novels and manga might sate those desires, but as it stands, the box set is a pretty but flighty series that should take extra classes.