Andrew Osmond calls it like he sees it…
We’ve complained on this blog that the English titles of many anime – Xam’d, for instance, or Steins;Gate – seem designed as barriers to stop punters having any clue to their content. The same is true of Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, which sounds like it could be the latest arty Mamoru Oshii movie, full of sad basset hounds and philosophical samurai. Actually, Aesthetica should be called The New Boobfest where Girls Fight Monsters and Lose Panties, From The People Who Brought You Master of Martial Hearts, Queen’s Blade and the Ikki Tousen Franchise. That tells us where we are!
“The People” in this case are the ARMS studio, which has built up quite a name for T&A anime since its founding in 1996. It’s not all ARMS does – like most of its fellow anime studios, it does plenty of bread-and-butter support work for more mainstream titles such as Naruto Shippuden: Road to Ninja, the first Bleach film Memories of Nobody, and the actioner Sword of the Stranger. And ARMS’ more risqué work covers a wide spectrum, including the mildly ecchi teen romance I’’s; the more notorious Elfen Lied, whose sexy bits looked tame beside all the gory ultraviolence; and the still more notorious Kite, which will reportedly be remade in live-action.
Then there are the ARMS titles on what we might call the far side, like La Blue Girl Returns, which was heavily censored in Britain; Crimson Climax (we prefer the French name, Orgasmes éscarletes); G-Spot Express (in which, says ANN, “a train pervert has magic hands” and “makes women melt like butter”) and the unmissable-sounding Slave Nurses. Apart from La Blue Girl Returns, we doubt these anime will be going before the BBFC any time soon.
And yet ARMS has also been carving out a middle ground; sexy titles which are more Benny Hill than Deep Throat, which pass through the BBFC gates fairly much unscathed. Both Master of Martial Hearts and Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero got through with ‘15’ ratings. Aesthetica reaches out to the mainstream in its casting, with both lead roles played by familiar Japanese voice-actors. The title ‘hero,’ called Osawa, may grope girls’ boobs and swipe their undies, but he’s played by Nobuhiko Okamoto who voices more conventional heroes as well. He’s Rin in Blue Exorcist, Origami Cyclone in Tiger & Bunny and the boy lead in the wholesome Patema Inverted. It’s notable that – unlike many boys in anime sex comedies – Osawa isn’t presented as a loser pervert but a supercool idol who, like G-Spot Express’s train fiend, makes girls melt like butter.
The voice of the main girl, Myuu, is also notable. The character’s a more conventional ecchi creation; the daughter of a Dark Lord in another world, who’s had to come to ours and pose as a human schoolgirl. Oh, and Myuu’s also living as Osawa’s sister under the same roof – how could that go wrong? Oh, and her breasts are so huge that there’s an entire episode about her finding a suitable bra. The actress is the prolific Yoko Hikasa, who voiced Mio in K-ON! and Kayura in Hayate the Combat Butler. But it’s not the first time she’s acted in less reputable anime such as Chu-Bra! and the recently-released High School DxD. In DxD, Hikasa voiced another desirable girl lead, though her character, Rias, is much stronger and scarier than distressed damsel Myuu.
Hikasa’s mixed acting CV reflects how saucy anime like Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero seem to be building bridges and sharing assets with more prudish anime. Aesthetica also throws in an epic fantasy story between the knicker-snatching and breast-squeezing. Like High School DxD (and the much older and darker Overfiend), it goes for an elaborate crossworld scenario. Aesthetica’s hero has just returned from a wondrous fantasy world (where he was a feared warrior) and continues his mission back on Earth. Elsewhere, a sinister group meet in shadowy conferences, with obvious echoes of Evangelion’s NERV, and plots how to exploit Osawa’s powers. Okay, so the plot takes longer than DxD’s to get going – the underwear shopping comes first! – but Aesthetica gets to the pyrotechnic battle royales in the end.
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.