Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!

Title:Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!
The Eminence in Shadow
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Nexus
Cid Kageno is unusual in that he never gave up his childhood aspirations to be a hero. Instead, he trained tirelessly and as a high school student became a crusader for justice, a shadowy fighter known as the 'Stylish Ruffian Slayer'. He took great pains to be ordinary during the day in order to not attract attention. Then he was killed in an accident. He finds himself reincarnated in an alternate reality where he figures he will simply continue his crusade.

20(?) episodes
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Stretch [series:4562#628]
(20 (all?) episodes watched):

Writing the synopsis and choosing keywords for this show were difficult because it seems to be an isekai series in which episode one is almost entirely backstory and the protagonist just transfers to his alternate reality at the very end. We learn a lot about Kagero by way of Akane Nishino, a classmate who gets kidnapped and is rescued by him. Early on I thought I detected some nice touches, like the annoyance Akane feels because Kagero can't seem to remember her name. Akane is given a good deal of personality, such as the fake persona she maintains in order to hide her past and be popular. But then things get rather violent with her kidnap and rescue, and it became clear that this show was going to be about fighting not romance. Whatever nice touches I had sensed previously went out the window and I was about ready to scrap the show. And then Kagero is abruptly killed off, which demanded an explanation and thereby reinvigorated my interest, at least for a moment. I would almost certainly have watched episode two if things had been left there, but after the ED sequence there is a sort of a preview of what's to come, and all of a sudden this show was looking like a isekai story of a fighting guy with a harem of cat-eared girls backing him up. And of course magic will be involved. This show was suddenly looking like another exercise in wish fulfillment, namely one where the protagonist can beat up any guy he doesn't like and has a harem of hot girls fawning over him. And apparently the character of Akane is being dropped altogether, since she is still alive and well in this world. So, what had at times seemed possibly novel turned out to seem pretty stereotypical. Akane had seemed more interesting to me than Kagero did and I was again ready to write this show off. Except the ANN synopsis implies that there will be a major twist to the isekai premise, so maybe I will watch episode two after all. Even after the opening episode, I feel I still have relatively little idea what is going on here.

Kagero manufactures a fake story about the threat of a terrible villain named Diablos and his secret society, all to impress a elf-girl who falls into his hands. And somehow, it becomes reality--apparently there really is such a person and such a group. But Kagero either hasn't noticed that his story has come true or doesn't consider this mind-blowing event to be particularly important. For now, the viewers must figure out for themselves WTF is going on, because episode two does not clearly spell it out. A fair amount of time has passed since he was reincarnated (thought I could hardly believe that he was only 13 when he rescued the elf) and he has assembled his harem/adventuring team, 'Dragon Layer'(IIRC). These girls seem to be completely taken in by the claims Kagero makes and trust him wholeheartedly. But I got very confusing signals about whether to take these events seriously or not. Not exactly exemplary storytelling.

So, this show will be about the adventures of Dragon Layer, right? Apparently not. At the beginning of episode three we are told that this group has basically disbanded and the girls have scattered. Instead, Kagero enrolls in an elite academy, where, acting on a lost bet, he confesses to a revered girl and gets a surprising answer. Will each episode of this show have a different premise? But this one seemed fairly interesting and seemed far from complete, so I hope it will continue. Then Kagero gets into trouble, causing the girls of Dragon Layer to return (except now they are known as 'Shadow Garden', IIRC). He sometimes self-criticises his actions as being too much like those of the generic NPC--is he just joking, or has it dawned on him that something funny is going on here? If so, I wish he would spell out for us what conclusions he has reached, because they are not obvious. It's almost as if the makers of this show assumed that anyone watching would have already read the manga/light novel/whatever that it is based on, and therefore they need not explain things thoroughly. If I had not read about this fiction-becoming-reality business at ANN I would be totally lost, and even so I am partially lost. It seems that the writers made the common mistake of assuming that what was obvious to them would also be obvious to someone coming into this show with no idea what it would be about. Or maybe they assumed that viewers would find it uproariously funny and/or gripping and exciting and therefore wouldn't care much about the plot. Whatever the case may be, the primary problem with this show is that it never spells out exactly what its premise will be.

Kagero enjoys manipulating events from behind the scenes to make them conform to his idea of what an ideal plot of a video game or anime would look like. in episodes 7-8 he even gets himself appear to be killed because that's obviously what would happen to the sort of minor character that he is masquerading as. There's no way he hasn't realized that this entire world tends to conform to his wishes and it easy to control. He just enjoys doing so without wondering why that might be. If I am not imagining things, the story gets sort of tragic and moving in episode nine, when an innocent girl who has been tricked and manipulated is thrown under the bus. But in general, I don't see much of an overarching plot. What is Cid's main goal? To destroy the Diablos sect? Or just to enjoy himself? And, of course, will we ever know why this world seems to conform to his wishes? Is he in heaven of a sort? The show seems like a series of loosely related skits rather than one story. Maybe it was meant to be primarily comedic but wasn't as funny as the writers had assumed. I don't know. I guess it is fairly amusing at times, but the jokes would be easier to 'get' if we knew what ground we were standing on.

This series continued into a second season without a break. Episode 15, in which Cid plans to enter the Bushin martial arts competition (and have it play out like it would in a typical anime) had more of a comic feel to it than the previous arc, which had been deadly serious at times. In episode 16 Cid, posing as 'Mundane Mann' advances while Princess Rose is on the run after supposedly stabbing her fiance. As is often the case, I have lost track of just what Rose's relationship to Cid and his girls is. It turns out that Diablos had something to do with Rose's problems and Cid detects an opportunity to swoop in and save the day. At one point he seemed to be back in the real world, if I'm not imagining things. Will this all turn out to be an extended daydream?

Cid encounters his sister in episodes 17-18. Not his real-world sister, right? I'm pretty sure I would have remembered how she wound up in this alternate reality. This show is so scattershot to me that I have a hard time remembering what happened in the last episode, much less a season ago. Still, it is fairly fun as Cid's fantasies play out. Why does Cid enjoy being a background character so much? Either I have forgotten or it was never revealed. But the scene in episode 19 in which Cid breaks up the plot to manipulate Rose and her father, the King, was pretty neat. I got a definite thrill out of it.

An arc definitely ends with episode 20, and I was expecting one more before we reach the traditional 24 or 26 episode ending point for a two season anime. But it looks like the series is complete, at least for now. The story as a whole seems to be at a pause rather than finished. And I still wonder exactly what it was all about.

Last updated Saturday, March 11 2023. Created Wednesday, October 19 2022.

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