We need to have a word.
“Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero definitely made me feel uncomfortable.” – ANN, The Stream.
On the back of the box.
In the dub trailer.
I CAN’T EVEN
Yes, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, the show that Funi is quick to remind you made someone uncomfortable. Anyone else remember the godawful trailers and box quotes for Sekirei? “Boobies for the win”? Could you imagine if supermarkets marketed by just putting pictures of bacon on their posters along with the text ‘FOOD ARE GOOD” as if Neanderthals understood the concept of capitalist consumerism. But what do I know? Sekirei sold out at distributor level, so I guess it works. I just hate it when a legitimately good series is impossible to vouch for because it gets shafted with a box that screams “SHHHH, NO PLOT, ONLY TITS NOW”.
I suppose the question that arises, then, is whether or not Aesthetica of a None Too Catchy Title follows the pattern that Sekirei set out. Well…
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero (which shall henceforth be referred to as ‘Aesthetica‘) follows ‘rogue hero’ Akatsuki Ousawa, a universal badass who has just returned from a trip to a mystical world of fantasy tropes called Alayzard, having killed its resident Dark Lord. Before he died, however, the Dark Lord asked one last request – that Akatsuki look after his daughter Miu, the pink haired girl with large breasts who appears in all the posters and likely most of the pictures used in this review.
I say ‘returned from’ this world, because Aesthetica takes place in two different worlds – ‘our’ world and Alayzard. People from our world get spirited away to Alayzard for… reasons not made entirely clear, actually. Regardless, they usually gain magic powers and combat proficiency when on the other side. Because of this, people who have been on the other side are conscripted into Babel High School, to train them and keep them quarantined.
Akatsuki doesn’t have any magical powers, but what he does have is far more useful – energy manipulation, which basically makes him a walking cheat code, but we’ll get to that later. Akatsuki and Miu join the school, with Miu posing as Akatsuki’s long lost sister.
However, Akatsuki, being a Badass™, instantly takes issue with being corralled and the authority imposed on him by the Babel quarantine, which results in wacky shenanigans as he comes up against the Student Council, who basically act as the military police of Babel. Most of their encounters involve the somewhat overzealous Vice President, Haruka, who is constantly the recipient of Akatsuki’s lewd powers, losing her underwear on a regular basis.
Oh yes, did I mention that? Akatsuki, being a Badass™, is quite possibly the most open and confident protagonist of a sort-of harem comedy since Majikoi’s Yamato Naoe – he’s cocky, insanely powerful, and perverse beyond all belief, but with a heart of gold. If that makes him sound like a Gary Stu… well, he kind of is. But in a more endearing way. Akatsuki’s cockiness and confidence usually leads to funny stuff happening, so I’ll let it slide.
But what is a sort-of harem comedy without more characters? Akatsuki and Miu quickly team up with resident lesbian Chikage Izumi who, in a surprising inversion of anime norms, is full-blood gay, rather than the usual ‘I’m just messing around’ characters we usually see, which is kind of cool in its own way.
Also on their team is Kuzuha Doumoto, a grade schooler who was moved up to Babel to meet their quota of flat chested younger girls, because anime. Or something like that.
Last is Motoharu Kaidou, a laid-back guy who just appears one day and is suddenly friends with Akatsuki. He plays an important part in the series, but in a clandestine manner, rarely entering open conflict under the guise of being weak. Yeah, right.
The plot of Aesthetica strikes a decent balance between goofy fanservice and actual plot – the final episodes of the series concern a ‘hero’ from Alayzard returning to our world to hunt down Miu due to the political machinations of her escape. Political consequences? In my anime? That aren’t ham-fisted like in Majikoi? It’s more likely than you think.
And then there’s episode 7, the obligatory beach episode in which all the characters go to a beach and participate in a swimsuit tag contest, where Akatsuki’s trunks are the prize. It’s very funny, and – naturally – loaded with fanservice, but it feels legitimate in the grand scheme of the series.
Aesthetica comes from the same studio and personnel who created the infamous Queen’s Blade series, and it shows – though not in the way you might think. Queen’s Blade is many things, and low budget is not one of them. Aesthetica follows in Queen’s Blade‘s footsteps with extremely slick, sharp animation, with detailed facial animation, bright lively colours and creative character design.
And the music. Whoo, the music. Go back and listen to that theme song and really watch the intro animation. Classy, no? Kudos to the choice of Faylan’s “Realisation” as the theme of the series – it oozes action and excitement and really gets you in the mood to watch more episodes. It also comes into play in orchestral instrumental form during key moments of the series to drive the scene forward.
Voice acting, similarly, is top notch, with Eric Vale (better known as Trunks in Funimation’s Dragon Ball dubs) leading the cast with aplomb. Felicia Angelle, in particular, blew me away following her performance as Yuma in High School DxD, showing range and confidence that really inspire. Keep an eye on this one, guys, she’s going places. Mark my words! Special props also go to Ryan Reynolds (no, not that one), voicing Chikage with just the right amount of attitude to sell the character, and the rest of the Funimation cadre who seem to make a living off shows like this – including, but not limited to, Alexis Tipton (Haruka), Monica Rial (Kuzuha), Joel McDonald (Motoharu) and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Queen Listy, from Alayzard).
So, where does that leave the series as a whole? Well, I liked it. I can’t say I felt uncomfortable watching – I’ve seen far worse (Seikon no Qwaser and Manyuu Hikenchou, anyone?). Perhaps that makes me the exception that proves the rule. Regardless, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero gets a verdict of…
An energetic romp of flashy action and flashing pants, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero stands out from the pack with a refreshingly badass lead and sheer high-quality parts that combine to make an enjoyable whole.