It’s the last round of First Impressions for 2021! Where does the time go? In case you’re new, or in case you’ve forgotten, this is how we do things around here: in the week or two before the start of each new anime season, we run a poll for our readers to vote on what series they’d like us to cover. We then review the first episode of the three series with the most votes (and sometimes more than three, in the case of a tie). This season, the winning series were The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, World’s End Harem, Komi Can’t Communicate, and Visual Prison.
But some funky stuff happened – it turns out World’s End Harem has been delayed until January 2022. So we won’t be covering it this season after all. In addition, Komi got picked up for streaming by Netflix and will not be airing until nearly a month after the rest of the October debuts. We will cover that one when it comes out, but that will not be for a while.
ANYWAY. Without further ado, the first of the Fall 2021 anime First Impressions poll winners to air is World’s Finest Assassin.
The world’s number one assassin has been reincarnated as the eldest son of a family of aristocrat assassins. In exchange for being reincarnated in another world, a goddess has imposed upon him one condition. “Kill the Hero who is prophesied to destroy the world.” This was to be the mission in his new life. The synergistic effect of the vast knowledge and experience he gained that made all manner of assassinations possible in the modern world, and the secret techniques and magic of the fantasy world’s most powerful family of assassins turn him into the greatest assassin of all time. – Crunchyroll
Let’s see what our team of writers had to say!
Every season has multiple new isekai anime, which can get very tiring. It feels like each show has a gimmick you could understand from the title. Just throw in some common isekai tropes and you have a new show. Unfortunately, this isekai isn’t any different.
The episode starts off with child trafficking. I’m not against shows dealing with uncomfortable topics such as this, but it needs to do so with tact. This anime has multiple fanservice shots of its female characters during this segment, and it felt like the show was more concerned with showing off how cool it’s assassin characters are than meaningfully addressing the cruelty of its subject matter.
The second part of the episode shows the protagonist in his past life as the world’s greatest assassin, as he guides a novice assassin in a dangerous mission. This part stresses just how great of an assassin our protagonist is, as he comes up with plans to make their escape, while also showing off his wide range of knowledge and experience. We need to understand how overpowered he is, afterall. He’s eventually assassinated by his organization before he got the chance to retire. He ends up in the afterlife, given a chance to fulfill the show’s title, only if he’s willing to kill the world’s hero.
This first episode lacked a hook to convince me this wouldn’t just be another isekai that relies on it’s gimmick to carry the story, while using common isekai tropes to carry us along. Having a group of girls who are likely to make up his harem only further signals what type of anime this is going to be. It failed to convince me of its setting and it’s characters, which simply leaves me wondering, why even bother continuing?
World’s Finest Assassin has a lot of things I like in it. I love the constant double-crossing in spy and heist movies, and there’s plenty of that here. I am a simple man who likes cute girls with big guns being badass, and there’s tons of that too, although that part is not without some issues that I’ll discuss further down. It also hints at even more things I like. I love shows about large-scale political maneuvering. I like magic systems that are a bit more than just point-and-shoot JRPG stuff (the “buy me time to chant” line hits just right for me).
Finest Assassin hits all the right tropes, but it ended up feeling like it did so only to check off as many boxes on the Cool Stuff list as it could. The direction is mostly just functional. The dialogue is overly expository and boring, unless it’s being overly hammy and cringe-inducing. Aside from the last-second reveal of why the titular assassin got reincarnated in the first place, it doesn’t do anything too interesting with its stock isekai tropes. It just does them.
And of course that includes the human trafficking. What is it with isekai these days and human trafficking? This was my biggest issue with the show. I have no objection to dark topics being discussed in anime. And I definitely have no objection to fanservice. But I think the show fails its setting and its characters by having the fanservice and the grim, real-world problems be one and the same. If Finest Assassin wants me to believe that it believes that human trafficking is bad, and that it’s characters are good for stopping it, then a slow, leering pan up the thighs and cleavage of a crying teenage victim isn’t the best way to do that. It’s a tonal dissonance that I just can’t quite get past.
Luckily it has a dope OP that sonically reminds me more of RnB from a decade ago and visually reminds me more of Bond movies than anything you typically see or hear in anime. I’m not sure that alone is enough to get me to watch the entire series, but the one isekai trope it does manage to turn on it’s head, in the very last line of the episode, might be enough to get me to watch one more.
FROM WRITER RUI TSUKIYO, WHO BROUGHT YOU REDO OF HEALER!
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about this first episode. Something I love about these isekai light novel adaptations is their ridiculously long, but straightforward titles that explains what happens in this series. In this case of the first episode, we get exactly that as an aging assassin is killed and brought over to a Goddess who wants him to kill a Hero in another world.
The first episode is split into that story and the assassin’s current life as a young, stone cold assassin killing off human traffickers. For folks who remember the edge lordy, exploitive nature of Redo of Healer will definitely see some of its DNA in this anime’s story, but the plot keeps it relatively toned down.
That said, I can safely say World’s Finest Assassin is a trashy anime with enough action and body counts to keep you entertained. You won’t get any nuance here as our fine assassin kills off stock strawman villains like no tomorrow and babbles about how he’s a cold hearted killer who goes at it alone (or with a group of hot anime girls) to get the job done. If you’re into simple premises and another isekai harem, then this anime may be right for you. If you’re not, well you might want to drop this after episode one because I expect to see more heads roll.
This James Bond-esque show has me conflicted. While there were quite a few things that caught my interest, other bits really threw me off it. Let me break it down.
On the Good List we’ve got: an absolutely banger of an intro song, nice art and pretty great voice acting, a hot anime boy that’s just my type, cute girls that kick ass, and what seems to be a ragtag fight-for-justice group that’ll go around taking down awful people like child traffickers and whatnot. But this is where the bad comes in.
While the group did take down the prostitution ring, I couldn’t help but notice how sexualized they made these preteen girls, how they fit cleavage and panty shots in every chance they could, and how the MC talks about taking on this job because whoever owns this group, “Threatened diplomatic relations.” So right off the bat, knowing that whoever they’re working for is only interested in stopping something as horrible as child trafficking because the villains started dipping into their other business interests is, well, not a good look. So when it comes to the content and where this story is headed, I’m worried.
The show has me interested enough to watch the next episode when it comes out, but at the same time I’m prepared to drop it if things continue to go down the sexualizing-minors-because-why-not route, or quickly becomes another boring and overdone isekai. But assuming it doesn’t turn out that way, I think this ridiculously named show could be a fun and action-packed spy-drama.
To sum up the first episode of The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat … would be to just repeat the name of the TV anime series. Like the main character and the title, the first episode is upfront in what it is planning to give viewers over its next 12 episodes. Magic, guns with magic, and a guff old assassin in a new body. What more could you ask for?
I don’t even say that rhetorically; the first episode of The World’s Finest Assassin was a splendid surprise. The director Masafumi Tamura comes from an animation background, mostly working as an animator, animation director, and a character designer on everything from Liz and the Blue Bird to SoniAni and Laid-Back Camp. His background really shines in the action segments, as well as the framing of certain shots that were likely just internal dialogue in the original light novel from Redo of Healer creator Rui Tsukiyo. Could do with fewer 13-year-olds that have the body of 20-year-olds though, thanks.
That being said though, this is an isekai, and for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed the pre-death scenes with the older assassin which made up the bulk of the episode. I would have been fine watching a whole series based on a retired assassin training new assassins in Japan, but alas, he died and was reincarnated. This means my thoughts on the series may or may not be reincarnated with the next episode, whatever it might be.
Disclaimer: Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. Crunchyroll is on the production committee of The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat.
You can watch The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat on Crunchyroll.
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