A Centaur’s Life – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Kimihara Himeno, also known as “Hime,” goes about her life, love, and studies just like any ordinary high school girl. The only difference is that she’s a centaur. She enjoys her school life along with classmates of many unique shapes, including Nozomi the draconid, Kyoko the goatfolk, an angelfolk class representative, and Sassas-chan the Antarctican. Hime’s younger cousin Shino-chan, her friend Maki-chan, and the class representative’s four younger sisters also join the cast in this very cute slice-of-life story about girls who are human, yet aren’t! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Despite a washed out color scheme A Centaur’s Life’s visuals ultimately sell its slice of life vibe. The designs of the characters feels fairly down to earth, crafting a believable world where the population is composed of various different demi-humans. There’s some darker elements and implications, visualized through brief history informative sequences giving Centaur’s Life an odd feeling of poignancy at times.
Linny: These darker elements rear their heads in very visible ways, first as part of a rather ‘interesting’ speech about the need for equality, given by a teacher as she is observed by sinister looking men. Then later on, when Hime, the centaur and most prominent character, offers her exhausted friend a ride on her back, the friend declines saying that if she agreed to, she could end up imprisoned for it. All this makes A Centaur’s Life seem like a rather eclectic mix of innocent everyday school life and heavy/dark sociopolitical policing.
Tom: Ultimately A Centaur’s Life doesn’t feel much different from other slice of life anime. It’s most like Interviews with Monster Girls, despite its modern fantasy setting. Sure there’s those darker elements to the world’s history, in fact the aspect I find most interesting to the series, but otherwise what’s presented in this first episode feels like pretty standard slice of life stuff. That makes its fantasy trappings, and unique demi-human character designs feel more like visual flavor that anything that truly adds to the narrative. The only time these fantasy trappings hold any water is in what feel like brief social commentary on the way society works at inequality, or humanities darker history. But even then this commentary feels confusing, as it’s not really clear what stance the author is taking here, if any.
Linny: The parts focused on the girls and their daily interactions at school feel like most school comedy/slice of life with the major difference being that none of the characters are human. The show does inject a few events that utilize the other worldly cast’ special attributes for comedy and drama, distinguishing itself but there’s no denying that this episode felt more like a nuanced look at the lives of high school girls.
Tom: I suppose the biggest problem I’m having here is with the characters. The easiest series to compare Centaur’s Life to is Interviews with Monster Girls from earlier this year. Both feature demi-human girls going about the day to day. While Interviews provided a potential allegory for what disabled or disadvantaged individuals go through, there’s no such commentary here. This then means the demi-human nature of our girls needs to come through in another way. Yet by the end of this first episode I couldn’t help but feel everyone is just your stereotypical teenager: focused on grades, athletics, or meek and a bit ditzy. In fact, I almost wonder if you could’ve taken this episode, removed the fantasy element, and you wouldn’t still have a passable slice of life anime. Generic but passable. Centaur’s Life’s fantasy elements are more a weak and ineffectual gimmick than anything else. Granted, it’s the first episode, but there needs to be something here that really shows its tied intrinsically to the story.
Linny: It’s surprisingly easy to push each girl into one character trope or the other. While one could read it as mythical creatures- they’re just like us, it also acts as a flaw that could make the show fall into the forgettable pile as you’re met with cliche after cliche.
Tom: A Centaur’s Life is decent. It’s got a couple chuckles, a slice of life feel that almost manages to straddle the line between dull and grounded. The biggest hurdle right now is proving that our characters need to be demi-humans and that that fantasy aspect actually adds something. But this first episode fails that and with a handful of stronger anime finally appearing this season, it makes it difficult to say this is something we should stick with until it proves itself.
Linny: As someone who read a bit of the manga a while back, if the show does stick closely to the source, I can let you know in advance that the sociopolitical elements get more pronounced. However, there’s also a lot of mythical creatures living the lives of ordinary high school girls which fluctuates wildly in its levels of amusement. If you find the idea of mythical girls behaving and living like high school girls in a school themed anime, A Centaur’s Life may prove interesting. In its defense, the manga had some solid plot lines and jokes that, if adapted, could really raise the appeal. That said, there’s also some rather puzzling and ambiguous extremist sociopolitical tints that could deter any who just wanted an amusing school life story.
A Centaur’s Life is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com