To Be Heroine – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Everyone around Futaba expects her to grow up and become an adult, and she’s lost the ability to keep herself mentally balanced. At the bottom of her heart, her childish self is still there, and still strong. One day she wanders into another dimension, a world where the light has been lost, and darkness rules. The people there exist as babies wearing only their underpants. The clothes they wear can be summoned as powerful fighters called SpiCloths. In this world, a battle was being fought between light and darkness… (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: To Be Hero was one of the most impressive shorts in 2016, securing a place in our Anime Awards for that year. When To Be Hero season 2 was announced I was skeptical however, as the first didn’t seem to lend itself to a continuation. In fact I was a bit relieved when it turned out Season 2 was actually a pseudo-sequel, more spiritual successor, by the name of To Be Heroine. With just one episode to go on, it already feels as if To Be Heroine captures the same kind of manic, inappropriate comedy, now refined with improved animation, style and strong action sequences that show how far Haoliners Animation League has come from all their previous efforts. To Be Heroine is a marked improvement over everything they’ve produced since they began their work in adapting and creating original Chinese anime.
Linny: On the other hand, I was still apprehensive when I first heard that To Be Heroine’s plot was in no way related to To Be Hero, as it then caused concern that this might turn out to be a shallow cash grab, banking on the latter’s success, hoping to entice audiences by association rather than any actual real merit of its own. Thankfully, my fears were put to rest as even though To Be Heroine does not indeed have any plot connection to To Be Hero (for now), it manages to be an entertaining, juvenile gag filled romp on its own. The humour is low brow and eclectic, something that should please fans of To Be Hero, and what’s even more impressive is how much Haoliners has upped its animation quality, making To Be Heroine better than the average, hastily produced anime. Another interesting/unusual feature of To Be Heroine is that it employs two different languages, with Chinese being spoken in the scenes taking place in the ‘real’ world and Japanese being spoken to depict our heroine’s shift to the other dimension/world.
Tom: Delving past the art, our lead Futaba is a fairly relatable Isekai-esque protagonist. Like many heroes transported to another world, it’s abrupt, sudden and seemingly without reason, yet the story hinges upon her dissatisfaction with a society where what choices she’s given hardly feel like choices at all, more a test to see if she can pick out the right choice amongst all the other inviable options. It’s a little heavy handed in this regard, but still works to give the show a more weighty feel, as if there’s social commentary to be had, which is more than can be said for the wealth of Isekai already littering the anime landscape. Moving from there we’re treated to a handful of additional characters, namely the bizarre infants in this absolutely strange other world where clothes can become anthropomorphic weapons used to fight against one’s enemies. These babies provide much of the show’s comedy, which, like To Be Hero, often oversteps bounds and ventures into the thoroughly inappropriate, but thanks to a manic, crazed style and tone, actually still works, barely scatting by without becoming too offensive. To Be Heroine’s entire style and tone feel like a heavily refined version of To Be Hero’s, finding a stronger balance between commentary, and potentially offensive, juvenile humor. It’s still something that’ll make or break the show for you, but retains that charm we felt with the original.
Linny: Be prepared for comedy in the form of skirt flipping, mooning, and getting a kinky glimpse into our heroine’s mind when she realizes that her boot is actually ‘alive’. And so many clothing based puns that sometimes rely on sheer strangeness for comedy.
Tom: One of the ways in which To Be Heroine works to restrain itself is by focusing more so on action set pieces. In fact the episode boasts some of the most impressive action animation this season, depicting a sword fight between two anthropomorphized pieces of clothing that surprisingly stands out against the rest of the Spring season. It’s fluid, it’s sharp, it’s stylistic and is far and away an improvement over any other Chinese TV anime production we’ve seen to this date. It’s this balance between the surprisingly solid art, the juvenile comedy and an ability to weave exposition between it all that allows this first episode to flow quite well.
Linny: Is To Be Heroine for you? The answer is a resounding yes if you’re a fan of To Be Hero’s comedy stylings, or a fan of crude and low brow comedy in general. There’s nothing in the show that is unforgivably outrageous or indecent but it’s also not a comedy I can see everyone enjoying. But for those enticed by the concept of clothing turned into fighters, weapons and a bizarre world inhabited by babies, there’s plenty to love, boosted by above average animation.
Tom: Ultimately I went into To Be Heroine a little worried. While I was thankful that To Be Hero wasn’t getting a forced continuation, I feared, much like Linny, that To Be Heroine would feel like more a cash grab, ripping To Be Hero’s name in an effort to secure goodwill. But what’s here feels like an earnest spiritual successor to the original, taking lessons learned and applying them forward to try and craft a superior story. It won’t be clear until all seven episodes wrap as to exactly how successful that effort will be, but if the first episode is any indication, I think To Be Heroine is well worth a look in for anyone fond of the original, or excited by manic, borderline offensive, juvenile humor.
To Be Heroine is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.