#1 Deliberately unlikeable protagonist
The Goddess Ristarte has been charged with saving a fantasy world from certain doom, alongside a hero of her choosing. Naturally, she goes for the hero with the highest stats—the Earthling Seiya Ryuguin. A choice that she immediately comes to regret. Where other isekai anime focus on geeks and other unlikely heroes, Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is all about a tactical mastermind in peak physical condition, who is also a completely unlikeable cunt.
As the title implies, Seiya’s entire shtick is that his incredible potential as a hero is held back by his paranoid need to prepare. He always wants to do more training, acquire more resources, and he mistrusts everything and everyone that he comes into contact with. A paranoia that he will absolutely act upon, much to the frustration of his allies that would rather just get on with the adventure already. This concept could have been funny, if Seiya didn’t come off as such an unreasonable fuckwit.
He is disrespectful to everyone, makes impossible demands of his friends, exploits and harasses people, and will casually ruin their lives if it means avoiding the mildest of inconveniences. And while doing so, Seiya effortlessly earns the affection of every female character over the age of consent. Women will literally strip naked in public for him, even as he casually abuses them and dismisses any of their romantic intents.
I get that Seiya is supposed to be a parody of sorts; a subversion of our expectations for what an isekai hero is meant to be. The downside of writing like this is that Seiya is virtually indistinguishable from other jerkass isekai protagonists. The alleged parody just comes off as yet another shitty, wish-fulfillment story.
#2 Uninspired fantasy
Cautious Hero is largely set in the fantasy realm Gaeabrande; the world-building for which I am going to be brief about, because there isn’t any. It’s a template fantasy world with no vision or effort put into any aspect of it. Even if you can appreciate Seiya’s atypical personality, this soulless approach to world-building kills any hope the story could have had of being satisfying.
Not only is the world itself generic, so too is the logic on which it operates. Everybody just gets video game stat screens that determine what they can do and how strong they are; the numbers on which may as well be completely random. No effort has been put into explaining how this works or what the information truly indicates.
Case in point, there’s no explanation offered as to how Seiya gains 90% of the powers that he does. Anytime he’s off-screen for any amount of time, you can probably presume that he somehow returns with incredible new knowledge and powerful abilities. Even though there’s no means by which he could have gained those or any way for him to have known about half the skills that he masters.
Parody is once again used as a fix-all excuse for all these inconsistencies, but a parody of what exactly? The only show being made a mockery of here is Cautious Hero itself, which deliberately robs itself of the potential to tell a coherent story. You can’t parody shitty storytelling by just being a shit story.
#3 Painfully unfunny
Cautious Hero desperately wants to be KonoSuba. A comedy series that pokes fun at the isekai genre, with wacky characters and wild animation. It does so by taking KonoSuba‘s style of comedy and attempting to dial it up to 11. Even though KonoSuba was already operating at maximum capacity.
At times Cautious Hero more closely resembles the loudest and crudest of American cartoons than an anime comedy. An idea that worked well for Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, but the way Cautious Hero mixes this with such a standard, modern anime look doesn’t gel well at all. You get normal, good-looking anime character acting out crass comedy routines with gross animations. A mixture that just didn’t feel right, even as the show kept building on it.
I didn’t laugh at Cautious Hero even once, in spite of watching it with a friend over some beers. The perfect atmosphere to enjoy something stupid, yet we were so bored with the show that any other topic of conversation was more entertaining.
#4 Thinly disguised fetishes
Here are the three steps to designing a female character for Cautious Hero:
- Giant. Rack. The biggest boobs available before the design starts looking too uncanny.
- Low-cut clothes. Big boobs must be as visible as possible at all times.
- Unhinged deviant when it comes to dealing with Seiya.
The only complete exception is Elulu, who is literally just a kid. Bonus points are awarded if you can make the character wear something that is definitely not clothes and obscures the breasts even less.
#5 Poorly executed concept
The central premise of Cautious Hero is, of course, that Seiya is overly cautious. He wants to be fully prepared for everything and anything, going far beyond the limits of common sense to mitigate risks. Except, this characterization frequently falls apart when you think about it for even a second.
Seiya frequently acts rash and impulsively, particularly when it comes to his habit of cleaning up after fights. He wants to wipe away his foes so thoroughly that he often destroys the vicinity around them. Even if this happens to be in cities or towns, where he burns up people and businesses that offer services he’d logically want to protect in case he needs them. In one episode he suddenly goes lone wolf and argues that he doesn’t need any allies, in spite of literally needing Ristarte to access the training room he is obsessed with. He burns bridges (metaphorically and literally) wherever he goes, sometimes before he has gotten whatever he needs. That’s not exactly cautious behavior…
The pinnacle of this comes in an episode where he says that he won’t eat anything not made by Ristarte, as he can’t trust the food provided by anybody else. Moments later he downs a whole bag of untested magic beans, acquired from a shady merchant earlier in the episode. You could make elaborate excuses to fix such inconsistencies, but the fact that the author didn’t bother himself is telling.
#6 Weak finale
The last 2 episodes of Cautious Hero are desperate to retool the story into something emotional, only to end up feeling utterly mishandled. My opinion of the anime’s writing was already low, but these final few twists saw it plummet to new, uncharted depths.
First and foremost, the plot contrives a “tragic” sob story to explain Seiya’s origins and behavior. A story that establishes a romantic link between him and Ristarte prior to her becoming a deity, which makes no practical sense. Ristarte and her mortal form don’t look alike at all to begin with, and certainly don’t have much overlap in terms of personality. For this reveal to be impactful there also needed to be something of a bond between the two apparent-lovebirds, which simply isn’t there. He only barely cares about keeping her alive and gets visibly agitated whenever she makes any advances whatsoever.
Then there is the actual final battle, which you get to see basically nothing of. It’s already mostly done by by the time everybody else catches up with Seiya and the final clashes you do get to see lack any kind of excitement. This is also the first time you see or hear anything of the villain, so there’s literally no satisfaction in seeing him being defeated.
Tack on a wishy-washy happy ending and that’s a wrap for Cautious Hero.