imageAesthetica of a Rogue Hero is a brief action comedy that relies heavily on fanservice to make up for the flaws in its storytelling. This is a shame, because the events taking place in an alternate version of present-day Japan are really interesting. For reasons unknown, young men and women were transported across dimensions and displaced in the fantasy realm of Alayzard. Many were able to find their way home by crossing through a portal that somehow imbued their bodies with magical powers. Recognizing the usefulness of superpowered teens, world governments formed special schools called Babel in order to provide compulsory combat training. In writing, Aethestica of a Rogue Hero sounds intriguing based on its backstory alone. Unfortunately, the show falls short of its potential, building up to something big only to lose its focus in an unending stream of nudity displayed by its female cast. I enjoy fanservice as much as the next person, but not at the expense of the plot.

The series begins with an action-packed introduction to the titular rogue hero Akatsuki, an egotistical scoundrel who has defeated Alayzard’s chief villain and returns to our dimension with a unique prize: Miu, the dark lord’s daughter. Before Akatsuki can enjoy his prize, he and Miu are forced to join the Babel academy. This sets the stage for a high school-style comedy in which the main characters experience the highs and lows of academy life as they train to be dispatched against terrorists that would bring harm to those who wield transdimensional magic.

The synopsis of the show is far more exciting than what occurs on screen. I was curious to discover how humans have the means to jump back and forth between Earth and Alayzard, but there are only hints and the show ultimately presents itself as a harem comedy. What is especially frustrating is the fact that there are character motives, actions, and entire scenes that don’t go anywhere. In one episode, Akatsuki is introduced to a Alayzard motorcycle that operates on the same energy-based powers as he does. He’s able to tame the powerful vehicle, much to the amazement of his peers, but there’s no apparent reason why this is thematically important. In another scene, Babel’s Student Council is called upon to settle a hostage situation created by a group of terrorists. With only one significant appearance to their name, the organization’s motives are left unclear beyond a simple desire to “kill the military’s human weapons.” If these scenes serve any purpose, it is to depict Akatsuki as a braggart who is the most powerful student in school. Scenes such as this can only serve to stroke his ego as he is largely unstoppable; all of the battles in which he is involved are thereby predictable, eliminating any tension.

The show attempts to make up for its deficiencies by including a vast amount of near-adult content, becoming a vehicle for fanservice more than anything else. Miu’s ample bosom is the focus of a great deal of sexy antics and she is featured in every trope and cliche of the genre: panty shots, ill-fitting skintight outfits, ripped clothes representing battle damage, the obligatory beach adventure, and an entire episode devoted to Miu’s bra shopping experience that grows increasingly ridiculous as the episode goes on. Moments such as these are bookended by Akatuski’s own perverted behavior, which is bolstered by his special ability to remove women’s underwear in the blink of an eye and manipulate a woman’s chi through touch. It is also worth mentioning one of Miu’s academy friends, Chikage, a tomboy and lesbian who enjoys putting the moves on other characters of her own gender. In one scene, she gropes Miu in a love hotel and in one of the closest scenes to explicit sexuality, Chikage is found lying on top of a writhing schoolgirl, breasts exposed and one piece of clothing away from becoming a full-blown hentai affair.

In other circumstances, the sexualized moments between Miu and Akatsuki would normally be nothing more than cheeky fun. However, their faux brother/sister relationship creates a great deal of discomfort. The bra-fitting episode is a good example, as Akatsuki details the “art” of putting on a bra in front of Miu’s friends while pulling, cupping, and setting Miu’s chest into place. If these two were a couple there wouldn’t be much of a problem, but they often refer to one another as brother and sister both inside and outside their circle of friends. Even though the viewer knows the truth of their relationship, it’s still very awkward, and most scenes end up becoming creepy rather than sensual.

The official back-of-the-box summary for Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero makes no attempt to hide the fact that nudity and fanservice is the series’ biggest draw. After all, it is “sure to have you bursting at the seams.” In that regard, the show is a success, as both men and women find themselves in sexually compromising positions and Miu’s large chest can barely fit inside the camera frame. However, as an action/adventure piece, it is significantly lacking and cannot deliver on its own fiction. The experience is spoiled further by the show’s cliffhanger ending, in which the land of Alayzard finds itself in turmoil over Miu’s existence as heir to the dark lord. If a second season is announced, it is dubious whether it can deliver a compelling story instead of one breast shot after another.

Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero: Complete Series
FUNimation, 2013
directed by Rion Kujou
300 minutes, Number of Discs: 4, DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: 17+

  • Allen

    | He/Him Past Reviewer

    Allen Kesinger is a Reference Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library in California. He maintains the graphic novel collections at the library, having established an Adult collection to compliment the YA materials. When not reading graphic novels, he fills his time with other nerdy pursuits including video games, Legos and steampunk.

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