Wednesday, November 30

Netflix’s Bastard!! Is A Refreshingly Self-Aware, Horny Anime

Schneider stands shirtless while hands move about his body.

Spicy.
Screenshot: LIDEN FILMS / Netflix / Kotaku

When I first watched Netflix’s new anime Bastard!!: Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy, I expected a melodramatic anime series along the lines of Record of Lodoss War. What I got was an unapologetically horny show about a wizard and his ever-growing harem of big-haired anime waifus. I loved every second of it.

Bastard!!: Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy, made by LIDEN FILMS, is a remake of the 1992 anime Bastard!! Ankoku no Hakaishin. Bastard!!!’s elevator pitch in the Kotaku summer anime guide, which you should totes check out by the by, is that a wizard named Dark Schneider is resurrected to save the kingdom of, I shit you not, Meta-Licana (pronounced Metalicana), from evildoers. However, that description is just the tip of the iceberg for what this horned-up anime has in store.

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Read More: Your Summer 2022 Anime Guide

You see, Dark Schneider used to be the baddie of the series. In fact, he was the head honcho of the series’ antagonists, the Four Lords of Havoc, prior to the events of the anime. While Schneider touts that he is the hero of this shonen anime—a fourth-wall breaking fact he isn’t afraid to remind viewers and other characters of —Schneider in actuality is the embodiment of early ‘90s OVA anime tropes of lecherous all-powerful wizards. I mean, dude was having Sense8-level orgies with his harem in between his conquest for world domination. But, like all overpowered beings, his hubris got the best of him and he was sealed away into the body of a mild-mannered boy named Lucien.

The Kingdom of Meta-Licana is forever on the losing end of a war against the Four Lords of Havoc. The Kingdom’s sole trump card is the resurrection of Dark Schneider from Lucien’s body. They aim to do so by having Lucien kiss the lips of a virgin woman. Wait, don’t close out of this tab just yet. I know, that’s a pretty eye-rolling premise. However, this show works because of how self-aware it is of its ridiculous premise. The spell-breaking virginal kiss to save the doomed kingdom is one of the many times that the show pokes fun at its absurdities every chance it gets. After summoning Schneider in the show’s first episode, for example, the kingdom asks to summon him again at the start of the second episode because it’d be easier than going through the effort of assembling their armies.

Schneider carries Tia while a roaring fire burns in the background.

Bastard!! isn’t like your parent’s romance novellas.
Screenshot: LIDEN FILMS / Netflix / Kotaku

While overcoming the Kingdom’s demands to smooch the tall, dark, and handsome Schneider, Lucien’s caretaker–and arguably the second funniest character in the show–Tia Noto Yoko develops feelings for the dark wizard despite his abrasive personality. She’s not the only one either. Without fail, every episode has Schneider’s would-be adversaries develop a desire outside of their orders to join his harem, sabotaging the Lords of Havoc’s plans.

Say what you will, but hear me out: Bastard!!’s depiction of strong women who defy orders and know what they want, whether it be a conquest for power or some sexy time with a hunky wizard, is leagues ahead of the genre’s allocation of women being interchangeable cardboard cutouts of characters that blend into the background.

Unlike most harem anime that depict its protagonist creepily salivating over its cast of women, the women in Bastard!! Don’t take any shit from him. Whenever Schneider crosses a line, they call him a bastard with the tenacity of AEW ring announcer Justin Roberts and give him a well-deserved ass kicking.

Schneider sulks while Tia chews him out.

Hmm, where have I seen this dynamic before?
Screenshot: LIDEN FILMS / Netflix / Kotaku

Schneider and the show itself often tease the female characters for being understandably horny for him by virtue of him being the show’s de facto attractive male character. But Schneider has some class about him. Underneath his self-centered horny teenager bravado is a weirdo who occasionally has thoughtful things to say and throws himself in harm’s way for those he loves. Instead of treating the women as his property, the show subverts the trope by having Schneider have an actual relationship with the women in his life.

The personalities of Schneider and Lucien blur together, much like that of Amon and Akira Fudo in the manga Devilman Grimoire. This fusion of personas transforms the former POS Schneider into a kind of edgy wizard Inuyasha-type character; he craves to be praised whenever he does something cool like, say, saving his caretaker from a clothes-melting slime monster. That isn’t to say the show lacks “spice.”

Although the existence of smutty anime that normalize sex and attraction are few and far between, Bastard!! somehow manages to have its smutty cake and eat it too. It’s one of those anime where you’ll have to turn down the volume so as to not get any noise complaints from neighbors about high-pitched moans interlaced with heavy metal music. The show occasionally dips into being Dragon’s Breath-chile-pepper-scoville levels of spicy, but they’re more hilarious in context than its trailers tease, and there isn’t any actual sex in the show, just hilarious inneundos. For example, characters in the show get poisoned more often than not and must have other characters “suck the poison out.”

Schneider fights hordes of undead in the nude.

Sometimes Schneider fights Beowulf style.
Screenshot: LIDEN FILMS / Netflix / Kotaku

While the fan service-y situation isn’t surprising to see in an ecchi anime, the English voice cast clearly had a lot of fun dubbing this show and cranked up its ridiculousness to 11. I laughed my ass off when Schneider told the holier-than-thou puritanical princess that she needs to suck the poison out harder. Bastard!! is tropey as hell, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, kind of like the comedy isekai Konosuba if the main character had copious amounts of sex.

While Schneider has yet to hit a home run with any of the defected Four Lords of Havoc underlings that he converts to his side through his Dio-esque power of charisma, the show’s opening and closing themes fuck unequivocally. Coldrain and Tielle knocked it out of the park with the show’s high-octane opening and closing themes. No notes, or skips, just straight bangers.

Bastard!!, by all accounts shouldn’t work as an anime in 2022, yet it somehow comes out the other end as one of the funniest and spiciest anime of the season and I want more of it.



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