By Dustin Cabeal
I have meant to write this review for what feels like months. Hell, I’ve meant to review more anime seasons for half a year now. Excuses aside, we’re here now to talk about A Centaur’s Life… which is about the life of a Centaur… in case that didn’t come across in the title or something.
Billed as a slice of life story about a world that followed a different evolutionary path than our world, A Centaur’s Life follows Himeno for the most part. Frankly, a slice of life is to board of a labeling for this story because the main character is the subject of stories more than she is the protagonist of the story. There are numerous times that the story doesn’t feature the main character and there’s more insight into the supporting cast. In particular, the story veers off to follow Manami’s character because frankly, the family make-up is far more interesting.
Which brings us to the different races that populate the world. Obviously, we have Centaurs which have an authoritarian vibe to them. The first episode explains some of the history of the world and how Centaurs became the ruling class. There are even laws against riding upon one, which can land you in jail for sensitivity training. Other races include angels, demons, amphibian, satyrs, and mermaids. Unfortunately, the races come with a weird story problem in which some of them are acknowledged how we would acknowledge them, but this is a parallel world so how would something like “frog people” exist or even halo’s when there’s no religion to define and create them? Similarly, with “demons” in that the entire term that defines this race is based upon a religion that doesn’t exist and if it does would actually further break the rules of the reality.
There are just a lot of conflicting ideas and information presented in the story. Which is strange given how much thought and detail goes into things like, “How does a Centaur wear underwear, how do they put it on themselves?” and I’m not kidding, “Does a Centaur’s vagina look like a cow’s vagina?” There is an episode dedicated to finding the answer, so if that tickles your nether region, then you’re in luck.
Again, with it being a slice of life story, it doesn’t actually have a plotline to follow. It’s just a bunch of different scenarios that happen, and most of them are commonplace, with the only difference being that its mythological creatures in the modern area. The story does dabble with real subjects of racism, but only on the surface level. It doesn’t dive deeper or even tackle the subject in a way that would make you take a step back and questions yourself or others. They’re just story beats, and towards the end of the series they end up feeling like filler or desperate attempts of adding emotion to an otherwise dull story. The most glaring miss comes from Himeno’s pre-disposed opinion about Antarctician people who resemble snakes. Instead of trying to show Himeno’s fears as being childish and silly, which feels like it’s attempt at first, it instead validates her fears by having the other character share her fear of a B-Movie about her own people. Instead of being silly to be afraid of her, it comes across as “Yeah I guess you do have some valid reasons to be afraid of us…” What the fuck?
As funny and strange as it started off with, what with the Centaur vag and the constant female relationships. Towards the end, it’s as if the animators filled the story with different tales that populated the still ongoing manga series. The back half of the series reminds you that Himeno is still in the story, but only just barely. It also gets daunting with all the women that are interested in Himeno. Which sucks to say because there is some forward thinking about lesbians in the story, but it becomes completely overshadowed by the harem aspect of the story. Now, if it were a male character, it would still be daunting and overpowering so don’t let the gender fool you, it’s just weak storytelling that went to its crutch one too many times.
The animation is decent. It strangely doesn’t feel as if much moves though. Centaurs are shown running and mermaids are shown swimming, but that’s about it. The rest of the animation is pretty stiff and relies on showing the characters standing and talking or slowly walking. Because of the size and shape of the characters, there are some interesting challenges, and you’d expect that you’d see some creative setups, but it instead devolves into three or four shots/angles used over and over.
While the clothing situation was at least someone interesting, after a while seeing a break in the animation to explain how a tail fits through a skirt and doesn’t show underwear becomes dull. The animation, much like the story lack personality even though the character designs are interesting and decently unique.
A Centaur’s Life starts off with a world of possibilities but quickly becomes tied to the norms and rules of our own world in order for it to be more relatable. Something that is wholly impossible given the characters and the depth of details given about their differences. A Centaur’s Life constantly battles itself, fighting between being something new and fresh and routine and redundant. It has flashes of ideas, but they all end the same boring. Really the only thing you’ll learn from this anime that will stay with you is that Centaur’s have a beautiful vagina that definitely doesn’t look like a cows vagina, but if you want questions like “why the fuck do cows exist in this world”, then you’re already too deep for this show.
A Centaur’s Life
Creator: Kei Murayama
Directors: Fumitoshi Oizaki, Naoyuki Konno
Writer: Toko Machida
Studio: Haoliners Animation League, Encourage Films