Very important note before we begin. The following series is one that requires the viewer to have a very specific knowledge of what it is about: This show is primarily about world building. The world it is set is the most important character. There is a cast of characters but they all contribute to the world’s ongoing development. The interested can get more detail on what I mean as we take a look at A Centaur’s Life.
Genres: Slice of Life, Comedy, Fantasy
Themes: Monster Girls, Magical Creatures, School Life, World Building, Race
Number of Episodes: 12
G-Rating: 8/10 (Personal), 7/10 (Overall)
Plot Summary: Follows the school life of a teenage centaur named Himeno, and her friends, who happen to be mermaids, angels, and other mystical creatures.
As mentioned in the introduction this show is primarily about world building as it is set in a Pseudo-Utopia like alternate Earth where “monster” people rule. What I mean is that while stuff happens it is ultimately all part of everyday life, as the show’s first English title states. There is no endgame despite there being hints of something big going on behind the scenes at the halfway point of the show. Because of this not every episode is fun or entertaining in the conventional sense. There are times the show delivers great fun and cuteness, especially when the little ones appear, but there are other times the main girls are doing mundane activities like their homework, talking about hair or health care. However, during the mundane parts (Each episode is split into two parts) it is recommended to pay close attention to what the girls’ discussions and especially what is going on in the background, be it a news report, the kind of TV show airing or what other people are doing.
The world development includes events and conversations revolving around its rough history, the economy, global politics, art and many other interesting topics for people who care to invest their time learning about this world. However, out of all the topics brought up the most prominent of them all is race and discrimination because most, if not all crimes committed throughout the world’s history comes down to differences in culture, religion and of course race. The rules and regulations across the globe to uphold the law and protect everyone from racism and discrimination are VERY STRICT! This leads to the show being all over the place in terms of tone. Sometimes it is very lighthearted and cute, other times it is more dramatic than the regular SoL or Girls Club show, then it gets delightfully bizarre and then out of nowhere it becomes dark and depressing…all of this in no particular order, leading to some people criticizing the unbalanced pacing and narrative. On the other hand…the randomness, provided viewers are okay with watching characters not always doing fun or interesting stuff, is also what makes this show unique.
Another thing I noticed is that, maybe subconsciously, is that some viewers did not like seeing sensitive topics being brought up all “willy-nilly”. Nothing in this show is romanticized and from what I have seen that seems to be a problem for some: The fact that issues people do not feel comfortable discussing, like racism, health care, inequality, are just part of this world and not some grand symbolic, deep, compelling obstacle the heroines must overcome. They are just…there. Keep this in mind.
From my perspective this all sounds like the show is chock full of social commentary from left to right…and it is but I do not see it as a bad thing in this show because, again, it is part of the Pseudo-Utopia setting. It is something that will hopefully be overcome or more realistically lessened but not some kind of Captain Planet style propaganda on how viewers should overcome it. It leaves the audience to ponder that for themselves based on the discussions on the show.
Having said all that, it does not mean the important characters are devoid of development of reason to get emotionally invested in them. On the contrary the important ones do have times they get screen time devoted to doing more than just daily activities. We get to learn how their family lives are like, some having more personal struggles than others and even how they live their lives based on their upbringing and even religion. The character with the most development is the one I like to call President Angel. Her life is something else let me tell you. Then, as mentioned in the above image we have the favorite characters of many, the children, aka the little ones such as Shino the pony, the Chisters (The Chi triplets whose names all start with Chi) and the baby angel Sue (Su-eh). Their main purpose, besides providing intellectual topics of conversation like the older girls, is to bless viewers’ monitors/TV screens with their presence. There are also some interesting side-characters and races whose culture and lives provide some interesting topics, again should the viewer be interested. Each and every race is detailed in how they spend the day, how they react to other races emotionally and sexually and even showing viewers how they put their clothes on, specifically centaurs. A LOT OF DETAIL went into the conception of this world that mixes real life with magical creatures and that is one of the reasons I personally enjoy this series.
The animation is solid. The environments are simple and the characters all look good The soundtrack is not memorable but the OP and ED are both pretty good.
Let us briefly go back to the topics brought up. Some of them could interest a lot of people, such as the interpersonal and intrapersonal value and definition of art. Then there are topics for a select few people…such as the (I am certain) episode 4, Part A, aka Chapter 0. At first I asked why they would adapt this chapter of all things but thanks to one of my fans I realized that almost every episode had a topic SOMEONE could relate to, even “that one“. This leads to again say that while it would have been better to consistently adapt more entertaining chapters I argue that all of the ones we got not only served a purpose but that there are even people who could relate with specific issues our protagonists go through in the show. For some of them not many but definitely not no one.
As far as yuri goes it is very interesting. Without spoiling too much one of the topics brought it in an episode is the perception of same-sex relationships. Let me put it this way. If there is one thing EVERY SINGLE PERSON who picked this show up can take away from it is how well it presented and handled its yuri. Oh and the girls pictured are not the only lesbians on the show.
Overall A Centaur’s Life can either be seen as a mixed bag or for a select audience. Manga readers will say better chapters could have been adapted to improve the overall experience for the majority but even so every episode from the fun, deep, adorable to the mundane served a purpose. While not all of them were entertaining I often found something to enjoy or got something valuable from watching. I suppose this one of those “not for everyone” shows. It certainly is not mainstream sweetheart material though for people interested in a show that goes into great detail on how its setting works then it is certainly worth a look. I ultimately see this show at least becoming a cult hit. Also expect the unexpected. It is very unconventional to say the least. Sometimes viewers will like what they see, other times not so much. The show is random in every sense of the word…but not the kind of random anyone can enjoy. Keep everything I said in this review in mind before picking up this obvious “Manga Lure” show.