When Mitsuki is isekai’d into a fantasy world, he believes this is his chance to live a changed life, perhaps through some unknown power flowing into him. Wait…this isn’t that type of story at all. Mitsuki is actually booted from the castle in which he appears, and is discovered by the priestess Menou, who kindly attends to him and explains the situation—that he is a “Lost One,” a human from another world, and that her church will take him in. Wait…it isn’t that kind of anime either. This time, I’ll tell you the tale—but warning, major first episode spoilers ahead, ones that are worth discussing, though, and which will be the focus of the short analysis below. Mitsuki discovers that he does actually have an incredible power, but before he’s able to use his “Pure Concept” for his own benefit, Menou stabs a knife into his skull. She, as it turns out, is an executioner, one who assassinates “Lost Ones” for the church in order to preserve the world. Her next target? The girl, Akari, summoned along with Mitsuki, and held captive in the King’s castle.
I wondered how J.C. Staff would adapt this shoujo ai light novel series, which at its best is mysterious and cold, like winter, and unrelenting in how dismal and violent it can be. And though the first episode features a lot of death, the studio fails to capture the tone properly, or improve on the weaknesses of the light novel (the characterization and humor). Instead, the studio has chosen to reveal a whole lot in the first episode (so much for mystery). In the original, Menou’s intentions and feelings are often hidden. In the anime’s first episode, however, the audience not only witnesses a little more contrition at killing Mitsuki than is inferred in the books, but also views some of her origin story and history with Flare immediately. It’s a strange decision—putting a damper on the secretive, mystical, fantastical elements and turning this into a more straight-forward story. This has the result, among other things, of making a really interesting magical system involving the use of a scripture and complex wording seem completely mundane. Even the violence feels a bit tempered; the tone should be grimdark, something a little difficult to watch. Not so, here, with what has to be the most casual and easy to watch knife to the skull ever.
The episode ends with an ED that features an image of Menou (see our banner above) that matches the cover of the light novel series’ initial volume. It also captures some of the essence of the light novels—beauty, mystery, sadness, fear. The episode itself does little of this, and is more concerned with, I suppose, bringing Menou to Akari together for the climax of the episode and creating a smooth first arc at the expense of all that makes the series stand out. I’ll be tuning in to see how the series is adapted (there is an opportunity to improve on how the relationships are written, as they are quite weak in the light novels), though after this first episode, I’m wary indeed.
The Executioner and Her Way of Life can be streamed on HiDIVE.