(*Note: The review of the first episode is copy-pasted from when I reviewed it for The Spring 2022 Preview Guide—which also includes four additional reviews of this episode from other ANN reviewers. The episode 2 portion of the review is completely new .)
Holy crap. Hit that play button and you get both barrels, don’t you? So let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not going to say rape can’t be used as a plot device, but it should be used carefully—and be integral to the plot/characters when used. It should not be used for simple shock value or for shorthand to show us the hero is good because he kills rapists. Moving on, can I say how nice it is to see someone who’s having fun being whisked away to a fantasy world as the game character they’ve put so much into? There’s some real joy in seeing Arc play with his powers and get pumped up about seeing a real-life elf. Even better is that, even with his excitement, he’s still smart enough to realize the immediate issues he has to face. Arc is way overpowered, sure, but he can’t even afford a meal, and he has no idea how to clean and cook his own food.
So it makes sense that he would immediately think to do what he already has some knowledge of: become an adventurer. He doesn’t complain about the entry test, and the lack of “epic quests” doesn’t really matter to him as long as he can get enough for food and a place to stay. It makes him rather likeable as a character. He’s not a gun-ho fool nor is he an angsty complainer. He’s just a guy enjoying the cards fate has dealt him.
The bandit scene, despite its subject matter, works well on a character development level for Arc. When coming upon the bandits, Arc doesn’t intervene immediately. It isn’t because he doesn’t care about those being harmed but rather because he thinks he might lose. This is interesting because it shows that he doesn’t see the bandits as NPCs or monsters; he sees them as other players. Not only does this mean he views them as real people, but it also makes him associate what’s going on with PVP—and in PVP, numbers almost always matter more than gear. That said, he does eventually step in because he feels he has to—he sees the women as real people too, after all. The whole internal conflict speaks volumes about how he views the world he has become trapped in.
Other than that, I liked the little touches the episode thrown in here and there, from people noticing his armor and deciding he was a knight to him questioning why he didn’t feel bad about slaughtering the bandits despite it being the first time he had ever taken a life. The subversion of him peaking over at the women not because he’s a horny asshole but because he wants to make sure they aren’t looking while he excitedly loots the bodies was fantastic—and can I just say I love his oversized armor with its giant Pauldrons ? Him riding a horse was a great visual gag. All in all, despite the rough start, I really enjoyed this episode and can’t wait to see where things go from here as he inevitably forms a party and answers the call to adventure.
After getting slightly derailed by last week’s bandit attack, Arc is nonetheless determined to start out his new life right. And now that he has an adventurer’s license, that can mean only one thing: do the ultimate cliché newbie quest of picking herbs.
While it’s somewhat played for comedy, we can once again see how committed Arc is to embracing this chance to live out his fantasy. Sure, he is well-qualified to do any number of more exciting quests but classic RPGs start with a monotonous quest like this—and he wants to make sure he gets every bit of the full experience.
Of course, that’s not the only reason Arc chooses this quest. He is well aware that he is a stranger in a strange land. Standing out before he understands how the world works is dangerous. Even just wearing his armor—which he has to do to hide his skeletal visage—brings unwanted attention. Not only is staying below the radar the safest option, but it is also the only way he can continue to have the freedom to do what he wants. Of course, with his ignorance of how strong enemies are and how strong he himself is, it seems like its only a matter of time until everyone knows his name.
Like with the first episode, this episode also makes it clear that, while he sees himself living a video game life, he doesn’t see the people inhabiting the world as NPCs. His young client is just as real is he is—and is a better person in general in Arc’s own eyes. Likewise, it’s also reestablished that Arc has no ego. He treats every fight seriously—like his enemy is stronger than him even with all his gear and game knowledge.
Of course, we, the viewers, know that Arc is supremely overpowered but this episode does a good job at creating believable danger despite this. While Arc himself may not be in trouble at any point, the little girl accompanying him most certainly is. Poison breath, stone gaze, or even a simple attack from the monster would be enough to kill her. This serves to give Arc a handicap in the fight—forcing him to focus on dodging and defense rather than attacking. It’s only when he knows for sure his sword will land that he finally strikes.
In the end, while it’s not the most exciting episode, it continues to lay the groundwork for who Arc is as a person—how he views this new world and his place in it. Hopefully things will pick up a bit next week as we circle back to the elf he met back in the first episode.
– It’s a nice touch that the episode ends by giving us a metric to understand just how powerful Arc actually is. What he killed in one hit would normally take a couple of dozen trained soldiers to kill—and not without losses in the process.
– Ponta has a clear role in Arc’s party: being cute. He does this very well.
– I’m a simple man: Ponta running laps across Arc’s enormous pauldrons got a solid laugh out of me.
– That “Judgement” skill looked a lot like the Final Fantasy XIV paladin skill “Confiteor.” I wonder if the author plays too.
Skeleton Knight in Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.