What is there to do when evil has been vanquished? Get a real job!
What They Say:
Raul Chaser never wanted to work in retail, but when the war against the Demons ended unexpectedly, the Hero Training Program he was in shut down. But although combat-trained Raul may feel out of place dealing with customers in a department store instead of dealing out death with hardened steel, his newest co-worker’s culture shock is even worse. While Fino Bloodstone is ready, eager, and willing to please, she’s also the daughter of the now-deceased Demon King!
Not only are her social skills a little challenged, but it’s going to be up to Raul and the staff to teach her the finer points of the human concept of a “pleasant shopping experience”… not to mention when it’s proper to wear what kind of clothes and whose bed you can sleep in. And they’ll have to do it quick, because there’s a sinister major retail chain moving into the area with plans for global domination.
I Couldn’t Become A Hero is presented in a Japanese 2.0 audio format. As this is a “no frills” release of the original series, there is no English dub track available.
The picture quality is as good as one could expect from a DVD release. It would be nice if the resolution was kicked up a notch to make the artifacting and visual “softness” of the picture, but neither really ruin the viewing experience. The ugliness of the unclean, jagged yellow subtitles is noticeable against the smooth animation. It’s not a deal breaker and unless you’re sitting super close to the television you won’t notice. For whatever reason, I can see such flaws all the time no matter the difference (I’m weird that way). To be honest, I was too involved with the show itself to get upset by it. If all you care about is watching anime and not overly concerned with DVD-style picture quality, then you’ll find this to be a perfectly satisfactory product.
There’s a degree of cheapness to the package that really can’t be ignored. When I opened up the case for the first time, the plastic base that holds the first two dics fell out of the plastic tabs design to keep it in place. I tried to putting it back in its place, but the piece of plastic kept slipping out which means I had to be extra careful handling the case. The cover artwork is simple and features the show’s protagonist being upstaged by Fino Bloodstone, who is drawn with super pronounced breasts and holding one of the supporting characters in her hand. I’m not sure why the artist felt the need to go the Great Gazoo route and draw the support character as a tiny creature with a huge head because that is not how she looks like in the show. Weird.
The menus for the DVD are not particularly special. Static images of the girls posing in different outfits accent the pink, sugary sweet background. The episode list on each disc menu is presented numerically to, presumably, save space because the full title for each episode is a variation on “I Couldn’t Become A Hero, So…”.
I Couldn’t Become A Hero is lacking when it comes to extras. The special features are the oft used clean opening and ending themes and previews for other Sentai products.
Raul Chaser is a man with a simple dream: to challenge the evil Demon Lord and bring an end to his reign of terror. The Hero Program helped Raul and his friends to develop the skills and training they needed to battle their tyrant and his demon horde. Unfortunately, just as they are about to storm the gates, another hero beats them to it. As the ruins of the demon empire lies smoldering, the government sees no further use for heroes and closes the Hero Program, putting a lot of people out of work. As society enjoys a post-war economic boom and a comfortable quality of life, ex-heroes struggle with feelings of ennui and impotence as they try to subsist in a world that doesn’t need them anymore. Hanging up his sword and armor, Raul gets a job (reluctantly!) with for Leon, a magic shop that sells household goods and appliances.
I am endlessly fascinated by the world of I Couldn’t Become A Hero because in a number of ways, it mirrors our own. With the demon lord defeated, Raul’s hometown is modern, clean, and shows little evidence that it was once subjugated. People wear normal designer clothing and enjoy the same things you and I do to pass the time. The biggest difference, apart from monsters pulling fancy looking buggies and carriages from point A to point B, is that magic is used as a utility instead of electricity. Like the Hero Program, the value of magic has been reduced to powering household appliances like toasters, dishwashers, hair dryers, and air conditioners. As an employee of Leon, it’s Raul’s job to employ proper customer service techniques to sell these goods to consumers. It may not be the same as raiding castles and saving damsels in distress, but it’s honest work. After hours, Raul has regular meet-ups with former adventurers who have opted to enjoy an unemployed lifestyle as they wait for the day when the people need heroes again. His interactions with Airi Ortinet, an impertinent woman and Raul’s rival in school, are different. These two characters have an interesting relationship built on mutual respect. When she seems Raul sweeping in front of the store, the women lambasts him for giving up on his dream. Of course, it’s hard to listen to her preach such sanctimony when she finds work as a bunny girl for a rival store.
Raul’s humdrum life gets a shot in the arm with the arrival of Fino Bloodstone, a perky girl looking for work. Their initial meeting is mired in confusion as Raul mistakenly believes Fino to be a boy until an incident with a humidifier reveals her wobbly womanly features. Fino is no normal girl, she’s the daughter of the defeated Demon Lord! Raul is put in charge of her training, a task far easier said than done. Though incredibly enthusiastic about her work, Fino lacks proper social skills. She takes after her father a great deal and commands a manner of speech that is full of boastings and not so subtle threats. Over the course of the series, Fino learns the ins and outs of customer service and treating common people with the utmost respect – but not without a few bumps along the way.
Business at Leon is good but not great. In fact, every time the scene switches to the store, there barely any customers around to help. This affords the cast to experience all kinds of different adventures and gives Fino the chance to see the sights, sounds, and smells of the human world. Save for Visor Crossroad, the store’s assistant manager, Raul is surrounded by a team of lovely coworkers. Seara August is the cheery, bright as a light bulb store manager who, despite her repeated warnings of no hanky panky on the job, is constantly pairing Raul and Fino together for assignments and projects. Nova Luminous is a clumsy store clerk who is repeatedly subjected to the amorous butt groping by an elderly shopper who rides around on a replica of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek (Trekkies will no doubt wonder why the ship, which is clearly based on the NCC-1701 design, has the NCC-1701-D designation). The soft spoken and stoic Lore Beriferal works in the stockroom and handles repairs, delivers, and various work orders. The girls of the Lawson supermarket next door round out the show cast with the haughty and Lamdimia de Accimemor (don’t shorten her name) and the sweet Elsa Crucial, Lawson’s manager and lover of mail order catalogs. Both stores enjoy a friendly and professional relationship, with one store helping the other whenever the story calls for it.
With so many women about, it’s only natural to wonder who Raul will fall in love with. I Couldn’t Become A Hero isn’t a harem rom com, though it certainly has the hooks. There are women who show an interest in Raul, but no one is really interested in pulling the trigger. There’s an episode where Raul is conflicted over Nova’s suggestion that he may touch her butt anytime and for the entire twenty two minutes, he hems and haws about it. One the one hand, it’s sexual harassment in the eyes of Visor and Seara. On the other, Nova seems open and flirtatious enough to accommodate a friendly grope. Elsa seems to carry a small torch for Raul but their relationship doesn’t go beyond friendship.
Nova’s frequent groping at the hands of the elderly is just one of many, many bits of fanservice. The series is unabashed about putting its female characters in sexually suggestive scenarios. The Leon uniform is extremely flattering for women with larger breast sizes and the skirts are just short enough to offer a glimpse of frilly and flashy underwear. An impromptu outdoor summer sale lends itself to a swimsuit photoshoot in an attempt to drum up business. A malfunctioning magic air conditioner sprouts arms and attacks the girls in ways only a tentacle monster knows how. When houses become infected with slimey “magic eater” monsters, Lore uses Fino as bait, forcing them to envelope her body until they explode after absorbing too much magic and leave a messy, white fluid behind. Breasts often defy gravity, jiggling ferociously as the girls walk, talk, gesture, dance, prance, undress, breathe, and wake up. Fino and Airi are put into positions where their tops are removed, exposing their bare breasts to the world. Fino is unmoved by this while Airi burns bright red in embarrassment. It’s worth pointing out my surprise with the show’s nudity. I originally watched the series on Crunchyroll and didn’t think about the strategically placed objects that kept the ladies mostly covered up. To see those removed for the Sentai released was, I won’t lie, a nice surprise. If you enjoy such flashes of nudity and the wacky randomness of over the top boob physics, there won’t be much to complain about. Others may very well find it distracting. Even though I tend to enjoy fanservice, I tend to see it as a crutch to be used when a story isn’t that good. Don’t like the plot, look at these boobs instead! In the case of I Couldn’t Become A Hero, it was icing on the cake.
Despite its roots being firmly planted in the fantasy genre, I Couldn’t Be A Hero is really down to earth. As someone who works in customer service, this was a series I could relate to, only I wish I could get away with talking to people just like Fino, treating them as if they were a low level hero entering the lair of an evil king. Fino’s training is put to the ultimate test when Amada, a rival mega-store not unlike Wal-Mart, opens nearby and initiates a consumer war with Leon. No matter how much pressure Amada puts on them, Raul and his team persevere with the belief that people come before sales. This plot arc ended sooner than I would have liked as it paves the way for the true conflict, which I thought got a little too “real.” It makes sense and it brings the story full circle but it sucks away the fun, energy, and spirit of the series.
I Couldn’t Become A Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided To Get A Job was a great deal of fun to watch. Everything about it, from the characters to its setting, was enjoyable and surprisingly relatable to me. No matter how unreal the setting is, customer service is a universal idea. I was very sad to see it end because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to this world. I feel there are more stories to be told. After all, people have written books describing the trials and tribulations with working with the public and I’ve love to see how Raul and Fino find ways to deal with them.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean opening and closing themes
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 18th, 2014
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI, Panasonic 52″ LCD television