Light Novel Adaptation by Studio Gokumi
Streaming on Crunchyroll
The next in a long line of world-famous pick-up artists is reluctant and unsuccessful until he realises that his shtick totally works on one particularly vulnerable six-year-old. He sleeps with her the night they meet.
colons’ verdict: eww eww eww eww
Lance N’ Masques initially presents itself as exactly the same thing as Absolute Duo: a puddle-deep salad of power fantasy and lazy tropes, with a healthy dressing of fanservice. Before the opening sequence, we are introduced to a girl called Makio (who has a Dark Past and an Abusive Family and is hanging out alone in a park) and Shit Protag (who has a Dark Past and an Abusive Family and is hanging out alone in a park) on a beautiful sakura-filled evening, before Protag saves Makio from falling off a cliff using his amazing secret powers of lancing and masquery.
After the opening, we get a flashback to Protag’s knighthood ceremony on the How To Train Your Dragon-esque island his family rules over, and we are told that he is but one of over ten thousand of these Knights of the World. They are a band of heroes roaming the planet saving people in need. It also seems Protag is the son of the Chosen One, and isn’t super psyched that his dad has made a career out of never seeing him.
Back in civilisation, Protag awakes from his daydream to a scream. A schoolgirl is being harassed by a roving trio of street punks. One of them has a hold of her wrist and is commenting on her uniform and ‘suggesting’ that they might go somewhere more secluded and ‘have some fun’. Of course, as the hero, Protag takes but a moment to don his ludicrous cosplay, grab his Buster Sword-calibre lance, and bravely scare the punks away. The victim of the harassment appears relieved, but Protag then walks up to her and delivers an introduction that somehow manages to be more creepy than what she was subjected to before; all one knee and worship and apology and swearing to protect for an eternity and literally kissing her hand. She takes the only reasonable course of action at this point: she calls Protag a pervert, and leaves.
Protag is immensely confused that acting like the world’s creepiest dude could somehow lead to him being accused of being the world’s creepiest dude. He laments that the age of chivalry is dead and slinks off to his mind’s own internal r/redpill/ to complain about how White Knights are no longer appreciated, and how he is punished for performing the role society pushed on him.
Later, after a brief interlude involving an irrelevant horse, we see Protag attempt his one-knee hand-kissing manoeuvre on the beautiful Makio, who he saved from certain death during the pre-opening sequence. She’s very impressed at this, and is naturally upset when he then immediately withdraws (take note, kids; this is called ‘negging’). She follows, and finds Protag hiding behind a rock, no longer cosplaying. She’s confused that ‘Knight Lancer’ is gone, but will settle for anyone at this point, and invites this stranger home for dinner.
Makio’s home is large and lifeless. She’s clearly from a rich family, but her mother is dead and her father is absent. In their place are a swarm of maids who tend to her every material need but are not allowed to tend to her emotional needs at all, for reasons I am sure will be established in later episodes. She is painfully lonely, and is absolutely thrilled to have found someone to invite home. She has him stay the night in the guest room and, when he wakes up, she is lying in the bed next to him. They eat a meal together, she shows him some cool Kamen Rider fan art that she drew, and he fights off some people who show up and attempt to kidnap her. It’s the perfect relationship; Protag gets to fulfill his knightly roll of protecting a beautiful maiden, and Makio gets a surrogate parent to attach to.
To summarise, Protag is established as someone who has been attempting just about the creepiest pick-up artistry you could imagine against every vulnerable woman or girl he encounters, and is massively embittered that it does not work. Eventually, he finds someone vulnerable enough to basically imprint on him immediately, and he sleeps with her the evening they meet.
I feel it is worth noting here that Makio is literally six years old. I’m still not sure if this is supposed to be read as a way to make this whole thing seem more innocent or way, way more creepy. On the one hand, Protag’s motives are presented as innocent; he laments how his upbringing made his pick-up artist instincts reflexive, and doesn’t appear to consciously understand that his actions are as creepy as they are. Also, Makio is presented by the show as the vulnerable child she is, and her wanting to sleep in the same bed as Protag is understandable given her overpowering loneliness. On the other hand, though, Protag’s one-knee gambit is unquestionably modelled after courtship, and the show makes a number of gags revolving around Makio making accidental sexual advances. Also, this is an anime light novel adaptation, and a power fantasy involving sexual power over children is not exactly unheard of in this medium.
I was expecting a super tropey light novel adaptation. I got one, for sure, but there are other things here too. There’s a pretty strong undercurrent of MRA propaganda, for one, and it’s not clear to me how earnest or intentional it is. There’s also the almost comically tragic figure of Makio, who you can extrapolate from the Madoka-esque imagery in the opening is going to be subjected to a certain amount of extremely bad shit by the time this series is done. I must admit, with more than a little remorse, that I am morbidly but sincerely curious about where this series is going to go from here. Probably not enough to actually watch it, though.
Zigg’s verdict: Missing The Point
This entire exercise is a deeply creepy power fantasy that so blatantly surrogates its audience into the position of its protagonist that he might as well be wearing a fedora instead of a mask. There’s nothing of redeeming value here – the jokes fall flat, the animation is barebones at best, the characters are all either blank stereotypes or intensely dislikable, and the premise (which could be used as the basis for a cool modern-day fantasy setup) is so thin as to be non-existent. There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen a thousand times before and I spent the entire episode swinging between deep boredom and total revulsion, which is not a great look for a cartoon. Avoid.
Euri’s verdict: Gross N’ Boring
If nothing else, this might be the worst introduction to a new season of anime I’ve ever seen. The story is largely regurgitated anime tropes, repackaged and redelivered with a slightly different coloured bow on top, and what little this show does to differ itself from others falls into the “hasn’t been done for a very good reason” category. My thoughts on this show are summed up pretty well by colons, but if you want to see a feel-good show about unplanned surrogate parenting, watch Barakamon instead.