Isekai anime, now a fairly trite, overdone genre, is no stranger to deus ex machina protagonists, who are essentially walking plot devices. This can be seen in series' such as Sword Art Online, No Game No Life and even the comedic, That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime.
The common trait of having ridiculously overpowered main characters also extends to more mainstream shonen series like Black Clover, Naruto and, of course, Dragon Ball. Recently, the trope has been very successfully skewered with the overpowered superhero, Saitama, in One-Punch Man. Now, the idea of a comically overpowered main character is being made fun of again in new anime series, The Hero Is Overpowered But Overly Cautious (or simply, Cautious Hero).
Though it wears (and lampoons) the trappings generally seen in isekai, this anime adaptation of a light novel series is essentially to that genre what One-Punch Man is to shonen/superhero fiction.
WHAT IS CAUTIOUS HERO ABOUT?
Like many of the isekai anime which it pokes fun at, Cautious Hero has a story very much inspired by fantasy and RPG story staples. The goddess Ristarte (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sophitia from Namco's Soul Calibur series) is charged with defeating the evil Demon Lord that threatens her world of Gaelbarde, but she needs the aid of a vigilante hero to accomplish the task. Since Gaeabrande is considered an S-Class (extremely dangerous) world, she needs a hero with the might to match the opponents that he'll surely face.
The hero that she chooses to team up with is Seiya Ryuuguuin, whose stats far exceed any of the other options. Thinking that she's scored a slam dunk, Ristarte soon learns the fine print drawback of Seiya: for all of his power, he's extremely cautious in using it. Overthinking and second-guessing even the slightest action, her hero may prove to be more trouble for Ristarte than even the Demon Lord.
SEIYA VS. SAITAMA
The show's premise definitely bears a tonal resemblance to the irreverent heroism of One-Punch Man; as does its star hero. Cautious Hero's Seiya is portrayed as almost methodical in how expressionless he is sometimes, and his lack of emotion and typically blank appearance are very similar to Saitama in One-Punch Man. That series, of course, stars a superhero whose powers are so immense, he's become utterly bored with the world. Tasks both everyday and seemingly incredible no longer excite him, leading to his occasional ambivalence in actually doing anything narratively to advance the story.
Seiya also refrains from doing anything of actual help for Ristarte, though this stems less from boredom with his powers and instead his lack of assurance in them. For instance, despite already possessing incredible stats and power, he refuses to travel through even the safer areas of the world of Gaelbarde until he's certain that he's become strong enough to handle them.
Saitama's overpowered nature deals with the idea of overpowered comic book superheroes such as Superman or The Hulk, as well as shonen heroes like Goku. Seiya's over-leveled heroic hijinks instead parody grinding in RPG video games, and the subsequent lack of difficulty when facing enemies. The result is two shows with heroes who logically shouldn't face any real threat from those in their way, and the hilarious ways in which they still handicap themselves.
Though they have entirely different flaws, both heroes' mentalities keep them from actually being useful most of the time. When either of them do act, however, the power and skill on display are much more than merely impressive.
WHY CAUTIOUS HERO IS WORTH WATCHING
Anyone who likes how much One-Punch Man takes the mickey out of superhero and shonen comics will love the similar treatment of isekai in Cautious Hero -- especially those who've grown tired of the genre.
Other tropes of isekai that the series plays with are the lusty and perverted main male characters, who drool over their scantily clad female counterparts. Here, this idea is gender-reversed as Ristarte is the one who daydreams of Seiya in various states of undress. The fact that Seiya drags his feet before doing anything, hoping to ensure his actions' foolproof nature, is also a stark contrast to the numerous hot-blooded, caution-to-the-wind anime heroes. It does also features a more standard characteristic of isekai: harem, with a cast filled with gorgeous women around Seiya.
Cautious Hero is certainly refreshing in its comedic deconstruction of such a popular, though sorely played-out, genre.
Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered But Overly Cautious is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime. SimulDubs are available through FunimationNow.