to be a hero box art



Every father is a hero. At least to one person. Every daddy is a tower of strength that chases away the nightmares and keeps all the bad guys at bay. Whether they actually deserve the title or not, at some point children look up to their fathers as the saviours of the world. But kids grow up and that adoration passes. They no longer see the sacrifices and compromises parents make. They become difficult to impress. Suddenly, you gotta work a lot harder at being a hero. But fathers do it anyway. Despite all their instincts to be selfish and all the times their efforts get overlooked. They have no choice but to be a hero. This is a show about toilet humour.

My title is kinda dumb. I really did try to come up with something better but I failed. I’m sorry. I needed to get that off my chest.

To Be A Hero ep1-3 (31)
now that we all know what we’re getting into…

Where do I begin with this one? How about some factual background. To be a Hero is made by Haoliners Animation League. It is the spiritual precursor to To Be A Heroine, a very odd show I fell head over heels for. That’s really the only reason I picked this up in the first place.

Visually the show is more creative than attractive. I have a feeling some people may have been turned off by the art and animation. It’s not exactly bad but it does have a certain flash animation quality to it. Of course, this also makes it fairly unusual looking so there’s a tradeoff. I liked it myself. It reminded me of a student project with both the pros and cons that implies.

I wasn’t crazy about the voice acting though. Again it isn’t bad. At all in fact. But it had a declarative tone that simply wasn’t my cup of tea. Then again, I’m not sure I would have been able to stomach some episodes with more emotional acting so basically, I’m never happy… Oh, this is off to n great start!

To Be a Hero ep4-7 (15)
I take it back, it looks great!

Let me put it this way, I don’t know this for a fact but considering that To Be A Hero was made by a comparatively smaller studio without many titles under its belt at the time, coupled with the fact that it’s a short program (did I mention it was a short? Episodes are roughly 11 mins of content), I’m just going to assume it didn’t have much of a budget. But the series does manage to make it work most of the time. Between self-deprecating 4th wall breaks and the insistently low brow humour, the anime on a budget feel of it just meshed with the rest. At least to me.

But let’s not play around the meat of it. To Be A Heroine blew my mind by defying all my expectations and just bringing so much more than I thought it would. After the first episode of To Be A Hero, I found it hard to believe it was made by the same people as To Be A Heroine. About 5 episodes in, I could see a family resemblance but thought it was leagues behind in maturity and refinement. By the end of it….it made me cry. Yes again! Man Haoling Li just knows how to get under my skin!

To Be A Hero is sort of a “coming of age” story. Or rather a “coming of responsibility” since it focuses on the evolution of a grown man and what fatherhood means to him. It’s actually quite touching and very open about both the rewards and sacrifices of parenthood. The thing is, this is buried under heaps of literal poo jokes, crass humour, difficult to swallow incest and sexual assault innuendo and just plain old childish jokes that we left behind in preschool. Nose picking and booger eating make an appearance. And honestly, you have to sit through at least 2/3rds if not closer to 3/4ths of the anime to get to the depth.

To Be A Hero ep8-12 (20)
that ending though!

Considering it is a short series and the humour, although questionable and often gross, is fairly harmless, you might, in fact, think this is worth it. I do not regret watching the series myself for one second. But unlike To Be A Heroine, which I recommend to everyone despite the fact that it’s very weird and will probably not be enjoyed by all, I really can’t do the same for To Be A Hero.

Once again the storyline is coocoo banana pants to the point that telling you about it is pretty much useless. At best it will sound like complete nonsense at worst it will spoil it.

This is what I can say about it. It focuses on very adult issues, specifically the sometimes challenging father/daughter relationship. To Be A Hero reminded me a lot of Soul Eater’s Spirit and Maka in the early episodes. And both parties actually get to show their point of view. That’s a subject you rarely see in anime.

To Be A Hero ep8-12 (26)
all the awwws

Moreover, To Be A Hero is very creative both in production and writing. It tries a lot of things. This also makes it extremely hit or miss, but it’s definitely not a lazy show. It is not coasting on tried and true!

If either of these elements is intriguing to you it may be worth a try but be warned, there’s a lot to get through before it starts to pay off.

Present Irina Here – I wrote this about a month ago when I had just seen to series. I can now say that I remember it warmly. The iffy aspects seem to have melted from my memories and now To be A Hero is mostly heartwarming (if still pretty immature). I really enjoyed it and I’m not sure that came through in this review.

Favourite character: Min-chan

What this anime taught me: If you don’t deal with your demons, they can end up destroying you.

Every empty bottle is filled with stories – reusing quote on purpose!

Suggested drink: Big Daddy

  • Every time someone says toilet – pinch your nose
  • Every time anyone says “pervert” – take a sip
  • Every time we see the throne room – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a 4th wall break – giggle
  • Every time Min beats up someone – cheer
  • Every time anyone says “hero” – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a flashback – take a sip
  • Every time there’s a double entendre – just me?
To Be a Hero ep4-7 (32)
I feel like my choice of screencaps did not properly convey the insanity of this show

The screencaps are pretty funny in fact, you can see them on imgur or Pinterest. A few are down here as well!



One thought

  1. This last screenshot reminded me just how nuts the show was. I’m not a fan of the humour either, but in memory it doesn’t matter much. I’m moderately fond of the show, but I’m also moderately wary of the show.

    My fave Haoliner shows are probably Fox Spirit Match Maker (I have a similar problem with the humour) and A Centaur’s Worries.

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