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After a quick introduction to the show from the presenter, the panel immediately kicked off with the premiere of the first two episodes. Chained Soldier takes place in a world where humanity is threatened by another dimension known as Mato and the monsters known as Shuuki living there. The only force capable of fighting against them is the Demon Defense Force, composed entirely of women who all wield supernatural powers called Peaches. One day, a young man named Yuuki Wakura accidentally slips into Mato. When he finds himself under attack, he is saved by one of the Demon Force Commanders, Kyouka Uzen. To save the both of them from the Shuuki, Kyouka uses her power to transform Yuuki into a monster himself and make him into her slave with the condition that he will be rewarded for his efforts. Now, he is tasked with looking after the members of the Demon Defense Forces and hopes that he’ll be able to fight alongside them one day to avenge his sister, whom the Shuuki presumably killed.
Between the general plot description I just gave and the fact that this is from the same author as the spectacularly edgy Akame ga KILL!, you’d be forgiven for assuming this would aim for a similar level of constant darkness and high-octane violence, but you’d be mistaken. No, in execution, this is just Love Hina with a few splashes of battle shonen painted over it. Yuuki’s new job looking after Demon Defense Force members is just him functioning as their dorm manager, and the DDF members feature most of your standard harem anime archetypes with some powers thrown into the mix. You’ve got a green-haired tsundere named Himari who can turn her arms into various weapons, a perky blond girl named Shushu who can change size and make herself into a giantess, and a younger pink-haired girl named Mei who sees herself as Yuuki’s senior. Even Yuuki’s “enslavement” is just a vehicle for fanservice as his “rewards” from Kyouka include things like her kissing or glomping him, all of which she is physically compelled to do because it just so happens that’s the one convenient drawback of her power.
While it might sound like I’m ragging on this one, it’s hard to get mad at something this shameless. Heck, the entire second episode is just an excuse to have Shushu walking around as a giant as she spends most of it trying to blackmail Yuuki into becoming her plaything, and there’s even a point where Yuuki quite literally licks Kyouka’s boots to activate his transformation. This show knows what it is if nothing else, and while it’s not exactly my particular brand these days, I can at least say I was a lot more entertained than I was expecting to be when I went in assuming it was going to be a more standard bloody action show. On that note, it is probably worth mentioning that while the show looks pretty serviceable, some of the 3DCG can be clunky in places, especially when it comes to the monsters, who look pretty awkward in motion. If that doesn’t sound like something that would bother you too much, though, this seems like it’ll be a pretty okay action variant of the Love Hina formula, and if that sounds like something you’d be into, this will probably do you fine.
Chained Soldier will premiere in January 2024. HIDIVE will stream the series in North America.