A Centaur’s Life (Centaur no Nayami) is going to be an uneven ride.
The series begins with two girls kissing:
And shifts half-way through with a government approved lecture on diversity:
Monster girl anime are no strangers to sociopolitical commentary. Monster Musume highlights the prevalence of discrimination in modern society. Interviews with Monster Girls talks about why giving opportunities and treating minorities with respect is important in developing a healthy society. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid talks about culture shock between immigrants and natives, which leads to a conflict of assimilation.
A Centaur’s Life is focused on the conflict of real equality versus superficial equality. For example, people are not allowed to talk about how centaurs are heavier than other monster-folk nor should the past oppression of centaurs be mentioned in history class. Any violation results in being sent to a correctional facility for violating discrimination laws.
A Centaur’s Life obviously digs at modern society’s fear of offending people. They even joke how a society with only a variety of skin colors as opposed to biological differences should, in theory, be free of discrimination by nature. This is not a topic many anime tackles, which is what makes the monster girl trend even more interesting from a story perspective.
But a majority of the episode is fairly standard slice-of-life activities. The entire first half is of Hime’s class putting together a play before we shift to jokes about how Hime fails as an athlete despite being a centaur.
Some people might find the tone shifts jarring, but I think it’s admirable that A Centaur’s Life is trying to tackle some contemporary issues.
The debut’s biggest issue was the animation, which is not a good sign since typically the first episode looks the best. Scenes lacked movement, characters look off-model, and facial proportions were inconsistent.
A Centaur’s Life is a Chinese co-production, which explains the animation quality. Haoliners Animation League and Encourage Films are the production studios, which led to slapdash execution. For example, we don’t get a sense of the cast’s personality, despite spending 23 minutes with them. The pacing was also an issue – the lack of smooth transitions between the silly and political moments makes sense all the more jarring.
Still, I couldn’t hate the premiere because I loved the few things that it did right. The political commentary hints that A Centaur’s Life is going to be darker than other monster girls anime. Plus, I can’t deny that Hime is insanely cute. If the animation quality doesn’t dip any further, then A Centaur’s Life could be one of this season’s best slice-of-life works.