First Impression – Lance N’ Masques


Save the LOLi….save the world?

“XXI century – knights still exist in the present world. Most orders of chivalry born in medieval Europe have disappeared, victims of modernization or conflicts between countries. Only one is still active nowadays: Knights of the World.” – from the OP/eyecatch

Gorgeous OP work (click pics for larger image)

…so with the Freeze-Frame-Needed-to-Read mission statement given in the OP out of the way, let’s get down to the business at hand. At first blush Lance N’ Masques is a breezy, bright, somewhat serious moe program. I don’t think it’s here to stop the world in it’s tracks; merely being content, as are all moe shows, to allow you the pause long enough to soak up the scenery and enjoy the air. Or…it could be something else…

More than Meets the Eye

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That’s quiet the climb…

So while we are here, what can we see in terms of plot? We start with our female lead, Makio-chan (Ari Ozawa) in the course of her carefree and playful day. She’s got spirit and moxy to spare, but like most children, has the tendency to go a little further afield then is safe. I like how the first scene set the tone of her character right of the bat. This is a character, as both this cold open and the OP implies, that is going to make a literal and metaphoric climb. Her clothing in the show, and in the opening also suggest a dichotomy of sorts; Tomboy to Girlygirl. As a six year old, I don’t expect her climb to get to terribly precarious; unless the show is using it’s moe branding as a stealth-tactic to catch us unaware, if so…Ho’boy…But she is soon met by the series’ protagonist proper, saving her and the day from that precarious climb.

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What’s the word I’m looking for? Compensomething or other….

Yotaro Hanabusa (Daiki Yamashita) is a pretty much a typical anime male adventure lead. He’s young, untried, untested, and eager to prove his mettle and worth. As a freshly-minted member of the Knights of the World he is charged with lessening the suffering of others. Along with this duty, he is given a masque to hide his identity, and an absurdly large lance to fight the good fight. I guess nothing says Knight and Chivalry quite like a lance? Well, a horse would complete the equation, and this show happens to have a horse…but… Anyway, aside from that he seems to be preoccupied by an absent dad trope, and an almost blissful ignorance of what to do next. We can only add that his first – impromptu-  mission doesn’t go off exactly as planned. He’s branded a “hentai” instead of a “hero”  Good thing he meets the female lead…

Holding out for a Hero? Who needs who more?

So after the rescue of the girl, the boy himself is rescued. We aren’t told exactly what the KotW are capable of, but it seems that Yotara doesn’t have much in the way of money or other resources. He’s starving on his feet; queue a minor version of the Lancer is Suffering meme. Makio is able to pick up on this on some level, or perhaps her hero worship kicks in and she is eager to pay back the earnest young for his good deed. So with that, Yotara is drawn into the larger world of the plot.

Makio lives a privileged, but lonely, life. In another fairly typical drama trope, she’s the scion of a rich and influential family. But for reasons yet to be known, she is left mostly by herself save for some punch-clock house maids. One maid in particular, Yuhua (Mao Ichimichi) seems to be made of hidden depths to go along with her by now industry standard Instant Accusation of Hentai Based on Spurious but Still Somewhat Suspicious Circumstances Trope. Geez, writers, stop abusing the shorthand. Besides, Makio needs a friend. I will address one thing, and that is: how would this show change if instead of being rich, Makio came from a poor background? Just something to chew on…

Waiter Writer, my characterization is over-done….

But with that aside, Yuhua seems to also be this episodes information gate-keeper on Makio’s lonely life. This little girl has to be this way, for what looks to be uncomfortable reasons. In lieu of any real information we are given an abrupt kidnapping attempt on the little girl. And that’s the start of Yuhua’s hidden depths, the kidnappers know her, and know a whole lot more than we do, of course. There’s Something about Makio, and it could be her families’ wealth that is targeted,or it could be something more. Oh, goodness, is the moe going to be masque in it’s own right? All along they’ve been put the LOLi in interesting places in the frame, and how she still commands authority is of interest to the emerging plot. But that aside, kidnapping also means hero time, as Yotara is quite able to take out the trash with little resistance. Still, he has to keep that Masque’d Hero thing going…

Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery?

A few extra shots

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The LOLi is clearly superior in this situation….

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But she still has needs…

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…taking out the trash…

lanmas 1-Alice n' Shirohime

…can’t forget the comic relief…

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So, yeah, I short-shifted the comic relief characters. If the show gave me any more to go on, other then the girl, Alice, being the childhood friend of Yotara, other than they have a fairly taciturn maid, and other than that Shirohime, the horse, is snarkily delicious, then I would say more. I guess they got the laughs? More on them later? Those three aside, I do love the main relationship bewteen Makio and Yotaro. It’s a sweet little bond she’s formed, and her desire to give back as much as she gets is endearing.

As I said in the Fall 2015 catalog, this is Kyohei Ishiguro’s second major direction work, and he has a fair hand at delivering likable and tragic characters if Shigatsu wa no Kimi Uso is any indication. For this show, I’m looking more at the writer, Hideaki Koyasu, who has some scripts with major humor chops, Gj-Bu just to name a favorite. This looks to be one of a handful of his dramatic works, so I hope he can stretch those muscles well. I like his characters so far and it looks to have some hidden depths in it’s background. I’m sensing a reversal of the damsel in distress trope. I only wish the Knights of the World were fleshed out a tiny bit more the first episode, along with Makio’s family, but you can’t let to much out of the gate all at once.

If there is a tiny bit of a let down, it’s the animation package that Studio Gokumi brings to the screen. They’ve made in the past shows that just POP. This ones color scheme looks a bit to muted, and the background a bit to “backlot” and generic to give a proper feel the world’s weight. The character design by Kenji Oota isn’t helping matters much as many of the girls have to much of the sameface/samedesign aesthetic going on. The VAs do a good job helping with differentiating the characters, however. If there is one good approach I like the design on Makio’s shirt, and I love her cute red scarf of justice.

The music is really a treat. I love the modern Renfesty style and Yotaro’s Heroic Flamenco fits his masque’d persona quite well. The OP, Light for Knight, sung by Alice’s VA Suzuko Mimori, brings a sense of love and adventure with it and the animation is what I really wished the rest of the show could achieve. It’s both warm and mysterious and does the job all good OP should. The ED, Little Lion Heart, sung by Ayana Taketatsu, who will provide the voice for upcoming character, Yufeng He (pictured in the Next Time pic below), also does the correct job of all good ED, encapsulating the show and inviting you back.

So in wrapping up, I don’t think this is going to be everyone’s cup of tea; I’m not really all that worried about that. I’m a fan of the style and it’s not bad at all by my standards. But- if I’m right about the Moe Stealth Ship dropping a drama payload later on, it might gain some attention later on. If I’m wrong, then it still looks to be a pretty good entry, and well worth the time it takes. It mixes in some fairly standard parts, but the polish is noteworthy. I’ll give it a rough 7/10 with points off for the some of the overall look; the creators have the past chops to make this show look better. The story is fine and dandy for what it wants to say. It’s not in my top three shows to cover this season, but if things start to hot up, I’ll drop a line in here or there.

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If nothing else, I have to say something about dat horse!


All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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39 Responses to “First Impression – Lance N’ Masques”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    What’s the word I’m looking for? Compensomething or other….

    “My Lance shall pierce the skies!” etc2

    • skylion says:

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        This was the LanceR we weren’t expecting. I was thinking more of another reference but this will do.

        Also, I expect the titular character to be suffering in the show since being a Lancer is suffering… 😛

  2. zztop says:

    The babyface is strong in this show.

    • skylion says:

      Oh my goodness yes. This is the character designers first time out on both the Chief Animation Direction and Character Design roles. So he went for the most kawaii approach possible? Not bad, but they need to stand apart a bit more. Plus, the female lead is six, so a babyface is pretty normal, really.

  3. akagami says:

    I was horribly let down by this. The lance is more prop than anything, as Yotara uses his feet more than the titular lance. That is when he’s not swinging it like a bat.

    I think it was around the mark when he deployed his lance first before catching the falling kid that I knew I was in for disappointment… oh wait, that happened in the first 2 minutes.

    The only part I found interesting was Alice and Shirohime. I’m not sure if those two will be enough of a draw for me to continue watching though…

    • skylion says:

      A kid that size carrying around a lance that size was my first clue not to take anything to seriously afterward. They asked me for benefit of the doubt, and I gave it. So he can toss that thing to space and have it fall down back to Earth and obliterate a hard target. The lance and the kid are no more/less realistic than the 3D Gear from AoT, and I bought them.

      • akagami says:

        Ahh, never watched Attack on Titans. Just didn’t interest me, and those giants looks very disturbing. Those anatomy mannequins in science class always made me uncomfortable.

      • akagami says:

        My problem isn’t the lance, but the fact that he had to pull it out first before catching the girl. Why? No one was watching, and the lance wasn’t of any use in catching the girl…

        Those character designs really remind me of Clannad/Air (the story salvaged those deformed faces). Actually, I was initially reminded of Yotsuba Sugimoto from “One Leaf” in TWGOK, but not sure if anyone remembers Keima’s 2D love.

  4. HannoX says:

    There was absolutely nothing about this that caught my interest. I’m not dropping it yet, but if I feel I’m trying to watch too many shows this fall this will be one of the first to go unless the next episode or two really pick up.

    • BlackBriar says:

      On this, we agree. Interest was non-existent. This was a letdown on basically every level and couldn’t even pass for mild entertainment. Quickly a first place for the drop box and a poor start to the Fall season.

    • skylion says:

      I’ll take the opportunity to say that I pretty much agree with all the criticism the show is getting. It wasn’t a visual splash, and pretty much all the points felt muddled. Not what I expected from a Gokumi show at all.

      But, on watching it a second/third time to review my notes, check against my initial reactions, and take screen-shots, I did get that “something bubbling under the surface” vibe. The art was not all that great, but the way the composed certain shots, how the characters reacted against each other, and Yotara’s dual nature along with Makio’s implied dual nature grabbed me. But just a bit. I’ll meter my expectations going forward. It wasn’t the awesomesauce a first episode should be, but I don’t think the overall concept is as bad as people are seeing.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    So much meh it’s baffling. This opening failed to impress in any way. Dull and felt generic as though I’ve seen similar pieces from other lesser series and they got stitched together here. Not to mention I was so bored I was paying close attention to the timer to see the duration finally end. Not a good sign at all.

    Yotara is an uninteresting pacifist who’d be easily forgettable if he wasn’t the male lead with a “weapon” that seems more show than substance and Makio is far too young for me to see her being used as anything beyond moeblob material which is hardly appealing. Shirohime is one sassy transformable horse and the maid tracking Yotara seems to be an outlet for some amusing sadistic reprimanding so I guess those can count as a point for each. However, the needlessly talkative brat between them is already annoying.

    If there’s the slightest thing to talk about, it would be that colossal thug emerging behind the smaller two as though he was compressed in space beforehand. That raised an eyebrow. Beyond that, this was a waste in my opinion. I’ll put the 3 episode rule into effect but I have the strongest suspicion my patience won’t last that long.

    • skylion says:

      If the first 23 minutes was a waste, then why bother wasting two x 23 minutes again on the next two episodes? That three episode rule is insipid and thoughtless. If you don’t enjoy something out of the gate, cut the loses and move on…

      • akagami says:

        You know what they say, you have to taste something three times to decide if you like it or not.

        • skylion says:

          Most people decide early on if the first episode is a poisoned well; so a second or third dip back into probably won’t improve the quality of the water.

          • akagami says:

            Hey, if it worked for beer, it must work for other things in life ^_^

        • BlackBriar says:

          That way, when/if I ultimately drop the series after the trial, it can’t be said that I didn’t give it a chance. And this wasn’t even on my list to begin with. I only checked it out on a whim because this was the first series the new season churned out.

          The last time I recall being this annoyed and dissatisfied with a first episode was the opening for Seiken Tsukai no World Break. I hated that with a passion.

        • Di Gi Kazune says:

          Taste 3 times, die 3 times faster.

          • BlackBriar says:

            Then cheat death by avoiding the third time.

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              Or by never attempting suicide? I salute the guinea pigs that bravely sample shows so that the rest of us may live! May their sacrifices never be forgotten!

  6. Highway says:

    I didn’t think this was too bad of a concept. The main thing that’s concerning is that they were seemingly more intent on picking up new balls and throwing them up in the air than continuing to juggle the ones they’d already thrown. We’ll see if they start paying more attention to them.

    I’m a little concerned with Makio being so young, my initial feeling is that it might be better if she’s something like 8 to 10.

    • skylion says:

      Age can be an odd thing to portray in entertainment. I’ve had words with an editor over the age of a character. They felt that, “six is more vulnerable than 8”. To which my response was “so, eight is still vulnerable? Yes, then let’s go with 8”.

      For an anime character six is First Year elementary, so we are on the cusp of her “missing something important”, rather than it being two years into missing something…I guess.

      Well, as far as juggling goes, they made the catch with seemingly random characters meeting up with the mains by the end. So that’s something..

  7. Foshizzel says:

    Much like BB feels I kinda agree I was sitting there waiting for it to end because wow it was all over the place and all the characters seem p lame and boring! I also thought this was a fantasy setting not modern which feels odd especially with a character wielding a lance…yeah ill have to give this one two more episodes and decide what to do xD

    • skylion says:

      Plenty of characters use older weapons in a modern setting, why should this show be different? K does it, Index does it.

      I guess that if the show has bad art, the rest just has to be bad?

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        Gil uses ancient weapons in a modern setting, though you might argue that he has the prototype of modern weapons. Like a Gatling Gun, Spaceships and Nuclear Weapons.

      • Foshizzel says:

        @SKy Well there are other characters with similar weapons in K and Index so it fits in, but with Lance hes the only one we’ve seen with any kind of oldschool weapon and I assume there will be others later? If not then it just seems mr MC is only going to be a tuxedo mask figure who just shows up and saves the day.

        Well the inner artist in me can tell when somethings bad visually and personally I like my anime with some cool artwork and so far K, Noragami and Heavy Object have the best at the moment even though I know Owarimonogatari will blow any other series this season out of the water or will it? I guess it’s way too early to tell…

        Yes I know bad artwork doesn’t always mean welp the series is trash because I watch One Piece and Dragon Ball Super which are both done by Toei and their artwork if you have seen any screenshots is god awful and I still enjoy their stories, but yeah we’ve had this chat before that everyone has their own opinion on which series has “good” art vs “bad”

        @Digi LOL you make it seem like Fate is god to all other anime, but I’m sure there are countless series that inspired midevil dudes with weapons in modern settings that were done yeaaarssss before any Fate anime.

        • skylion says:

          I’m assuming that the rest of the Knights of the World have similar weaponry. But since they gave us like a brief mention of that organization, who knows if we will see them?

        • Di Gi Kazune says:

          Digi can only instantly recall it at the moment without wasting too many braincells.

          I can invoke Warhammer 40k instead. 🙂

  8. BlackBriar says:

    Anime News: Kizumonogatari Confirmed as 3 Films Starting on January 8

  9. […] and AXsiZ did quite well in all departments. This is miles better than the work for Gokumi’s last series, not that that is a high bar to jump over. The animation wasn’t a huge deal, but at the same […]

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