Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.
In an underground world, the only way to achieve any kind of social mobility is to participate in the Trial of the Six Realms (which also happens to be an alternate translation of the series’ title). En is a street rat living in a literal trash heap, until he’s betrayed by a beloved mentor and discovers he’s actually a cyborg with lightning powers. There are many like him and they all fight in the Trials. He enters and it’s a bloodbath with uncertain outcomes and even more unpredictable characters.
If you’re searching for a seinen anime with the trappings of a shonen battle saga complete with over-the-top powers and people shouting their abilities before using them, give this a read.
Trigger warnings: Body horror, murder, child abuse, starvation, eating garbage (not pica)
I like En as a main character. He’s flawed, but his heart is in the right place. When things start working slightly in his favor, he gets even more interesting, in a way that almost reminds me of Denji from Chainsaw Man, minus the constant manipulation (though that remains to be seen).
His ultimate opponent is Miroku, who has spider powers. He’s the reigning champion and he fits my favorite character type: overpowered dumbass. There’s a playfulness between his champion persona and his more casual persona, and the dichotomy really works especially in the context of him being En’s final boss. Another contestant, Zeku, however, might actually prove to be the big bad, as he comes from a family of champions, including killing his own father.
He’s not even the worst person in this already morally questionable cast. That goes to Iko’s father.
In terms of content, Iko has a backstory worth noting because the way her father abuses her in the name of power is abhorrent and potentially triggering. The story addresses that this cruelty goes beyond that in the disparity already present in the world, and these finer details add layers to the world. Her short character arc did bring a tear to my eye and gives a glimpse of elusive kindness.
I’m hooked and each new arena is more interesting than the one that came before it. The fights and powers are inventive. I want to know more about the deva guardians and about the behind-the-scenes of the tournament as a whole.