©Kazutomo Ichitomo, KADOKAWA/HANDYMAN SAITOU IN ANOTHER WORLD PARTNERS This episode of Handyman Saitō in Another World definitely feels like “The Dawn of a New Era”. That said, it feels like this is where the real show begins after the character-building, world-building punch lines that were spun in over and over again in the first three episodes. Things are still based entirely on sketches — it’s not like the show fundamentally pulled the rug out from under the audience in terms of presentation. But now it’s more like one of those daily newspaper comic strips running a storyline through the daily entry. There’s a connecting arc that brings it all together in the expanded maze that Saitō discovered at the end of last week’s episode, with most of the action and antics centered in that setting.
The big, expansive gimmick now is that all of these unique sketch characters can interact with Saitō and the others, which in turn provides new vectors for comedy. On a basic level, that means our main group can observe these other people and say what most of the sketches have already told us about them: they’re very weird. But the script also uses this to advance the main story (illustrated by a handy pop-up graphic), which crew are the last to work their way to the end of this maze. For example, we see the disembodied demon lord and his sidekick, the king’s minister, being knocked out by the shadow-walking ninja Kisirugi, who then pursues Saitō and the others at the end of the episode, only to be stopped at the end of the minute by Gibungle, this one dwarven mage armor with the pup in the helmet. Gibungle then asserts that Morlock is in fact his long-lost master, who of course has completely forgotten about him. It’s a bit like The Avengers if Iron Man and all the other established films were goofy 4-coma films with the occasional joke.
Keeping this sketchy structure and offbeat, often offbeat humor helps Handyman Saitō still feel like handyman Saitō despite this slight increase in narrative claim. So there’s still time for one-off gags like the Power Wizard not participating in dungeon crawling just because his staff doesn’t fit. But there’s a more surprising change that struck me in terms of the show’s tone. That so many of the new jokes are based on the characters’ interactions with each other gives things a slightly more good-natured element compared to the more malevolent efforts I felt in some parts of the previous episode. A good example is Saitō’s meeting with Monpui, the Nepo Baby healer from the hero’s party, when both are lost in the maze. We see Monpui learning to maybe trust others more and he’s surprised his leader Cainz really cares about him and I always expected the show to undermine that at the last minute. But instead it just plays out and ends on that genuine note, with the “punchline” being simply the revelation that this world’s designated “hero” might actually be good enough to play that role, and that Saitō’s good natureds impress people can .
Similarly, an interaction about stealing a treasure chest simply ends with the revelation of Guivre, the burly thief, who sees Saitou as just his type. It’s not played in a predatory or over-the-top gay stereotype, but instead simply comes across as an adorably serious attraction to exactly the sort of desirable guy we already know Saitō is. It’s cute and amusing in the same laughable way Artisan Saitō has always aspired to. The show still has some more dubious impulses, mainly regarding Raelza. The reveal of her awesome activated light armor would have been a great follow-up to the previous joke about taking off her armor involuntarily, but of course she has to suffer a wardrobe malfunction moments later, which waters that execution down and what was a surprisingly cool one up to this point animated fight scene for the series.
There’s more cool action at the end, and coupled with the frankly surprising revelation of an entire cache of Isekai items in the maze, it just keeps saying that Handyman Saitō is ramping up his ambitions here. And it’s nice that the series’ commitment to Subversion can extend to both story considerations and style of humor. Saitō’s pursuit of the fantasy Roomba has Raelza wondering if he’s looking for a way to eventually return to his homeworld, which surprised me given how seldom such an idea is espoused in modern Isekai. And I like the idea of where this could lead, as Saito seems to genuinely enjoy how valued and fulfilled he is in this weird fantasy world, but we can imagine a lot of us might get homesick after a while. That’s several hooks that are about to be thrown out in the fourth installment of this funky little series, which makes it interesting that I now feel like watching to follow along and maybe see some cool fight scenes as well as just get in on the action the next batch of dick jokes.
Handyman Saitō in Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a Freelance Freelancer from Fresno with a penchant for anime and a shelf full of Transformers. He spends far too much time on Twitter and updates his blog infrequently.
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