I was browsing through my Crunchyroll queue the other night and tried watching some shows I never finished. After a whole lot of browsing and not a lot of enjoyment, I thought about To Be Hero and I got mad. I got mad that I didn’t have more episodes to watch. Then I realized, this is exactly how I feel about Shokugeki no Soma. I should be writing about this!
To Be Hero is a Chinese animated series about a perverted fatty hero who was granted ‘powers’ while taking a shit. It ran for 12 episodes in late 2016, is currently streaming on Crunchyroll, and it’s worth every second of your time. Each episode is 11 minutes long and will have you pissing yourself from beginning to closing credits. I even got my boyfriend hooked on To Be Hero. He hasn’t enjoyed anything on Crunchyroll in a very long time.
The series follows Old Man, who is a toilet seat designer. He is a divorced, single dad raising his daughter in a sketchy apartment complex. She is always catching him out late on dates with random young women who are awed by his ability to guess their hip, waist, and chest sizes. It’s a bit ridiculous that women would be impressed by this, but nothing that happens in this show is normal. It’s as if someone decided every single aspect of anime needed to be mocked and so you have To Be Hero.
Old Man may be a huge pervert, but he’s actually an emotional guy. When he gets transformed into a hero via falling into his toilet, he gets vomited back out of the toilet in the form of a big fatty with a deep voice. Unfortunately, the big fatty is more perverted than Old Man in his original form because he cannot convert his real thoughts into words. Instead of saying what he is really thinking, only perverted comments come out. This poses a huge problem when he tries to wake up his daughter and explain to her that he was transformed into a fat guy.
His daughter, rightly so, is not very forgiving to the fat version of Old Man and kicks him out of their apartment. She then spends the rest of the series waiting for Old Man to come home. When she’s not waiting, she is beating up perverts or perverted aliens. She’s your typical ‘strong willed’ female character who doesn’t accomplish much during the series. His daughter, Min-chan, can be incredibly annoying at times but I suppose we can just consider her the hemorrhoid of the show.
After being ejected by his daughter, Old Man begrudgingly moves in with his neighbor, Yamada-san, in the apartment next door. Yamada-san is one of the funniest characters in To Be Hero. He is sexual, lewd, and seemingly proud of his assets, if you know what I mean.
We then encounter a series of alien invasions that range from shonen to slice-of-life to shojo. To Be Hero does not hold back from crossing boundaries using scenarios from popular genres of anime. There are moments that are so absurd even some of the characters begin to question why they’re in the show. Despite being a show with gag scene after gag scene, the cast occasionally breaks the 4th wall and acknowledges they’re in front of an audience in a show that probably wasn’t the best idea for a career choice. This is fantastic because it reminds us that To Be Hero doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a fun show that isn’t invested in going on for over 500 episodes, although I do suspect there is enough material here for another 30 episodes.
Underneath all of the lewd humor and insane antics, there is a story to be told in To Be Hero. Old Man isn’t the greatest hero – in fact his first ‘battle’ is against a roach. Yes, battles to get bigger and more preposterous as the series progresses. BUT each time Old Man thinks about how he needs to succeed to protect his Min-chan and win her back. He also spends a great deal of time trying to figure out how he can return to his original, non-hero self so that his daughter will recognize him again. There are some sweet moments, albeit from afar, in which Min-chan feels like her father has been around. After our Fatty hero fixes the broken bath faucet in the same way Old Man would have, she wonders if in fact it is possible that the fat man next door is her father. Of course there is no plausible explanation for how that would be possible so she shrugs the thought away.
We do eventually learn how Old Man became the disgusting obese “hero” we see throughout the series.. from a snake-like alien creature called a Dataling that uses human bodies as batteries. While they are intelligent beings capable of emotions and ideas, they plug directly into the anus of any human and uses them like a battery. When she connects to Yamada-san, it’s simply a match made in heaven. But you’ll need to watch the show to see why.
Ultimately, To Be Hero is a series about ineffectual fathers who think they are doing what’s best for their children. Old Man is many shitty parents in the series. Even the alien invaders have to deal with a father who is self-absorbed and abusive towards his sons. I think Old Man is a step above the alien King because Min-chan is his own and only daughter. Becoming a fat pervert who gets rejected by his own daughter awakened a part of Old Man that helped reveal a backstory of alcoholism, divorce, and depression. Did you really expect me to talk about something so deep about a show that makes lewd jokes?
To Be Hero is everything you want in an animated series. It has a quirky art style, laughs from start to finish, and a story that sucks you in. You don’t even realize you’re into the story until you get towards the end and you can feel Old Man’s pain as he tries to protect the world and his daughter from destruction. I also found myself rooting for the Dataling and the transformation she had on Yamada-san. Definitely check out this series and make sure to put the ending credits on loop because To Be Hero has the catchiest ending theme I have ever heard.