English Dub Season Review: The Executioner and Her Way of Life Season One

Overview (Spoilers Below):

When Menou (Annie Wild), an Executioner of deadly inter-dimensional “Lost Ones”, encounters a Lost One named Akari Tokito (Melissa Molano) who can cheat death, she sets out on a mission to kill the unkillable girl. But her newly stirring feelings might get in the way of her blade. 

Our Take:

The Executioner and Her Way of Life is an adaptation of a 2019 yuri light novel series written by Mato Sato and illustrated by Nilitsu. The anime was directed by Yoshiki Kawasaki and written by Shogo Yasukawa. Keiko Tamaki was responsible for designing the characters. Michiru provided the musical score, with the opening theme song “Paper Bouquet” being sung by Mili, while ChouCho performed the ending theme “Tomoshibi Serenade”.

When you have someone running around and posing a threat to society, whether they’re innocent or not, the simple way to solve it is to hire an assassin. But not just any assassin. An executioner who doesn’t rest until the job is done. However, a simple execution may not be enough when the target has the power to cheat death.

The series’s first season, consisting of twelve episodes, takes place in an alternate world heavily influenced by Japan. This world has frequently encountered wanderers known as “Lost Ones”, who possess incredible abilities called “Pure Concepts”. The Pure Concepts were responsible for bringing disaster to the land, leading to a ban on summoning Lost Ones. The Executioners, magic-wielding members hired by the Faust, are responsible for secretly killing any Lost Ones unleashed on the world.

During my experience with watching anime, not once had I seen a show in the isekai category. Most shows I have watched revolve around fantasy elements, dramatic slice-of-life, and action-oriented scenarios. The isekai ones, not as much as others. That all changed when I got to review an adaptation of Mato Sato’s novel series from another anime streaming site, HiDive. My first experience with an isekai series was quite a treat, but what about the overall show? Basically, it’s what you would expect from the genre alone. Regarding its entertainment values, it at least saved itself from facing execution too soon. 

The series began like any other isekai show, with a boy named Mutou Mitsuki (Bryson Baugus) being transported to another world and gaining a Pure Concept known as [Null]. He later meets Menou, a priestess who explains the mysterious world and his given power to Mitsuki. You would think that Mitsuki would be one of the show’s main characters regarding the introduction. However, that isn’t the case, as Mitsuki was killed instantly by Menou’s hand, thus shifting the series’ focus on the Executioner. Mitsuki’s role then went to Akari, but only as a supporting character. Assuming that the other shows only have outsiders in central roles, this is a nice change of pace for the formula that’s been done since the dawn of time. It was refreshing to see characters in an alternate world take the driver’s seat for the journey, even though the seasonal plot didn’t take full advantage of it.

The series’ main plot is as simple as it can get: an outsider has untold power, and she needs to die. The only problem is that her ability prevents her from getting killed. So Menou takes Akari on a journey across the isekai world to find a proper solution to finish the job before the land falls into chaos. Throughout their adventure, they explore two different cities and encounter deadly forces that jeopardize Menou’s assignment.

The first half of season one has Menou and Akari in the Ancient Capital Garm, where the former encounters an unsettling plot by her superior Orwell (Shelley Calene-Black). The Archbishop plans to use Akari’s power to make herself immortal but is later killed by Menou and Akari’s Pure Concept. In the season’s second half, the two find themselves in the port city of Libelle, where they confront two dangerous adversaries. One of them is Manon Libelle (Kristen McGuire), the ruler’s daughter seeking revenge on Menou for her mother’s death by using a dangerous substance called monstrine. The other is Pandemonium (Juliet Simmons), a Lost One resembling a ten-year-old girl and the main reason for one of the Four Major Human Errors.

If you noticed something familiar with its structure, you’re not wrong. The two halves of season one are nearly identical regarding the narrative, with the difference being the setting and antagonist. One of the primary examples is Menou’s aide Momo (Cat Thomas), who handles the investigations while Menou keeps a close eye on Akari. She investigates the missing women in Garm and the source of the monstrine in Libelle, all while confronting Ashuna (Rachael Messer), the warrior princess of Grisarika. While it isn’t without a few entertaining moments, the overall season offers a sense of deja vu that’s far from monotonous but a bit tiring.

With Menou being the main character, the series has the task of making her more than just an assassin who kicks ass with her skills and spells. Based on my experience, I thought the writers handled this character well. In addition to her traumatic childhood that led her to kill the Lost Ones, Menou finds herself in an internal conflict that sees her feelings towards Akari getting in the way of her mission. These moments were brief, but they may play a more significant role in the show’s potential second season. I would also credit Annie Wild for her voice work as Menou, as she suitably balances her friendly persona with her fierce tone whenever she’s in battle mode.

The supporting characters can be hit-and-miss on specific occasions. One of them is Akari, who’s initially clumsy, air-headed, and affectionate towards Menou. However, she also has a determined personality who’s secretly regressing the world multiple times to prevent Menou’s death. Melissa Molano did a decent job voicing Akari on both fronts despite her foolish nature being a bit annoying sometimes. Momo and Ashuna were also fine characters for different reasons, including serving as an introduction to the rivalry between the two. However, Momo managed to be a bit more interesting than Ashuna regarding her connection to Menou in her childhood flashback in “[Regression: Memories, Soul, Spirit]”.

Unfortunately, the only supporting character I wasn’t very fond of is Pandemonium, Menou’s final opponent in season one. On the one hand, Pandemonium is one of the creepiest villains in anime history. Her psychotic nature and self-fatalities make me question the show’s teen rating. But, on the other hand, her voice surprisingly started to irritate me three minutes after her big debut in “The Daughter of a Lost One”. It’s not to say Juliet Simmons did something wrong since her vocal performance captured her character’s personality effectively. I’m only saying that I found Pandemonium’s voice more annoying than scary. I’m sure someone else would say otherwise, but personally, it’s not my cup of tea.

On the technical aspect, the show’s animation is produced by J.C.Staff, the same company that recently did Requiem of the Rose King. That series provided a stellar style that captured its grim Shakespearean tone perfectly. In The Executioner, the animation looks pretty and nothing else. There isn’t anything special that grasp my attention regarding its world-building. However, its action sequences, mainly the ones involving Menou and her opponents, are admittedly gorgeous due to their vibrant visuals and fluidity.

Overall, The Executioner and Her Way of Life offers enough mildly entertaining moments in its concept to prevent itself from being executed. It’s what you would expect from an isekai series, plus a couple of changes to boot, even though it lacks anything else to make itself stand out above the rest. As a newcomer to the genre, I thought it was a tolerable introduction to the series of otherworldly scenarios that’s been captivating anime followers for years. More importantly, it’s a decent start to the journey that could get even more interesting later on, assuming that a second season is possible.