Welcome, all, again. I’ve just got to say how happy I am with this viewing season so far! It seems that an unusually high number of shows that began strong continue so, and I’m continually finding more to watch as I explore new titles. A case in point is A Centaur’s Life, which I finally decided to peek at earlier this week. . .and then sat transfixed for all 4 currently available episodes. More than anything, I had just wanted to see how the different beings were drawn. What I found was clever writing, keenly attentive drawing, and a biting awareness of societal shift. This show is smart, funny, and a visual joy!
A Centaur’s Life is a slice-of-life comedy following high school student Himeno Kimihara and her family and friends. The story is set in a world in which four-limbed animals became extinct in favor of animals with six appendages, that extra set being anything from additional legs to horns. (The designs of the majority of humanoid beings seem to be derived from various mythologies and folklore.) Otherwise, Himeno’s world looks a lot like our own, complete with all of our everyday conveniences and the problems they give us, not to mention the demands of family and school. And it is in these small expositions of everyday life that the show’s nuanced comedy slant shines most brilliantly! (Seek, and ye shall find.)
But this show is more than just comedy, confronting us with the idea that we become prisoners to the social constructs we ourselves create. And that point is not made with any subtlety. Indeed, our overly litigated political correctness of today is ominously linked with the militarized social equalization efforts of China’s Cultural Revolution as characters nervously whisper conversations and repeatedly warn each other about being carted off to reeducation facilities. It seems that in a world in which its peoples developed such different physiques (and accompanying abilities and limitations), equality becomes both primary goal and measure of society’s advancement. Watch for one moment of dark insight in which it is explained that a given minority’s minoritizing aspects are specifically what justify the investment of a preponderance of research and funding into advancing that minority–over the competing needs of the majority who pay for it. (Does this sound vaguely familiar?) And yet, is not such uneven investment a form of preference and favoritism, the very antitheses of equality? Of course, it is explained, but equality demands unequal treatment.
Our characters are well-aware of the contradictions inherent in the application of their society’s concept of social justice, but perhaps even more aware of the very immediate dangers of questioning that application. Such discussions–such ideas–are criminal. Witness one teacher’s nervous glances while discussing the pattern of evolution; government agents are literally right outside the classroom door, keeping tabs on the lecture. (But what a lecture! It is offered for the students’ consideration that had four-limbed creatures become the dominant life forms, then coloring rather than body type would likely have been the primary differentiation between peoples, thus virtually eliminating prejudice and discrimination. After all, how could rational beings possibly find fault with something as minor as color?)
This series is a must-watch! Smart and funny but also thought-provoking, it engages its audience on a number of different levels. Two such examples of this are attentive character design and an inventive exploration of interaction between different peoples. (But don’t worry–the social commentary isn’t all political. There’s plenty of ammo saved for life’s quieter, more personal situations.) This show offers simple storylines, easy laughs, and even the opportunity to ask ourselves what we really want from our society and our individual participation in it. Passive/aggressive, sure, but what’s not to love?