Lance n’ Masques is one of those shows I wasn’t sure about, it looked like a kids show and sometimes those are actually pretty good (some are even genuinely fantastic shows) but this looked the type that is just TOO childish to get anything out of it. The weird horse with the anime girl face definitely didn’t help, and I imagined it talking to the cast as if it were totally normal, putting me off even further.
However, the show really surprised me, and I have to say it’s not a “kids show” really. It’s definitely kid-friendly but it doesn’t feel aimed at small children or even pre-teens, it seems like a ‘normal’ show that just happens to be something anyone of any age would be able to enjoy – and enjoy it I did. This show has a very sweet warmth to it, a lot of charm, an awesome soundtrack, and honestly is actually pretty damn cool. The titular character is an admitted white knight (yes, in the modern context even – he’s embarrassed by it but can’t help it) who is also a LITERAL knight in modern-day but alternate reality Japan, and when he gets in a fight he’s legitimately badass. This isn’t a show you’ll see people being torn apart or breaking bones, but it doesn’t stop the fight we saw in episode 1 from drawing you in and being actually pretty exciting.
Oh, did I forget to mention the lance that he uses? This thing is REALLY FUCKING COOL and reminds me of collapsible batons as he can make it extend out while also getting beefier and thus more sturdy and powerful.
The majority of the episode, and I assume show, isn’t on the action though – but the charm, sweetness, and also some pretty creative and clever ideas at play. For example, the main character (the knight) is like I mentioned, a total white knight in the way you think of it in normal life. A fedora tipper as you might know them, m’lady. This isn’t some overlooked accidental cringe, this isn’t a serious character trait they put in without realizing how it comes off – this is on purpose and it’s pulled off really well and it feels like a clever way of developing this boy and showing how, thanks to his family and upbringing, he is a knight through and through and can’t help himself. It’s actually pretty similar to Inami Mahiru’s situation in Working!! wherein her upbringing forced her to form a genuine and very serious phobia of men and to act violently against any that got too close.
The introduction to the episode (and series as a whole) features a really cute loli just acting like a kid in that natural way most anime tend to miss out on, instead here it’s sweet and nostalgic because it seems believable. She goes around a park climbing rope-ladder things, swinging around on stuff, and eventually ends up climbing this really high rock wall (why is this a thing at a park?) before inevitably falling off to what would be pretty serious injuries if not for a masked knight that saves her. It ends up with her being totally enamored because she loves heroes and always wanted to find one – she even has a cute little speech about them she likes to give at times. Later she’s still being just as adorable, very excitedly showing off her private drawing collection of sentai hero amalgamations she’s made with her notebook and crayons.
While it’s all very sweet and cute, there’s clearly much more going on in this show as well – nothing too heavy or intense, sure, but it’s not just a simple show about a cute kid and a fedora knight having fun either. There’s an organization out to kidnap the girl, there’s another organization her maids work for (who the kidnappers seem happy to find – hoping they’d help), her father seemingly abandoned her and told the staff they aren’t allowed to befriend her, and there just seems to be a lot going on we don’t know about just yet and it did a good job making me interested in learning about all of it. This setting also seems to be akin to Academy City, where school girls are constantly being grabbed on the street and forcefully lead along by much older guys who keep talking about “showing them a good time” and making the fact they’re going to rape them in a few minutes plain as day – luckily nothing like this happens (and probably never will) to the little kid (big difference between kidnapping and “I’m gonna bang you in the alley”).
There’s also some other seemingly-fun characters we got some glances at, like a little ojou-sama and her horse – yup, the same horse I mentioned at the start. This thing is actually alright, it doesn’t talk or anything but it still looks weird, but the show seems very aware that it does. I mean at one point they have it literally hugging a boy in cute chibi art, standing only on its back legs with the rest of its body hanging there while it’s front legs hug the guy. Along with that, it has the form of a girl in the imagination (or so it seems at least so far) of it’s master, as we get this cute chibi girl who argues with her a bunch at times yet we get the perspective of some guys nearby and she is most definitely still just a horse.
Though, oddly, she’s acting the way she is in that not-real world where she’s a ‘person’. I think it’s just a cute way of handling making this horse have more personality, still kind of weird but it’s not bad like I was worried it would be. Plus the maids and also the father of the MC who is some famous knight for being a great one, plus he’s voiced by Akira Ishida who seems to be having a burst of popularity (again) out of nowhere this whole year – not that I mind.
My favorite part though is the soundtrack. The music sounds very reminiscent of the OSTs of the Atelier series, especially the Arland games, and it’s pretty fucking great. The music alone is worth trying the first episode out and while I say it sounds similar to Atelier stuff, it’s definitely got a style of its own going on too which makes me like it that much more.
Sadly a lot of people seem to just write this show off because the main characters are young, especially the lead girl being a literal like six year old – apparently that makes it automatically bad. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve looked around a lot of sites and communities and all I’m seeing is people saying it’s bad because, basically, they either;
- Don’t want to watch an anime with a main character that is a literal child. Probably out of a sense of insecurity – these types already typically hide that they watch anime from their “real friends”, and god forbid they find out they’re watching a show with a lead character who is 6. Others can only know they watch MANLY COOL ANIME LIKE…UH…pretentious shit and awful old trash with pointless violence. Great. Truly “mature”, they would never watch anything but something for the adult that they are – the insecure, childish, too immature to feel comfortable in his or her own hobbies and thus locks themselves out of 90% of it “adult”.
- Don’t want to watch an anime with a main character that is a literal child because they, and again this is not an exaggeration, assume that because the lead is 6 the show is “for lolicons and pedos”. This is an opinion I’ve seen almost equally as #1 and it blows my mind. When did having a toddler character make the show be for creeps who are sexualizing them? How fucking retarded do you have to be to think this is how anything works – is Yotsubato for child molesters as well? Also, they tend to preface their comments with “I’m not into kids, but” or “I’m not into lolis, but”, as if saying she’s a cute kid is somehow going to raise red flags and sick the feds on you – if anything making sure to say “I’M TOTALLY COMPLETELY 100% NOT AT ALL NOT EVEN A LITTLE INTO KIDS…BUT MAN IS SHE CUTE” is far more fucking creepy than saying “she’s adorable!”.
Now why am I so focused on the pedo shit? BECAUSE IT’S PRACTICALLY THE ONLY FUCKING THING I’M SEEING ANYONE SAY AS A NEGATIVE ABOUT THE SHOW. There might be other things making people not like this, sure, but NOBODY IS MENTIONING ANYTHING BUT THIS SHIT. There are a couple exceptions – some people complain about the art, and some mega-morons somehow miss the fact the cringe is on purpose with the knight. That’s it. It’s 90% “this show is bad because I’m not into diddling kids and this is clearly a show for kid diddlers because it features a kid/I’m not into diddling kids and this is clearly a show for kid diddlers but even if it wasn’t it’s not mature enough for me,” 5% “the art is kind of bad so its a bad show,” and another 5% saying that this is too cringe from the introduction before getting to the point where the show tells you “yes, it is, that’s an important character trait and is on purpose” or, more obnoxiously, comparing it to Chuunibyou because of his cringe without realizing that show itself is actual cringe (while believing it’s a show about cringey characters) while here the character has a canonical mental issue causing his actions, albeit not autism or he’d be a fan of Chuunibyou!
This is fucking pathetic and reminds me (not that I ever forget) of how just pure shit the entirety of the anime fandom is. Sure, many of these people may have real reasons – but absolutely none of them are giving those, instead choosing to harp on how much they are totally not interested in diddling kids and so are actively avoiding anything with children in it because clearly someone with nothing to worry about would avoid things they have nothing to worry about with. Otherwise they’re trying to act “too mature to watch this” which ISN’T A THING. You cannot be “too mature” to watch or enjoy something, you can only be too IMMATURE to do so because of personal insecurities and worries about self image to the point you can’t even fully enjoy what your hobbies have to offer – at that point stop having the fucking hobby then.
Anyway, regardless of the idiots and plain awful people out there – I recommend at least trying the first full episode. It’s the type of show I can’t really see anyone that isn’t a total insecure dumb fuck being incapable of finding it at least somewhat entertaining or enjoyable. It isn’t amazing by any means, but it’s definitely a solid show with a lot of good-to-great things about it, a lot of clever stuff, and a lot of heart. I really liked this first episode way more than I ever expected and, again, it’s probably worth getting past any assumptions you might have from the looks of it or the dumb shit people are spewing about it to at least give it a fair chance.