Image source: アニメ「セントールの悩み」公式 on Twitter

A Centaur’s Life is about the lives of high school aged mythical creatures in a modern world without homo sapiens. But, with so many different types of creatures in the series, what kind of “human rights” do they have?

Himeno “Hime” Kimihara is a centaur at Shin Kanata High School. She lives her daily life like any other person taking part in school festivals, school marathons, and attending all the required classes. One of those classes is the government approved civics class that teaches the students all about the history of their evolution, the oppression of different species throughout history, and human rights.

What makes A Centaur’s Life standout from the myriad of school slice-of-life anime series is the use of characters who are mythological creatures. These include centaurs, satyrs, and merfolk, among many others. Yet, with the series taking on a modern setting one of the undercurrents of the series is how everyone is equal under the law. In other words, discrimination is highly frowned upon and is insinuated it’s punishable by law. While the first episode of the series didn’t give us much, it starts to paint a picture of a world built on a very rigid structure of equality.

It all begins in the second story of the first episode. It opens with Hime and her class in a government approved lesson on civics and human rights. When we delve into the course material we learn a dark history of speciesism. It’s not unlike the type of racism seen in our own history with quick shots of slavery and genocide. But, rather than be based on skin tone or eye and hair color in the series it’s centered on the species a person belongs to. It’s an interesting take on the idea of discrimination and insinuates a couple of facts about the worlds of the series.

Image source: アニメ「セントールの悩み」公式 on Twitter

First is how decimation hasn’t quite been eliminated from the world. This came from one caveat of the lesson we can’t escape. It’s how the teacher says along the lines of, “Do we descend into war a torn world like ‘lesser’ nations, or do we march on the path of equality.” It’s a very small part of the story, but it shows us while the country Hime is living in all about inclusivity, there are parts of the world that still abide by traditions of speciesism.

This line of dialog is actually in and of itself fascinating too, because it insinuates the country Hime and her classmates live in is “superior” to that of other nations because of equality. This is the second fact the lesson insinuates about the world. While it seems like a throwaway line at first, when you turn it over in your head it begins to scream nationalism. And it’s not made any better when government observers are making sure the class is taught in such a way to reinforce the idea of equality of species. It’s as if the government is saying we’re a superior country because we tout equality, unlike those barbaric heathens in lesser countries. Where’s the equality in that?

Image source: アニメ「セントールの悩み」公式 on Twitter

The idea of human rights takes an even darker turn later in the second story in the first episode when Hime, as a centaur, offers her tired friend Kyoko “Kyo-chan” Naraku a ride on her back. Kyo-chan declines the offer stating that doing so could be seen as her impeding on Hime’s human rights and that she could be arrested because of that. Here we see an instance where on paper the idea of equality sounds amazing, but in practice blurs many lines. This is because in the Western countries of the series, centaurs were used as mounts for knights during Dark Ages. So, the very act of riding a centaur could be seen as a return to that tradition. Yet, in this case Hime is offering Kyo-chan a ride of her on free volition and isn’t being forced into it. So, where does the line cross from a friendly offer to discrimination? It’s a very mixed bag and one that makes aspects of A Centaur’s Life really fun to watch.

Image source: アニメ「セントールの悩み」公式 on Twitter

A Centaur’s Life is at its core a series about the lives of high school aged girls. Yet, the mere fact there are multiple species occupying the world of the series we tend to get small snippets of about human rights, human rights violations, civics, and to a lesser extent nationalism and authoritarianism. That’s not something we see to often see in school slice-of-life anime series. Because of that the series looks to be fascinating going forward.

A Centaur’s Life will stream on Crunchyroll.

Comments (2)
  1. I haven’t checked, but apparently the manga offers a bigger (or a less discrete) view on the plays of that kinda of society. It seems the anime is giving less focus to this or tossing heavily into the background to give the show a much more “moe moe slice of life” appearance, which is a shame.

  2. This is written by someone who never knew when the government of the country of his birth did not enforce laws preventing discrimination. You may want to chat with a few old-timers before you start screaming “government forced equality is wrong!”

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