I have generally avoided doing a lot of Isekai anime. I’ve watched and reviewed the first season or so of Sword Art Online, and all of Log Horizon and My Next Life As A Villainess to date. However, otherwise, this means that the closest I’ve come to Reverse Isekai has been Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which is using that particular genre definition loosely. So, Ya Boy Kongming! initially slipped under my radar… until I heard the OP – and then I had to see it. I made the right decision.
The premise of Ya Boy Kongming! is that Zhuge Liang, courtesy name Kongming, as he dies of old age, after so many of his comrades have passed before him, hopes to be reborn in a peaceful age. And then all of a sudden he wakes up, young again, with full memories of his past, wearing his scholar’s attire… in 21st century Shibuya during Halloween with complete fluency of Japanese. After initially being provided with some bad tequila by some partiers, he ends up in a club where he hears a performance from aspiring pop singer Eiko Tsukimi. After being blown away by her singing, he decides that he will help her achieve success as her
manager tactician. Fortunately, he’s saved from having to live on the street by the fact that the owner of the bar where Eiko performs, Kobayashi, is a gigantic Three Kingdoms nerd, and appreciates what he perceives as Kongming’s commitment to the bit.
I’ll admit, just to get my one negative out of the way, the thing that I kind of wished Ya Boy Kongming did do was to provide some sort of perspective as to how the independent music scene works in Japan. I have some familiarity with how Talent agencies work and how they connect with record labels and the restrictions they place on pop idols, for both good and ill (frequently ill, especially compared to the American pop scene – the US female pop singer of the ’90s who probably got it as bad or worse than Japanese pop idols is Brittany Spears). It would have been nice to see something about how the independent artist scene works – particularly because that would also give me an idea of where to look in order to discover Japanese independent artists.
Outside of that, the general animation and presentation of the music within the show is very solid. The setup for the choreography for some of the dances is very tight and constrained by some of the locational limitations, which also creates a situation where I’m not seeing the characters suddenly shifting to CG for the sake of a single musical number. There also are a couple of battle raps in the series when the supporting character of Kabetaijin is introduced which are also well done – and I do want to give some props to the translation team for their work creating verses that keep their flow and rhyming structure in English. Should this get a dub later they may have their work cut out for them even more.
The manga for this series is still ongoing, and while it’s available on some of the manga services I subscribe to because it’s so heavily tied to music, I don’t know if it would have the same resonance to it that it would on the page. Still, I enjoyed this series a lot, and I do hope it gets a second season.
Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing people doing the OP choreography in the halls at Kumoricon this year, possibly cosplaying as characters from the show.
Ya Boy Kongming! is available for streaming on Hidive.
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