Based on the best-selling manga series by Kazushi Hagiwara, Bastard!! Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy continues the 2022 resurgence of hard fantasy started by The Spine of Night. When malevolent forces threaten to resurrect Anthrasax, the god of destruction who sent humanity back to the dark ages to repent for their sins, the kingdom of Meta-llinica call upon an unpredictable hero. Dark Schneider, a powerful wizard and unashamed casanova, answers the call, but the more he is unleashed the more questionable his actions become.
While the cast give it their all, complemented by some zany moments of imagination and style, Bastard!! cannot rise above the outdated expectations of its genre. Wayward humour, vulnerable women who are forced to wear minimalist outfits (when they wear anything at all), and strange pacing all bring the show down. The series borders on misogynistic fantasy, with the camera lingering on semi-naked women who invariably throw themselves at Schneider without hesitation. Such a backwards approach to characters detracts from the show’s most entertaining elements (such as a smattering of references to heavy metal bands).
Now and then the comedy works, and Bastard!! Makes a storming first impression, but the show cannot maintain this as it slides into a plethora of outdated tropes. Without any discernible element of satire, it makes even the best sequences feel dull, weighed down as they are by the weight of aggressive masculinity and overwhelmingly) weak women. What is supposed to be one hell of a good time - a decadent fantasy escape complete to the riffs of electric guitar - manifests as something rather vulgar at its best and unpleasant at its worst.
BASTARD!! HEAVY METAL, DARK FANTASY is out now on Netflix.