People see me and tend to think I only like cute, girly, and romantic kind of things. One may assume I enjoy sappy and romantic drama series. However, my favorite series are always the quirky ones. I also may not look like it, but I do enjoy playing video games! RPGs have a special and nostalgic place in my heart. After all, you get to immerse yourself in a different world and as the character you’re playing. That is why the Yuusha Yoshihiko (The Hero Yoshihiko) series is one of my favorite drama titles. I highly recommend this Japanese series to any JRPG fans who want to start watching dramas, but aren’t interested in the typical and overly popular teen or romance type of series.
The series itself is actually a parody of one of the most classic and famous JRPG series: Dragon Quest. I haven’t personally played Square Enix’s Dragon Quest, but the characters and references are very recognizable. The Yuusha Yoshihiko series aired its first season, “Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro” or “The Hero Yoshihiko and the Demon’s Castle”, back in 2011. It was a (very) low budget production series. I’m pretty certain most of the budget was spent on the promotional pictures, as well as the opening and ending credits. Despite being a low budget production, it was popular enough to have 2 more seasons added to the series.
So what is this series about? It follows your typical JRPG story trope. There’s a mysterious plague throughout the land. The people of this land have only one hope in a hero selected from a small village. This naïve and young hero is Yoshihiko. Armed with a legendary sword, Yoshihiko must set on a journey to find a legendary plant that is said to be the cure. He must also find his father, a hero who went missing after setting out on the same mission. During his journey, Yoshiko meets and befriends some people who join him. These companions are Danjo, Murasaki, and Melub. These companions also fall into your typical JRPG classes with Danjo as the Warrior, Murasaki as the Fighter, and Melub as the Mage.
For JRPG fans, it’s a bit nostalgic when there are so many typical game references. However, what makes this series so fun is that it constantly pokes fun at JRPGs. Hero characters are typically seen as selfless, fearless, and noble characters. Yoshiko, while good, seems very naïve and downright stupid at times. He often gets sidetracked and would pick boobies over finishing his quest. You read that right. It’s actually a reoccurring gag. You also have Melub who also seems overconfident and incompetent. He learns many spells that are very silly and useless. I mean spells like “Sweets”, which makes the target suddenly crave sweets. Characters like Murasaki comment on how useless it is, but Yoshihiko is always EXTREMELY impressed. He’ll always beg Melub to cast it on him and exaggerate the effects.
It’s not just the characters that get poked fun at, but also the typical actions from JRPGs. We’re all familiar with having to smash things and search different places for items. Yoshihiko and crew do this in a line, parodying classic 8-bit kind of JRPGs. A villager appears and yells at them for breaking into a stranger’s home and ransacking it. The villager tells the heroes to apologize to the home’s owner who is cooking in the corner. However, she has only one response, which is typical of any NPC. You can watch this particular scene [here].
I’ve also mentioned how this series was an extremely low budget production. It may sound like a bad thing, but I think it’s actually part of this series’ charm and what makes it so enjoyable. The monsters are obviously made from cardboard and look like the results of a poor DIY project. Some monsters are just small stuffed animals. Strings can be clearly seen attached to props and making them appear as if they’re floating or moving. The loot is also made from everyday things that have been spray painted and slapped together. One item is just a pair of crocs that’s been spray-painted. Action scenes are portrayed through poorly done animation. The bandits also look just as ridiculous.
What I also enjoyed about the series is that it often breaks the fourth wall, as well as parodying and referencing things outside of Dragon Quest and JRPGs. You’ll see things like One Piece characters who look like really bad cosplayers. There are also scenes that parody The Ring and the Evangelion ending. At the end of one of the seasons, Yoshiko narrates the end of the journey. However, he adds a crazy scenario of “Little did we know that aliens would invade a few months later…just in case they decide on another season for us.” The series is also full of cameos from famous Japanese celebrities like Shun Oguri, who starred in the live-action adaptations of “Hana Yori Dango”, “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e”, “Detective Conan”, and “Lupin III”.
Yuusha Yoshihiko is a very laid back series full of cheap props, WTF scenarios, and laughs. It’s the quirky characters, low production quality, references, and nostalgia that makes this series so interesting. Between laughing at the cheap props and ridiculous scenarios, I enjoyed the nostalgia or familiarity of when playing a JRPG. It was enjoyable to be like “I’ve been through this before!”, and then see those kinds of situations be turned into silly jokes. I think it’s definitely a series that will be most enjoyed by gamers, particularly the JRPG fans.
Yuusha Yoshihiko series has a total of 3 seasons:
- Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro | The Hero Yoshihiko and the Demon’s Castle (2011)
- Yuusha Yoshihiko to Akuryou no Kagi |The Hero Yoshihiko and The Key of an Evil Spirit (2012)
- Yuusha Yoshihiko to Michibikareshi Shinchinin | The Hero Yoshihiko and The Seven Driven People (2016)