The first scene made me think this show was going to be about characters that do product placement while dressed like heroes, but that turned out not to be the case. Sure, the product placement heroine turned out to be important to the story of the first episode, and she’ll probably be a recurring character, but the real heroines of the episode are the high school students, who basically spend the entire episode practicing and working toward putting on an action show for children. That may not seem like much, but I found it very endearing and sweet, and it’s the main reason I want to keep watching.
The show doesn’t just share the “hero” theme with tokusatsu hero shows, it also draws elements from them, the most noticeable element in the first episode being the music, which would probably not fit any other kind of modern anime. In this way the show also reminds me of Samurai Flamenco, and that’s a very good thing.
At first I couldn’t take the premise seriously, nor could I swallow the sheer machismo radiated by many of the characters. It seemed like the show was going to go the way of Dive, i.e. being a sports show with no solid foundation or inspiration. But then came the humour, and the main character’s personal struggles, and the sheer joy for the sport that, in my opinion, is an integral part of enjoyable sports shows. The latter half of the episode was extremely solid, and it made me really excited about the next episode.
It also has to be mentioned that the first episode looked phenomenal, and the soundtrack wasn’t bad either. Also, the machismo turned out to at least partially be a red herring, because the teacher character is in fact adorably tsundere. So that’s good.
I initially wanted to group this together with Vatican Kiseki Chousakan as alt-historical fiction anime for the purpose of being able to dismiss both shows with the explanation that I’m tired of this genre, but Altair ended up impressing me. In some ways, mostly in terms of worldbuilding and the geopolitics, it feels like Arslan Senki (also the main characters of both shows have pet birds of prey), but the first episode of Altair was probably stronger overall, because it didn’t immediately go for the large-scale battles.
I like the show’s visual style, but the quality of the art is not necessarily the best all of the time. I’m expecting it to unfortunately get worse in future episodes, especially if there is action (this is where Arslan infamously faltered). Though, if the story continues to be as strong as it was at times in the first episode, maybe the visual quality won’t matter that much to me. Good show so far.