Original Story by Light Tuchihi
Art by Koyuki
Character Designs by Saori Toyota
Translated by Matt Rutsohn
Lettered by Rochelle Gancio
There’ve been many premises that explore an isekai protagonist becoming overpowered through weird circumstances, from being reincarnated as a slime to maxing out their defensive stat. The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious is an especially direct comedic twist on the trope, in which the protagonist’s invincibility derives from their obsessive overreadiness for every possible situation and contingency. Overly Cautious’ humor is reminiscent of the likes of ONE’s One Punch Man, in which an unfazed protagonist effortlessly overcomes any obstacle thrown in his way. More generally, it plays upon a common trope in comedy manga stories in which an eccentric character repeatedly does ridiculous things while their tsukkomi sidekick screams in shock, like in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. It’s a formula that runs the risk of being repetitive, but can be sustained through enough variation and interesting characters and storytelling. Overly Cautious successfully iterates on its premise, building upon each joke to deliver its funniest material thanks to its repetitive foundation instead of being hindered by it.
Seiya’s aloof and no-nonsense personality is key to Overly Cautious’ comedic success. Whereas most isekai protagonists are self-absorbed otaku-types or average joes embracing escapism, Seiya exudes confidence and coolness that is only betrayed by his obsessive neuroses. Seeing a normally stoic bishounen character like Seiya investigate rice balls for poison or run away at the first sight of an enemy stronger than him is a funny use of contrasts and amusing twist on expectations. Doubly so are the running gags they do with his particular quirks, in which his overly cautious rituals are redone to amusingly chaotic results. It’s funny when Seiya uses his ultimate move to repeatedly burn the body of a defeated enemy the first time, but it’s uproariously hilarious when he does it again under different circumstances. This example particularly stands out because it manages to be surprising in its repetivity, and demonstrates the expectable unpredictability of Seiya’s mania. Seiya’s personality and decisions are a complementary contradiction, and his chaotic orderliness can be flexibly adapted on a wide range of scenarios without it ever feeling trite.
Another equally essential element of the series’ humor is Koyuki’s expressive artwork. Fans of the anime should be assured that Rista’s repertoire of goofy faces in the manga is as equally wild and varied. The sheer quantity of variations on her comical overreaction faces is impressive alone, but all her emotions are elevated by Koyuki’s ability to exaggerate her face in many appealingly funny styles. However, Koyuki’s also really great at drawing serious action scenes and even horror moments. This helps the series set tone during its rare dramatic shifts, successfully communicating serious stakes which can then be amusingly undercut by Seiya and Rista’s antics. By contrasting dramatic and goofy imagery, Koyuki’s art adds another quality to the series’ humor that elevates it beyond what’s possible through the writing alone.
Overly Cautious demonstrates depth in its simple premise that manages to consistently surprise and amuse throughout. With a pair of protagonists whose eccentricities are easily exploitable and complement one another as perfect foils, it’s got a solid foundation for an amusingly escalating misadventure. The last chapter of the volume introduces some new characters who’ll potentially join the main cast, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fit into the existing dynamic and add variety to the series’ repertoire of gags. As it stands, the series has proven its ability to iterate upon its central gimmick in creative ways, always finding some new angle you wouldn’t expect it to play with. If you’re looking for an isekai parody that satirizes fantasy tropes with an audaciously irreverent spirit, Overly Cautious is perfectly prepared to give you a good laugh.