“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” –Bryant H. McGill
Kotone settles into her work as a real estate agent and helps Rufuria, Rakira and Fa to close deals: between Fa’s ability to communicate with all beings, and Kotone’s willingness to listen to clients, RPG Real Estate continues to find success in matching clients with suitable properties, from Toto and her Pegasus, to a bard with a lethal singing voice. All the while, news of a dragon terrifying nearby villages continues to raise tensions in Dali, forcing Satona and the armed forces to investigate. Through the course of their time together, Kotone becomes especially close to Fa and begins to worry when Fa seems to appear and disappear in a manner coinciding with the dragon attacks. Kotone’s fears come to pass when Fa vanishes, and even when RPG Real Estate closes enough deals to reach their quota, Fa’s the only thing on her mind. Despite her efforts to push doubts out of her mind, the armed forces take Fa in after one of their clients, an elf with a desire to purchase a long-lasting home, puts two and two together. While it turns out Fa isn’t the dragon that’d been attacking nearby villages, she’s revealed to be the Dark Lord’s daughter: Satona had taken her in with the hope of raising Fa to be a gentle and kind individual. However, although Fa attempts to stop the dragon with Kotone’s help, a mysterious individual chants an incantation that allows her to take control of the dragons. In this state, Fa kills Kotone, but upon seeing this, immediately reverts to her usual form. In the aftermath, Fa, Rufuria and Rakira are hailed as heroes for stopping a dragon attack, but Kotone’s seemingly passed on. On the eve of a celebration in their honour, the necromancer appears and reveals Kotone’s spirit had endured. She restores Kotone’s spirit back to her body, and the four are given a new assignment – keeping an eye on the dragon on a remote tropical island. Kotone is especially thrilled, since this assignment allows everyone to be together, per a wish she’d made. With this, RPG Real Estate draws to a close, bringing the first of this season’s Manga Time Kirara series to a close (Machikado Mazoku 2-Chōme‘s finale was originally scheduled to air this week, but production delays meant the finale will air next week instead); RPG Real Estate is a bit of a surprise, departing from the Manga Time Kirara tradition of joyful, saccharine worlds to explore new directions, but at the same time, without deviating too greatly from the approach that has come to characterise Manga Time Kirara series.
Despite the emphasis on dragons and lingering grudges from the Dark Lord’s faction that result in conflicts not seen in RPG Real Estate since their war ended a decade-and-a-half earlier, RPG Real Estate manages to stay true to its central message: that listening is the first step towards addressing conflict. This becomes especially apparent with Fa’s ability to understand all languages, an asset that comes in handy whenever Kotone, Rufuria and Rakira find themselves dealing with non-human clients. During an evacuation, a reptilian and a man get into a disagreement, but Fa is able to interpret what’s going on and helps the two to strike up a friendship. When visiting a hot springs, Fa similarly is able to give Kotone enough information to help their owners, bipedal cats, to rebrand and rethink their concept, turning it into a success. Fa’s unusual background notwithstanding, her ability to bridge the communications gap between species, coupled with Kotone’s talent for hearing people out, brings success to RPG Real Estate, and it is this belief in Fa that ultimately leads Kotone to support Fa as she attempts to reason things out with the dragon. Even this ends up being a misunderstanding, as the dragon had been merely seeking out a place to settle down and give birth to her child. Much as how Kotone and the others listen to their clients, once Fa hears out the dragon, she does her utmost to sort things out peacefully. Such a message, while seemingly rudimentary, remains one that is necessary; although listening to others and empathising with people appears to be common sense, it is shocking as to how often this is forgotten as people talk past one another and flat-out refuse to hear others out if others possess a perspective differing from one’s own. It is this sort of enmity and stubbornness that gives rise to conflict, conflict that could’ve very well been avoided had one simply taken a step back and listened. Manga Time Kirara series excel in presenting and reminding viewers of things that are seemingly obvious but often forgotten in practise; sometimes, it does take such a direct and blunt portrayal to indicate to viewers that common sense isn’t always so common, and even the best of us need the occasional nudge to recall these lessons.
Screenshots and Commentary
- A perk of a job that entails visiting properties in all sorts of places, and in RPG Real Estate, this means that Kotone and the others enjoy a day at the beach whilst hunting down a property. RPG Real Estate‘s biggest charm is the fact that viewers do get to go check out a plethora of fantasy homes, and the premise of trying to match clients with properties in a game-like world, at least on paper, meant that RPG Real Estate was venturing into turf that the average fantasy (or isekai) series does not cover; conventional series tend to drop the protagonist amidst a major conflict.
- The reason for doing this is quite plain; it creates the most exciting storytelling and forces protagonists to mature in ways that peacetime cannot. However, when a majority of series does this, things can become quite derivative quite quickly. As such, series like RPG Real Estate take things in a different direction – the setting remains that of a class-based high-fantasy role-playing game, but because the great war is past, the world’s inhabitants are given a chance to live ordinary lives. Without the threat of war present, this allows for authors to write out what nuances such worlds may possess. In this way, I contend that RPG Real Estate is nowhere near “generic” as some detractors might suggest, and if anything, the twist that begins developing actually ends up being more conventional than the idea of selling or renting properties to a fantasy clientele.
- With this in mind, were someone to suggest that RPG Real Estate was “generic”, I could be persuaded to listen provided that things were sufficiently presented. For instance, if one says that 1) RPG Real Estate is generic 2) because it is similar to other shows that they’ve seen, as 3) said series have previously attempted to mix-and-match grim elements in with the slice-of-life, then this is an argument worth considering. Saying 1) alone is a statement without evidence. Adding 2) gives the argument a bit more weight, and in turn, I gain a modicum of insight into the opinion holder (e.g. what sort of shows they’ve seen and perhaps prefer).
- With 3), any doubt is removed because hard evidence is provided, and the opinion now satisfactorily explains why a show didn’t work. While I may not necessarily agree, I have learnt something about that individual; one’s opinions do speak about their background and experiences, and learning of these helps with things like compassion and empathy, two virtues that are invaluable as a part of conflict resolution. Unfortunately, people will, more often than not, simply present 1) and then expect that is sufficient in lieu of 2) and 3). This is why I do not pay attention to Twitter-length statements dismissing an anime. Clarity matters more than conciseness, and generally speaking, 240 characters is a unique aspect to Twitter. When other avenues of communication offer one with significantly more than 240 characters, there is space to properly express oneself – listening only works if there is something to listen to.
- As such, my stance regarding some of the criticisms levelled against RPG Real Estate has not changed since I last wrote about it on the grounds that they make no attempt to elaborate; I’ve not seen satisfactory reasoning to convince me that the concept of real estate in a fantasy world is “generic”. At Tango-Victor-Tango, one “WarriorsGate” has argued that I’m supposedly “divorced from reality”. Such an insubstantial argument has no value; if WarriorsGate had wanted to disprove me, sharing their own journey to buying a home and outlining how RPG Real Estate failed to portray the process would have sufficed. The absence of effort is why arguments here are generally not worth considering, and this is why I would say to RedSavant that I have no intention of registering for an account at Tango-Victor-Tango.
- RedSavant suggests we’ve previously clashed on Sora no Woto, but I have no recollection of this (my disagreements are with a blogger who argued that Sora no Woto‘s central theme is existentialism when it is not). If either RedSavant or WarriorsGate would like to have a legitimate discussion, I welcome them to do so here, note that if WarriorsGate choose not to say anything here in my comments section, it would show me they’re the ones disconnected from reality, and return the conversation to RPG Real Estate: while Kotone looks over some floor plans for houses, I’ll note that she’s seen a fair number of successes since joining the company because she’s observant and willing to listen. This stands in stark contrast with Rufuria, who had simply tried to offload properties onto clients to fill a quota and earn a promotion. This aspect of RPG Real Estate is its strong suit and the main reason behind why I returned to watch the series weekly.
- Besides food and clothing, shelter is counted as a basic necessity, and throughout the world, one can gain insight into a culture and its people based on how these needs are met. A series about housing set in a fictional world, then, provides an opportunity to world-build in ways that series with a larger story cannot; here Rufuria, Fa, Rakira and Kotone check out a large house whose previous tenants were thieves and therefore modified the building so that they could confound pursuers while at the same time, allowing them to beat a hasty exit. Curiously enough, all of the doors in this house do actually lead somewhere, standing in stark contrast with Rick and Morty‘s Real Fake Doors™, which don’t go anywhere.
- Although Kotone is quite devoted to her job and becomes visibly saddened when struggling to find a client for a home, or a home for a client, she’s not above having fun on the job, either. A mix between GochiUsa‘s Cocoa and Chiya, Kotone typically has a cheerful disposition, but can become depressed and scatter-minded when something weighs on her mind. As RPG Real Estate progresses, news of dragon attacks begin ravaging the area, and when Kotone notices Fa disappearing or acting unusual on several occasions, she wonders if Fa could be the dragon. Early on, it is easy to ignore these misgivings – whereas RPG Real Estate‘s dragons are powerful beings capable of great destruction, Fa is gentle and kind.
- It is Kotone’s friendship with Fa that allows Fa’s talents to be utilised. Rufuria had typically been short with Fa, seeing her as a liability more than an asset. Kotone, on the other hand, finds Fa adorable and is more patient with her. When she spots how Fa can effortlessly communicate with all beings, including the family gryphon here, Kotone realises that Fa is an indispensable part of the team, and is able to therefore use Fa’s translations to help broker a deal. Things at RPG Real Estate thus proceed smoothly, allowing Kotone to return home for a vacation. She ends up bringing Fa with her.
- On the topic of vacations, we’re now three days into the summer, and I’ve got one vacation day next week, set just ahead of Canada Day. I’ve still got all of my vacation days, plus a handful carrying over from last year. I’m still debating what to do with that time (a trip to Japan is still off the table for the present), but I do know that taking a longer long weekend would be great for checking out restaurants around town. I’ve long been a fan of trying out different foods, and earlier this week, to mark the start of the summer, I ended up spending a lunch break with the team at a food truck. This time around, I tried a Taco Platter from the Happy Fish. Consisting of their signature fish taco, a shredded-beef Bulgogi taco and tempura prawn taco, every individual taco brought with it a different flavour profile. The fish taco was especially tasty, with the rich beer batter and flaky fish complementing the tangy mango salsa and coleslaw quite nicely.
- Kotone’s younger sisters initially take a disliking to Fa, feeling she’s taking Kotone away from them, and shortly after, tasks Fa with finding a moonlight flower to win them over. While Fa is a naïveté and sets off to actually find the flower, the pair grow guilty and take off after her. Fa ends up finding the flower and even helps to create an understanding between the two sisters and a minotaur, which had otherwise been creating conflict with the human residents nearby. Unsurprisingly, the minotaurs do wish to get along with people, and once the misunderstanding is cleared, the adventurers stop hunting them, creating peace amongst the species.
- Rejuvenated from her time off, Kotone returns to work fully-charged and ready to roll. As RPG Real Estate nears their target of deals closed, Rufuria becomes increasingly flustered and does her best to quickly move properties. However, this proves trickier than expected; one client is looking for a very isolated home, and it turns out she’s a well-known idol who yearns for some peace and quiet away from her adoring fans. Having not disclosed this earlier, Kotone and the others do have a trickier time, but once they learn of her fame and wealth, they find the perfect property for her.
- Another interesting client that appears is a fortune teller whose craft appears legitimate; after giving everyone their fortunes, she requests a very run down place because she’d foreseen that good things may happen there. She ends up meeting the love of her life and later returns to RPG Real Estate to inform the staff of their marriage. While this is par the course for a Manga Time Kirara series, but when she also gives Kotone a good luck charm and says she’ll need it later, the sense of unease Kotone experiences returns. Some folks were very quick to speculate that Fa is the dragon, but I’ve never given speculation of this sort too much weight.
- The reason for this is becuase Manga Time Kirara series tend to present events that are consistent with the messages. Here in RPG Real Estate, the themes speak to the importance of listening, and as such, were Fa to be the dragon, it would render the main messages null and void by suggesting that despite her gentle disposition, Fa would be violent at heart or similar. As it was, this certainly isn’t the case, and while there is considerable foreshadowing to show that Fa isn’t merely a adorable, small character for Kotone to look after, said foreshadowing does not indicate that Fa was anything resembling a destructive being.
- During one festival, where wishes are sent into the skies, Kotone and the others encounter a lost little girl. Despite having some troubles initially, the four manage to reunite the little girl with her mother, only to learn that the gods do exist, and moreover, as thanks for having found her daughter, the four are granted all of their wishes, leading Rufuria to regret not wishing for something bigger. The question of wishes is something that authors enjoy writing about, since there’s a great deal of room for discussing how one’s wishes mirror their character, and Bill Watterson was especially fond of this, having Hobbes wishing for simple things that were attainable to show how happiness is a matter of perspective, and of counting one’s blessings.
- As the signs of Fa being connected to the dragon attacks in some way become increasingly visible, RPG Real Estate begins shifting from its initial premise of fantasy realty to a story that is more conventional in nature. Strictly speaking, this wasn’t entirely necessary; even in Dali, there’d been plenty of properties that could be presented without the need to introduce an additional element into the story’s progression. Having said this, the rationale for why RPG Real Estate might’ve gone this route was to emphasise the idea that listening is the first step towards defusing a problem.
- While Kotone is adamant that Fa isn’t the dragon Satona and the army are trying to hunt down, Rufuria is becoming worried about how Fa’s unusual behaviours might suggest her role in things. A conflict of sorts does end up brewing between the two: whereas Kotone shares Rufuria’s concerns, she’s banking on Fa’s personality as being the main reason why Fa can’t have been behind the attacks, but she’s unable to convince Rufuria otherwise. This ends up making their landmark deal a bit more muted, everyone had been looking forwards to this, but Fa’s apparent connection with the dragon attacks dampens the mood.
- Had RPG Real Estate dispensed with this outright, the series would still be able to convey its themes. The dragon element thus ends up being a bit of a detour towards the series’ end – it leaves more elements that must be resolved, and the resulting conflict does stand in contrast to the aesthetic that Manga Time Kirara series are known for. Here, the elf that Kotone and the others had found a home for ends up working out that Fa’s characteristics means she’s a person of interest, and she consents to be taken into custody if it would mean preventing additional devastation from occurring. The confrontation also shows the gap between the magical abilities of government officials and ordinary citizens, showing viewers that one must have uncommon talent and skill if they are to land a high-ranking position, and that Rufuria is probably still a ways out yet.
- While Fa is being transported, the real dragon appears and disrupts the transfer. Fa’s talents have come in handy up to this point, and she tries to talk the dragon out of things. These initial efforts are successful; the dragon explains to Fa that she’d been looking for a home to give birth and had travelled extensively for this reason. Fa’s ability to communicate with even the dragon would accentuate the fact that if certain barriers were bypassed, then there wouldn’t be a need for conflict. Generally speaking, conflict occur whenever there is a difference in individual aims or values, and at the heart of all conflict resolution is communication.
- For the dragon, being attacked simply because she was trying to find a home would certainly come across as unreasonable, whereas for the people, the presence of a dragon and their association with the past Dark Lord is worrisome because it is connected to strife and warfare. However, the dragon isn’t interested in causing destruction for kicks, and Satona’s forces definitely don’t having a particular appetite for warfare, either. Instead, RPG Real Estate shows that the dragon appears to be under some sort of spell from an individual who appears to be associated with a faction that intends on bringing the Dark Lord’s ways back into the world.
- This aspect of RPG Real Estate is the weakest link in a series that was otherwise solid in its portrayal of communications: had RPG Real Estate done away with this faction and had the confrontation with the dragon at its climax, to be resolved by Fa and Kotone attempting their preferred manner of conflict resolution, the anime would have remained very successful in its delivery. Instead, introducing another character with a chip on her shoulder and yet-to-be-defined motives adds unneeded obfuscation to the story. This is in violation of Chekov’s Gun; since we have a character introduced, it stands to reason that said character must play a nontrivial role of some sort.
- Because of how RPG Real Estate had proceeded up until now, I was half-expecting Kotone to notice this individual and try and talk her down from using dragons as weapons of mass destruction. Instead, this unknown individual proceeds to utilise the same spell against Fa, causing her to go rogue, as well. In the end, there is no opportunity for Kotone and Fa to utilise the sum of their shared experiences in addressing a problem unlike anything they’d faced earlier. The outcome in RPG Real Estate ends up being quite unconventional for a Manga Time Kirara series.
- It turns out that Fa is named after Fafnir, the Norse dwarf with a great love for treasure. This love of treasure corrupted him and, coupled with a curse, would transform him into a dragon. Fafnir is what inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s Smaug, as well as Thorin’s madness, in The Hobbit. In RPG Real Estate, however, Fa does not possess any of the attributes of her namesake, and even in dragon form, retains clarity: before she comes under the spell’s influence, she tries to talk the other dragon out of its rampage, using just enough force to keep the other dragon’s attacks from hitting the massed soldiers below.
- While Fa shows that the dragons can indeed be reasoned with, the unknown faction has perfected spells that reduce dragons, which otherwise would be clever and wise entities, into rampaging monsters. This aspect of RPG Real Estate absolutely demands exploration, and the fact that it was introduced so late into the series leaves a gaping hole in things: even though the outcomes are uplifting, one cannot help but feel that after fifteen years of peace, conflict may be brewing again. This could be resolved by giving RPG Real Estate another season, allowing the story to explore these elements in greater detail, but the problem here would be that a second season would depend almost entirely on how well RPG Real Estate performs in terms of sales.
- There is no guarantee that this is going to happen, and so, RPG Real Estate would leave viewers with more questions than answers in some regards. After taking a claw to the face, Kotone dies, leaving Rufuria, Rakira and Fa devastated. Fa’s emotional response is strong enough for her to overcome the unknown spellcaster’s incantation, and she departs. This marks the first time I’ve seen blood in a Manga Time Kirara series, and while some folks have informed me that not all Manga Time Kirara series are going to be happy-go-lucky, easygoing series, I hold that what makes Manga Time Kirara series distinct from others is the fact that the themes will always be more optimistic than pessimistic.
- I’ve been watching Manga Time Kirara works for upwards of a decade, and having seen a nontrivial number of their works, I have enough of a precedence to say that leaving Kotone dead would undermine the sorts of themes in what RPG Real Estate was attempting to go for. As Fa, Rufuria and Rakira attend Kotone’s funeral, a small, adorable doll suddenly bursts into the room and frantically gestures at Kotone’s body. It turns out that Lily had encountered a spirit hovering in front of RPG Real Estate’s main office and imagined it to be Kotone’s. After encasing it in a doll, she’s brought the spirit here and in mere moments, manages to restore Kotone’s spirit to her body.
- In almost any other anime, viewers would probably cry foul over how Kotone was resurrected, but because RPG Real Estate introduced Lily early on, this isn’t a problem – in fantasy worlds, resurrection spells are not uncommon, and this mechanic is ultimately utilised to ensure RPG Real Estate does not subvert its message. Kotone remarks that this is the first time she’s been brought back to life, and this leads to the question of whether or not some souls are irrecoverable if they are separated from the individual’s body. Regardless of how precisely things in RPG Real Estate work, what matters is that Kotone returns to Fa and the others.
- In recognition of their actions in stopping the dragon from decimating the area, the king himself thanks Kotone, Fa, Rufuria and Rakira for their actions. After consulting with Satona, he decides the best course of action is to have the four accompany the dragon to her new home, allowing everyone to stay together. Rufuria is devastated, since this puts her career plans on hold, but Satona reassures her that once they have sort out what happens with Fa, everyone will be allowed to return. It turns out that Fa is the Dark Lord’s daughter, and Satona had found her after the hero had defeated the Dark Lord. Raised under a loving environment, Fa became gentle and kind. After a large celebration that evening, Kotone, Fa, Rufuria and Rakira prepare to set off for their next destination.
- RPG Real Estate will be immediately relatable to anyone who’s moved house recently, capturing the entire spectrum of emotions, from excitement, to not wanting to go, in a succinct manner. Shortly after arrival, the dragon thanks everyone for having helped her, and everyone heads off for their new home. Here, Kotone remarks that her wish of living together with everyone has been realised: it is spacious and beautifully appointed, even possessing its own office space to allow everyone to continue their work. It is a satisfactory ending to a series that had, save the mysterious individual, been very consistent in its messaging. Before I wrap this post up, I will remark that RPG Real Estate Services is an actual company in Toronto that deals with realty services in the Greater Toronto Area, and I feel the slightest bit of pathos for them, since anyone looking for their services will now come across content related to RPG Real Estate the anime.
- Overall, RPG Real Estate earns a B grade: it represents a fun romp into the world of realty without overburdening viewers with specifics like home inspection, mortgages and insurance policies while at the same time, presenting a chance to see how vivid fantasy worlds can be. While the warring factions and their ability to control dragons was completely unaddressed, knowing the themes in RPG Real Estate means that there definitely is a possibility that even this can be solved peacefully in the future. With the first of this season’s Manga Time Kirara work in the books, I have a handful of posts planned out for this month, including a talk in Battlefield 2042‘s Zero Hour Update and a discussion of Machikado Mazoku 2-Chōme‘s finale once it becomes available.
While RPG Real Estate is largely a self-contained exploration of realty in a fantasy, of matching clients to properties in a world where the possibilities are more varied and colourful than they are in reality, the anime also hints at the fact that discord is always just around the corner. This aspect stands in juxtaposition to the cheerful, happy-go-lucky tone that otherwise dominates RPG Real Estate, and leaving the unknown individual who’d attempted to enchant dragons to carry her bidding leaves the floor open to additional conflict in the future. It is plain that while the Dark Lord’s faction was defeated fifteen years earlier, danger still lurks in this world. Prima facie, this seems out of place: it seems unusual to create suspense and terror in what is otherwise a gentle slice-of-life series, and doubly so when the source of the conflict is introduced so late into the game. This unresolved aspect in RPG Real Estate leaves open the possibility that additional strife could appear in the future, and that the otherwise peaceful world that Kotone, Fa, Rufuria and Rakira know is always under threat of disruption. However, upon closer inspection, RPG Real Estate provides all of the information viewers need to draw a conclusion. While a confrontation with this mysterious sorcerer is likely inevitable, given that Kotona and the others have always drawn upon their ability to listen and talk things out to resolve conflicts, it is likely the case that the learnings Kotone, Fa, Rufuria and Rakira draw from their experiences will be an asset. As such, while RPG Real Estate concludes a little too abruptly and introduced elements that are definitely unrelated to real estate, the anime appears to convey the idea that listening is a vital skill, and that one’s learnings can find applicability in situations outside of their occupation. The manner in how RPG Real Estate concludes is a definitive one, although it is quite clear that, assuming sales for this series turn out to be reasonable, any sort of continuation would have a wealth of directions to potentially explore.