I’ve never gotten into Super Sentai style shows and manga outside of Power Rangers as a kid, and Gatchaman Crowds’ wonderful story and absolutely brilliant theme song. However, of the ones I’ve happened to catch, this is one of my personal favorites. A twist on the Super Sentai-style genre, Hero-San and Former General-San is a story about two unlikely women falling in love. After defeating the hero, Rapid Rabbit, and forcing Rabbit to transform back into her regular self, Honjou Hayate, the evil Antinoid general sent to destroy humanity immediately gets the hots for her nemesis. Unwilling to kill Hayate, the general, Honey Trap, runs away back to base, upon which the evil leader X fires Honey for not doing her job and sends an assassin to finish her off. By happenstance, Hayate finds Honey and nurses her back to health. Falling deeper in love and pissed at being fired, the ex-general joins forces with the hero and fights against her old employer.
This entire series is a ridiculous story and I love it. Most dramatic conventions that you would think would happen end up being a joke. For instance, the Antinoid device that allows Hayate to transform into a hero was just found at a random store at the mall, instead of, by fate, gifted to her. There’s also the other evil generals who want to destroy all of humanity, but on the weekends pop down to earth to get shopping done. And of course, the reason generals don’t attack at the same time, something logically would be the best, is because it’s a deduction in their wages if they work together. The story enjoys making humorous twists on normal conventions and working them into a quirky story that both jokes about and revels in the classic Sentai hero story. When our hero poses dramatically in different ways, the Antinoids think she’s weird rather than cool. When a giant Antinoid appears after a climactic battle, Hayate is sad at the fact she has no giant mech to fight it.
While it does enjoy the story between the action, there still are action-packed fights and some emotional weight. The evil Antinoids do actually cause major harm and later situations begin to deal with heavier stuff, including the manipulation of a child in order to create a powerful enemy. However, the manga enjoys its more romcom elements than sticking to the darker path. As an example, one of the chapters is about how Hayate doesn’t want Honey to see her at the traditional job she works, so Honey sneaks in to see Hayate’s cute outfit. These are the stakes most days for these two outside of their battles.
On that note, this series is also, forewarning here, extremely gay. All the main characters are women and pretty much every character in this show is canonically trying to pursue another character. The evil generals are all paired up and openly affectionate, and while Hayate is a bit of a dunce, Honey cannot contain her own massive crush on Hayate. So along with the fights, and super sentai antics, pretty much every character is involved in some kind of relationship they’d like to deepen farther than what it currently is. This causes more antics as each couple is trying to deepen their relationship, sometimes at the expense of their rivals. It also doesn’t help that the last of the originally four generals is a shipper of yuri stories, and so actively tries to help and watch all of the couplings that are going on around her.
For me, I didn’t find this a detraction, and instead, found the extremely prevalent multiple romances part of the charm of this very wacky and quirky story about various people that really should hate each other more but don’t. Half the time, the manga engages in antics I’d expect out of a romcom and the other half is very serious fights for the sake of humanity. The whiplash is present but the series does a great job of balancing it, finding a charming middle ground between flirting and evil dimensional beings trying to end the world. The usual romantic stakes.
Hero-san and Former General-san is a fun time. Initially, it seems as it may have just been a two page joke by the mangaka on their social media that then spiraled into a larger story, and if that’s the case, this is probably the best thing I’ve heard in a while. The series exudes that humor and channels it into an action-packed fun flirty comedy with wonderfully wacky characters. The twists on normal Sentai conventions are funny and the characters are all ridiculous in the best of ways. This manga is definitely worth a read.