Thursday, July 26, 2018

[New][July 2018] How Not to Summon a Demon Lord (Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu)

This was the point I surrendered to the laughter.

Last Seen: Episode 4

Summary: Sakamoto Takuma was so strong in the MMORPG 'Cross Reverie' that his fellow players came to call him the "demon lord." One day, he is summoned to another world in his avatar form, and meets two girls who both are fighting about who the one who summoned him is. They cast a spell used to enslave summoned beasts on him, but that activates his unique ability, Magic Reflection, and the girls end up being the ones put under the spell! And thus begins the otherworldly adventure of a demon lord (pretending) who blazes his own trail through overwhelming power.

First Impression: Ah, shit, it's a harem...but it's...Hilarious?!

My Opinion: I have literally no idea why I find this show so absolutely hilarious. Literally any other Harem show I have watched has annoyed wherever it tried to amuse. Now this. It's using so many common harem or 'ecchi' jokes, but...somehow it's making them funny enough for me to laugh at them. Maybe I'm just getting old, or just far too jaded, but somehow it feels like this one's higher quality presentation. Same material? Yes. But it seems fresh because of the way it is presented, or at least that's the excuse I'm going with while I draw blanks, and laugh my ass off.

To wit, though, the story is quite good, and the main characters are all interesting. Not so much the elf at first, she was just such a cardboard cut out Harem toon. I didn't like her character, but she was immensely useful for comedic effect, so I ignored it. When they filled in some of her back story though, I don't mind her as much now. I'll avoid spoilers, but it explains some of her personality quirks that make her a perfect Harem girl fit in a decent way. Is that clearly the egg after the chicken? Yes. She was clearly designed to be a Harem girl in a Harem anime, but I will always take a moment to appreciate some thought and detail being put into a show.

On the flip, the other main female lead up to this point, is a wonderful contrast. I think this has to be the most ... realistic? presentation of the 'Tsundere' trope I've ever seen. It's not just gag-slap after gag-slap, and main character defying gravity to smash into walls left, right, and center, I genuinely think her character is well constructed, as it has been presented so far. She reacts to things in a very reasonable manner, especially compared to literally any other Harem genre show.

But by far and large, my favorite character of all, is the main protagonist, Diablo. Definitely. I love the way he's presented as thinking about and interpreting everything through a video game lens as a coping mechanism to not have a break down, and cover for his horribly insufficient social skills. It amuses me, and it makes for a good watch, if I do say so myself. I just genuinely like it when a main character is shown as putting some thought and deductive reasoning to work to get by. He doesn't just resort to blasting everything to pieces with his overwhelming power, he's actually trying to understand everything around him and how things are working, even if it is just by comparing it to the game he's used to playing, finding the differences in how things work.

But really though. Those goddamn bouncing gravity defying boob bounces scenes. Why are they so funny now? I absolutely hated it whenever any other show would go about this gag-style recurring joke. The only bits of reasoning I can come up with, is the camera doesn't drool over her every time it's happening. It's literally a few frames of animation for comedic effect, and then it cuts straight to the main character or someone else being bothered by it. Maybe that's it. The main character isn't presented as being ruled by his hormones, he's actually putting up a level headed resistance, and trying to be civil. You know. Not a farking creep or pervert. Of course, this is a Harem genre anime, so eventually that breaks down, but even then that entire scene with him waking up next to them was just... I don't know. I was laughing, and I was trying to figure out why, and then just laughing harder as the scene kept going. I was having a hard time choosing a screenshot for this post between this one, and "HELP ME, RIGHT HAND!", but I went with this one because it's slightly better out of context on its own, and it's also the point where I just went 'fuck it' in my head, and resigned my self to just laughing and enjoying the whole thing.

I know better than to put the cart in front of the horse anymore, so I won't put a recommendation on this show...yet. But, for certain, you should check it out. Anything that decides to be the Harem Genre and is strong enough to make me enjoy it, deserves special mention.


EDIT: I FIGURED IT OUT! I went back and re-watched a couple of episodes, and I figured out why I like this shows presentation so much better than literally any other Harem show ever. It's what the show is expecting its audience to do with its scenes. Summon a Demon Lord understands that its making fan service, but it expects you to laugh at it. Meanwhile, other shows will just show you fan service, and expect you to be a drooling mess as long as it is on screen. I think that's why it annoys me so much. Since I'm not the target audience, and the appeal goes right over my head, it just feels like a tortuously long waste of my time, that could be better spent watching the parts of the show I do like.

I remember a while back when Phantom World came out, it was a similar affair. I praised it for how the 'fan service' didn't grind the show to a halt every time it was onscreen, and instead it just fluently rolled with it, like it was a natural part of the show's world, instead of the usual earth shattering grind-to-a-halt forces in play when most fan service hits the screen and everything stops for a closer look.

Ultimately I expected way too much from that show based on its first episode, and ended up with a bad taste in my mouth after it ended. I'd like to think I've grown a bit since then, and don't invest as easily. Still, it's been four episodes, and this one just keeps getting better, while Phantom World literally started to rot in episode 2. I'll Raise my hopes a bit for Summon a Demon Lord, but I won't place any expectations just yet.

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