I quit. This simply isn’t right. This season is all wrong.
So yes, Maoyuu Maou Yusha or MMY for short. MMY is a product of Studio ARMS, the illustrious sages responsible for Queens Blade. It’s not like they’ve never done anything of actual merit before. They helped make Genshiken a project that I love. That said these guys are just about terrible. If any studio can be said to be nearly an outright porn studio it’s ARMS. Thus when I saw MMY on the season previews, I added it to my ever illustrious crap pile. My overflowing crap pile this season.
The first thing that should have tipped me off was that the premise actually struck me as vaguely entertaining. Somewhere along the line I also noted that this is by the creator of Spice and Wolf. I wrote this factor off pretty quickly considering lots of ARMS-esque crap came from the same source. This was a mistake on my part. In my defense, the promo art told me in no uncertain terms that ARMS was not going to refrain from going the tits route on this one.
I only picked it up when word started going around that it was good. Good you say? Like Spice and Wolf you say? You must be joking. Having watched it I must confess. This thing is quite a bit like Spice and Wolf. It’s not quite on the show’s level yet, but with a few minor changes this thing could actually be something to remember.
The show immediately begins with a drawn out explanation of how combat in this series works, even with some renascences to some vaguely believable campaigns. From there we are taken on a wonderful trip of geopolitical trends and macroeconomics laced with surprising moments of nobility, human weakness, existentialism, and realpolitik. From ARMS. The universe fucked up somehow.
The main characters of the show are a pair named Hero and Demon King. The name Demon King title serves simultaneously as a springboard for humor, a way of tipping the audience in that political formality is all the rage in this universe, and a jab at less morally complex adventure stories. It’s not quite subtle, but it works to further the deconstruction of the traditional adventure story going on here. That is because for the most part, we find that the massive human/demon war is beneficial to both sides for various economic and nationalism based reasons, and that if Hero were to kill Demon King it would send the world into decline. It’s honestly shockingly intelligent.
Hero and Demon King are both strangely likable characters. Hero is the critical notion of lawful good, but he also isn’t portrayed as stupid. While the show seems a bit uncritical on Demon King’s views so far, he proved capable of persuasion with a logical argument. Also somewhat surprising is how genuinely earnest it felt. Both of them are three dimensional characters and they have good chemistry. It’s rare that anime portrays a relationship between two people who aren’t terribly sexually confident, and seem almost as afraid of each other as they are attracted to each other. This reaches it’s head in the body pillow joke that has to be the funniest thing in the whole damn episode.
So yeah, I’m on board for the three episode rule. It has plenty of potential to crash and burn, and I hardly trust ARMS to keep this up. Furthermore, the episode wasn’t exactly flawless. For one thing, the source material is primarily in script form, leading to an overwhelming focus on dialogue, especially in unchanging settings. Takahashi’s tendency of putting all exposition into endless speeches is in full effect here. Luckily the characters are animated enough and the dialogue is spicy enough that this at no points becomes excruciating.
And then there comes the pair of giant elephants in the room. Arms may have decided that complex deconstructions and three dimensional characters may be their new style, but they haven’t decided to leave their old friend tits behind. It seems like they can’t have the girl move without her giant flopping mounds of flesh stapled to her chest jiggling like they have a vibrate function. It’s also completely out of place because the rest of the show seems so genuinely earnest and intelligent (If not a little pretentious even).
Really, the fact that this is the best new show of the season so far speaks somewhat of how good this ended up being, but more to the point on how unceasingly awful this season has been. In the meantime this gets my pass stamp on the condition it keeps this up. With most of my likely shows being the shocking number of returning hits from the spring (noitaminA, Jojo, and Shinsekai Yuri?) I have a feeling this is going to be a very annoying winter.