I thought I had Winter 2013 pegged as being uneventful, if not bad. Not after the everlasting glory that last season gave us. I am aware of the common sentiment that Winter usually is the slowest season for anime, but only before the season really starts. Winter 2012 gave us Nisemonogatari and Ano Natsu de Matteru. Winter 2011 gave us Madoka and Wandering Son. This time, Winter 2013 has given us Maoyuu Maou Yuusha. I don’t say this out of personal preference; Given its formula and its presentation, this is most likely going to explode in popularity. Not in the bad way, like we’ve seen almost every season of last year, but in maybe a respectable good way. I’m going kick myself so hard if this ends up being wrong, but I honestly can’t see how I am going to be wrong on this. This is, quite honestly, a great first episode.
Look at this shit. It’s not actually shit, but look at this shit. A huge part of fantasy is in building a world that is, suffice to say, fantastical. Breathtaking landscapes. Grand architecture. Bestiaries of interesting creatures amidst a pleasant ye olde European lifestyle. Magic spells and ethereal beings. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha does all of this, but it’s presented in a way I can appreciate. I especially like the rusty, oily, ancient look of all the landscapes and buildings. Finding some good screenshots without overloading or straying away from relevancy was hard, because there’s so many good shots of the background. I also didn’t mind how much CG it used. Of course, there was a bit too much of the camera spiraling around one focal point, but for the most part it melded into the animation pretty well. I can at least give ARMS the benefit of the doubt in saying that they’re doing Maoyuu a good job at a presentation level.
I also liked that gimmicky magic lantern of INNER FEELS that, honestly, felt a bit out of place. Yet, in this case, it was used to shed some light on the main pair. Yuusha comes from a family of wealth and endless parties, sheltered from war and poverty at its worst, perhaps pampered and conditioned into thinking that his way of thinking is justice. One could also tell that Maou’s past is equally as pleasant, but much less active and probably more lonely. Of course, I only say lonely in the sense that there’s no one physically around in her memories, but we have no indication as to whether or not Yuusha has any close friends yet. Maybe he does have some, but it’s definitely going to be less than what we see in all those rich people parties and certainly says something about his party if they allowed him to storm the Demon King’s castle all by his lonesome. All of this could have just been presented to us with flashbacks or by word from the characters’ mouths, but the story chose to use this. I like it because while it’s slightly out of place it still does the job of exposing their pasts. It’s much flashier, more vivid, than with flashbacks or telling stories at the dinner table.
At the same time, instead of having Maou describe the current situation on her own, the camera pans towards different areas of the world and does the explaining for her. Think about the scene where a small group of humans are toasting the prolonging of war, while one is peer-pressured into doing the same. The original conversation in the Demon King’s Castle is one of clashing ideals, but when the conversation is juxtaposed with the real world it shows how idealistic both Maou and Yuusha are. Yes, there are leaders who wish to prolong war for their own profit. Yes, humans are capable of as much evil as the demons are. Yet, it’s also true when considering vice versa. There exist people who don’t want war to continue. There exist demons who do indeed behave as the humans fear them to behave. I think it’s a bit lopsided to only show the human world aspect of the war, but the main purpose of doing this is to convince Yuusha that his way of thinking is more one-sided than a Mobius Strip, and it’s done pretty well.
There’s also this weird chemistry between Maou and Yuusha, and I’m interested in seeing how well they match up. Of course, given the lady in his party is kind of sullen about his fate, I’m kind of expecting some lame love triangle to emerge once they find out that Yuusha has kindasorta betrayed them. I suppose that’s a problem too, Yuusha being so willing to listen to Maou after some tea and a few cleavage shots here and there. Shame that boobs and puppy dog eyes are apparently not what demons look for in their females. I would guess that they look for physical strength. It would certainly serve as more comparisons to make between the kingdoms of humans and the kingdoms of demons. Well, as long as the worldbuilding keeps making we wonder about these things, I’ll at least enjoy watching it to the end, no matter how the story itself turns out.
- Now excuse me while I stuff an oversized burlap sack with Maou goodness. Ye Olde Dakimakuras too stronk.
- We are also most likely to show this during Anime Club next week. Expect an update on Escapades for that time.
- Aw shit I’m stuck repeating the OP. Goddammit.