Let me start by saying this anime is seriously underrated due to the fact it attracts the wrong kind of viewers (or rather people who expect different things then what is being offered here)
To avoid spoilers but also to get the correct viewers attention; to save time for people who want this quickly summarized and don't care to read much:
Do not watch if:
- You're expecting fanservice all around and a lot of supernatural battles
- You want something similar to Bleach/Naruto/One Piece
- You want to see the classic good vs evil battle with some romance and ecchi
- You want anime to be educational and not limited to obvious plots
- You do not care much for bare skin and short skirts (there is some here though)
- You enjoy anime that shows changes and influence on large groups of people (countries/worlds) like Lelouch of the Rebellion or Death Note
- You find racial/political/religious debates interesting
- You would like a view on the history of crusades and life in the dark ages
The world is divided between the Demon and Human realms. The setting is medieval with magic being present. The human hero runs head-first into the demon lord castle to stop the war (by killing the "evil"), only to find that the demon lord is actually a woman, and a smart on at that. Not only so but she also has a crush on the hero, and would like nothing more than to be with him forever. Her wish is to end the fighting and war between the realms, but it will not be that simple...
Some backgrounds are being drawn without detail, but the animation itself if perfect. Not the 3D-view we've been experiencing so much lately (and learned to despise), but colorfully drawn characters that do not stand out too much due to ridiculous features (aka "my hair could hide a horse and carriage"). Overall a pleasure to watch.
Very interesting. Most reviews criticize this part a lot, but this is my take:
The Hero is just what you would expect in that reality, a warrior. He is not well educated, he was fighting not going to a school for rich boys, so he lacks highborn manners and often wants to act on instinct. He is a ridiculously strong fighter, but the setting does not pit him against stronger opponents so that he can grow, he IS the strongest around and he knows it. However he feels powerless given the fact the struggle cannot be resolved by strenght alone and is often troubled by wanting to do more to help.
The demon lord is very smart, educated, but lacks any real magic power (explained later in the series, wouldn't want to give any more spoilers than necessary). She is also head over heels for the hero, but mostly for her dream, which is to see the world like it has never been before.
The side characters are also very well done. We have the second female for those who enjoy this kind of stuff (does not get out of hand, lucky for us who don't enjoy this kind of thing, the rest of you can go watch White Album), a female knight who matures well throught the series.
A variety of minor characters play important roles later on, which is somewhat unexpected from the perspective of the average viewer ("If his hair doesn't stand out he will die soon or won't be important" - this mechanic does not work here).
A very enjoyable comedy character of a perverted old man, whose remarks often made me laugh out loud, wish he got more screen time.
Great premise, enjoyable experience.
I have found myself going for the next and next episode, even though there were no obvious cliffhangers for me to lean on, I just wanted to see what will happen to this world and how it will be influenced by this unusual pairing. I can sincerely say that you can judge this anime by the first two episodes. If you find yourself wanting to see the next one right after that it means you will enjoy it very much, just like I did. If you do not find this enjoyable after the first 2 episodes I'd suggest you skip it, it's not your type.
[This was based on the first 8 of 12 episodes]
I first heared a summary of the story's beginning. The premise of a hero rushing into the demon lord's castle alone (leaving his party behind) to find out that the demon king isn't the evil he was prepared. So instead of fighting him he pledges to reforge the human and demon kingdom with him.
Nice little twist to start. Then add in some strategic economy stuff. I was expecting something along the lines of Spice and Wolf, which I really liked. They took this great premise - and dumped it down the toilet.
What did I want to see?
The hero's party struggle to reach the demon lord. nope, nothing.
A strong female lead character - oh was I wrong.
The other party member's disbelief. There is some later on, but it isn't done well.
What did I get instead?
Boobies and a demon lord acting like a naive schoolgirl.
There isn't even another demon in the first episode. The first episode screamed for some action scenes, but there was none. Furthermore the hero get's way too fast on good terms with the demon king.
The first 4 episodes you wonder what demons they are talking about there were none except for the demon kind and her maid to be seen.
Luckily there is more stuff going on in the later episodes, so maybe it will get better.
The economics and tactics aren't as good as in Spice and Wolf. Some are reasonable, some just shouldn't work (Why exactly did the demons just watch them building the ice bridge? the timespan for the agriculture change was also very short).
There are some scenes where the background is a bit bland, but otherwise the animation is very beautiful. Nothing to complain here.
This demon king isn't a demon king at all. It's fine that she is attrictive, it's even alright she loves the hero main character. BUT DON'T GIVE US THIS NAIVE SCHOOLGIRL FLIRTING! Her other strong traits are wisdom and knowledge, but it doesn't appear that she is strong. (Seems like the demons in that world prefer wise kings...well ok)
She just doesn't feel like a demon king at all!
The hero's main trait is his strength - extremely great strength (we are speaking about 1 men vs entire armies), he also got teleport magic. Otherwise I think the hero is kinda okay, but he may be too powerful (he doesn't have to fight that much yet though).
The hero's party didn't get that much attention yet, with the exception of the female knight who got a lot of scenes (and also longs for the hero) . The old man only got lines about boobs (seriously? why?).
Also they way the characters speak about boobs is ridiculously silly.
Great premise, awful realisation.
I'm not against harem/ecchi-like animes, but in this anime it doesn't fit the premise and ruins the mood.
I wouldn't recommend this series to anyone.
Edit: The last two episodes are far better than the rest and quite fun to watch. A lot of stuff happens, some of the tactics used are smart and even the characters are allowed to shine a little bit.
I've upped the score a bit, but although the last episodes are more enjoyable - overall it's still disappointing.
I once tried to write a review about Spice and Wolf (S&W) but soon gave up since there was absolutely nothing to write about it. Seriously, it was just aimless slice of life with some hints of economy and trade. But now that they made Demon and Hero, (D&H) its spiritual successor, I had more than enough material to finally write my thoughts about it. So in a way consider this a double review.
- Both the animation studios behind these shows are very minor in the field, and most of their works are hentai. At the same time, these two titles are their best works to date.
- The writers of the shows are different in each one but follow a similar theme in the story.
- The director is the same in both titles and despite having done several other anime, these are his only average and above works. The rest are hentai or heavy on erotic context.
In both titles we have a mortal male siding with a super hot sexy supernatural woman and going around doing stand alone missions that have to do with economy and trade. Surely, it isn’t much since they are mostly shows about fluff than plot. At least D&H has a bit more variety for having a fantasy war in the background. Other than that, it is still nothing much in terms of plot. And let it be noted that D&H is to the most part a parody of fantasy stereotypes; so it feels funnier and sillier to S&W, which was “serious” as far as slice of life goes.
Let it be noted that the source material has a lot of plot which the anime skips entirely in order to save budget in fights and stick to silly gag and boob jokes before it ends openly. So all the interesting themes are both underplayed and left incomplete for the sake of fan service. If you are wathing this for the plot, prepare to be disappointed.
S&W’s two main characters had a huge antithesis and made a very interesting couple. Aside from having different genders, the male was a typical mortal merchant, and the female was a goddess of nature. Their common goal existed in how humanity needed to find a balanced way of life so it won’t further damage the environment in which it lives. The protagonists were trying to achieve that with proper trading of goods and by spreading their ideals.
In D&H the antithesis is not so bold, as both main characters are very powerful in combat and magic. The male is an epic level human warrior and the female a demon lord with great knowledge in most sciences and arts. Their species are in war for many years and team up in order to find a way to stop that and promote coexistence. The method they have in mind is through trading; one side covering the needs of the other through exchange of goods.
It seems more colorful to have different species, spells, and civilizations blending like that, but at the same time it lacks the spiritual and philosophical feel of S&W. It has to do with pluralism and equality instead of ecology and balance. And if you see deeper than that, you realize the differences between humans and demons are only superficial. They barely look different besides some horns and tails and otherwise behave and live in the exact same way.
Aesthetic aside, there are other things which make the couple of D&H worse to that of S&W. When you have two overpowered main characters who can pretty much defeat anyone, it is hard to feel they will have big obstacles in their mission. They can just kick the crap out of anyone who disagrees and enforce their beliefs through fear instead of convincing the population of their philosophy. Of course they keep saying the whole point is to bring coexistence without reliance on raw power but there is still that option as a last resort.
Another issue is the way the main two characters are presented to the audience. The male hero was so powerful that everybody was afraid of him. He felt like committing suicide out of depression, until he was offered this mission and found a new meaning in his life. That makes him look like an asshole, since he is scorned by everybody for doing his job right and intends to change everybody’s lives even if they disagree. It’s like he is in a lose-lose situation.
The far more Average Joe in S&W, as simplistic as he was, he accepted the task exactly because it was already his profession and because he realized the crisis the world was facing and wanted to help everyone by doing what he already was good at. It was a selfless act; not an act of boredom or depression. Plus he looked like a mature adult while the super warrior looks like a stereotypical immature shonen protagonist inside a harem.
Even the female demon lord feels so much less interesting to the one in S&W. She is far more sexualized and her boobs bounce a lot. The goddess in S&W was naked because the animals in nature are naked; an excused feature that could not be seen as erotic. When she was dressed, she was modest and fine to look at. On the other hand, how am I supposed to show respect for this big tits? She doesn’t even look like a demon and dresses like a typical human noble with a bare cleavage. Even her horns are there as decoration; she is otherwise just another hentai bitch.
Plus, because the male is as powerful as she, it makes her feel like nothing more than his female counterpart. And sure, at first you are meant to believe she is NOT that good in battle as she is at politics or planning but then they throw a devilish dark side she has which makes her god-level for awhile and thus she is as strong as she likes to be. So she ends up being needless fan service instead of a vital character with a different role to that of harem girl number 1. Why did I say harem? Well…
The final nail to the coffin is how there are many other secondary girls who are all after the hero. Yup, harem in the making, further detracting focus and context from the main goal. Take out economy and war, and throw in done-to-death erotic comedy. Lots of boob jokes and the hero constantly called virgin and a useless piece of meat, as he breezes through missions full of hot animal chicks ho are after his shortsword, if you know what I mean. Unlike S&W, this show is pandering to otakus way too much, a thing I find cheap and lame as it trashes its worth as a memorable series.
It must be noted though that many things in the show are supposed to be there as a parody of jrpg stereotypes. So all the goofy and overused stereotypes are meant to be an excuse to make jokes out of them. No sir, it is not fan service to have breasts bigger than a house; it is a parody! And no sir, they are not named after their classes; it is there to make it easier to remember who is who. Why bother to name your characters Bill, Jeanne, and Maria, when you can simply call them Hero, Demon, and Warrior? And thus we go back to what I said about this one being light and silly, while the other was serious about its themes.
Both shows look nice to keep staring at, with S&W being very calming thanks to its rural areas and old style cities, while D&H heads for fantasy appeal by having knights, wizards, monsters, and spells. The later has some pretty interesting backgrounds, by adding filters and gradient special effects to the mix in order to create a much better fairy-tale feel. So it wins in being more colorful and detailed, although the bouncing boobs in the foreground can be very distracting.
As far as music goes, voice acting is ok and I am not fond of any of the songs. It’s just that the S&W OST is calm and elegiac, while the D&H OST is just generic jpop nobody would care to remember.
Although I was never a fan of such shows, S&W was amongst the best warm and fuzzy feeling anime of all times. D&H is a far more typical show, aiming to appeal to otakus with bouncing boobs, harem, and videogame fantasy worlds. It looks more colorful and variable but it has a lot less development with a lot more elements, and thus loses. It will fail to be anything significant in the longrun but for awhile it will be appealing for many, because the season it aired in was boring as hell, plus all the fans of S&W will be biased towards liking it for having the same feel, voice actors, and director.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (nice fantasy world)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (interesting textures in backgrounds)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (bad)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (ends openly)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 0/2 (generic erotic archetypes)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 0/2 (none; the show ends incomplete)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 2/4 (nice visuals and concept but very light to bother remembering)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good concept but very light presentation)
Characters 0/4 (they are just generic and erotic archetypes)
The artwork for this series is understated, and the landscapes are done in a style reminicent of watercolor paintings. I think this matches the tone of the story well. The story so far is a little slow to start, and has a shamless romantic element to it, without being totally silly. It's sort of a "Romeo and Juliet" sort of relationship because the two get together in order to end a terrible war between the Demons, and the Humans.
If you like interesting animation styles, can handle a slow-starter, and like romance with a little supernatural thrown in you'll most likely enjoy watching this anime. I wanted to like this anime so much more, but toward the end it kind of stalled, and it was *very* preachy at points. I don't feel like there was a real resolution to the problems presented.
The problem with creating a historical anime is frequently similar to that of adapting a manga or video game: oftentimes, the author has to resort to filler or fan-service materials to clumsily meet the airing requirements for shows. However, an axiom that directors ought to familiarize themselves with is that quality is invariably better than quantity.
Thankfully, this inference only applies to certain aspects of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, a recent adaptation of the original light novels under the same name.
Set in a time period of gruesome wars to political corruptions, Maoyuu depicts a fantasy world where humans and devils are fighting for the ultimate authority, while exploring the infrastructures involved in wars. Despite it falling under the fantasy genre, Maoyuu brings many historical references into play- from the great innovations of the Discovery age (such as the compass, movable type prints, etc.) to the spread of crops like potato and corn into the agriculture industry. Moreover, it is reminiscent of a certain series that many of us could've never forgotten- Spice and Wolf.
Better known for its formula of enchanting romance, Spice and Wolf consists of a very similar antique structure in the way that it handles its plot, drama, world-building, and specifically, the daily lives of merchants. While this may sound bland, Spice and Wolf manages to make it work with a recipe of individual arcs for concentrated purposes, and thus, the viewer can gain a fine viewing of diverse episodes with several delightful, piquant subjects at hand.
If Spice and Wolf is a mix between curry and rice, then Maoyuu would surely be a mix between potatoes and candy bars; since, it is neither a smart combination nor a completely satisfying experience. Still, it's only in comparison that one is weaker than the other. The steady, episodic approach that Maoyuu employs very much stands out on its own.
A scaffolding plot, after all, is better than none at all. The story of Maoyuu starts out with our protagonist Yuusha, a hero siding with the humans, not expecting the beautiful demon queen Maou, whose only wish was to negotiate with him, in the heart of the demons' castle. After their fated meeting, Yuusha then embarks on a journey at Maou's will, and each episode continues with mini-stories about Yuusha's encounters and findings for a seemingly nonexistent reason.
Whereas, it is fairly obvious from the start that Yuusha has difficulties conveying his true intentions for Maou, and oftentimes these misunderstandings are used for comedic purposes as well as entertainment. Although repetitive, the several quirks that Maou and Yuusha begin to form do add onto the character interaction, and definitely made certain arcs more interesting.
However, side characters do abruptly intervene in the capital of romance arcs, usually with very few good reasons for doing so, and thus, some developments can turn out stagnantly without progression. Most side characters also have very little to offer, ranging from a delusive maid to female knights like Onna Kishi. At times, female characters would surround Yuusha in herds, and it becomes questionable whether or not pandering to the audiences was the purpose. And, although some characters were satisfyingly fleshed out with conclusive stories, other individuals had trouble deciphering their prominent role in the series. Such abstruse matters also bring up the lack of characterization or any predisposition to determine the presence of a solid personality for specific characters, since most of the cast only experience trite developments.
Maou, for example, is best described by her acquaintance as "useless meat". Although Maou herself denies this, and claims at all costs the significant deeds that she has achieved and will, the fact of the matter remains that her role embodies a few inconsistent hiccups. At times, she continuously aims to resolve world peace, while the scenes which repeatedly follow her scholarly deliberations are abruptly placed daydreams of Yuusha. Such applies to the grander scale of Maoyuu as it deconstructs historical figures and side characters to bring concerns about the time period being depicted- the medieval ages. Contrarily, the portrayal of the church's public servants during prehistoric times may have exaggerated some of the exploitations, but Maoyuu does extensively illustrate the corruption which overtook officials of feudal societies. Additionally, a charming aspect of Maoyuu resides with how the characters were named after fantasy classes, which effortlessly resonated a lovely core. However, due its enormous cast, Maoyuu couldn’t engender insightful eccentricities for certain characters as it did for others.
Likewise, the character aesthetics in the series stuck with genuinely dull decorations as exemplified by Yuusha, whose character design emits the appeals of a generic, immutable male lead. Similarly, Maou has her own pairs of inflatable balloon issues, which many will see as being hackneyed and unoriginal.
However, the art directing, layouts for many of the map animations and arrangement of urban images are, in comparison, much better. Correspondingly, majority of the background frameworks and presentations also fulfill their duty in making a location look rural, metropolitan, or even appropriately hideous.
Music is undoubtedly one of Maoyuu's greatest assets. The original soundtrack entrances viewers with its vibrant nature, and likewise, the use of many instrumental pieces evokes an indelible atmosphere. With a spirited opening and ending theme, Maoyuu further enlivens its vigor. Correlation between the animation and music also paints an impressionable feeling for the series overall, and the seiyuus all befit their roles perfectly.
On the contrary, good narration doesn’t necessarily equal quality dialogue.
While the conversations in the series do present interesting observations about macroeconomics, some expositions on the networks of commerce can come off as brusque. Not only so, Maoyuu emphatically focuses on the construction of its own fantasy world, rather than the chronological order of its historical references, so some of the mentioned inventions furnish idealized timelines over what's factually correct. This, in turn, produces temporarily engrossing world-building, but it can also repeatedly bore or confuse the viewer with arbitrary elaborations on ultimately flimsy subjects.
From the tone of my writing, it may sound like the majority of Maoyuu is about monotonous history or economics; however, during the latter parts of the series character relationships take center stage, and action scenes transpire more often. As most climaxes do, the story delivers a closing end towards previously unresolved issues, and desolating sides of things take form in both dialogues as well as battles. This, in some ways, may dismay some audiences since the pacing relatively changes, but as a closure, many aspects of the show become a lot more tasteful and digestible even in spite of the several interrelated topics displayed.
Moderately diverse, Maoyuu is a series that really tries to bring something to the table for everyone, and in its mixture of historical references with fantasy themes, some of its themes are marred by oversimplified explanations. Although the stale, generic personalities some characters exhibit are very definite flaws, the majority of Maoyuu can still offer insights on the economic and strategic aspects of war, which shifts towards a manner infrequently attempted in its medium. It is most unfortunate, then, that this unique concept lacks the excitement its influences (Spice & Wolf) had obtained so gracefully. Perhaps if given a second season, the lackluster aspects of Maoyuu can do itself more justice through more concise yet lively handling of its themes, and its character relationships may become even more captivating. If nothing else, this series provides a fascinating outlook on the protocols and systems of commercial economics, but sadly, is a hero crippled by his towering boldness of attempting too many feats.
Despite its unfortunate flaws, Maoyuu can still compensate for its faults by further constructing its dynamic universe, but only if a sequel will be permitted to fully execute the conceptual values.