Dead Mount Death Play

TV (12 eps)
3.808 out of 5 from 3,862 votes
Rank #2,133

It's a showdown for the ages as the legendary hero takes on the corpse god necromancer, but when the dust settles, something isn't quite right... In the final moments of their epic confrontation, the corpse god's final gambit shot was wholly unexpected -- reincarnation magic! Across space and time, a boy named Polka Shinoyama awakens feeling...not quite himself...... Who could've expected that the climactic battle between good and evil would turn out like this??

Source: Yen Press

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TL;DR - It had the makings of something great but ultimately missed the mark. So, it's reverse isekai - instead of a normal human from Earth reincarnating to a different world, you get someone from a magical world reincarnating to Earth. It's not totally unheard of (e.g. Hataraku Maou-sama, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, Ya Boy Kongming, etc.) but it's mildly more interesting than the bajillion "regular" isekai in existence today. The first episode set up a really intriguing story/characters and actually did a good job with storytelling - you get a slight curveball at the end and I thought I was in for something really good. But 8 episodes in, I'm pretty disappointed. Animation Animation isn't top tier, but it's still very good. They did a particularly good job with the magic circles, the skeletons, and some of the combat scenes. Usually, if you don't notice anything weird, that's a sign of good animation. It was consistently fluid, and all of the characters and world elements were always well-drawn and well-proportioned, even during fight scenes. Sound Voice acting and sound F/X are good. Same thing here, I wasn't blown away at any point but overall it's solid. Nobody was obviously bad (that I noticed) and I was able to focus my entire attention on the story and characters. Story & Characters This is unfortunately where my rating goes down. Every good character has GMC - Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. These need to be clear. Why? Because that's how people are. People behave and say things because they have goals and feelings. When these are not understood, or they don't make any sense, characters do not feel real or relatable. Sometimes stories will deliberately exaggerate these things - that's fine. But stories like that also make it clear that you're in for a wild, whimsical ride (e.g. Kill la Kill, Katanagatari). Dead Mount Death Play tries to establish itself as a clever, interesting, intricate weaving of many characters, stories, and motivations - it's not. Most of the side characters are extremely boring and 1-dimensional. The show doesn't really spend much time diving into anyone's backstories, so you have no idea why they behave the way they do or what drives them. They're given the "natural disaster" treatment - e.g. they all have some aspect about them that is crazy - crazily yandere, crazily unpredictable, crazily strong, etc. etc., but there is zero explanation for it, and as the viewer you're just supposed to accept at face value that this is how they are. They do things "just because", and that's why the story sucks. Things feel like they happen just to happen. Remember: GMC. Our main character is easily the weakest character, as he is the only one whose backstory actually is explained, but then his personality is completely stoic and expressionless most of the time. Despite his multiple declarations that "human lives are just toys" to him, he does nothing the entire show except act nobly to save numerous lives. The writer couldn't decide if our main character was a hero or an anti-hero, so they decided to give us a half-assed mess of both... while still somehow not having much of a personality. Just.. stop. I just wish writers and anime studios can stop giving us expressionless, stoic MCs. I'm sure they do it so a bunch of readers/watchers can self-insert and fantasize, but my god that leads to boring, cringy stories. Worse yet, after hearing about the very sad backstory for our main character, what does he turn around and say? "I just want to live a peaceful life." And of course, everything that happens basically undermines any chance MC has at living a "normal" life. Ugh, what a disappointing, lame, and cliche shtick. There goes anything unique this show had going for it. And apparently, he doesn't even want it that badly because he doesn't hesitate to jump into trouble at every turn and uses his necromancer powers in front of other people constantly. Literally on the 2nd episode. Not really trying all that hard, are ya buddy? Even now at 8 episodes in there's no interesting or clear conflict to me. All I've gotten from it is "Necromancer from magical world reincarnates to real-life Earth and gets into shenanigans." It seems like the main conflict is supposed to be between MC's group (a bunch of assassins, fixers, brokers, underworld people, etc.) vs. the police. But it's gotten sidetracked by a ton of other conflicts with random groups, including MC's own family so far. The two main police dudes seem artificially bent on "arresting criminals" but apparently they're totally unfazed by supernatural powers, and I've never seen them call in squads or backup even when the situation is super bad. They're not very cautious or detail-oriented, and there's a lack of any sense of justice. Maybe these could be believable if they were totally corrupt cops, but that's not how they're portrayed, so it's a confusing mess and not very believable or police-like. If you want an example of well-written police characters, good or corrupt, watch Death Note, Psycho-pass, or Tokyo Ghoul. Those are believable cops. The show wants you to think you're watching this amazing tale of mystery woven by intriguing characters with fascinating powers, but it really feels like something a new college grad wrote for their first fantasy novel. There are plot holes all over the place. They dangle a bunch of seemingly interesting plot points and threads just to do nothing with them. Also, gratuitous boob and body shots of nude women, at random moments, break what little immersion this show had. Are they really beautiful? Yes. But does it make the show any more interesting? No. The show doesn't market itself as an ecchi comedy so it's just distracting and unexpected when they shove it in your face. It's awesome in Highschool DxD or Kill la Kill because it's part of what makes those shows so over-the-top and exaggerated, but Dead Mount Death Play portrays itself as something way more serious and clever. You know that friend who's a total nerd but tries to act like the cool kid? That's this anime. The tag on this is supposedly seinen but there's not nearly enough character development and serious story-driven elements for it. Even by shounen standards it's meh. It's not so bad that I can't finish the season - I guess it's entertaining enough. But I'm really bummed that it isn't anything more than mildly entertaining. Even if they manage to make the next 4-5 episodes super interesting until the end of the season, it's pretty hard to fix a plot that hasn't really gone anywhere for more than 2/3 of the cour. I'm also seeing now that this is based off of a manga - sometimes anime based on manga are subpar because they have to take the pacing of drawn work and cram it into 20-minute episodes, so maybe I'll give it a shot. But I'm not holding out a ton of hope. ---- EDIT AFTER FINISHING: The rest of the season continues without much improvement. You're introduced to even more characters and the entire story now resembles a tangled ball of yarn. There are so many people to keep track of, but none of them are explored in enough depth to make you give a damn. They exist just to exist. And they're crazy just to be crazy. I just can't get into this. Polka, the main character, sucks even more now - you're actually given an explanation that our main character has extreme empathy - which completely contradicts seeing human lives as toys? Make it make sense, dude The story is basically just throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. None of the individual dangling threads of plot are ever explored to a satisfiable depth. No real questions have been answered in Season 1 and I have such little interest in or attachment to any of the characters or story that I'm likely not going to watch Season 2 or check out the manga.

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