「真贋対戦」 (Shingan Taisen)
“Battle for Legitimacy”
We finally arrive at where we were always going: all the girls, naked with Diablo.
I actually don’t have many problems with the Diablo vs Krebskulm battle. While it is funny how he seemingly had less trouble with her than with Galford or Eulerex, the big risk was that it would drag on too long, which it did not. We always knew the big moment would be when Klem sees that Rem is still alive, so getting the action/big ol’ nuke out of the way quickly was the best idea. As I’ve found in my own writing, if you don’t have anything particularly interesting to say, it’s best to just say it and be done with it. Same thing with action scenes.
Special props to Emile. He’s a silly character, but he’s always felt more oafish than actually creepy, so when he says he’s an ally of women—well, he probably shouldn’t say that. It’s like a guy I used to know who talked about “feminine energy.” Just … don’t. But he’s walked the walk more every chance he’s gotten, so even if he’s a rather shallow character, he’s at least a kind-hearted one.
Going with the enslavement ritual so Klem can stay … well. It’s the best idea they had. Compared to how Rem and Shera are still wearing the collars, it’s much better. I still didn’t like the image of the two current slaves encouraging a girl to become their master’s new slave, and I don’t love the theme of slavery throughout this series. Even Death March did it better, barely, though once again the focus came off as off-putting. Still, it was a good idea in this current situation, and I don’t have a better idea given my knowledge of the show’s universe, so. That happened.
Alicia’s characterization turned on a dime once her plan fell apart. They scattered hints to it throughout, but none were given that she’d give a shit about Edelgard in particular—and how did Edelgard, a Fallen, make it through the barrier anyway!? (Though I guess also how did Klem manage that originally. I forget the rules on it. Seems pretty arbitrary.) Ditto to them trying to line up Alicia’s way of thinking (and her trauma) with Diablo’s. I see what they were trying to do, and it’s not completely out of left field, but the link was brought up too close to its resolution, it hasn’t been explored enough before, and none of it was earned. Diablo got in some good moments, but that’s about the best I can say for it. Other’n that it led to where we all knew we were going all along: all the girls, in the harem, and naked, with Diablo. Fair enough. It was harder to get here than I expected, which just might be a win in the end.
As for forgiving Alicia, I agree with Diablo. Death isn’t penance, it’s a cop out, nor does her trauma excuse her actions. She is guilty of horrific crimes, ones which she cannot be absolved of. That does not mean she needs to die, though, nor that the others should hold it against her forever. Far from it. She can be redeemed, and should, and even though that won’t absolve her of her sins, it will at least lead to more good in the world than a corpse in a hotel room would. They made a good decision, even if the writing was shaky around it.
Onto the final impressions below!
- I love Emile’s face during the Sylvie confrontation scene! So silly, just perfect.
- Of course, now that Klem is officially part of the harem, she gets skimpy nightwear. Not that it’s much different from her usual outfit, natch.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: An Author’s Review of: Wage Slave Rebellion.
I had reasonable hopes heading into this series, and the first few episode met or slightly exceeded them. Up until probably the fifth episode, the series was actually pretty good, featuring likable female leads, a male lead who is overpowered but hobbled for a social phobia that’s both treated kindly and holds him back, and there were actual, believable challenges to Diablo’s powers in this world. That’s all really good! Also, the fanservice was big and silly, and that’s how fanservice should be. Tongue in cheek is the best place to put the tongue. Read into that statement as you will.
Things started to get shakier around mid-season, though, and that poisoned the well. I think the elf prince was the biggest initial problem. While Galluk (that crazy dude who stabbed himself with a Fallen inside) was a shallow villain, he was also clearly a bit player, which kept his idiocy from dominating the narrative. Not so for elfie nii-san. They also got way more into glorifying slavery, which ew. No.
But then there would be a fight against Galford, which was really, really good. Then Saddler would be marched out, another flat, clichéd villain. Then there was a bit of a rush at the end to bring it to this point. It was dicier in the second half, and it exposed the series’ central problem.
Murasaki Yukiya-sensei can do better. He has before, or so I’m told, and though I haven’t read his other books, I’m willing to believe it. There’s real skill in evidence in Isekai Maou, and real thought put into the premise, world, and creation of the characters, which elevates it above bottom-barrel genre fare. I mean, Rem and Shera end up developing a real, earnest friendship, instead of squabbling over the boy like expected! That’s really good! That’s not something a shallow writer could pull off. He seemed to actually care.
Except when it came to the villains, and much of the plotting. The issue, I think, is that enough of Isekai Maou is good that, when it takes the easy path, it’s disappointing. I know Murasaki-sensei writes these as a way to relax after writing his dense military epics, but when he opts for the path well trodden, it’s clearly because he didn’t care to dig deeper. He’s able. This is clear. But sometimes he just doesn’t try, such as when everyone danced so easily to Alicia’s tune, and then she suddenly about-faces in the last minutes.
Adaptation decay could be the culprit. I don’t read light novels, because their writing style is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’m totally willing to believe that some of these issues were done better in the source material. Only … not all of them. Four episodes per light novel should be plenty to adapt it properly, so unless the anime crew screwed up, I’d wager some of this was just there.
The result is pretty good, all things considered. It’s an above average isekai show easily, and I don’t lament watching it, nor blogging it. The reason I leave it disappointed is that Isekai Maou never escaped or elevated its genre, even though it could have, even though it was on the cusp of doing so. It had so much potential, and sometimes it traversed the difficult path with skill and aplomb (Rem and Shera’s relationship!). That just made it all the more disappointing when it took the easy road.
At least the fanservice was nice, more often than not. You can always believe in boobs. That seems to be the philosophy of the Japanese light novel industry, at least.