「二人の決勝戦」 (Futari no Kesshousen)
“The Final Duel”
And now for the fight we’ve all been waiting for. Wait, you mean the Dragon Ball worthy fisticuffs? Nawh, it’s all about that interdimensional ping pong that has me thinking I really need to rewatch the Majin Buu arc once again. Because Buu! Alright, comedic reminiscing aside, Maou Gakuin was all about cranking the crazy to eleven this week, and finally revealing the face of evil at the centre of it all.
Given the sheer ridiculousness of magic, demonic strength, and outright invincibility on the part of Anoth, it’s probably not too disturbing when you learn our demon king’s power was only a tenth of his maximum up until now. Yes, a tenth. Normally that would be the apex reveal of a climactic shounen showdown, but here? Just another day in the neighbourhood. The ability of Maou Gakuin to seamlessly and continually throw these sorts of arguably cringeworthy scenes at us frankly keeps on amazing me, as for all the blatant cheesiness, it never stops being entertaining. All the power in the world, and the intelligence to know when to keep things subtle. Threading the needle has never been a more apt statement.
Of course, what really helps in the demon emperor liberation this week is Ray. Much like Anoth’s willingness to let his fan club and parents steal the show, here it was Ray and his mother proving they’re more than emotional trappings for Gary Stu actions. Sure, the whole secret sword power was as trope-ish and stereotypical as it gets (albeit coming from a mom was pretty unique), but it nevertheless feels nice knowing Anoth is willing to both rely upon and empower others to see various conflicts through. Obviously, Ray can never defeat Anoth, obviously these battles will only ever play out one way, yet it doesn’t mean building up these characters and letting them shine is bad or boring. After all, where else are you going to see an OP teenage toddler lovingly herald his father’s craftsmanship as the sole reason for his victory? After a scene like that you can be forgiven for thinking a dolled up tsundere Sasha was a little bit of a letdown. Slightly.
Going forward though it looks like it’s back to investigating as the teased appearance of Anoth’s impersonator hints towards some more direct confrontations in the not too distant future. I wouldn’t think any serious answers will be immediately forthcoming (still four episodes to go!), but when dealing with any masked character, you can bet the results will be wild.