「世界が愛に満ちるように」 (Sekai ga Ai ni Michiru You ni)
“Let the World Be Filled With Love”

Oh the happiness at knowing when you’ve guessed right. For all the distaste of Usain Bolt pacing last week, Maou Gakuin’s finale pleasantly decided to dial the speed back and give us, frankly, one hell of a show. Masterminds were crushed, idols hilariously sang, and we even received the magic version of a fusion dance because clearly the best duo wasn’t best duo enough. And yes, even Ray/Kanon got in on the action with a confirmed pairing for spice—not to mention Mama Anoth further reinforcing why I need more of that wholesome demon (and human) family life. It was the nice cherry on top to a season of ridiculous guilty pleasure fun, and I couldn’t have it any other way.

Final Impressions

When I started into Maou Gakuin I honestly wasn’t expecting much. With light novel origins and a generic fantasy harem premise akin to RokuAka, this was a series which screamed seen it all before and a quick three episode drop. Indeed, such initial impressions were easily met, yet Maou Gakuin soon revealed to have far more talent than apparent resting under the hood—because execution arguably proved to be its saving grace.

The important and strongest feature of Maou Gakuin is without a doubt its self awareness. This is a series which features your typical OP MC, your usual harem shenanigans, and all the various rationalizations and veritable deus ex machinae, but rather than try and muddy the waters or blur it all away, heartily accepts what it is and doubles down as appropriate. Case in point is main man Anoth. Rather than the usual shenanigans of random and frequently nonsensical power-ups appearing out the blue—themselves typically accompanied by explanations attempting to rationalize away the latest get out of jail card—Anoth already starts as the end all be all. We know he’s going to crush the competition, we know he’s going to win, so the fun revolves around guessing and seeing how the guy pulls off the expected upset. This enables Anoth to take a hands-off approach per say, allowing for the secondary cast (who otherwise would be relegated to cheerleading and harem duty) to actually influence and outright decide matters themselves and provide a surprisingly welcome shot of narrative diversity to a well-trodden concept. Sure, it may not be a lot by itself, but when paired with the likes of Anoth’s confidence, respect, and own self-awareness, and the tongue in cheek, genre-related comedy stemming from Anoth’s family life, these parts synergistically sum together to yield an experience far improving upon what any could do alone.

Such improvements, however, cannot entirely make up for where Maou Gakuin does fall flat. Unfortunately, like many similar adaptations, this series has spent some considerable time at the chopping block, with each adapted arc being heavily rushed and with important plot elements or setting details skipped over. While the show, to be fair, did somewhat limit the effects to its bookends, it was honestly hard to really care about its conflict comings and goings outside of the central mystery plot which itself was largely revealed (or at least guessed) 6-8 episodes in. In effect this was a series which succeeded in spite of such series composition choices, a show grounded on how well the scriptwriting and voice acting worked within the constraints given, and a good indicator of just how far Maou Gakuin likely could’ve gone if later events such as the human-demon war (spoiler alert) weren’t restricted to a half episode segment. Not to say it ever would’ve been masterpiece material of course (that’s definitely a stretch), but Maou Gakuin undeniably had space to further spread its wings if it had been allowed.

Ultimately while I’m disappointed Maou Gakuin is over, I’m quite happy with what we got and the ending received. This was a series and adaptation showing just how far character writing and choices can go towards taking a generic concept and letting it stand proudly apart from its genre brethren, and further reinforcing that not all light novel adaptations must be necessarily mediocre—i.e. promotional material. Although I believe any sequel to Maou Gakuin wouldn’t work too well (it’s hard replicating the magic a second time), I certainly wouldn’t turn any more of it down should such a thing be greenlit. This was a show which went far and above anyone’s expectations, and for anime really shows just what a bit of thought and imagination can do for the things we’ve seen many times before.

25 Comments

  1. I am not disappointed at all that this adaption decides to cut out some of the more long-drawn conspiracy stuff that is present in the LN. This is after all a 13 episode series.

    So comfortably certain elements are folded in together, cut out entirely and rewritten (plot itself is convenient enough that it doesn’t feel forced.) It was almost as if the author knew the perils of anime adaptation and made it easy for the adaptation to cut and remove some material yet the whole thing still remains coherent.

    As for the OPness of the MC, hell that’s where I absolutely love about this series. The MC never took himself seriously, no angst at all. He knows he’s a baller and he rides like one.

    One of the most enjoyable shows this season.

    Dude
    1. For me at least it’s not so much the material cut but rather the cutting just removing a lot of incentive to care about the larger story. Sources and magic for example are front and centre (sources especially in terms of foreshadowing Kanon’s resurrection), but given how much info we got on them it was incredibly easy to just glaze over one’s eyes and treat it as background noise. Not really a major issue given it’s how most adaptations go, but more noticeable here with how well the other aspects went.

      And no complaints regarding Anoth’s OPness either, his personality is what made his power work.

    1. I agree. The first 4/5 episodes were solid, but the remaining
      slipped a bit in quality with each episode.

      Had some good things, especially the interaction of the girls
      with his parents and the sword with his dad. I’m glad they included
      his parents’ cameo at the finale. Would have really felt
      lacking if they didn’t do something humourous with that.

      Still not a bad series overall, but I think it’ll be forgotten over time.
      I’d be really surprised if a second season came out of this.

      mac65
      1. Personally I don’t expect a second season given outside of its positive quirks there’s not much to drive further interest, but stranger series have been greenlit for sequels of late.

        Also not wrong on it fading into the woodwork, for all I liked it there’s no denying there’s nothing here which hasn’t been done before, and in certain cases better too.

    2. Oh yeah, and can largely be summed up by budget reasons. It was never a well-animated series, but I give it some credit for how well it utilized its 3DCGI. This was one show which could have been a lot worse on the animation front.

  2. Having read a translated version of the LN/WN i got to say that to be perfectly honest the anime really isn’t missing much. Sure it could have been better, but as a companion to the LN/WN it is quite a good adaptation that doesn’t stray to far. You could say though it really doesn’t bring anything new to the story.
    Overall it is a lot better than most LN/WN adaptations that seem to be rushed out recently.

    Tegual
  3. The important and strongest feature of Maou Gakuin is without a doubt its self awareness.

    It’s a pity the after OP and after End gags of the original Japanese broadcast aren’t released with the rest (althjough I’m not too surprised; at the end of the day, they’re just space for commercial purposes), because it shows the animators are on the joke too.

    This was a good end to a series that defied expectations, and it showcases some of its usual points:

    -Anos with his whole “did you think that defeating me would defeat me?” moments.
    -Misha and Sasha being Misha and Sasha, now in fusion form to put an end to the shipping wars.
    -Large-scale battles with lots of CGI.
    -The Fan Club singing (when they were first introduced I thought they existed just to be a one-scene gag, but they’ve been given more and more scenes to shine).
    -Secondaries having their happy endings too, avoiding the big mistake of all romantic developments being limited to the protagonist and his harem.
    -Another acquisition for the harem with thousands of daughters.
    -Best parents.

    Of course, it isn’t perfect. Like the series as a whole, the pacing was rushed at times, the art could suffer, and the battles have never reached the highest point that was episode 4, still my favorite in the whole run.

    Nevertheless, Misfit at the Demon King Academy will remain a perfect example of how good execution, good acting and, above else, a good understanding of the strengths and limits of the source material and the adaptation can do wonders. If Anos comes back, I’ll be here to enjoy his antics again.

    Mistic
  4. Liked the fusion of the two sisters, disliked the fan club singing as it looking so off with how the animation team handled the lip sync over still shots.

    Decent series, although to me it still lacked excitement due to the OPness of the main character.

    boingman
      1. Me too. That was jarring, because this is like the third time the Fan Club has sung to Anos’ victory, yet they haven’t had this big of a problem with lip syncing before. Makes me wonder if the animation was done before the song was ready.

        Mistic
  5. What I want to really know and can’t seem to find the answer to even in Reddit,
    Does it went with original ending?
    How much the anime was different from the LN?

    Someone who just want to know, just want to know
  6. Ya know, now that I look at him, Jerga looks a lot like Full Metal Panic‘s Andrei Kalinin. Same seiyuu too (the legendary Akio Ohtsuka). And just like Kalinin, Jerga had his own face-heel turn (if going by the orthodox human narrative that the demons were the aggressors 2,000 years ago). The only difference is that Kalinin is coldly professional with his job (face-heel turn or no); Jerga is just…full of irrational, omnicidal hatred now.

    I am thou. Thou art I. *ahem* Sorry, couldn’t resist making a Persona reference. (*sees Jerga transform into discount Yaldabaoth*) Oh no no no no… (*hysterical laughter*) XD

    So I see the anime didn’t go for that Avos Dilhevia spoiler in the LN. Though it’s not a total loss since some parts of the subplot (Lay being the reincarnation of the Hero Kanon and the one who started the Avos Dilhevia legend) managed to make it into the anime. I’ve always had trepidations whenever a new anime is an adaptation of a light novel (mainly, “They’re gonna cut out something cool, hilarious, or vital to character development, aren’t they?”), and sometimes I hated it when I manage to call it. But remove those “shackles” and treat it as a standalone anime-original, this show still works pretty well.

    You know the trope “So bad, it’s good”? At best, Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha is that trope put on steroids and cranked up to eleven: “So ridiculous, it becomes crazy awesome!” At worst, it’s a slight improvement over similar “fantasy magic academy” anime/LN/manga series (So many of them, sometimes you can’t tell the difference!) like Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, the aforementioned Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records, or even Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (second season says hi).

    That being said, if this gets a(n anime-original) second season, I do wonder what the enemy will be? Perhaps a malevolent mind-controlling eldritch abomination would prove to be a worthy challenge for Anoth effing Voldigoad?

    Incognito
  7. I like how the fan club is used beyond a gag, but I honestly kept wincing at how cringey their singing comes off. I don’t know why, exactly, when Macross does the same.

    Overall, fun series. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s not ground-breaking or genre-defining, but it’s definitely fun and entertaining.

    Beedle
  8. Gentle critique: It seems you have a habit of using the phrase “per say.” May I suggest you use the original latin “per se?” It’s a minor mental speed bump stopping the flow when I read your posts.

    Hanover Fist

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