Friday, December 28, 2012

Demon King Daimao Anime Review

Demon King Daimao
(The Great Demon King in the Back Row)
Sentai Filmworks
Complete Collection - 2 discs
300 mins. - 12 episodes
$59.98 (2011)
$69.98 (2011) Blu-Ray
ISBN 814131014917
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Takashi Watanabe
Studio - Artland

Synopsis: Akuto Sai is transferring to the Constant Magical Academy where he plans to study and someday become a high priest in the government.  He meets the beautiful Junko Hattori on the train ride to the academy and the two become friends.  Upon arriving at the academy all new students must visit the school nurse and stand before a magical spirit (a cigar-smoking bird) which predicts their future occupation with 100% accuracy.  The bird declares "You will be the Demon King!" and Akuto's life is changed forever.
Akuto meets Junko on the train ride to Constant Academy
Years earlier the Demon King menaced society and threatened to bring about a new world order.  He was stopped, but everyone fears for his return one day.  Akuto was left at the door of church as a baby and raised as an orphan.  Being branded as the next Demon King instantly makes Akuto an outcast and the focus of major negative attention at school.  He means well and doesn't want to be the Demon King, but his attempts to win over students get misinterpreted and they mistrust him even more.
This crazy bird foretells Akuto will be the next Demon King
Now Akuto is at odds with almost everyone at school and the government orders perpetual surveillance on him.  Some people want to kill him and some want to join him, but no one understands his intentions to help society one day.  He is particularly hurt by Junko's revocation of their friendship when she finds out he will be the Demon King.  Here is the cast of characters surrounding Akuto:
  • Junko Hattori is the class representative for Akuto's class, a powerful fighter and comes from a family of ninjas, has incredible sword skills, thinks Akuto knew of his destiny to become the Demon King and deceived her when they became friends on the train ride to the academy, and constantly misjudges Akuto's deeds as intended to be evil, seems to like Akuto despite her fierce protests to the contrary
  • Kena Soga is one of Akuto's classmates, has the magical ability to levitate and become invisible (however her clothes stay visible and she must strip in order to be truly unseen), loves rice, is a decent student however seems completely bird-brained, wears a special bird hairpin which she remembers Akuto giving her as a child, has feelings for him
  • Fujiko Eto is the girl's dorm headmistress with a great reputation around school, openly sympathizes with Akuto, manipulates him from the shadows, her older brother passed away leaving her to try and fulfill his duties, she plans to use Akuto's power as the Demon King to her advantage, uses magical potions, is very sexual and promiscuous
  • Korone is the female android surveillance agent assigned to watch Akuto, she teases him constantly about sexual situations, sleeps in the top part of his closet, has a purse filled with guns and gadgets, is ordered to seduce him by the government, and can be turned off by pulling her rabbit tail
  • Hiroshi Miwa is one of Akuto's classmates who looks up to him like a big brother, is kind of a wimp, he wants to be a hero someday, disagrees with Akuto's view that society must be changed
  • Eiko Teruya is from a different school and rival ninja clan to Junko, but attempts to manipulate and seduce Akuto to gain influence over his power
From left to right: Junko, Akuto, Fujiko (holding the severed and preserved
head of her older brother), and Korone
Akuto learns he possesses an incredible power to control mana (the magical substance permeating the world).  He uses this power to fend off attacks, but has minimal control over it and often causes unintended destruction (thus furthering his reputation as a menace).  His destiny thrown down like a gauntlet before him, Akuto must rise to the challenge of the Demon King's legacy!  Can he convince his friends of his true intentions and fend off a constant stream of usurpers?  What is the true, secret purpose behind the Demon King which threatens to destroy a society following magical gods powered by sophisticated computers?  Will he choose Junko or Kena, but what about all the kinky things he can do with Korone the android?
Akuto taps into his Demon King power
Pros: Comedy and humorous misunderstandings, lots of fan-service and a little nudity, a full cast of pretty girls, catchy opening theme song (ending theme is decent), magical action with a few battles, Akuto is a likable main character
Korone spies on Akuto everywhere - even in the bath
Cons: The plot ends up being terribly confusing and rushed at the end, typical harem-genre nonsense, rampant silliness turns into half-hearted attempt at serious ending, bunch of talk about 'gods' will probably offend religious types (although 'demon king' in the title should tip them off), animation downgrades a bit at the end
Fujiko lusts after the Demon King's power
Mike Tells It Straight: Demon King Daimao was a good concept, but had too much crammed into 12 episodes. I started the series expecting a harem/fan-service anime spin on Harry Potter - kid goes to magical academy and gets the ol' Sorting Hat treatment, but ends up with an evil destiny and ostracized by his classmates.  Throw in a bunch of cute girls harping over him with a constant stream of innocent misunderstandings leading to heaps of fan-service.  No problem, the first few episodes followed the expected formula.  Then halfway through the series (right after Peter Hausen, the dragon appears) the story gets increasingly complicated with talk of gods and computers.
Akuto accidentally runs into Kena while she's invisible, which
 is misunderstood by onlookers as him being lecherous
The story just gets more and more confusing until it ends with a lot of unanswered questions.  Demon King Daimao is based on a light novel series with much more happening in the story than was possible to coherently present in a 12 episode anime.  I thought the animation studio Artland did a decent job on the visuals (although the last few episodes seemed to lose some quality), the opening theme song rocked (ending theme was just okay), good cast of characters, the fan-service didn't suck (gratuitous, yes), and Akuto was an excellent protagonist (not wimpy and/or whiny).
Akuto after a particularly difficult battle
This show had a lot of potential, but ended up squandering it all by trying to be too much.  It was somewhat enjoyable to watch and I give it a mediocre recommendation.  The writers should have stuck with a lighthearted plot for this first series and then kicked in the complicated storyline in the second season.  Don't expect a sequel any time soon.

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