Artland is… weird. Let’s define it as that. They’ve got this talent to make all of their shows look as cheaply as possible, and yet they actually deliver some pretty good series. Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou looked like an incredibly cheap harem series when it first was announced. The character-designs for the females were incredibly stereotypical, the trailer was full of fanservice, it had the director of Shakugan no Shana. It was a recipe for failure.
Again, another proof of why you shouldn’t judge books by their cover (a saying that I really hope applies to the upcoming Summer Season!), because Daimaou turned out to be along with B Gata H Kei the series to breathe some much needed new life into the moe fanservice genre. Beyond all of the stupidity, beyond all of the pointless fanservice, this series has a lot to like. It’s not exactly deep or anything, but as entertainment it is very solid.
Finally, we have a moe show that understands the concept of creativity. This show turns out to be a subversion of the good versus evil genre, where the most good-natured guy out there gets labelled as an evil demon lord. Instead of whining and crying like a little girl, he’s assertive and tries whatever he can to escape his fate, ‘helped’ by to be honest quite a dynamic cast of side-characters. Every character here stands as unique and contributes something to the series, though my personal favourite was the green-haired girl. I loved her wise-cracking jokes with her deadpan delivery.
What makes the plot of this series interesting is that unlike most fantasy series, it just doesn’t care about credibility: it’s just there to have fun, and while the subplots are all solid enough to give the characters their background and make them to be more than just paper bags, it often just gives up and chooses entertainment above just making sense. The series is at its best when it manages to balance these two out the best, in which serious scenes move to nonsensical ones in rapid succession. The show is at its worst when it rather forgets this, and dabbles too long in either its fanservice, or its serious stories.
While the character-designs of this series may be terrible, the animation, especially in the money shots, is actually very good. There is a surprising amount of fluidity, and a few episodes are just downright fun because of how much the animators were playing around and trying out various ideas.
I think the weakest part of the series are the serious parts of Hattori in the beginning, and the serious parts of Keena in the end. With Keena, the creators were trying to go for some dramatic climax that just ends up as an anti-climax, while with Hattori has some annoying tsundere moments. For a harem though, it’s pretty damn good and has quite a few nice ideas on good and evil.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Too much pointless fanservice, but nevertheless solid entertainment.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Charming, stupid, harem, hilarious, tsunderes, background, cliches, but all have their own purpose in the story.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Unimpressive character-designs, but actually pretty good animation. Artland knows a number of very good in-betweeners.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Ton of nice ideas, though limits itself with its cliches a few times here and there.|