Content Warning: Gore, brief accidental groping
What’s it about? In a far off fantasy land, Shagrua Edith Lugrid—known as the Calamity Crusher—was the only warrior able to stand against the Corpse God, as both possessed the ability to see the dead known as the Evil Eye. Their final clash ends in a misfired spell; and in modern Tokyo, the freshly murdered body of a teenager named Shinoyama Polka wakes up.
Apparently reverse isekai are the surprise of this season. First Otaku Elf managed to underpin its shenanigans with a nice central dynamic, and now Dead Mount Death Play has managed to put so many conceptual hats on top of one another that it’s come round to being kind of entertaining.
It helps that once you strip away the fantasy gimmick this is essentially a murder game story, and thanks to The Future Diary’s influence on the genre it never met a chapeau it didn’t like. How do I know Dead Mount Death Play is pulling from Future Diary rather than the comparatively more recent hit Danganronpa?
Misaki is easily the weakest part of this premiere. She’s the repository for tiresome box-checking like an accidental boob grab (which she doesn’t get upset about, so you’re meant to know something’s wrong with her) and her escalating horniness as Polka avoids her murder attempts; but at the same time, this show isn’t camp enough (at least not yet) for her to be entertaining. The fantasy combat prior to her introduction has some actual tension and drama backed up by smooth and shiny sakuga, so I’m in the mindset to theoretically care about whether our hero (?) survives his new surroundings.
The violence is somewhat matter-of-fact too, and the art style mostly holds back from doing absurd faces or dramatically heightened lighting, all of which makes Misaki’s archetype a poor fit for the story otherwise set up. Except.
Except that the last few minutes dramatically change the tone. Introducing a supernatural angle to “our” world (in a pretty well-done reveal, even if the twist is pretty easy to guess) also comes with some very dark jokes and accompanying chibi-style art that I was surprisingly on board for. I don’t foresee Misaki becoming less exhausting as an example of a kinda misogynistic archetype, but the show might be forming an environment where she can at least be fun, especially if there are other competent women to balance her out. Boob-grab aside, there’s not any overt fanservice, which is likewise a plus. Murder game stories don’t tend to have great gender politics, but I live in hope.
I also kind of dig our protagonist, which is unexpected given that he theoretically hails from the callous jerkwad school of brooding characters. But there’s some baseline mystery to his character, and the novelty of having a lead who’s been reverse isekai’d not into a blank slate but a partly-grown human with a history and attachments does a lot as a plot hook. Add to that the fact the show is actually able to show its gore rather than slathering the screen with big “buy the Blu-Ray” blackout bars, and I’m down to give this a three-episode try.