Level 1 Demon Lord & One Room Hero – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson July 4, 20230 Comments
Closeup of a chibi demon creature with three eyes, red horns, and pale green hair zooming towards the camera surrounded by pink energy

Content Warning: fanservice

What’s it about? Ten years ago, the Demon Lord was defeated by the Hero Max and his brave band of warriors, promising that his death was only temporary and that he would return in a new form. Sure enough, said Demon Lord wakes up from a decade of magical slumber, ready to wreak more havoc… only to discover that he’s stuck in a tiny, blobby body, and his nemesis Max has given up his heroic ways to be a shut-in slob.

Okay, look, because I always want to give every show I review a fair shake, I’ll say this about One Room Hero: it’s got some interesting genre play going on. Self-referential to fantasy cliché as it is, it opens up some playful discussions about “heroes” and “villains” as roles and archetypes. Max’s point about how a hero can’t be a hero if there’s no villain to defeat is a valid one; and his descent into scandal and substance abuse post-demon king defeat seems like a relevant commentary on celebrity culture and the way cultural icons are tossed into the gutter as soon as their moment in the spotlight passes. 

This potentially interesting thread is buried in a premiere that’s otherwise crass, silly, and dumb as bricks. But it’s there!

Closeup of a squishy, three-eyed demon creature yelling in a man's face. Subtitle text reads: Don't just toss the Holy Blade aside like it's yesterday's trash!

Multiple points in this episode had me saying “Oh, Jesus Christ” out loud while doing a kind of half-laugh, half-noise-of-shock exhale. So if you’re looking for the kind of fresh-out-of-the-oven trash comedy that elicits that reaction, I have good news!  The whole thing’s horny and corny, poking fun at Max for shutting himself in his apartment and jacking off while simultaneously offering a bevy of fanservice for the audience.

The Demon Lord’s secretary is wearing what looks to be a one-piece swimsuit with sleeves and a tie, and the camera sticks itself up her nearly-bare butt and into her crotch more than once. Said secretary has prepared clothes for the tiny Demon Lord, and those clothes are all cutesy cosplay and gothic lolita numbers—including a schoolgirl fit, which is the one the Demon Lord keeps. In fact, if I’m interpreting the ending animation correctly, at some point the Demon Lord is going to get more transformation abilities and use them to take the shape of a young woman… in a school uniform that becomes comically teensy and revealing.

Shot of a small, squishy demon creature talking to a woman. She is entirely out of frame except for her buttocks, which is being squeezed inside a clingy swimsuit. Subtitle text reads: Yes, it's been a while, Zenia.

Needless to say, the one female member of Max’s adventuring party also had a skimpy outfit. She’s also weirdly absent from the “where are they now?” montage of Max’s partners, leaving me to wonder if she’s been unceremoniously shuffled out of the plot entirely despite her role in defeating the Demon King. I’d be disappointed except that this probably means she’ll be spared the leering eye of the storyboarding.

Yes, the odd-couple comedic potential of a hero and a villain teaming up when they find themselves far from their prime is pretty funny. But this central premise can run dry veeeeery fast, especially with all the slapstick sexual imagery souring the experience. At the very least, this show doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously or have any illusions about what it is: it’s a zany, horndog comedy relying on the subversion of fantasy tropes, and if that’s what you want, again, I have great news. If that’s not what you want, well, there are plenty of other, genre-aware fantasy comedies about shut-in characters that will scratch that itch without being anywhere near as gross.  

About the Author : Alex Henderson

Alex Henderson is a writer and managing editor at Anime Feminist. They completed a doctoral thesis on queer representation in young adult genre fiction in 2023. Their short fiction has been published in anthologies and zines, their scholarly work in journals, and their too-deep thoughts about anime, manga, fantasy novels, and queer geeky stuff on their blog.

Read more articles from Alex Henderson

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