What’s it about? Isolated by his power and having betrayed his dearest friend, Demon Lord Varvatos’ greatest wish is to be reborn as someone ordinary. Ten years later, he has taken on the life of Ard Meteor, a (mostly) ordinary village child, and is ready to make new friends. Unfortunately, he has no idea where to start.
Actually, wait. I should slap some asterisks on. It’s an overpowered hero fantasy series and I made it all the way to the end without wanting to gouge my eyeballs out of my head. Put that as the Narou title.
For one, there’s nary a game mechanic to be found, though the worldbuilding can be summed up as “assume generic fantasy setting unless otherwise stated.” The writing also treats Ard’s overpowered abilities as standard and concentrates instead on how painfully awkward he’s become after centuries of isolated rule. The sequences of Ard trying to be aggressively friendly to the local townsfolk only to weird them out further, then return to his room to plot, got a few sensible chuckles out of me. Those scenes got me in the Relatable Autism Feels, though I’d call it more coincidental vibes than a consistently plausible character reading.
Things break down a bit when Ard decides to concentrate all of his friend-making efforts on fellow outcast Ireena, which translates into him stalking her as she repeatedly yells at him to leave her alone. It’s clear that we’re meant to view it as Ireena trying to protect herself from hurt, and that she secretly wants someone to befriend her… but that’s what makes it uncomfortable. It’s the kind of casual sexism—a very low-frequency version of “no means yes”—that tends to put me off of a lot of light novels. It’s not helped by child Ireena’s shiny, shiny shoulders, either. And it’s a shame, because I found myself really wanting to get invested once Ard saves her life and they finally come to an understanding. It’s a nice childhood friendship story with a weird bump in the middle.
It’s also a moot point, because the last two minutes of the episode time-travel forward to when Ard and Ireena are teenagers. Ireena has a completely different personality, chipperly waking Ard and crawling into his bed to suggest they go to magic school together, and it makes the previous twenty minutes feel like a pointless waste of time. Couldn’t you just tell me they’re childhood friends and she’s in love with him, like 80% of these kinds of shows?
I almost feel like I can’t review Greatest Demon Lord at all, because it’s now a completely different show. The characters are at a different place emotionally. It’s changing locales and genres from a small-town story to a school story. The cast is older, which means I have to start looking at the revealing outfits on the female cast with a lot more suspicion. And honestly? I’m too tired for that.
It is 100% possible that the episodes to come will retain the sweeter elements of this premiere and keep a handle on the potential for grossness (though I’d bet dollars to donuts that background sexism will stick around), and that this will be a nice, goofy fantasy series. But like with Quitter Hero, I just can’t bring myself to stick around and find out.
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