The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord’s Army was a Human – Episode 1

By: Cy Catwell June 26, 20240 Comments
Ike uses his skillful magic on a human army commander who won't give up and surrender.

What’s it about? Ike is a powerful magician and leader of the famed Immortal Brigade, one of the many mobilized forces of the Demon Lord’s Army. By his own will and hand, Ike conquers fortresses and defeats the forces sent by humanity. However, he has a deep, dark secret: Ike is a human, and he’s kept this hidden from all who know him. Can he keep his secret safe and bring peace to both human and demonkind, or is his secret enough to devastate all forces involved?

I feel like every anime has potential to be liked. After all, why would a company invest in a show if there’s zero chance anyone will watch it? I, personally, think that the bottom line always affects what gets made and remade, so naturally…companies invested in this dark fantasy, originally published as a web novel, because it feels like a solid bet, even if there’s simultaneously so many similar narratives every single season.

The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord’s Army was a Human (hereafter The Strongest Magician) is an anime with large potential for viewership. It’s familiar fantasy storytelling combined with a stinger reveal: its lead is a human, which gets revealed before you even start the show. That, itself, has the potential to be quite compelling if the story handles it right. Plus, it’s only five volumes long: rarely does it feel like we get a new dark fantasy series that can actually be handily wrapped up in a single season.

But is that enough to make this a strong premiere? You already know what to do: read on and find out!

A woman with blonde hair sits at a desk with an open book.

Episode 1, “Ike, Commander of the Undying Brigade,” begins with a young woman pulling a book down from a shelf and reading about the magician Ike, a man who served in the Demon Lord’s army. It is clear that this is from the end of the story we’ve yet to see: perhaps Ike managed his lofty goal of uniting demon and human in harmony?

We don’t know that yet: instead, the story shifts back to the beginning of Ike’s legendary reign as the commander of the Immortal Brigade, a brutal arm of the Demon Lord’s army that is handily decimating the forces of humanity. He presents three choices to this equal in the human army: surrender and give up land, die by his own hand, or flee. Ike’s leniency comes as a shock in a world where demons are thought of as brutal. Yet in the end, he still walks the path of brutality.

But that’s not all Ike has to his character: in actuality, he’s quite a normal person, especially when the show’s “was a Human” bit kicks in. In many ways, it adds layers to what could have just been your run-of-the-mill black-haired protagonist. Instead, Ike kind of stands out, enticing you to stick with the story.

Ike's true identity is discovered by his maid, Satie.

The general vibe I took from this premiere was, “This is perfectly fine, but I’m just not into it.” It’s kind of a pervasive vibe, and probably is influenced by my love of Overlord, which does this entire premise so much better. Take away the comparison and, on its face, this is just kind of a perfectly fine adaptation of a source. The club cracker of anime, let’s say.

One thing I’ll note is that even though there’s music, the show felt strangely empty until we get into the comedic bits between Ike and his maid Satie, who definitely feels like she’s going to be his romantic interest. Which…fraught, but I don’t really expect The Strongest Magician to investigate that at all. Normally I note music, but here…the show just kind of feels empty even though there’s music playing. I don’t know if it’s how they mixed the audio tracks or the lackluster tonal identity of The Strongest Magician, but it definitely took away from my experience.

The Demon Lord praises Ike's progress as a commander in her army.

Ultimately, The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord’s Army was a Human is just okay. It’s not bad, it’s not groundbreaking, but more and more, I’m starting to feel that not all anime have to rattle the foundations of the previous season. There should be space for anime that are just fine, anime that you like because you like them, shows that you vibe with because that’s just kind of the thing you want to watch. It’s necessary, I’d argue, to create a space for just okay shows: sometimes, that’s where the most interesting conversations concerning the media we all love happen.

Personally, I don’t feel like I’ll be sticking with this series: it’s perfectly okay, but I want to use my feminist lens–and general viewership and limited time as an adult–to examine other series. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying The Strongest Magician. It’s definitely going to find its target audience, and for anyone who reads this review and watches, I wish you the best time. Just don’t expect me to keep watching.

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: