Maou-sama, Retry! – 03 – Killer Queen

The Gist: Luna bonds over a bath with Aku and Maou-sama manipulates a local merchant to buy a worthless piece of pottery for 1 giant gold coin. Meanwhile, satanists are plotting something and Luna’s older and more badass sister arrives in town.

Bad Sister doesn’t believe the Demon Lord exists but she sure as hell doesn’t think highly enough of Luna to let her go attack him on her own. Lots of swearing and a fight with the Satanists ensue. Maou sort of gets dragged into the fight but incapacitated in the process, which forces him to ‘change characters.’

Thus the Zero, Maou’s alternate good-character, is born. He’s more martial arts and melee attacks focused and totally immune to the Satanists’ special attack. Bad Sister swoons, the Satanists are defeated, and Maou is embarrassed with himself as a result.

Honestly, making the holy maidens transparently evil and having the protagonist embody both the top rank for light and dark alignments is novel enough. Maou creating the new character is out of left field and doesn’t feel earned, but it plays with the Isekai genre a bit.

However, It does not play with the harem tropes. I get that the story wants us to accept Luna’s complete conversion from enemy to follower as part of Luna’s assumption that she’s ‘tamed’ Maou through his love of her butt… but that’s both silly and too underdeveloped to work.

Retry! is beginning to remind me of Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu, except with worse production values and funny-bad sound design. The hero posing as a villain (and the reverse) also reminds me of Maoyu: Archenemy & Hero, except that show was also had higher production values and a more interesting cast and setting.

I guess what I’m saying is Retry!’s only unique quality in the Isekai genre may be laughably bad production values, and it’s harmless nature? As long as Maou isn’t asked to impregnate anyone through their belly button, or have out of left field graphic torture scenes, or a non-ending ending like those two shows, it will probably be okay.

Yay?

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Isekai Cheat Magician – 02 – Lost Ones

Episode two devotes significant air time to the explanation of magic, power levels, magic user types and their characteristics. Rin is on par with the strongest mages of the realm but also has the unique power to control all 4 elemental forms of magic.  Meanwhile, Taichi is completely unique, having direct control over magic on a scale strong enough to defeat entire kingdoms on his own.

Following a few interlaced training montages that skip through the 3 weeks it takes Rin and Taichi to become skilled at combat, Lemiya and Myura reveal that ‘Lost Ones’ have arrived from other worlds before and, since Rin and Taichi were obviously summoned from another world, they probably need to track down the super mage that summoned them to figure out what is going on.

Call it a poorly paced mess, or fault it’s fannish compulsion to explain the details of magic, this episode successfully established its central characters, setting, challenges and immediate objective. Taichi lacks imagination and ambition, which make his absurd level of magic power a dangerous weapon if Lemiya (or someone else) can wield him for their own objectives.

On the flip side, Rin is creative and thoughtful enough to keep Taichi tethered. While her friendship with Myura could be a vector of weakness, Myura already considers Rin an equal. Perhaps even a friend.

Regardless, Taichi and Ren are ready to become adventurers, no doubt spending an episode or two fleshing out what that means, before setting out to find whoever summoned them and for what purpose.

Isekai Cheat Magician does not entirely feel like it knows what it is doing. In principal, this is a story of two friends who are both fish out of water. Taichi and Rin have a long history, which allows the script to play off their shared growth and conflicts.

For example, Rin’s ability to learn magic quicker than Taichi was a great chance to expand their relationship. Does Rin always do better than Taichi, does that bother him in some way, or does it flip the script on their expectations and change the dynamic of the relationship? Making Rin ‘more powerful’ than the hero could have been interesting in itself.

Unfortunately, Isekai Cheat Magician plays it straight. Taichi is the hero and he is the most powerful. Rin is his support and she gets powerful magic to lend that support. Evil is afoot. They will probably stomp all over it.

The verdict: ICE contains nuggets of interest. Rise of the Shield Hero aside, it’s not that common for characters living in another world to understand that outsiders can be summoned, and typically summoned for a good reason.

There was also a weird scene where Taichi kills a wolf and we get a close up of the wolf’s eyes as he does it. At first, alert but scared, then degrading to red lifelessness. Coupled with a scene of Rin killing monster rabbits, and ICE hints that Rin and Taichi (and the ‘good guys’) may not really be purely good after all. That seems awfully high above ICM’s head though…

As an episode, it was adequate but the abrupt jumps in time squeezed out any sense of satisfaction. As a show, there are glimmers of potential, but it is doubtful that ICM will come anywhere near that potential.

How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? – 03 – Cheat Day, Cosplay

Dumbbell keeps up the good work with a well-organized, well-paced, funny, charming, and informative episode. Sadly we don’t learn any more about Hibiki’s progress with boxing training (if any), but then that was to be expected; this is not a boxing anime! Still, that was a hell of a punch. I wonder if we’ll see another down the line…

Instead we’re introduced to Tachibana Satomi (Horie Yui!), a history teacher who wants to lose a bit of weight. When she checks out Silverman Gym she’s a little disconcerted to find two of her students there (and even more cheesed off when one of Hibiki indirectly refers to her as “old”—she’s 29) but when she meets Machio (and is instantly smitten) she sticks with it.

Machio introduces her to dumbbell curls, which help build one’s biceps as part of balanced training with push-ups (which help build triceps). When Satomi gets hot and rolls up her shirt, Hibiki and Akemi notice a strange tan spot on her stomach, and she manages to conceal the true cause: her secret cosplay hobby.

The middle segment involves Akemi joining Ayaka and Hibiki for lunch, and Hibiki learns that far from being ideal for getting a nice bikini body, her diet is actually far better suited for a sumo thong. Akemi explains that suddenly gorging on an empty stomach boosts blood sugar and insulin production, resulting in weight gain, not loss.

But not all is lost: she suggests Hibiki shift to the diet of bodybuilder, most of whom seek a limit of 3% body fat before a contest, essentially making them dieting pros. It’s all about eating smaller meals high in protein but low in fat, which means boiling or steaming foods that normally sauteed or fried. Snacks like protein bars and shakes prevent hunger without adding fat.

When Hibiki laments that such a radical shift in her diet is miserably untenable, Akemi gives her some relief: the occasional “cheat day”, typically once a week, prevents a dieter’s body from going into energy conservation mode in addition to the psychological boost that comes from eating tasty stuff. Unfortunately, Hibiki still doesn’t grasp that she’ll have to start actually dieting for a while before having her cheat day!

We finish with another Satomi-POV segment, as she’s sufficiently slimmed down to wear a revealing sailor suit (KanColle?) to an event at Tokyo Big Sight, where she’s an instant sensation. That’s when she notices Hibiki and Akemi are there, but not for her; for Machio, who agreed to cosplay as the “Muscle King” in an anime apparently everyone in the world except Satomi has heard of.

The horde of cameramen circling her quickly shift to Machio, who is all too happy to destroy his costume with an iconic front press, then proceeds to explain the front press’ proper form. At day’s end, Satomi is just happy her students didn’t discover her cosplay hobby, but they do spot her as she’s slinking away with her suitcase, and lets Hibiki think she’s a doujinshi fan. Better than the alternative!