Oigakkosan’s Summer 2019 Anime Season Wrap-up

Arifureta began as a grim, visually unremarkable dungeon crawler, hinting at global conflicts and structures of political and social control… before devolving into guy-shoots-monsters-gets-harem-rinse-repeat. Pitting guns, missiles and motorcycles against orcs and wolves is tricky to make compelling, and Arifureta’s mediocre animation, slow plot, and constant battles doesn’t help.

Worse shows aired this season but few featured dragons being anally raped by the protagonist with a giant metal spike, nor said dragon joining said protagonist’s harem afterwards. However, and I’m going out on a limb here, even if this is up your personal kink, Arifureta’s PG-13 sensibilities probably wont go far enough for you. Niche at best, Barely Watchable for the rest of us.

Dr Stone is delightfully consistent with it’s focus on science process, over the top characters, and methodical plot to rebuild society from the stone age up. While its medium term objective (defeat super-strong/ super evil antagonist with science) has taken a back seat to gaining support of the villagers Senko discovered mid-season, its not forgotten.

We’ve learned about electricity, food chemistry, and glass as much as human nature, motivation and weakness. Hand in hand with lovable characters and charming visual style, Dr Stone is probably my most recommended show of the season.

Given’s relationship story is lovely, thoughtful, and matured with deeper issues of loss. The wow is in the details. From taking a dozen buses just to stand by the ocean, just to stand where you once stood with a close friend, to walking off stage after only one song, Given doesn’t over explain itself with dialog.  It’s solid but, like real romance, the best parts come from getting to know the characters. So I called it quits after episode six. Still, highly recommended

Granbelm finally developed an emotional core: Mangetsu is a magic puppet created by Ernesta’s subconscious desire to have a friend who isn’t an effed up mess. Also, despite earlier signs that losing wasn’t that big a deal, it has been revealed that girls die all the time in magic fights but no one remembers because… magic amnesia.

These are solid reveals and Mangetsu’s heart filled good bye to the cast (almost all of which immediately forget she ever existed) was strongly delivered. It just took way too long to develop. Combined with a dull pure evil villain, power levels that swing at the whim of the story, and Granbelm’s misunderstanding of what a mystery is (as opposed to just being confusing) and the show is only watchable.

Maou-sama, Retry! started off so absurdly bad, so generically Demon Lord/Isekai, that it had a certain charm. As it strolled forward, it took no greater objective than to introduce new characters to Maou’s harem, and forget about previous characters and potential destinations for the story. Aku hasn’t even been in the previous two episodes. The result is powerfully without purpose. It doesn’t care. You shouldn’t either. Barely watchable.

UchiMusume also suffers from a lack of purpose and follow through. For a show that features a central character who’s past is a mystery, and a hero who occasionally kills people for political gain, there’s an awful lot of wandering around aimlessly and eating food!

The result is harmlessly cute but smidgens of world building do not make up for a four episode long trip to and from a village to buy a new trench coat. It’s Barely watchable.

Maou-sama, Retry! – 07 – All or Nothing

In what amounts to a rolling, episode long battle sequence, we are introduced to:

    1. A Murder Clown, who is torn apart by Yu.
    2. Two zombie girls, who immediately get killed by Queen.
    3. The old knight “Marshal Arts,” who disappears without explanation.
    4. A sad demon girl, who dies and comes back after a flash back.
    5. The Prince of Darkness, who is killed by Dragonkin-Maou.

While there were many puns sprinkled among the character names, and it was funny that the number of Satanists in the battle would imply 1/3 of the total city population was Satanists, this was not at all a good episode. Constant move-names and pointless character introductions get dull fast and Maou isn’t even in the first half of the episode.

I’m not sure what the writers were trying to accomplish this week but the result was barely watchable. Ouch!

Maou-sama, Retry! – 06 – Dinner, Soap and Satanists

Why not dedicate another episode to Maou eating dinner? While the answer to this question should be obvious, Maou-sama, Retry! asks it anyway. The result sees Maou, Luna and Yo celebrating Aku’s ability to walk at a fancy restaurant. Maou even makes Aku a fancy cake and has the waiter bring it to the table as a surprise.

Later, a heavyset woman who wields significant influence amongst the nobility interrupts the meal and Maou introduces her to soap. SOAP. Unfortunately, satanists show up and Maou has to kill the demon they have summoned.

It is all very uneventful really. Dare i say, even more low energy than normal? At least someone got the chance to render a 3D chandelier. I’m not sure why. It’s not a very good looking render but, by God, they put it in there!

Someone also wanted to draw a demon dressed kind of like a clown with a guitar over its shoulder. Again, I’m not sure why as the guitar is not used in this episode. Maybe the guitar serves some purpose in Maou-sama, Retry the manga? (Is there a manga for this?)

Regardless, after loading several skills-as-text onto the screen, Maou beats the devil in a single hit. I found the explosion quite charming. It looked something like fireworks mixed with popcorn popping.

This week’s stand out moments included Luna being weirded out by Maou’s abrupt use of inter-party communication, and the ‘big reveal’ of Soap being his flagship item. I don’t even know what this show is about at the moment. this episode seemed mostly like an excuse to draw cake and have dinner again.

However it wasn’t unwatchable and, as a niche show, down weeks don’t really effect MSR’s score.

Maou-sama, Retry! – 05 – All’s Well that ends Well… Hop!

Beginning with a now smitten Girlish Boy declaring his need to have all the holes filleed with Aku’s dad, Maou-sama, Retry! wastes no time getting to its kink. It wastes little effort on anything else, really. Foreground characters are awkwardly posed like motionless trees around our questionably framed heroes, sound effects are cued before the animation they should sync with, and Maou-sama invents the laziest game-logic fix to a water shortage ever.

Call me crazy, but I thought it was glorious!

Notice that tiny horse the art team stuffed in the lower right hand corner? If animation is money, you know it was placed there on purpose, but for what purpose? Are we supposed to feel the horse’s distance from the party — to feel the horse’s yearning to enter Luna’s town and peek around? Should we relate to the horse’s struggle carrying people who have somehow grown larger than the horse itself?

Like the hilariously gigantic door the satanists walk through (backwards) there’s probably no thought put into Maou’s art direction. The result often feels childlike, which grants sincerity to the incompetence. Maou doesn’t know it’s bad and that knowingly bad shows like Isekai Lazy Magic every day.

I’m not going to lie — Maou is objectively not a good show. Entertainingly playful dialog like when the Bunny Girls declare “Humans get NOTICEABLY disappointed if we don’t finish each sentence with ‘hop’,” (to the chagrin of Maou) is the exception, not the rule.

Likewise, Maou creating a water wheel game-item that creates water from a dry well… because that’s what it does in game… is either a thoughtful jab at gaming conventions or just really dumb. You either love it for the niche it fills or see the 5 for what it is: a fairly low rating for any show.

Maou-sama, Retry! – 04 – Doctor Sailor Leg

Girlish Boy and Boobarian stride into the wasteland to fight the sand wolves… but there are too many so they run away! Meanwhile, Maou and Aku and Luna are riding a carriage in that general direction. Maou wants Luna to put on a sailor uniform and goes out for a smoke. He’s annoyed he needs a ton of skill points, which he gets right away by killing all the wolves.

Later, while Luna and Aku are taking a bath in his magic portable base, Maou spends skill points to summon Yu Karino, who is one of his many in game underlings. Something something mad scientist doctor, but she heals Aku’s bum leg and then falls in love with Maou.

Maou-sama Retry is an odd duck and this week’s expansion of Maou’s harem from three to seven, including a transvestite teenager and the working-man coach driver, doesn’t make it any less weird. Sure, there’s sarcasm aplenty, what with Luna now wearing a school girl uniform but I’m not even sure if Maou is aware enough of itself to be making fun of genres?

Something something production values still terrible but more enjoyable to watch than Isekai Magic Cheat. Still, remarkably little happened this episode :(

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.


Maou-sama, Retry! – 02 – Spanking The Priestess

In no particular hurry, this week’s Demon Lord adventure starts by building a residence with items from Maou’s pocket and having Aku take a bath. Maou remarks that she finally smells nice, which is a questionable observation to make while he is smoking cigarettes.

After defeating the mole-bandit tribe and spanking the Holy Maiden “Golden Luna Elegant,” Mou buys Aku some pretty dresses before going to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Elegant joins them and the other patrons note Maou’s refined taste in wine. However, it appears that neither Maou nor Aku eat the salad or dinner roles included with the meal.

Then all three go back to Maou’s expensive hotel room and settle in for a quiet evening.

MSR’s backgrounds look like posterized photography and the music design is weird too. Chiptune came blaring out of nowhere leading up to the bandit fight, only to be cut off by rock cords and then dead silence, mid way through the battle. These elements give the show a ‘made in my basement’ B-quality feel.

Maou’s response to being in another world is boredom, marked with occasional rambling dialog that no one can follow. That bandit really looks like his manager. That pronunciation sounds like Shenmue. Man he really misses Shenmue…

From animation to writing, MSR is utterly incompetent and I cannot stop laughing at it.

Ultimately your milage with MSR will depend on your enjoyment of it’s lazy production values and flippant humor. While both of these elements work to tease the other-world genre, MSR doesn’t seem entirely self aware. Sure, going to another world that was based on a poorly constructed video game that you’d worked on for several years probably would be underwhelming… but making an audience sit through that experience is a risky proposition.

MSR also tries to make some jokes about an accommodating, possibly homosexual clothing shop owner that fall flat. It’s not skin crawlingly awful but, when you include spankings and Aku’s lack of agency, theres definitely a regressive vibe.

If you’re good with that, MSR is laugh out loud terrible and I’m loving every minute!

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