The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter – 02 – Coasting Along in Easy Mode

Noir was accepted to Hero Academy, but the 300,000-rel tuition is too-steep for his baronet father, so he has to come up with the cash by himself. At no point did I doubt he’d be able to do so by the end of the episode. Olivia suggests he becomes an adventurer, so he registers with Odin, which just happens to be Olivia’s guild.

The receptionist Lola is skeptical of Noir’s claims, even going so far as to say she’ll lift her skirt up if he’s proven right by the Discerning Tome. Of course he’s proven right, and Lola is a woman of her word…but what a weird wager! It’s almost as if she knows she’s in an ecchi harem show.

Someone who’s known all along what kind of show this is is Emma, who soon joins Noir out in the field. He successfully catches a bunch of rainbow caterpillars to the tune of 250,000 rel, and his success seems to turn Lola on, resulting in a standoff between her and Emma. Are there, like, no other men?

Noir and Emma head back out into the field to defeat a giant evil rabbit to earn the remaining 50,000 rel he needs for tuition. Since this battle takes up the most time and seems the most hazardous, you’d think the rabbit quest would be worth 250,000 and the grasshopper quest 50,000. I guess it’s best just not to think…at all.

When Emma’s attacks prove ineffective, Noir decides to the skills Olivia gave him to increase her attributes, but Noir doesn’t feel like coughing up 700 LP, so he buffs her weapon adeptness instead to the tune of 500 LP. He gets more than enough LP to cover the magic with a slobbery ear-nibbling session with Emma. Her moans end up luring the rabbit to them, and she defeats it as easily as everything has fallen into Noir’s lap so far.

He gets the 300,000 rel he needs, he gets another hug from Lola and Emma (who make up after a rough start) and thanks to a skill he created that lets him store the dead rabbit in a trans-dimensional space, he ingratiates himself with the entire guild by offering it for a feast. When pressed for a speech, he thinks of how none of this would be possible without Olivia…only to not so much as mention her to the guild of which she was a member.

Looks like the easy times and make-out sessions are only going to continue from here. As I said last week, those looking for serious conflict, adversity, or any kind of surprises are barking up the wrong tree. This week I can add “receptionists unwilling to arbitrarily debase themselves” and “thrilling battle animation” to the growing list of stuff not in this anime.

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter – 01 (First Impressions) – Born on Third

As a “mere” baronet, Noir Starga may be at the bottom of the noble caste pyramid of his nation. His family isn’t fuck-you rich, all the higher classes look down on them, and he has to get an actual job to support himself. But while his librarian job is stolen by a higher-ranking baron the day he’s supposed to start, life seems awfully sweet for Noir!

For one thing, he has two living parents, despite being a character in a fantasy anime! He also has a cute brocon imouto in Alice and a smokin’ hot childhood friend in Emma Brightness (excellent name), whom I’m just going to pretend is the non-masochistic sister of KonoSuba’s Darkness. Noir and Emma were going to be co-workers, but she still has a solution for the migraines he suffers: swappin’ spit!

So far we’ve got a kid with a loving fam, a future wife, and oh yeah, that Great Sage skill tells him everything about the world, including the unexplained. Again, pretty sweet life. When making out with Emma cures his headaches, Noir’s free to use it to locate a hidden dungeon just 10 klicks from town. There, he hears Horie Yui’s voice and follows it to the buxom adventurer Olivia Servant.

Olivia has been chained up for two centuries, and is just happy to talk to another person. Rather than let her considerable skills go to waste, she copies and bestows them upon Noir. They are Get Creative (conjure any skill), Bestow (give any skill to anyone) and Editor (modify any skill). The only catch: the skills use a ton of Life Points (LP), gained by, well, living: essentially enjoying money, food, and sex.

Noir tries out his new OP skills in the dungeon, but the LP expenditure tires him out. He learns lying in Alice’s lap restores a bit of LP, while embracing a more daringly-dressed Emma the next day restores a lot. When she complains of shoulder pain from her rather prodigious bust, he uses Editor to temporarily shrink it; she has him undo the change immediately.

Armed with so many useful skills and numerous ready sources of LP, Noir changes course and decides to take the Hero Academy entrance exam. The exam begins with the admitees splitting off into parties of three, and members of the higher castes mock Noir for even speaking to them, but thankfully Emma joins him, as she only got a job at the library to be with him. The haughty vicountess Lenore completes the triad.

They split up looking for valuable monster loot, and Noir heads to the hidden dungeon where he encounters a Level 99 Grim Reaper. Despite only being Level 23, Noir has enough LP to Create the Heavy skill and Bestow it on the Reaper to slow it down, then creates a giant stone bullet and shoots it at the Reaper, defeating it.

The Reaper skull ends up giving Team Lenore the edge, and then some: they scored 128,000 points when the next two teams only managed 11,550 and 5,890. Noir was misled by the fact Olivia is a master of the OP skills she gave him, to the point even a Level 99 Boss is a mere scrub.

If you’re looking for complex characters, conflicts, or drama, you will find none in The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter. If you’re looking for a competently-rendered non-isekai renaissance-y setting packed with cute characters, JRPG rules, understated ecchi, and basically a lot of the hero getting his way without much effort at all (as befits his noble station), you’ve come to the right place!

The Misfit of Demon King Academy – 12 – The Necklace

Eleanor explains to Anos that Hero Kanon’s right-hand man Commander Jerga feared that the humans would forget their grudge against demons in time, rendering them vulnerable for destruction. So he used taboo magic to split his source into two distinct spells. One is Asc, the manifestation of his grudge that infects every human, including the hero academy students.

The other spell, Eleanor, was a “bust” because while she performed her role of creating source clones, she failed to absorb any of Jerga’s hatred. She believes Anos can end Jerga’s grudge by destroying her, but her clone children begin to gather around her and beg Anos to save their mother.

And, oh yeah…Jerga freaking murdered Kanon, when the hero wouldn’t support the generational spread of hatred into the future. While Hero could have instantly resurrected himself, he didn’t, apparently washing his hands of humans and their inevitably treacherous ways.

Anos and Eleanor are interrupted by Diego and his guards, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of the three remaining brainwashed Seven Elder Demon Emperors…along with a masked Avos Dilhevia himself.

Diego and Avos project their images over the human and demon capitals, respectively, in order to drum up support for a new war against each other. Both the human and demon crowds welcome a return to hostilities. It’s as if Diego and Avos were coordinating with each other.

Not content to sit back and let this play out, Anos resolves to prevent the war before it starts. Naturally, he is accompanied by Misha, Sasha, Ray, Misa, the Fan Union, and the four Elder Demon Emperors loyal to him.

The day before they head out, Ray comforts a nervous Misa, believing his own lack of nerves to be a sign he once fought in the war two thousand years ago. He also asks for half of Misa’s single-shell necklace, which tradition states is a essentially a proposal.

The next day, with the Fan Union providing rearguard support, the Necron sisters neutralize the advancing demon armies to the west, while Ray and Misa are tasked with neutralizing the armies to the east. Anos himself heads to Avos’ fortress, and Misa informs him remotely that she’s lost sight of Ray. Uh-oh…

As the two opposing groups of Demon Emperors fight (three on Avos’ side, four on Anos’), Anos and Avos meet in the field, and Anos connects the dots. After Jerga’s betrayal, Kanon resurrected as a demon: Ray Gransdori. As for Ray? Well, he’s Avos Dilhevia, and has been all along.

While Anos states Ray’s knowledge of the neckless and ability to wield both a Unique and Holy Sword as evidence Ray is Kanon, looking back there were other little clues here and there that in hindsight indicated Kanon/Ray was Avos. There’s…a lot that happens and is revealed this week, and it’s a bit rushed, but that it all mostly makes sense and holds together is a testament to the writers, as well as the adapters who clearly had their work cut out for them reducing the source material down to thirteen episodes.

Anos also deduces that Kanon must be trying to “save something (or someone) new” by posing as a fake Demon King. Did he become Avos and stoke a new war knowing the true Demon King would stop him, and end the grudge Jerga had spread? Does he truly love Misa, or was he just playing her? Despite all we’ve learned, the final episode still has plenty to reveal.

The Misfit of Demon King Academy – 11 – There Are No Heroes Here

With the lake drained of water (holy or otherwise), the multi-pronged fight between Anos and his cohorts and four reincarnations of Hero Kanon’s sources, including their secret weapon, the mute, petite, first-ranked Zeshia. As the fight commences, one hears a dread voice in the air saying kill the demons—even though this is supposed to be a friendly class competition!

As expected, the demons fare well, as the hero reincarnations possess far more arrogance than actual talent. As Misha builds a sturdy castle within their barrier, Sasha makes the jock hero wither in despair while Ray bests the self-style sword ace of the heroes. They only protest harsh treatment when they get a taste of their own medicine.

That leaves Zeshia and Four-eyes against Anos, and let’s be honest, it was always going to end up with Anos winning walking away. Zeshia’s acrobatics are impressive, but even when the heroes summon all of the love of the ten million people of their city, it only takes the eight girls of Anos’ Fan Union to counter that magical enhancement. Quality over quantity.

The heroes’ primary misconception is that demons cannot love, when it’s obvious that the relationships between Anos and his friends and family are suffused with the stuff. When Eleanor summons Anos to the shrine, vowing to help them stop Zeshia, he sends Misha instead, and she’s brutally stabbed by Diego, who has gone absolutely mad with hatred for all demons, vowing to exterminate them all here and now.

Anos doesn’t allow Misha to suffer long, disabling Diego before healing her wounds, then killing Diego, bringing him back to life with the hilarious line  “If you have time to be dead, answer me.” Diego has been using his students as puppets and “Kanon” fodder to carry out his vendetta, proving to Anos that he has nothing to do with the true Hero Kanon, who would rather suffer the destruction of six of his seven sources than allow anyone to sacrifice themselves for his sake.

Gathering a still-woozy Misha in his arms, Anos proceeds to a chamber where he finds a nude Eleanor within a bubble of light, and she declares that she is…”magic.” And here I thought she was just a friendly upperclassman and helpful school tour guide! In any case, she’s not necessarily an enemy of Anos & Co., so I’m eager to learn what her deal is.

The Misfit of Demon King Academy – 10 – Magic Cheaters Never Prosper

Just because the Demons are in hostile territory doesn’t mean they all start getting along. When top-ranked third-year Royalist Revest Aynie learns how early Anos arrived, he suspects cheating, but Anos doesn’t rise to his provocations, instead praising Revest for requiring so little time himself.

Yet when Revest is chosen as the first Demon Academy student to compete in a magical competition against a Hero student, he can’t even cast a spell on a mouse, much to the amusement of the extremely arrogant and haughty Hero Academy’s headmaster, Diego.

Anos reveals that the humans cheated, casting an anti-demon magic spell. This becomes a common refrain this week: the Hero Academy blatantly cheating at every turn, while the Demon Academy’s Royalist faction shoots themselves in the foot for refusing to maintain a united front with the Anos and their Hybrid comrades.

In Melheis’ report to Anos, he cannot find a mention of Hero Kanon being murdered by a human in the legends, but does interpret a passage he found to foretell that when the Demon King returns to Azeshion—i.e. Anos right now—the Hero will return with the Spirit God Human Sword Evansmana in hand: the holy sword forged to destroy him anew.

Sasha and Misha aren’t about to let Anos spend a quiet evening to himself in his room…not when there’s a night festival to attend! As the three walk the stalls together, Anos spots Ray and Misa, but Sasha urges him not to approach them.

That’s because she can tell they’d only be intruding. Ray, grateful for Misa’s help in saving her mother, wants Misa to cheer up and forget the problems with their academy factions for one night, and accept a shell necklace he won at the shooting game. I for one am fully aboard this adorable ship!

The next morning the Hero and Demon Academies participate in the main inter-academy competition, which involves a battle beneath the lake where there are underwater ruins and caverns, a truly awesome setting. Less awesome is the fact the Humans are cheating again.

The very water in the lake is mixed with Holy Water, which increases their magical ability but is toxic to demons. It’s even more toxic for Revest and his pureblooded elite Royalist team; had he drawn upon the ranks of Hybrids, they might have stood a better chance in the face of the Human cheating.

Instead, Revest & Co. are utterly defeated by the trio of Hero reincarnations, and he and his team have to be rescued by Anos. Menou-sensei, a longtime mentor and friend of Revest who knows how kindhearted he is and how hard he fought for his top-ranked position, tries to heal him, but her magic has no effect since he has a stigma caused by Holy magic.

Among the Demon Academy contingent, only Anos has the power to heal the stigma, and despite Revest hating Anos with every bone in his body, accepts Anos’ help for Menou-sensei’s sake. Perhaps this is the first step towards the Demons finally forming a united front and dispensing with the infighting that falls right into the Hero Academy’s hands.

Having stayed on the sidelines, Anos, accompanied by the Necron sisters, Ray, Misa, and the Fan Club, challenge the Hero trio to a round two, but not in the Holy Water-infused lake. When one of the heroes jokingly says they’ll wait while the lake is drained, Anos proceeds to…drain the motherfucking lake, using a massive fireball to steam all of the water away, creating an even more dramatic venue for the next battle.

Diego and his Heroes were able to steal a couple of cheap wins this week, but the tide has not just turned, but vanished into thin air! I imagine even if and when the Humans deploy their secret weapon (described only as “that” and appearing as a young lady with black hair), Anos will be ready and able to deal with it. And if not, he’s got all his allies by his side to support him.

The Misfit of Demon King Academy – 09 – The Other Side of the Story

Flash back two thousand years to the Human capital of Gairadite. Anos stops by, walking nonchalantly through every barrier the Humans can throw at him. But he’s not here to conquer, but to forge a peace. Hero Kanon is incredulous, but seems willing to hear Anos out. His general Jerga…isn’t, and ends up with Anos’ hand through his chest.

Back in the present, Menou Historia has “temporarily” replaced Emilia-sensei, and informs the class of the impending inter-academy classes in three weeks. We learn Demons and Humans use magic in very different ways.

A select team of students will travel to Azeshion’s Hero Academy, Arclaniska. For everyone but Anos it will be everyone’s first trip to the Human Realm, and he wants to make sure they’re ready, tirelessly sparring with Misha, Sasha, Lay, and Misa.

He also gives Lay a magic sword that was once master by his right-hand-man, whom I assumed was Shin, before remembering the promise he made to Kanon after getting stabbed by the Hero: that if they reincarnated in 2,000 years it would be as friends. So is Lay Shin, or Kanon? It’s not that clear.

Meeting with the newly-freed Melheis, Anos learns that Gaios and Ydol are on the mend, while the Humans’ Hero Academy has raised an elite class of reincarnated heroes, suggesting they may be preparing…something. The students are expected to find their way to Azeshion on their own within ten days; Team Anos (minus the fan club) are teleported there in one second.

While touring the city, Sasha notes how it’s not that different from the Demon capital. When Anos compliments her eyes again, they start to go out of control until Anos calms her down. He promises not to treat her like a child if she’ll promise to use her eyes to protect everyone if he’s ever unable to do so.

They arrive at the front gate of Hero Academy Arclaniska, where they’re met by third-year student Eleanor Bianca, a friendly, cheerful young woman happy to show them around and impressed by Anos’ knowledge of the Hero Kanon.

When Eleanor tells them how Kanon defeated Anos and built the walls, Sasha is outraged, but Anos far less so. He understands how in order for his peace plan to ultimately work, humans had to make a story in which they were the good guys and victors. What’s odd is, Humans believe the name of the Demon King of Tyranny to be Avos Dilhevia as well.

As for Hero Kanon reincarnated, since he had seven sources (or “hearts”), each could be reincarnated into a different body. Four of those are current students in the elite class, and two of them, Ledriano and Laos, confront Anos when they hear he can’t “accept the defeat” his founding ancestor suffered (of course not knowing Anos is the founding ancestor).

After Laos comes at Anos and is handled easily, Ledriano begs Anos’ forgiveness for his comrade’s rudeness and requests that he and Sasha leave for now. Surely these two will see each other again when the inter-academy skirmishes start. But later Eleanor warns Anos that if he’s looking for the original Hero Kanon reincarnate, he may be disappointed, since Kanon was murdered two thousand years ago…by a fellow human.

Featuring a new setting of the Human Realm with its requisite hierarchies, players, and alternate history, this first episode of the inter-academy mini-arc is functional, if uninspiring, expanding the show’s world but lacking the awe and excitement of the previous episode’s battles. There were moments this week when I wished the details of the mythology were less muddled, but that’s at least partly the point: a lot can change in two thousand years.