They summoned a Demon Lord to do their bidding, but things don’t always go as planned. Least of all for the shut-in gamer who was summoned to the fantasy world as his Demon Lord avatar with all of his in-game powers and abilities.
What did you watch?
Almost a year ago, I reviewed How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, having watched it as it aired. Since then, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and every now and then I like to revisit shows that had a lasting impact on me and really dive into them by writing episode reviews. It really helps me focus on what works and doesn’t. I had a lot of fun watching it the first time, so I went in hoping that it wasn’t just a fleeting enjoyment. I have reviewed all twelve of the episodes and am glad to say that it was as good, if not better than I remembered. So, let’s talk about the whole season. As you may expect, there will be spoilers.
Takuma Sakamoto was your average shut-in gamer. He had spent every waking moment glued to his computer battling against the players of Cross Reverie. His Demon Lord character, Diablo had become so powerful that he was feared as highly as any game boss. So, when Takuma is summoned to another world, one that resembled Cross Reverie, as Diablo, he couldn’t believe his luck. Well, imagine his shock when he discovered that he had been summoned by two hot girls, Rem and Shera, and then the enslavement spell they cast on him backfired, making them his slaves…
This sounds like the ideal situation for any hotblooded male, however, Takuma has severe social anxiety making any form of social interaction near on impossible, especially with two hot girls, doubly so if one is an Elf and the other a Pantherian! Anyhow, it turns out that Diablo has retained all of his skills and abilities from the game and it very quickly becomes apparent that he is on a different level to everyone there. Compared to the average person he is a god… well, a demon lord. Now, he will have to find a way to survive in this new world and help Rem and Shera with their issues, the reason they summoned him in the first place.
What did you think?
I already mentioned that this is my second time watching this series and the first time, I loved it. Well, this time around, I think I actually liked it even more. There were so many small details and moments that I probably noticed on the first viewing but thought little of. I would have noticed them, but not gathered their significance to the series and the clever way in which the story was crafted. There are so much foreshadowing and little teases of things to come that when they happen, whether you noticed them or not, everything makes sense. It’s worth noting that this series is heavy in ecchi moments, but rather than detract from the story, they fit in and if anything, they serves as a way to enhance the relationships between the characters and the viewer, while reinforcing Diablo’s internal issues.
What was your favourite moment?
In my original review, I said that the fight between Diablo and Edelgard was my favourite moment, but this time around, I would actually say that the whole of episode four was my favourite moment. Episode three set up two potential conflicts – the Fallen army attacking the bridge where Diablo was and a Fallen sorcerer attacking Rem and Celestine back in Faltra City. Cliffhangers are often criticized as being a bit gimmicky and often they are, but this worked perfectly. It added a real sense of pressure to episode four which had the amazing fight between Diablo and Edelgard, but it also had Diablo successfully teleporting back to Faltra City and beating down the Fallen Sorcerer.
One of the other amazing moments from this episode was the realisation that people die in this world. There are no restarts. When someone dies, they die. This explains why Diablo is so overpowered compared to the others around him. Death is the limiter and very few are able to gain the experience to level up as he had in this reality. It was subtle but effective.
What was your least favourite moment?
After the excitement of the fourth episode and the steady world building up to that point, the series definitely suffered from a soggy middle, especially in the fifth episode. This was the episode where the elves had threatened to go to war if Shera was not given back to them. They also put a bounty on her, leading to her being kidnapped briefly. A lot of this episode and episode six could have been compressed and merged together without impacting the overall story. It would have given us more time for the battles that often were over a little too soon. It’s not a massive criticism, but it’s definitely something to be aware of with my own writing.
Who was your favourite character?
As far as the series goes, Diablo was the most interesting character. His internal dialogue always made his interactions more enjoyable. Seeing him struggle with introductions and generally talking to people made him that much more relatable, which is impressive given his immense power. The way he hid behind the demon lord persona was great and shows when he’s uncomfortable because if it’s a fight or something quest related, he jumps in without any doubt of his abilities. It would have been nice to see some growth in regards to his social anxiety. Admittedly, he did manage to help others through his own issues, but his advice rarely found its way back to him.
Who was your least favourite character?
There were a number of side characters that appeared here and there but weren’t really explored in any real depth. I’m talking about Celestine, Galford, and even Sylvie to some extent. Of the three, I liked Sylvie the most and she probably got the most development, although it would have been nice to see her in it a little more. Maybe if we’re ever lucky enough to get a third season, we’ll see more of them.
Outside of those characters, it’s pretty easy to hate Shera’s brother, Keera. Not only was he the definition of moustache-twizzling pantomime villain. In anime, you can often substitute moustache-twizzling with lip-licking. Keera’s motivation seemed to be an odd one, but it definitely helped to cement him as the most notable villain in the series.
Would you like some more?
I would love some more. I felt this way after the first viewing and it’s only become more apparent that we need to see more from this world. The story craft was great and far more than most would expect from a title with an ecchi harem element. I loved the little details and how they all came together at the end. One thing that I think anime is too often guilty of is the deus ex machina moment where something amazing happens at the end to ensure victory, but it just appeared out of nowhere. Where was the progression or the foreshadowing? Without that, it feels like a cheat. On top of that, I enjoyed the characters, it felt like all of the main characters were given enough focus to get to know them and feel invested in their progress. That’s often one of the biggest attractions to a series, whether I like the characters or not.
What have you learnt?
I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of foreshadowing. There’s nothing quite like the moment that something strange happens, but somehow you understand it. Well, that’s because there have been a number of tiny hints that you might not have completely registered, but when it happens, your memory just throws them all together and you find yourself nodding, shaking your head, and feeling kind of impressed. It’s great to be fooled and not see something coming, but only if there was the possibility that you could have spotted it.
On top of that, I say it’s really important to develop a connection between the characters and the readers. They need to find something that they can connect to, something that makes the character seem real and relatable. One last thing is the detail and finding a way to show us, rather than just telling us. Don’t tell us that people can die. Show us the effects of them dying and how it impacts those around them. You can tell a lot from other character’s reactions, even minor characters.
Other posts in the series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – The Demon Lord Act
- Episode 2 – The Strongest Newcomer
- Episode 3 – Fallen Assault
- Episode 4 – Point-Blank War Dance
- Episode 5 – Imperial Knight
- Episode 6 – Slave Market
- Episode 7 – Change of Heart
- Episode 8 – Hero’s Charge
- Episode 9 – Holy Knight Tale
- Episode 10 – Demon Lord’s Resurrection
- Episode 11 – The Young Girl Awakens
- Episode 12 – Battle for Legitimacy