Considering the extra effort I made to watch more anime this season, I can’t really say that most of what’s on offer has blown me away. I’m aware that I’ve been kind of negative on my blog recently, but I don’t feel any need to sugar coat my feelings regarding this season, especially with how many interchangeable shows we’ve been getting. None more so than The Misfit of Demon King Academy, which I’m pretty content in dropping now.
At the beginning of the season, when I was doing my 3 episode rule thing, I was pretty intrigued by The Misfit of Demon King Academy. As it turns out, this was because it was three episodes into a four-episode story arc revolving around the two Necron sisters. A story line I was totally invested in, but as soon as episode 4 came out and everything had been resolved, my interest bottomed out.
Mostly because the two sisters (who were my favourite characters at this point) took a step into the background so Anos could continue adding to his inevitably ballooning personal harem. As everyone who meets him either hates his guts or falls utterly into his thralldom. Which would be fine, if Anos himself was a remotely interesting character to me, which he’s not at all.
The Demon King: Anos Voldigoad was already ridiculously overpowered in his own time, but after being dead for a couple millennia, the power people hold in the world has waned. Thus our already overpowered Demon King has become several times more so. Here’s the thing, this isn’t the first time I’ve complained about overpowered protagonists in anime, going into it when I spoke about Isekai this past June.
While this series isn’t an isekai, it shares many of the same problems that make that genre hard for me to digest. Because Anos is a character whose personality is secondary to his abilities. He simply doesn’t have that much going for him outside of being able to do whatever the hell he wants, he’s simply a swaggering, supremely self-confidence plank of wood. Sure, I’ve gotten a few laughs out of him, but that’s all come from situational comedy and the people around him rather than any charm the character has himself.
As I talked about in a more recent post about the reliability of characters in media; as audience members, we try our very best to connect and relate to the characters in whatever we’re watching. And while Anos has shades of humanity about him; caring for his friends and his parents, there’s still something inherently inhuman about him. He’s disconnected from most things going on around him because nothing is a threat to him. And if he doesn’t care than it makes it difficult for me to care.
I can see why some people would enjoy the series, the appeal comes from seeing the character encounter the tried and true anime tropes and batting them aside with barely a flick of his wrist. But that’s only entertaining so many times, and by the 10th episode of him doing it, I’m searching in the background for other characters to grab my attention.
Which is one of the tactics the writers of these kinds of mangas use to keep their one-trick pony stories from getting stale. I feel like overpowered heroes are becoming a more common trend in a lot of the anime I’ve been watching these past few seasons. And while I can understand writers getting tired of the same old shonen underdogs leading their stories, there’s a reason those stories stay in print for as long as they do.
With an underdog, you’re always striving for the next level along with the hero, looking for that next limit to be broken. When your hero is already at the top from the beginning, you need to find different ways to limit them or keep them from basically draining any sense of dramatic tension from the scene.
Good storytelling is all about drama, stakes and overcoming adversity. Anos Voldigoad doesn’t do any of these things, so I have to question whether this is good storytelling. I certainly don’t care what he’s doing anymore. And it’s not difficult to overcome these problems either, as there are a ton of great anime and manga out there with the same kind of characters able to pull it off.
The classic and easiest example would be Saitama from One Punch Man. While Saitama is able to destroy any tension by easily defeating any enemy that he faces, the series is still exciting, dramatic and nail-biting. Unlike Anos, Saitama is a constant source of comedy, his total apathy and inability to show up until the very last moment mean the supporting cast have to carry most of the drama in the series. Plus, Saitama has charm and is funny.
And is also bolstered by an extremely likeable supporting cast who are even more fleshed than Saitama himself, each and every one could easily be seen as a protagonist in their own shonen anime. Battling their heart out despite the staggering odds against them, which makes it so when Saitama finally does show up, it comes with a sense of anticipation and joy. At which point, it’s stopped mattering that you know exactly where things are going.
Here’s another example: I stumbled upon a Chinese webmanga called Busted! Darklord. It also features a grossly overpowered main character, and like Anos, he too is the heir to the Demon King title. However, the premise of the manga puts him in a situation where he has to hide both his identity and his powers in order to attain a school certificate that can legitimate the Demon House. (because they’re all actually super nice people in this reality).
Thus hijinks ensue as the protagonist finds himself cross dressing as a girl and being totally unable to use his powers all while being on the verge of being found out at all times. What makes it work is that Yǔ Rénjié is an incredibly kind, humble and giving character, who is always sweating bullets because he’s constantly being put into situations where he really needs to use his powers to the fullest, but can’t because doing so would mean dooming his family. It doesn’t hurt that the manga is packed with a ton of personality and over the top characters.
In comparison, Anos is a character with a perpetual, self-satisfied smirk on his face. He’s never flustered, he never shows any outward emotion to betray the fact that he genuinely does care about the people around him. He, and most people around him, are totally wooden. And no matter what situation is thrown his way, I know for a fact that he’ll stride headfirst into it, undoing any and all pain to his allies before pulling another Deux Ex Magicka out of his arse to defy the laws of reality.
There’s nothing redeeming about this show for me at this point. Had it continued to focus on the two sisters and pushed Anos’s search for his impostor into the background, then I’d most likely be more invested. I’m shocked I made it this many episodes in if I’m honest.