How interesting are you, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou?

But I tripped and fell into a harem!

If you have what it takes, I’ll let you [save the girl].

All I need is what it takes, right?

Do you think you can kill me? Its been one hundred years since I’ve seen someone this interesting. Then let’s see what you have!

Omoshiroi! Omoshiroi! Omoshiroi! Just imagine two powerful entities standing across from each other, braying on and on about how interesting the other foe is. It’s a sad reality that the writing in these lameass anime still haven’t progressed since Dragon Fucking Ball.

Impressive, most impressive.

It’s been a long time since I’ve met such an interesting foe.

I’ve been waiting for this day.

So goes one of the many brainless conversations in the action slash magic fantasy slash fanservice comedy anime titled Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s only because Ichiban doesn’t really know what it wants to be. It was, however, originally a light novel series by Shotaro Mizuki, but Ichiban might as well be anime because it simply bleeds anime. The TV adaptation was handled by Artland, a studio that apparently hasn’t produced anything since 2008. The studio cut its teeth on the solid Mushishi back in 2005-06, but ever since then, it has been a string of mediocre jobs for Artland, ranging from the generic romcom Umisho to the disappointing Gunslinger Girls II. How, then, does Ichiban stack up?

Premise:

Sai Akuto is merely transferring to his new school when, much to his chagrin, the black chicken of fate has decreed him to be the next Demon Lord. Needless to say, Akuto’s school life has been turned upside down and there are no rich relatives in Bel-air to bail him out.

Liked:

Pacing…? — This is a question only because I had to really dig to find what I liked about this anime. It moves at a fairly fast pace and doesn’t stall on any irrelevant side story as we get to see Akuto fulfill his destiny of becoming a Demon Lord.

Hated:

Inconsistent tone — Sometimes, Ichiban is a silly romcom harem with slapstick and girls finding themselves in uncompromising situations.

Other times, however, Ichiban can be angsty as all hell. Akuto’s sidekick, Hiroshi, struggles with his perceived weakness. What makes him weak? We don’t really know. We just know he’s not capable. Fujiko, on the other hand, seeks to understand her brother’s tragic fate. While she’s doing that, however, she keeps his undead and severed head in a jar with its eyes sewn shut. Classy girl.

Lucky guy spared from having to watch this anime.

When the girls aren’t busy getting naked and the atmosphere hasn’t quite turned serious, the anime becomes a silly shounen adventure. Our heroes go traipsing around on the school’s impossibly immense campus, hunting for lost treasures and artifacts:

The story just seems confused and the direction muddled. No, an anime doesn’t have to be confined to a single genre, but Ichiban lacks the writing to pull it off. We neither cherish the highs nor fear the lows as they come.

Fanservice and more fanservice — I’ve wondered this before but how does a light novel even handle fanservice? But regardless, Ichiban is as titillating as a blunt needle in the eye. Every female character in the anime has her own gimmick.

One girl must constantly strip naked because her magical ring isn’t quite on par with the “one ring to rule them all.” It’s conveniently incapable of rendering her clothes invisible else well.

Another girl is really an android, who can be shut down by a bunny-like tail just above her ass. Every time Akuto wants to put Korone out of commission, you can pretty much expect a panty shot. This seems self-defeating, by the way. Shouldn’t fanservice be unexpected and surprising?

And poor Junko… being the designated tsunderekko, she’s the target of the anime’s most humiliating scenes. From having her clothes blown off

to having white, sticky fluids sprayed copiously all over her face by a “sea cucumber,”

Junko never sees the end of it. It seems that the stronger a female character appears, the more tempting it is for anime to knock her down a peg; the prouder she is, the more necessary it is to humiliate and defile her.

Generic characters — There’s nothing unique about Akuto aside from a few curious markings under each eye. Like all harem lead, he’s just the misunderstood hero with unlimited potential. Of course, he can’t control his power yet.

The rest of the cast is just as uninspiring. Junko’s satisfies the tsundere requirement, Korone is the Rei/Yuki clone, you have some loli with a silly hat, blah blah blah. You can probably imagine the rest. And in case you couldn’t guess, they’re all in love with Akuto from the moment they laid eyes on him.

Minor Nit-picks:

Lots of lazy animation here. Do you need a giant explosion? Don’t bother animating it. Just grab some cheap effects and run a ton of filters on it. Voila!

The characters can be really stupid at times. Ooh, menacing black tornado. I guess I’ll just leap headfirst into it with a sword. Oops, now my clothes are all torn off.

Akuto is no exception. At the end of the third episode, he learns that the pills Fujiko gave him were really “a type of black magick that compels loyalty to a particular individual.” Gosh, sounds kinda fishy. Except this is completely forgotten by the next episode. Akuto proceeds to treat Fujiko like a good friend.

Lots of juvenile sound effects. The anime doesn’t want you forget it has fanservice. Just in case you’re not paying attention, these scenes are often accompanied by some pretty annoying audio cues of women moaning for apparently no reason. Korone lying in Akuto’s bed with her shirt unbuttoned? Play the sound clip, guys: “Awwwwngggggh~”

Verdict?

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou just offers nothing new. It’s a repeat of everything unoriginal currently plaguing mainstream anime. In some aspects (e.g. the visuals), it feels like a step or two backwards. The question, then, is why bother? There are quite a few solid shows this season to waste your precious hours on so there’s really no reason to bother with Ichiban. Unless, of course, you think of these crappy harem shows as comfort food for the anime-starved soul. In that case, enjoy treading across familiar territory for the umpteenth time.

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15 Replies to “How interesting are you, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou?”

  1. The opening theme particularly feels like a step back, but I don’t think in a bad sense. Very retro.

    No love for the Korone? I find her line delivery pretty amusing. :)

    1. I’m not an OP/ED guy. I usually just skip them after the first viewing. Even decent ones like Maria+Holic’s OP can get annoying to me after the fifth or sixth time. I can only remember consistently watching Eden of of the East’s OP, but that’s because Oasis is awesome.

      No love for the Korone? I find her line delivery pretty amusing. :)

      I’ll concede that. But everything else about her is pretty cookie-cutter so I didn’t think she merited a praise.

  2. My opinion in a nutshell. Ichiban struck me as a show that didn’t know what it wanted to be, and because of that, created a whole myriad of clichéd scenerios that are supposed to be funny or awesome.

    When will they learn that shoehorning silly moe or harem antics into everything ”salvagable” situation is simply not going to work?

  3. The pacing per episode is terrible. It always seems like a bunch of random stuff happening. Then they just randomly start and finish plot points near the end of the show and then start something else for the next one. It confuses me….

    1. I just think it beats the alternative. Somehow, if this show bothered to stop and smell the roses, I just think it’d be even worse.

      1. Well, between something always happening and nothing ever happening, for this type of show, I’d take the first. The whole “cramming things in at the end” still does leave me in suspense, which is probably what that’s meant for. I guess I’m used to sort of the “rising action” style rather than the “constant action” that this has going for it.

  4. It’s still a small step up from your average ecchi harem series. I’m enjoying it a hell of a lot more than, say, Ladies vs Butlers or Oomari Himari. It seems to be enjoying itself with a weird sense of parody, like Katanagatari but focusing more on ecchi than shounen parody.

    I’d say that it still compares well to the other stuff airing this season. I mean, it’s no more uneven, angsty or confusing than Angel Beats. It’s no less romantic, funny or random than Arakawa. And it’s no more cliched or half-assed than Maid-sama or B Gata. It’s not great, but it’s still entertaining enough.

    1. It’s no less romantic, funny or random than Arakawa.

      What’s remotely romantic about Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou? And we’ll just have to agree to disagree, but I don’t find this funny at all while I think Arakawa’s hilarious.

      1. I meant to imply that neither are particularly funny or romantic to me. I know others are enjoying Arakawa’s sense of humor, but it’s just falling flat for me. I do recall one or two forced moments of “romance” in Arakawa, but it’s not exactly trying much harder than Ichiban’s mindless cliche/parody. Still, if I had to rank them, Arakawa would still be slightly ahead overall. It still has a much better chance of becoming something special.

        1. I agree that Arakawa’s not particularly romantic, but I don’t think romance is its main thrust anyway.

          And I just don’t see what makes Ichiban a parody. I just think it’s another harem. Even if it is a parody, it fails to make me laugh which isn’t a good sign for a parody.

          To each his own, however, so I’m not gonna pursue this any further.

  5. “The TV adaptation was handled by Artland, a studio that apparently hasn’t produced anything since 2008.”

    “Apparently” you failed even a simple google search, since the studio did quite a bit of work since 2008. Laaaaame. And besides, anyone with half-a-brain and even remote interest in animation will know that most animation studios simply cant afford to be without work for pretty much any period of time whatsoever.

  6. You hear people complain and complain about harem and how cliche they are. That’s what makes anime studio go “Oh man they are complaining again, next time we’ll do a reverse harem, or maybe boys love, or a love triangle with one girl and two dudes.” Seriously we don’t need any of your whining. If you don’t like an anime that’s fine. If you don’t like an anime because it’s harem, simply don’t watch it. Go watch Thursday afternoon soap drama or something.

    1. Sorry, Firestarter, you can’t stop what’s already begun. There’s gonna be boy love everywhere in anime. Bishounens humping bishounens, licking nipples, and pulling hair. Cheap guitar music, french interstitials, and long deep gazes — I have my finger on the pulse of anime and it says… we need more shounen ai.

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