I’ve been pumped for this ever since I first caught wind of it. Yes, I do have the several manga adaptations of the original novel on my plan to read list, but I haven’t actually gotten around to reading any of them (my plan to read list is rather long). So just why have I been looking forward to Maoyuu? I guess it’s because of another manga series that I read: Superior. I had completed Superior (and its “sequel” Superior Cross) a while ago, and it also had the whole “hero and demon lord team up” concept, which really struck me at the time. Unfortunately, there is no anime with such a concept in existence to my knowledge.1 That is, until now. But really, that’s where the similarity between the two ends. Superior never really had a focus on “macroeconomics” or “politics” and was more action based. Despite the backdrop of war, I don’t think we’ll actually see much fighting on screen in Maoyuu if this first episode is any indication of what’s to come.2 Instead, we’ll likely have a lot of dialogue and cute interactions between the awkward couple that is Maou and Yuusha.
And on that note, it’s also worth mentioning that Maoyuu takes the “no name given” approach. Not a single name has been uttered thus far, and it’s looking like we will never learn the names of the major characters at all.3 The obvious question is, “does this matter?” And truthfully, the answer is that it doesn’t. It might seem a little impersonal at first to just refer to all the characters by their roles/positions, but if the show manages to get us to relate to them even without names, it’ll be a testament to how immersive the story can be. It’s almost as if to say, these people could be anyone, and this story is not bound by the likes of names. Or it could just be that the author of the novel couldn’t be bothered to think of any names, but I like to think this isn’t the case. For someone with the ability to come up with such an interesting scenario, throwing together a few names shouldn’t be a problem. Anyway, the only drawback to all this lack of naming that I can think of is that character interactions might sound a little weird. A king calling his own son “prince” does sound a little “off” after all, but it shouldn’t take very long to get used to this.
But that’s enough talk about names (or the lack thereof). Just what was this first episode like? In a nutshell, it fully delivered on my expectations so far. Maou and Yuusha’s first meeting was very fun to watch, with both of them being clumsy in their own way. It’s heavily implied4 that Yuusha is lacking in “experience” with the opposite sex, which at first seems a little weird for a hero. Don’t they usually come dashing in to save the day and sweep the princess of her feet with confidence and charm? But then again when you think about it, “experience with the opposite sex” isn’t really a requirement to be a hero in the first place, if you can even consider there to be any requirements at all. All he needs to do is fight on the side of “justice” (and have a winning record, or else he’d likely be dead). If you think about it this way, Yuusha definitely qualifies as a hero. Maou herself appears to be rather composed at first, facing a sword head-on without so much as blinking. But we soon find out that her apparent confidence is merely a result of having practiced their meeting many times before, and she’s actually a bit ditsy. This clumsy and awkward couple is particularly endearing, and this is what makes their interactions so entertaining.
Having taken the approach of the hero and the demon lord meeting and teaming up within the first episode, it looks like the “big reveal” of Maoyuu will be when Yuusha’s companions find out about his new allegiance (as opposed to the “hero discovers demon lord’s identity” of Superior). There are also quite a few things left unexplained from the premiere, such as how Maou knew that she would be meeting Yuusha in the future and that he would agree to go along with her, as well as how the two will go about realizing the world that Maou had dreamt of, so I’m definitely looking forward to more of this show.
Herp derp fanservice. The biggest fear I heard from reading around was that ARMS would “boob” things up by substituting plot with an excessive focus on boobs. It’s true that there are a few moments where Maou flaunts off her goods (which she is apparently oblivious of)5, but so far it has been a far cry from the “boobs in your face” of “fanservice shows”. I’d say this episode actually has a rather good amount of fanservice to keep things “spicy” with all the dialogue that’s going on, without becoming “distasteful” or interrupting the flow.
1Ok, so there’s Hagure Yuusha no Estetica, but that’s more “overpowered sexual predator has his way” than “hero and demon lord team up“. Also granted the status of the demon lord wasn’t made known to the hero in Superior, but I digress.
2There are a few fighting scenes in the OP, but as usual, what happens in the OP might not actually happen in the show itself. Unless ARMS is recycling scenes…
3We are told Maou’s title is “The Ruby Eyes” (which she certainly has), but that’s still not her name per se.
4A massive understatement, considering one of the mage-girls outright calls him a virgin.
5Incidentally, they say the underside of the forearm is as soft as the “goods” themselves. Believe what you will.