Demon Lord Builds a Spa?
Maou-Sama Retry is one of those anime that thoroughly convinces me that just because it has a slightly different take on an old idea it doesn’t necessarily make it interesting. In Retry’s case we have Kunai who was managing a game who after deciding to shut it down finds himself inside what looks suspiciously like said game (though with some differences). I wonder where we’ve seen that set up before? Where it tries to be a little different is that the protagonist actually looks older inside the game (so if not magically made a teenager again) and is also considered a ‘demon-lord’ in the world so doesn’t instantly become a hero.
Which would all be well and good if they did anything with that. However, as far as I can see, other than the holy maidens not liking him initially, his basic interactions of find girl, help her, have girl join ever growing harem of hanger-on’s as he meanders about fairly aimlessly fits more or less with a lot of lesser isekai stories (and some that actually make this formula interesting). Where this might succeed is if the humour of Demon-Lord Retry has you cackling but to be honest I think there were about three scenes where it made me crack a smile and outside of that I was just a little bit bored.
Initially, despite the first episode not being particularly thrilling, I thought that this one would pick up a bit once it found its feet. Kunai seemed fairly focused on finding a way to get home and so with the first girl he rescued (Aku) in tow he sets off. And somehow over the series that plot thread becomes lost in a tangle of shopping, gaining power, increasing the number of rescued girls hanging around to the point where Aku all but disappears from the show, and then building a spa resort in a village inhabited by bunny people.
I am going to take a swipe at the art and animation in this one. While Kenja no Mago which I enjoyed earlier this year also had pretty lacklustre art and visuals that seemed pretty cheap, particularly for background characters, Demon-Lord Retry looks very lazy a lot of the time. While sometimes it seems used for humorous effect, by and large it just isn’t that nice to look at or interesting and fights are a fairly bland affair when they actually occur (they are pretty few and far between).
While the visuals won’t make or break your enjoyment of this anime, they certainly don’t add anything appealing for those on the fence about the whole thing. Nor do the voice actors bring much to the table with each character seemingly only having one tone (a second one if they are really lucky) and then they deliver every single line in that tone.
However, because the story is going practically nowhere, the characters don’t have all that much to say. While we learn a few facts about the characters from their exchanges it never feels like we get to the heart of who they really are and honestly it feels a little empty.
I guess the comedy is supposed to compensate, however unless you find a holy maiden getting her butt spanked hilarious or the cross-dressing adventurer’s overt attempts to seduce Kunai chuckle worthy you’re probably not going to find the space being filled. When its not trying to gain laughs through the above there’s a kind of self-aware smugness to the series that makes it all seem more tired than funny. Certainly there are many anime that have pulled off self-aware comedy and actually been pretty amusing, but this one is not going to join their ranks (at least for me).
By the time this series came to a close I was well and truly ready to say goodbye to it from my watch list. At no point is it unwatchably bad, and again, those who appreciate the form of comedy in this will definitely get more from it, but it also didn’t bring anything to the table that seemed worth sitting through twenty minutes each week. The characters were flat and uninteresting, the comedy for me missed the mark by a mile, the story is all but non-existent and without interesting characters watching their town building efforts is pretty dull, and visually it just wasn’t interesting to look at.
While there’s certainly worse anime out there than Maou-Sama Retry I’m just not sure this one is worth the time.
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Images from: Maou-Sama, Retry! Dir. H Kimura. EKACHI EPILKA. 2019.