For this anime to be so ordinary, it’s pretty engaging and does a lot of things well. If I gave you the rest of the title, “History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants,” one, you’d think I made that up, and two, you’d pretty much know the gist of the story. Or, almost all of it. And I just gave it to you anyway!
Really nice art, decent if predictable characters, and a story that doesn’t try to do too much, but just enough, this one will keep your attention and keep you entertained. There’s rumor of a second season to come, but I’ve heard no confirmation as of the time of this writing.
When I say “ordinary,” first of all that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The ordinariness of these characters does not make this show boring. It just is what it is, and they are what they are, and the writers did a good job not trying to make them anymore than that. So it’s appropriately and convincingly ordinary, I would say. It still sounds like a bad thing. It’s not, I’m just not quite conveying exactly what I’m thinking somehow. Well, keep reading maybe it’ll become more obvious!
You’ve got the Demon King, Anos Voldigoad. Wait wait wait, let me sidetrack right away. The pompous, quasi-European mythical name thing gets a little out of control in this series! But again, I don’t mind it so bad. To be cliche, it doesn’t really have much bite in this show. We get it, they have weird ass European style names. Anyway, he’s the “strongest demon king” mentioned from the title. He definitely is reincarnated as a highschooler. You did not misread that. A fairly typical strongman MC, he is powerfully voiced (Tatsuhisa Suzuki, various roles in Black Butler, Seven Deadly Sins, Jojo, etc.) and immovable in appearance and conduct. Also apparently he knows everything. And he can’t really lose any battles. Or really take any damage. As he puts at one point (subtitles), “There’s no way I’d ever die.” Oh yeah, and he’s going to highschool, with his descendants, after being dead for two thousand years.
Basically he has something to do with how the current state of their world is. It’s divided up into some kind of groups, two of which, at least, are “demons” (I think they’re saying “akuma,” but I’m not certain) and humans. Without going into all the gory details here, he occasioned for the two parties to live in peace and no longer war with each other. They call him the “founding ancestor” or something of that sort. So now that he’s come back, he’s decided to live among them. And yes, he’s highschool age. Well, he’s only been born a few weeks. He grew to his apparent age in that short time. Everybody wonders at it, but not as much as they should! His parents are really funny. They dote on him like they would a newborn, but in the language parents use to teenagers. But anyway, the school is another iteration of these magic academies we’re very accustomed to in anime. But more on all that when I get to the story later.
He behaves interestingly, neither humbly nor arrogantly. He obviously knows who and what he is, despite the doubt he encounters from everybody. Above all, he is all-powerful in this world. He takes part in lots of battles, but he’s never seriously challenged. Even the reincarnation of his former adversary, the “hero” Kanon, doesn’t stand a chance against him. Oh we get a colossus of a thing in the last episode of S1, and even that thing dies in a heap before him. It’s fun to wait and see what he’s going to do next, as those around him flounder and fail, and he bails them out. Often these encounters end amiably for all involved. He does have a very convenient resurrection skill. But amiably or not, he puts his opponents down with no hope of challenging him again. Those that end amiably become his allies and friends. Those that do not, he puts to death viciously. Not that he behaves viciously, but he deals out death with the impassivity that experience with it would bring. He plays the role of “demon king,” whatever you might envision that term to mean, very well.
The girls that surround him are stereotypical. He adds a hoard of them when he adds a large group of the “misfits” to his group of allies at the school. Only the one is featured, and she’s unremarkable. The rest of them make up what amounts to an annoying cheer squad that sings periodically. Maybe their VAs are an idol group or something, but I didn’t confirm this. The other important girls are the two sisters Misha and Sasha Necron. Misha speaks very quietly, and it’s kind of interesting to listen to her (Tomori Kusunoki, SAO Gun Gale, Marchen Madchen). Sasha is…well, that stereotypical tsundere girl, down to the twintails. It’s a little annoying initially, but she gets better, and the “Witch of Destruction” gets fairly likable.
There’s a handful of other students and teachers. They don’t play a huge role, only as facilitators for the for the storyline and the main characters.
Like everything else in this anime, the artwork is pretty typical. Does that mean it’s bad? Absolutely not. It’s very detailed and pleasing to watch. The contrast is really high in the coloring, as expected of fantasy genre.
It’s not Violet Evergarden detailed, but there’s lots of strands of hair and lots of buttons and clasps and pockets and accessories and patterning on the uniforms. It must be a pain to draw all that, but I give them credit for doing it. It’s very visually busy without going overboard, so it’s interesting to the eye. The magic we see is pretty detailed also. We get another iteration of those floating and glowing magic circles and squares in this show, sufficiently colorful and large and detailed to serve their purpose. Not a fan, but okay.
The characters are pretty. The girls have really glassy, reflective eyes. Eleonore is probably the prettiest, but my personal opinions aside. Misha’s white hair is very attractive, if typical. The hair is all pretty typical, but still very nice. Physiques are fairly standard, not too long and thin but not too real either. Anos in particular is very proportional. His appearance is well done in the sense that he absolutely looks immovable and sure of himself. Everybody else might be moving all around him, but once he sets his feet he’s like the Rock of Gibraltar. And you can tell this just by looking at him somehow. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about him that has this effect, but it’s very subtly pronounced, I’ll say.
I liked watching this visually. Like I said, it’s pretty typical, but certainly grabs your attention. It looks very modern, that’s another good way to describe it. And it does modern well.
The story doesn’t try to do too much in this show. Initially it’s just what we see in the title. But every episode adds to the situation, building up pieces of the puzzle around Anos. Some of those he resolves immediately (rather forcefully ususally) while others tend to linger around to the very end. If the whole thing were a structure, I’d say it was pretty well assembled.
The “misfit” thing is a little overused in anime, but it does its job well in this show. In particular, I think it allows Anos to display some of that strength I referred to earlier. He doesn’t act like a misfit, nor does he take affront at people looking down on him as a result of that title. But he doesn’t act like he thinks he should be “royalty” or whatever either. He is what he is, and you can side with that or mess with it (as Emilia-sensei does, to her regret) as you choose, and he won’t push you one way or another by behavior or word. He plays the overwhelming underdog without presumption, and it works really well in distinguishing his character.
The addition of Jerga suddenly at the end and the subsequent revelation that the “human” society was under some great misapprehension regarding their particular magic was a little weak. But for one thing it fit with the rest of the overarching story, that someone had rewritten history for some mysterious reason. But then also it served to unravel the final mystery, that question itself, of who and why history was being rewritten. So in that sense it served its purpose without being too unbelievable or ridiculous.
That mystery ultimately is that Anos’ former enemy, the hero Kanon, with whom he had arranged that peace which had lasted for two thousand years, was the one who was manipulating history and the demon race. And that hero was actually reincarnated as one of Anos’ classmates (unsurprisingly), Lay Gorgonzola, or however the hell it’s spelled. It’s a bit of a convenient plot twist, but it was unexpected and fit into the puzzle well enough for it to be satisfactory. It didn’t make things too unbelievable or complicated, but answered the handful of lingering questions we had about the state of things. Why he felt the need to manipulate the Demon Lords or whatever they called them wasn’t explained very carefully, but it didn’t need to be really. It all worked well enough.
It’s in that sense that I say the story doesn’t try to do too much. There was just the one plot twist really, and while a little convenient, it served the series well. I was not unhappy with the resolution to everything.
I kept saying this was “ordinary” or “typical.” And I mean it. But I also want to point out that this anime is a good example of how “ordinary” can work. The artwork, the characters, the dialogue, the story, they’re all what we expect from anime. And still it’s entertaining and engaging. It doesn’t try to do too much. It is typical anime, and it doesn’t imagine itself to be anything else. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
Take something that does overdo itself and compare it. I’m sure you can think of examples, but I like to bring up Black Clover at times like this. While I haven’t seen that entire series, every time I pick it back up I get bugged by the same things over and over. Stereotypical anime behavior and art that throws itself in your face in an overdramatic and overblown manner. It gets on my nerves, as it tries to make a giant philosophical point or emotionally charged realization out of every little episode we encounter. That gets tiresome really fast to me. So in comparison, while nowhere near the popularity level of Black Clover (I’ll admit to its popularity, while nonetheless disagreeing with that popularity), this show is a good example of a “typical” anime that doesn’t try to do that. And I think that makes this show more interesting for that reason. It’s just the characters meeting in this world and stuff happens. The end. Everybody’s happy. Including me. We’ll see if there’s a season two yet to come!