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The Summer 2022 Preview Guide
Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World

How would you rate episode 1 of
Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World ?
Community score: 3.2

What is this?

High school student Michio Kaga was wandering aimlessly through life and the Internet, when he finds himself transported from a shady website to a fantasy world — reborn as a strong man who can use "cheat" powers. He uses his powers to become an adventurer, earn money, and get the right to claim girls that have idol-level beauty to form his very own harem.

Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is based on Shachi Sogano's light novel series and streams on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

Holy crap, a slave costs 60,000 Nars products? That's an expensive makeup brand! Just a single tube of lipstick costs over $30. Multiply that by 60,000 and it's well over a million dollars.

… …

I have been informed that “nars” is the in-world currency in Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World.

Well, now that I've gotten my silly joke out of the way, all I have to say about Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is that it's bad. Even if I were a person with no scruples about what I consumed, who did not feel intensely creeped out by how Michio had no compunction about purchasing a woman to have sex with, who was totally comfortable with slavery fetishists, I would think it was a bad show. Michio is Yet Another Kirito Clone except that he thinks solely with his dick the moment sex comes into the equation. It is startlingly ugly, with its hand-drawn characters poorly composited onto computer-modeled backgrounds worthy of a Windows 2000 screensaver and baffling directorial flourishes. The writing is dull and the story is poorly paced, although it is kind of funny seeing the slave trader Alan utilize car salesman hard-sell tactics to convince Michio to invest in a sex slave.

Michio's vibes, by the way, are absolutely rancid. He doesn't just decide to make the best of a bad situation, or to do as the Romans do. He doesn't feel disgust over how common slavery is in this world for a single instant, but accepts it with a shrug and, later, an erection. No conflicted ethics, no struggling with the idea that he has no choice but to buy a slave to survive in this world. He hears he can pay money to get his dick wet and asks, “How much?” Well, actually his first questions are whether the slave can kill him or run away, which demonstrates an understanding that hey, enslavement is actually pretty awful and what he's doing to another person is indefensible. But! He gets to have sex!!

But that's not the main concern of this show's audience, is it? The point is slavery fetish porn, and the version on Crunchyroll is censored to hell and back, including, hilariously, bleeping out the words “sex slave.”

Richard Eisenbeis

I feel that this first episode of Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World was stuck in a bit of a no-win situation. On one hand, it needed to do an awful lot of character building for our hero and introduce us to the world. On the other, it had to set up the first driving goal of the anime: making enough money in five days to buy Roxanne. Unfortunately, trying to do both in a single episode leaves the former feeling a bit too rushed—especially given all the heavy lifting it has to do in explaining why Michio is able to throw out his earthy morals and get right into buying slaves.

Basically, in this episode we see Michio grapple with the following facts:

  1. That he is trapped with no way home.
  2. That this is a real world, not a game world.
  3. That he murdered a whole bunch of people.
  4. That he sentenced a man to a life of slavery.
  5. That he is truly a stranger in a strange world.
  6. That he really wants to buy a sex slave.

That is a lot for a character to go through in a single episode—much less the first episode. Moreover, each step is important because it forms how he comes to view the world he is stuck in and his own place in it. Basically, Michio is able to deal with everything that happens by couching it in game terms. Every game has its rules—and so does this fantasy world. As long as he follows these rules, he is in the clear. His real-world morals can be completely ignored, just as one would do when playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty.

The episode seems to loosely imply that this is a coping mechanism—something to help keep him sane when faced with the true gravity and implications of his situation and his actions in it. However, setting it in stone by spreading his character arc over several episodes would have likely been a better choice. After all, it would make him far more empathetic than he appears in this episode—especially in scenes like the one where he is lusting over a virgin slave that the slave trader assures him it's okay to buy and have sex with “because she actually wants it.”

All in all, I'm not sure how I feel about Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World. If we actually get more into his psychology and how his morals from our world are clashing with his actions in this one, it could be an interesting examination of the whole “slaves are totally cool to have” thing seen in so many recent isekai anime. If, however, what we got in this episode is all we ever get on that front, I think I may pass on the rest of this series. I'll just have to watch a bit more and see.

James Beckett

Going by its premiere, Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is one of those perfect storms of garbage that I almost have to suspect was a prank created specifically to make me suffer, personally. The second season of Fruit of Evolution already got announced, though, so I can only assume that Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is simply another random act of psychic violence made to prove that, if there ever even was a God, He has long since abandoned us to a universe guided by chaos and apathy.

How else could you explain this show, which somehow combines the two absolute worst recurring trends in modern anime? The first two-thirds of the premiere is the most paint-by-numbers “Reborn in a Video-Game" isekai imaginable. Michio has literally not a single discernable personality trait, and he apparently got reborn into a bargain-bin RPG that probably cost a dollar in some Steam sale.

There is not one second of this part that attempts to tell a real story. It's just watching this anthropomorphic department store mannequin check his stats and read info screens on his video-game menu while characters dole out meaningless exposition. Even if this was all that Harem in Another World was going for, it would still be the worst premiere I've seen this summer, because it doesn't even have the dignity to pretend like it has a reason to exist.

Except there's the “Harem" portion of the title, which we get a glimpse of when our hapless “hero" gets lured into the sex-slave trade. I'm not even mad about the slavery stuff, at this point, since that's just par for the course with the genre, but Harem in Another World can't even succeed at being shameless trash. Just add its name to the baffling long list of “Anime That Desperately Wants to Be Porn But Are Too Cowardly to Commit”. Seriously, what is the point of airing a show like this during broadcast hours when all of the sex and nudity is going to be censored to hell and back?

The characters can't even say the word for the smut they're trying to peddle—and that's usually not a good sign for the quality of the smut! I often say that the one job that a premiere has to do is make an argument for why a show should exist, and Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World fails on all counts. I can't even give it my lowest score, because that is usually reserved for shows that make me actively upset or miserable. This? This is just pathetic.

Nicholas Dupree
Rating: [404 Error – Not Found]

Man, they got that second season of World’s End Harem out fast!

Seriously, I figured it would be a good long while before we saw another show so desperate to be porn, held back by the strictures of TV broadcasting until it morphed into a surreal, hilarious car crash. Yet here we are just three months later and we've got a contender that could be even funnier than its spiritual predecessor. While there's nothing quite as bizarre as the digital artifacting that turned WEH into a dada-ist masterpiece, we instead get a show entirely built around our hero buying women to have sex with, where they have to bleep out the words “sex slave.” That's the kind of amazing, unintentional art that can make for a hilarious time. It turns the scene of the friendly neighborhood slave trader selling our hero on his finest dog-girl maid into a joke right out of Yu-Gi-Oh! abridged. It is sure to anger anyone trying to watch this show for its sexual content, but for my money there's no better way to watch this show.

That's because otherwise, this premiere would be a total dirge to get through. Despite being billed as a super horny fuckfest, this premiere is entirely about going through the dull stuff you have to do when you're pretending your porn series has a narrative. So we get every tired isekai trope in the book thrown at us with pure apathy. Potatoman wakes up with a magic sword and the ability to read game menus, proceeds to kill some nameless bandits and shrug his way through a tutorial village, and then gets talked into buying a slave so the actual point of this show can presumably happen next episode. It's boring as all hell, and barely animated since all of the production values were funneled into the jiggling, cranium-sized bazongas that are now locked behind those censor bars. It is 20 minutes of reading Playboy for the articles, but all the articles are 4chan posts recycling old JRPG memes.

But really, that's the stuff that's true of a lot of these shows. What really kills this story dead is just how badly it tries to justify and rationalize why it's totally cool for our protagonist – who the show insists is a perfectly nice guy – should buy a woman exclusively to have sex with. Like let's be real. If this is your kind of fetish then more power to you, whatever floats your boat, but if the story wants to indulge in the sexual fantasy of slavery, it either needs to go whole-hog or find a more clever way to dance around it. How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord managed to have its cake and enslave it too by having Diablo's pair of D/S girlfriends get collared by pure happenstance. You could easily do that here and it'd save both the show and audience a lot of time.

Or hell, just do away with attempts at justification and make Michio a total scumlord who enjoys it. I'm never gonna be into this whole slave-wife shtick that so many isekai like to dip their toes into, but I'd at least respect the story more if it admitted its hero was an amoral creep who just shrugs when he inadvertently sells one person into slavery and then is easily massaged into buying another. Instead he basically decides slavery is totally fine because hey, everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't he also participate in a dehumanizing system that turns sentient beings into property? It's an obvious attempt to paint over the fact that everything he's doing is objectively unsympathetic, and the mealymouthed excuses only serve to make him less likable than he already was. That we cap off the episode with him heroically vowing to earn enough money to buy his dog-girl slave of choice just puts the rotten cherry on top of the shit sundae that is this whole premise.

But thankfully the version I watched was slathered with error screens and other equally hilarious ways to cover up tits and taints, and had the cadence of an especially spicy episode of The Jerry Springer Show. That dissonance made this premiere one of the funniest things I've watched in a while. Doesn't make it good, and I won't be bothering with another second of this mess, but at least it made this delve into the labyrinth tolerable.

Rebecca Silverman

I had a bad feeling when all of the ladies in the opening theme had collars with a place for a chain to attach to. This, it is clear, is not just about hapless, horny seventeen-year-old isekai victim Michio assembling a harem in a labyrinth in another world – it's about him buying a harem in a labyrinth in another world. Or buying the harem to go into the labyrinth. Either way, it's a distasteful plot element made worse by the fact that he only gets into lady-shopping when he's specifically sold Roxanne as a sex slave by a canny, yet utterly reprehensible, slave trader.

So with that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, let's talk about the other unfortunate thing about this episode: it's censored. The censorship is an interesting combination of the massive amount of coverage we saw in World End Harem but done with road signs and computer error messages rather than a five- year-old with a sharpie, and I'm hard-pressed to say if it's better or worse; at least it's not as ugly, I guess? But if you're watching this for the mature rating and sexy bits, you may find yourself disappointed, because you really can't see anything besides some highly questionable boob “jiggling” (they move more like clappers) and, as an added bit of censorship, several of the spoken words are beeped out. I'm not sure if that's original to the source material, but it is fairly annoying; sure we can guess what words are being used, but it makes about as much sense as how words are edited out of songs on the radio – if we all know, why bother?

To all of this it must be added that there's not a whole lot going on with the plot, either. Michio, like another isekai protagonist this season, failed to read the pop-up on his computer, and that catapulted him into what he thought was the VR game of his dreams…but then he can't log out. Don't worry, though, he's pretty chill with that, even though it means that he's become a murderer by wiping out an entire bandit gang and got a guy sold into slavery, because…that's just how this world works? It's a little too blasé to be palatable or even to work as a plot point, and while it may be intended to indicate that he's a hardened consumer of isekai media, it just comes off as lazy writing. There's just not enough here to make up for its deficiencies even if all of those deficiencies don't bother you, so if you're looking for sexy fanservice, I'd recommend Bastard!! over this in a heartbeat.

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