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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord's Army was a Human

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord's Army was a Human ?
Community score: 3.4



What is this?

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Ike is known as "the strongest magician in the demon king's army" and has single-handedly conquered fortresses. How he mowed down enemies with his immense magic is truly a "monster" that makes him feared by both allies and foes alike. However, he had a secret that he could not tell other demons: "I'm actually human." He aims for coexistence between demons and humans while the leader of the demon's army hides that he is actually a human.

The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord's Army was a Human is based on a manga of the same name by Anajiro. The manga is an adaptation of the light novel series by Ryousuke Hata and Kuma. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

Let us say that an anime of an overdone genre I'm not into gets a default rating of 2.5 stars. It's a middle-of-the-road rating for middle-of-the-road anime. If it does things that make it stand out, it may gain a star or two; if it indulges in tropes I find particularly odious or is incompetently executed, it could lose stars. Obviously, The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord's Army was a Human is a work in a genre that's extremely popular these days that I have expressed a general distaste for, so we're going to start it at 2.5.

Reviews aren't an equation and there's no rubric, so I'm not going to break things down point-by-point. I will say that it gained some ground with me. The OP and ED are both excellent, appealing to my indie sensibilities in distinctly different ways. Plus, Cefiro is a total smokeshow and I kind of enjoyed her dynamic with Ike. She clearly enjoys teasing him, but when it matters, she's supportive and helpful—and she's the only one he's able to drop his guard around. They felt almost authentically like friends.

But a few points also lost it some favor. For one thing, the lighting was so dark that for about a third of the episode, I could see my reflection on the TV screen better than anything actually happening. And as pleasant as I find my own face, I should have been able to watch the episode without being distracted by how badly I need to re-dye my hair and what color should I do next? Maybe blue? Oh wait, the lighting has shifted and now I can actually see the action on-screen again. Plus, Ike kept harping on how his reluctance to commit genocide or kill enemy leaders was because he was human after all—when history has proven that humans are often more than happy to spill the blood of their opponents. And I wanted to throw the slave girl (take a shot), Thirteen, into a wall.

Other than that? Perfectly acceptable if it's your thing, perfectly forgettable if it's not. I'd be surprised if I remember it at all by the end of preview guide.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

Did you know that sometime during World War Two, not-yet-34th -US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was isekai'd away from being Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe to serve as the strongest magician in the demon king's army? I can't think of any other reason why the protagonist of this show would be called Ike, can you? And hey, he's even looking to stabilize human/demon relations, just like Eisenhower did for Soviet/US relations! People in multiple worlds can all say, "I Like Ike!"

If only this episode were that interesting. Sadly, it's not the story of a president's isekai adventures, but rather a fantasy based around the idea of there being both demons and humans, with the two constantly at each other's throats. This Ike is a human, but as the title says, he's working for the demons, and because he's so strong, he's always on the front lines. Only one person knows his secret, his commander, Cefiro, and she mostly seems interested in teasing him – both about it and in general. And, oh, what a shock, the demon king is actually a pretty teen girl, and there's a slave maid and an orc who looks like Porky Pig's bucktoothed cousin, and yes, you have seen this all before.

That's not to imply that this isn't trying to do anything different with the formula. For example, Satie, the slave maid, wears clothes! Lots of them, even; she's in the requisite pseudo-Victorian outfit, complete with a cap. Less sarcastically, it's clear that Ike is really trying to reconcile his humanity with his life among the demons. Not that they're inhuman in terms of how they act, because no one is objecting when Ike treats the human prisoners well, and even when his orc pal comments that he's letting an awful lot of them live, he's willing to accept that Ike has a plan and backs down very quickly. And if anyone knows that humans and demons can get along just fine, it's Ike, the orphan raised by a demon and taught their magic. There are those who think he'll be the next demon king, but Ike seems more interested in making it so that humans and demons don't have to go to war against each other in the first place.

Sadly, this plot gets a little lost in all of the other bits and pieces. It also doesn't look great, with an overall dark color scheme that feels oppressive at times and far too many characters who maintain a blank look at all times, possibly to save on animation. (Ike's mask notwithstanding, of course.) Satie is already almost terminally stupid, and no explanation is offered for why Cefiro looks completely human but is a demon, which would seem to indicate that Ike could maybe just use a glamour on his eyes rather than a full-face mask and horned hood. Add this to a very predictable plotline, and you have an episode I had to rewind because I realized my thoughts had wandered instead of paying attention. It may not be terrible, but right now, I Don't Like Ike.


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

If I may damn with faint praise for a moment, this premiere wasn't as bad as I expected. Perhaps years of these samey light novel shows with "Strongest" or "Greatest" in the title have numbed me, but I made it through the episode without annoyance, which has to count for something. Unfortunately, that's not the same as being good, and this premiere has two major failures working against it: it's boring and looks cheap as all hell.

You might think the setup proposed in the title would make for some interesting drama. A human serving the demon army that's set on conquering humanity? Surely there's a compelling reason for that, or else some powerful tension about him protecting his identity! Nope. It turns out all it takes to fool 99.9999% of demons is to wear some robes and a creepy mask, and anyone who does know Ike's true identity is totally fine keeping his secret. So, instead of tension or drama, this episode is filled to the brim with boilerplate fantasy exposition: humans, demons, magic, war, blah blah blah. All of it's delivered with Ike's flat, unenthusiastic narration as he explains everything about the world to us without ever introducing an actual conflict. That it's not the most vacuous or vapid fantasy premiere I've seen this year is more an indictment of its peers than anything else.

The show also looks janky on all fronts. The compositing on digital effects is terrible, making every spell or explosion look like a poorly rendered video game asset. Ike and most of his demon comrades are animated with stiff CG that clashes with the 2D characters and backgrounds. There are a couple of scenes where they've thrown some wonky filter over everything to make it look dark, and you can hardly make out what's on screen for most of it. Even the character designs feel generic like they would fit into the background of any given isekai or RPG fantasy sequence and perfectly blend into the surroundings.

The closest thing to a hook in this premiere is that Ike, using arcane knowledge of an "ancient civilization," conceives of state-building tactics like "not killing all of the people so we can collect taxes" and "have our soldiers help build infrastructure" rather than just killing and burning everything. This is, apparently, revelatory progress for the demon army. So I suppose if you want to see a dude introduce monsters to basic civic concepts, and you already watched How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, give this a try. Otherwise, it's not worth the time it takes to load the video.


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James Beckett
Rating:

They say it is usually better to rip the bandage off quickly rather than needlessly extend the pain. If we have to cover more of these terrible fantasy light-novel shows this summer, we might as well start getting them out of the way early. Let's run through the checklist to see how this one stacks up, eh?

  • A bland and unoriginal fantasy setting that lives up to its bland and unoriginal title? Check.
  • A copy-and-paste protagonist with the McDonalds-bangs that are so in fashion right now who somehow possesses a negative amount of personality and charisma? Check.
  • A sitcom setup involving secret identities and wacky power levels entirely dependent on every single character in the show being hopelessly stupid and/or unserious? Check.
  • A series of "jokes" and "comedy relief characters" that fail to muster a single laugh throughout the entire premiere? Check.
  • Cheap animation, bad CGI, and dirt-simple direction combine to make every scene a chore to watch? Not only is that a big ol' "Check!" but the show went the extra mile and somehow smeared a layer of dirt and grease over the non-existent camera lens to make the viewers' experience that much more unpleasant!
In short, the only reason I'm not scoring Ike's Misadventures in Skellington Cosplay any lower is because the show doesn't devolve into such incomprehensible or crass depths as to become actively offensive. It's merely as dull as dishwater that's been dumped into a dreary ditch. The closest thing I can come to paying it any compliment is that the cadre of "evil" side characters, such as the groveling Pig Dude or the Sexy Witch Commander, were not as actively annoying as the Goofy Maid Girl or Homeboy McMainCharacter himself. I'm sorry, but that's all I've got.

As I watched this episode, I couldn't help but be struck by the realization that we've reached a strange oversaturation point with these crappy fantasy shows where the layers of lazy "homage"-that-borders-on-plagiarism have become such an Ouroboros of mindlessly recycled cliches that it is impossible to discern whether or not anyone involved in making these things even cares about them. I can only imagine the day when an anime like The Strongest Magician in the Demon Lord's Army was a Human just pops into existence, and not one soul takes credit for creating it because nobody can even keep track of who is responsible for ripping off what anymore.


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