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Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte
Episode 4

by Christopher Farris,

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Community score: 4.0

©Suzu Enoshina, Eihi, KADOKAWA/"Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte" Production Committee 2023
A story predicated on a gimmick need not be defined by that gimmick. This same season I'm reviewing Handyman Saitō in Another World which I'd previously praised for not basing all of its humor on that titular concept. And here with Endo and Kobayashi, I'm hardly expecting the entire show to operate based on the running commentary of its own title characters. There are separate stories unfolding on separate planes of reality in this one, and I think they both have core reasons to be compelling, and naturally affect one another where they can applicably make each other more interesting.

But such understandings don't mean that Endo and Kobayashi should be as cavalier with its primary gimmick as it has been with these past couple episodes, coming to a head in this fourth one. Fiene taking a summer trip to Liese's big fancy home means the girls, and our two commentators who are technically playing from Fiene's point of view, are separated from Sieg and his heavenly hearing ability for a whole in-game season. Technically that just means that Endo and Kobayashi have less direct input on occurrences in Love Me Magically than they'd gotten used to (though how much control they directly have over Fiene oddly never comes up). But in practice, the anime uses this as an excuse/opportunity to excise Endo and Kobayashi from nearly two-thirds of the whole episode, letting that basic visual novel plot play out sans any commentary or isekai interferences!

Now normally having people talking over a story would be more distracting, but Endo and Kobayashi had so effectively sold its central bit in the earlier episodes that the absence of our playing-along pals is sorely noticeable during this stretch. The pair really had ingratiated themselves with us; Kaito Ishikawa and Kana Hanazawa voice-acting jobs in particular make a fun contrast with the delivery of the otome game characters' more formal sensibilities. Yes, they probably need to start digging for more material than "Gee, Lieselotte sure is tsundere today, as usual!". But that's still something that overlays on top of the other part of the show to create a distinct flavor, alongside the fun that comes from them deciphering their interpretation of Liese's actions and attitude.

So when you pull that back to just focus on just Liese interacting with Fiene sans any commentary, something is lost in comparison. Part of it is that it highlights a shortcoming in Endo and Kobayashi's method of motive delivery when it's only done in-universe. For instance, one conversation that Fiene and Liese have over their Fire Emblem Three Houses tea party involves Liese spelling out for Fiene what Bal's actions towards the heroine in last week's episode really meant. There's actually kind of an interesting read in there, that Liese's whole thing being how she's not in-touch or honest with her feelings means that she can recognize the same in Bal and call that out. But to then just have her rotely explain that to Fiene to advance her understanding (and potential relationship) with Bal is clunky. Having characters explain how other characters feel is only one step removed from having characters gracelessly state their own feelings. And if that can't be avoided, it works better when the show utilizes the two best friends playing this game who were specifically here to do that.

It's not like I'm opposed to the character interactions and whiffs of kingdom intrigue hinted at through much of this episode. But in leaving out the commentary track for most of it, it comes off like Endo and Kobayashi forgetting to add its own secret sauce. It's even more frustrating because the show seems to know that it had an opportunity. A too-brief cutaway highlights Endo and Kobayashi's frustrations at not being able to communicate because Sieg isn't around. It makes it too easy to imagine an alternate version of these scenes where the pair recognized moments of misunderstandings between Liese and Fiene, and we got to see their exasperated reactions at being unable to interfere. It should have been an easy choice in terms of the show using its gimmick in a slightly different way than the preceding episodes, and it would have made the basic bits of this episode more interesting overall.

I don't want to be that hard on Endo and Kobayashi at this stage. The fact that stretches of the show like this one can still come across as earnest and interesting is worth credit for not using the otome game backdrop as an excuse to take the piss. It's not an easy target for the player characters to MST3K over – it's a medium the creators clearly respect and want to tell their own story within. But the presentation of that story had been comparatively barebones for a reason, and now that reason is MIA for much of this episode. There's nothing wrong with a one-trick pony, so long as the trick is sufficiently neat. But you have to remember to have the pony actually do the trick with some regularity.


Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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