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Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte
Episodes 1-3

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte ?
Community score: 4.0

How would you rate episode 2 of
Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte ?
Community score: 3.9

How would you rate episode 3 of
Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte ?
Community score: 4.1

eak021
©Suzu Enoshina, Eihi, KADOKAWA/'Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte' Production Committee 2023

Streamers, Let's-Players, however you regard them, are a major component of the video game experience in this era. It's a reference point so natural that I regard many isekai and fantasy shows these days as akin to watching a Let's-Player go through a game, to varying degrees of success based on the series. What we have with Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte is just taking that tone to its natural conclusion, as we actually watch two characters play through, comment on, and affect the progress of a fantasy otome video game. It makes for a somewhat unique framing device around the "otome game villainess" plot that's become such a hot concept in light novels, manga, and anime in recent years, especially with that aforementioned streamer-sphere making clear that there is an audience for this sort of thing.

It also helps that, in practice, the preconceived, scripted nature of this ties everything together beyond just watching a couple of kids chat over a dating sim. We're effectively getting two rom-coms for the price of one here, and Endo and Kobayashi is not shy about making that structure clear. It's already not subtle that villainess Lieselotte's tsundere attitude and inability to honestly express her feelings is meant to reflect Endo's romantic struggles with Kobayashi. Though at least Endo is significantly more likable. Then again, the show's big selling point is how cute Lieselotte is in her accidentally amicable attempts at antagonism, so perhaps Endo could afford to be a bit more outsized.

Given that roughly a third of this show is comprised of the titular Endo and Kobayashi gushing about how cute the also-titular Lieselotte is, it wouldn't work if Liese was not, in fact, as cute as they tell us. Thankfully, they get that part right. Liese does follow a lot of the 'stock' tsundere beats, but it's made engaging in the tenor and target of its deployment. Her suspiciously helpful bullying isn't aimed at her nominal love interest Siegwald but at the in-game heroine Fiene. A key theme of Endo and Kobayashi's setup is 'interpretation,' how viewers and players regard characters and their actions in a work. Given her role at the outset and the fate we're informed of, it's possible the originally-written Liese intended to be a genuinely cruel bully who existed to be defeated and disposed of for the protagonist's benefit by the end of the game. But the villainess-isekai genre didn't take off because fans regarded characters like that at face value, and the Liese we see here is more robust through the interpretation of fans like Kobayashi, who know in their hearts that the haughty rival only acts the way she does to conceal her true affections.

Kobayashi's enthusiasm for Liese as a character works on three levels. She's selling the virtues of Lieselotte to in-game characters like Sieg, to her co-host Endo in her world, and to us, the viewers, watching along at home. That encapsulates the strengths of the structure overall. There is a plot in the margins of Love Me Magically that the characters refer to and drive them to play through and interact. But most of the time we spend in the game is about demonstrating the characters' fan appeal, like showing off official MC Fiene's propensity for badass magical brawling or having Kobayashi spoil Endo, and us, on the sadistic secrets of Professor Leon.

Outside that, you have segments setting the tone of Endo and Kobayashi's interactions with the game and each other, like a surprisingly heavy scene towards the beginning of the third episode detailing Endo's struggles with his baseball career-ending injury. It's all set to circle around to sentiments about how we interact with the things we love, which is heartening and strengthens a feel-good show like this, even as it's all ultimately predication for empathizing so hard with video game characters that you gain the ability to talk to them.

All this being about layers of character and tone does mean the show can drift a bit. That third episode contains a lengthy sequence towards the end involving Fiene and Baldur's adventures in a forest, which contains nary a quip from our cute co-hosts. It is neat to see the chemistry between these dating-sim characters apart from calculated player-POV mechanics, but it also can come off like the show forgot its gimmick. The series also could look better. Given the format, I can envision a version of this show where Endo and Kobayashi's segments were shot in live-action, with only the Love Me Magically parts animated, and maybe that would have allowed them to concentrate their resources more impressively. But it doesn't look awful either, and this is a show where the gimmick does plenty of the heavy lifting when they remember it. At least Liese's multitude of blushing reactions are rendered as adorable as they need to be.

As with any decent Let's Play, Endo and Kobayashi has been fun to spend time with so far. It will be interesting and perhaps necessary to see the other plot beats develop, and the show's already teasing that well enough. But as an introduction, these first three episodes make the appeal of its unique setup apparent. They're all good kids, and I hope I'll be happy to keep tuning into their streams.

Rating:

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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