Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World ?
Community score: 3.8
If you haven't watched this episode of Harem Labyrinth yet, let me save you some time: here is Sherry's character page on the official Harem Labyrinth site. You look at that PNG while reading this sentence: In this episode Michio goes to Alan's shop and buys Sherry to add to his party. There, you've just gotten the sum total of this episode's experience. There isn't even any censored sexy content for you to look up uncut screenshots of. You're welcome.
But for a longer, professionally-obligated assessment of all that "happens" in this episode, well, we finally got there, everybody. It took eleven whole episodes, but by the end of this one, Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World at last actually has a harem in this labyrinth in another world. It's strictly in the technical sense for the moment, as dwarf girl Sherry really just brings Michio and Roxanne's established relationship up to throuple status, and Roxanne clarifies in this episode that she doesn't even actually consider herself a 'wife' of Michio at this point anyway. But as exhausted as I am from the plodding journey here, I'll take it. Harem Labyrinth may be guilty of many crimes, but at least false advertising is no longer one of them.
Sherry is technically the main attraction in this episode that effectively proceeds the same way every Harem Labyrinth has otherwise. And her presence and treatment in that framework honestly only serve to highlight the consistent banality of that presentation. Michio's been idly musing for weeks now that he ought to see about procuring another party member, finally working up the gumption for it in this episode in a tone akin to nothing so much as someone getting around to folding all that laundry that's been piling up in a nearby chair. I don't know that a show trying to sell itself on the appeal of the sex-slave fantasy is compelling when the act of getting a sex slave is presented as something you undertake with a resigned "Ugh, fine!" Though maybe I'm just not familiar enough with that particular subculture. Slave ownership is ostensibly all about not wanting to do your own work, after all.
That said, the setup for Sherry's induction comes with a scant few details that only serve to raise further questions about the story's handling of the institution of slavery, how the author thinks it's supposed to work, and how it actually functions in this world. I could buy (for the moment, for my own sanity) that the series was necessarily glossing over the grislier details of how Roxanne actually wound up in the slave trade on account of its odder insistence on an otherwise simple, slice-of-life tone. But then this episode comes in, springboarding off of Michio's decision to angle for just buying his own dwarven blacksmith to avoid being ripped off by one of those independently-employed ones, and it becomes apparent this show might just straight-up not know what words mean. A whole spiel is put forth for the logistical reasons dwarves, seemingly at their own behest, "don't often become slaves as blacksmiths", and I come away with so many more questions than I had eleven weeks ago.
Between this mention and an earlier explication from Roxanne where she now seems to be treating the whole arrangement more as a knight or devoted servant who has respectfully sworn fealty to her master, one gets the impression that the author behind Harem Labyrinth either just doesn't really understand what slavery actually 'is', or they do understand and are simply ignoring it in favor of their own soft-constructed framework to utilize the nominal fetish elements without interrogating any of the structure, sociological underpinnings, or personal aspects that would otherwise naturally arise. It does help further clarify that while I absolutely think so much of Harem Labyrinth is stupid, I could never log the criticism of being 'offended' by its utilization of slavery as a driving plot point. You've got the superficial signifiers like the collars and getting to look these women over on a display floor like you're window-shopping for a new motorcycle to ride, but beyond that they really don't seem to care about the mechanics, exploitative or otherwise, apart from getting these girls into Michio's household with as little genuine personal interaction as possible.
So where does all this leave Sherry? She's ushered into the cast with as few questions about how she actually wound up in this situation as Roxanne was afforded. Instead, most discussion having to do with her rounds back to those mechanical elements, with the twist in this case being that Michio and co. actually don't know how so many of the game-coded mechanics are affecting her and her skills. Of course, there's not a lot of dramatic impetus to this issue, even as it informs Sherry's singular characteristic of lacking confidence in her ability to attain the Blacksmith job; Rather it's clearly just a detail introduced to facilitate adding her into the party under these circumstances so we can fill up time in following episodes with Michio min-max-ing her into that job anyway. It's like that whole labyrinth queue/fee system, in that it really only exists to watch the main character get around because otherwise there'd be nothing to see except for him hooking up with his harem, and who's watching this show for that?
That's the egregious and yet entirely expected product of introducing a whole new character who confirms the very titular concept of this entire story: Apart from a few squeaky line-readings from Sherry interspersed throughout Michio's dealings, this episode is the same stretches of characters sitting around in kitchens and meeting rooms discussing party logistics or negotiating slave prices like a disinterested used car deal. We spend more time watching Michio's party walk out of Alan's shop, say their goodbyes, and activate their status menus than we do getting any insight into Sherry's personality, charms, or why you, the participant viewer, would want to make her your waifu. And in an anime where eliciting that kind of reaction is effectively its only purpose, if it can't even do that, what's the point?
Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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.
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