Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World ?
Community score: 3.6
On some level, I can almost understand the fantasy-action gameplay sections of Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World being repetitious grindfests. These are but page count padding filler, all but intended for the audience to skim over to get to the fun parts about sexing up slave wives. But when that same perfunctory approach is also apparent in said sex scenes, I start to become concerned. Each of Michio's ho-hum hookups with Roxanne thus far have followed effectively the same bathtime/boob-fondle/bed-bang structure, with no more variety to their proceedings than the dungeoneering sections. At first, I was thinking the author behind Harem Labyrinth was merely unimaginative or perhaps conducting some sort of game theory at the expense of their audience's desperation, but at this point I have to genuinely question if their heart (or whatever other body part) is really in this.
Given that this episode of Harem Labyrinth deadass has Michio say that he and Roxanne are just going to be grinding for experience in the near future, I hardly need to explain how that's all this episode amounts to. Last week's plot hook of protecting the Slave Mart is wrapped in less than five minutes after Michio kills a single bandit. The rest is about testing his newfound magic skills, along with him and Roxanne having the kind of obligatory sex of a couple three weeks from divorce. Maybe if we got to see Michio use his spells in the bedroom, it would spice things up for both them and us watching at home, but I guess the benefit to literally owning your wife is you don't have to worry about making sure she's especially sexually engaged with you.
Since I do not want to keep repeating the exact same points on Harem Labyrinth's particular flavor of time-wasting tedium, I guess I can spare a moment to delve a little deeper into the show's infuriating lack of commitment to any sort of character arc for Michio. The series, and this episode in particular, repeatedly teases at the idea of him struggling against having to kill other people to get by in this world. It comes up when he kills that bandit at the beginning of this episode, and again as he muses that the main reason relatively weak monsters like Kobolds are included on a lower level of the dungeon is because their approximate human shape might squick fledgling adventurers.
Putting aside how those pointed observations only drive home how hopelessly game-design-y this whole world is, meaning Michio has no reason to engage with it in an immersive, believable way to begin with, the writing constantly chickens out from having them mean anything to Michio's psyche by simply attributing them to the negative-thoughts side-effect of running out of MP. It's yet another part that feels mostly like the author covering their ass in the simplest way possible so they can go "See, it's not just porn for people who think Final Fantasy II is the pinnacle of game design, I acknowledge some complex concerns!" Simply acknowledging those dimensions isn't the same as exploring them, and it's not like we should believably expect any kind of real humanizing nuance from the guy who picked out the purchase of another person to serve as little more than a body pillow cover.
The game-like artifice does result in one surprising piece of compelling content this episode, however. It's absolutely miniscule: an aside detail about characters using their teleportation skills to run a sort of Fantasy Uber service for other adventurers. It's actually a pretty clever idea, like I feel a more creative writer could come up with a whole show just around that business model. It's really just the idea itself that I desperately latched onto, since the show's actual execution simply renders the concept as a shortcut for Michio and Roxanne unlocking fast travel. Michio mechanically exploits their business model, but I guess interacting with non-confrontational customer service workers who behave like literal NPCs is another key point of appeal for the sorts of people who would be into this series.
Oh, and the other thing Harem Labyrinth pulls this episode that pushes its score up a whole extra half-point is that screenshot there, the cascading cover-boxes reaching for the same hiding heights as that time World’s End Harem finally got its eldritch black blocks covering its whole screen. It's most likely just half-assedly cutting around the non-sale-able version of the show (though at least you all get a few uncensored frames of Roxanne's foot), but throwing that screen up multiple times got a chuckle out of me, compounded by dialogue like "Master, you can [bleep] a little harder." What word was she really saying? Fill in your own Mad-Libs-style suggestions in the comments section down there! Because as with all things in Harem Labyrinth, we really are forced to make our own fun.
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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