How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord ?
Well, I've got to hand it to How Not to Summon a Demon Lord on this one. After plenty of time spent beating around the bush, the show's finally going all-in. The situation with the Demon Lord Krebskulm was a deep cavern of mysteries, but now we see that Diablo is ready to roll up his sleeves and plunge right in. This episode sees him probing for answers in the dexterous way that only he can, as Rem takes him in earnest until a startling climax is reached!
Look, there are only so many bad innuendos I can make about this, so I'll be blunt: Diablo spends the opening minutes of this episode finger-banging Rem on-camera.
It's an inevitable escalation of the show's sexual content, I suppose. Really, it's just another example series' fanservice that works better for being so up-front and direct. Yes the whole lurid scene is framed as part of the ‘ritual’ to summon the Demon Lord from within Rem, since Diablo needs to go ‘deeper within’ Rem in order to draw out the monster. But even then, it's handled with a surprisingly good-natured tone; Diablo asks Rem if she's okay with this, and she quickly (though embarrassed) tells him to go for it. There are some minor gags in Shera and Alicia's reactions being played for comedy, but for the most part this scene is 100% prurient titillation.
This betrays the surprisingly deflated ambitions of this episode after all the demon-summoning build-up the previous week. Whereas we initially seemed to be setting up for an arc-finishing battle with Krebskulm, this episode's outlandish opening act makes it apparent that things aren't being taken that seriously yet, and indeed Krebskulm's grand debut is just plain silly. If you'd been wondering about the tiny demon girl skirting around the opening and ending of this show, then you'll likely be less than surprised to find out she's the summoned form of the show's supposed big-bad. The idea of an all-powerful final boss monster turning out to be an ineffectual cute girl is hardly new ground for this kind of show, but Krebskulm (or Klem as she comes to be called) is still fun enough so far. It helps that her particular joke works somewhat better with Diablo in the picture, since she's even worse at being a Demon Lord than he is.
Klem's whole shtick works into the way this show has subverted expectations the audience might have for a power-fantasy isekai story. We'd already found out the government the hero worked for was less than virtuous, so a Demon Lord who isn't so bad is a logical counterpoint. Rem makes the interesting point that if a just-summoned entity doesn't know why she should be destroying humanity in the first place, then she shouldn't go ahead with it, which is sharper insight than I might have expected from a show that just had a catgirl get finger-banged a few minutes earlier. And of course, even though it's predictable, it's also adorably entertaining to see Shera be the one to take Klem under her wing and pacify the immortal ruler of the Fallen with biscuits.
It's all flippant enough progress after the anticlimactic summoning that there's time for a second extended fanservice scene toward the end of this episode. On the one hand, I'm increasingly delighted by Shera's eagerness to pounce Diablo when Rem's out of the room (they make a cute couple!), but this bit will still be more contentious since it involves the rather underdeveloped Klem. Yes, I know she's technically a millennia-old Demon Lord, but she's also a tiny naive girl who loves cookies, so the show knows exactly what it's doing here. It's not the worst level of loli-fanservice in isekai of this stripe, but it's still present nonetheless, so just know what you're getting into if that's not your cup of tea. This second scene plays its sexual content even straighter than before, with minimal ‘humor’ to distract from the eroticism, making this episode the porniest the series has been in a while. So if that's why you're here (and if you're still watching, that's probably at least a little true), it'll satisfy on that front.
I bring up all the fanservice because I want to make clear that I do think it works for this show, and it's not the reason I wasn't wild about this episode. No, the big issue here is that between all the borderline-hentai, there just wasn't much going on to satisfy all that build-up. There is a fight with another Fallen follower of Krebskulm partway through, giving us an action beat and making it clear that the Fallen may continue to be threats even with the Final Boss in our heroes' party. But in practice it still feels like time-killing, as do all the cutesy-poo scenes of Klem eating biscuits (which could get tired fast) and glances of Alicia cluing us in that she's definitely not on the level with the rest of the team. The brief flashes we get to her past are the most interesting moments of this episode, and clarifying her intent to exterminate humanity definitely sets up the final battle well. But the show seems more pleased with its Krebskulm fake-out than necessary by dedicating a whole episode to the subversion, mostly just padding out time between its sexy scenes with all the pacing of an old late-night Cinemax special.
How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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