This Week in Anime
Is How NOT To Summon a Demon Lord Worth Watching?

by Nicholas Dupree & Jacob Chapman,

How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord is yet another isekai fantasy featuring an overpowered protagonist and demi-human slavery, so what makes it stand out from the crowd enough to be popular? This week, Nick and Jacob dig into this show's dirty secrets to success.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.





You can read our weekly coverage of How NOT To Summon a Demon Lord here!

Nick D
Y'know Jake, for as much as we've joked about this being a sparse season on TWIA, on closer inspection I think we've got a lot of promising projects we should better appreciate. We've got the weird originality of Planet With, the daring shift in focus of Attack on Titan...

And now we even have a series that's pushing the boundaries of visual direction:

Let's be honest, she can probably fit more than one camera in there. Apparently her bosom is a quagmire from which no living thing can escape!


I'm sure Marvel's Sandman is immeasurably turned on right now. But yes, we're finally diving into How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord, the latest entry in the nascent trend of isekai light novel anime where the hero literally, legally, owns another sentient person.

(insert Merry-Go-Round Broke Down music here)

At least it's better than the last one of those...

Yeah if I'm being completely 100% painfully honest...I kinda like How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Okay, "like" is a strong word. I am consistently entertained by it. I am not watching it ironically. Like, I watch plenty of bad isekai shit ironically. I know what that feels like. So I know I'm enjoying Demon Lord basically as it was meant to be enjoyed. As a stupid, stupid, STUPID power fantasy with absurd boobs hanging off everything from the love interests to the world-ending monstrous villain.

Look at that thing. Look at how stupid that thing is.

It's like a long-lost member of the Monster Musume harem. But yeah, while I wouldn't say I like Demon Lord, I can at least appreciate what it does right compared to its incompetent predecessor (Death March) and its probably-reprehensible follow-up (Rising of a Shield Hero).

Seven episodes have passed, and I still actually care and watch it on the day it comes out, so it's doing something right...?

I am far from a connoisseur of boob shows, but so far it seems to strike a balance similar to High School DxD, where the (admittedly basic) plot moves along at a decent clip and the fanservice is (mostly) consensual and in good humor. Mostly.

Dude, you should reconsider this "interrogation" plan.

The excuses for "accidentally" rounding second base every ten minutes are as thin and laughable as they are in basically every fanservice anime, but at least the show is honest about what it's here for. It's surprising how many isekai series we've gotten where the subtext never ever goes any deeper than "you're an untouchable badass in a world where you get to touch hot girls," but they waste all your time explaining their barely-unique magic systems and lore with maybe a wink of poorly animated cheesecake every other episode. That's not what people are here for.

It's okay, you can just say In Another World With My Smartphone.

OMG that's exactly the one I was thinking. ARE YOU A DEMON LORD?

No, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate Demon Lord's total lack of pretense about itself.

Yeah, this show doesn't make that mistake. It's a nice straightforward RPG world with basic-ass questing and a hero who plows headfirst into tiddies at every opportunity, from sleep-groping to "mana transfer".

That mana transfer manages to be more overtly sexual than the Fate series that inspired it, despite not actually featuring any fucking.

And kudos where it's due, at least Shera's into it too.

So it's a straightforward (power) fantasy story interrupted by copious amounts of softcore, you knew it was a snake when you picked it up, that kinda thing. It serves its target audience well without getting needlessly repulsive, despite a slavery gimmick that's basically ignored instead of exploited anyway. The hero has no power to release the girls from their collars, but he also doesn't try to control or command them at all, so it's mostly just an excuse to get them to travel together.

But is it weird that I also kind the protagonist?

Okay. Again. "Like" is a strong word. But I'm shocked that he feels like a real person of some kind, because that's not remotely common for isekai anime. The last one I can remember doing that was Re:Zero, and both shows may be big successes for this reason?

Honestly, I think the whole conceit of "Diablo" is the best part of Demon Lord. We're used to blank slate potatoes who arrive on the isekai scene and immediately become the best, just kinda going with the flow bereft of personality.

Diablo, on the other hand, is an antisocial nerd who avoids making eye contact when ordering at McDonald's and stoops over like a scrawny geek even when he's a 6'5" buff demon.

This is the first thing he thinks upon seeing Rem and Shera. Never mind "holy shit, a real catgirl and an elf", just OH NO...FEMALES...

So he compensates by trying to play an over-the-top badass monster king despite his horns being a god damn head band. The funniest parts of the show are easily when he's scrambling to keep the persona up without shitting his pants at the thought of human interaction.

And also like Re:Zero's Subaru, he's genre-aware in ways that allow for some unique riffs on the isekai premise.

I actually laughed pretty hard at this scene, where he recognizes that Rem is obviously the poster girl in a JRPG, where so many problems could be avoided if she just communicated more openly with the party before getting tragically sacrificed or whatever. (Of course this leads to Accidental Sexual Assault a-hyuck a-hyuck but one step forward, two steps back I guess.)

This is still a show built around anime women in collars, you gotta go in expecting some grossness. Thankfully, most of the show's fanservice is confined to battle-damaged clothes and petty arguments between breasts.

At least until episode 7 when...well you know how these kinds of shows will show the bad guy enslaving or manipulating women to show how evil he is compared to the protagonist? Turns out there's only one place to go when your hero already owns slaves.

I can't believe the villain from the Fairy Dance arc of SAO got spirited away to another world after being arrested.

Reki Kawahara should sue.


I don't know why you would want to copy the all-time shittiest part of SAO but go off I guess.

Slimy-ness aside (by EVERY definition of the word), there are even things to like about this twist in the story, and once again it comes back to Diablo.

When this (uninspired) plot twist of a harem girl getting brainwashed into joining the enemy unbeknownst to her party happens in other isekai stories, or hell, even other anime in general, usually the hero either knows all along that she was bewitched, or if he doesn't know, he gets angry and entitled and one of the other girls has to punch him and confess her love or something for him to start acting like a decent person. But Diablo immediately shuts down, starts going over all their interactions in his head to figure out what could have made her want to leave him, them blames himself for reaching out and making friends because Who Could Ever Like Him a bloo bloo bloo. While yeah, it's a little frustrating, it's also pretty sympathetic because what nerd HASN'T reacted exactly like that when they have friendship problems, and more importantly, he eventually gets over it without being an asshole. I don't know, it's like every time I want to bag on Demon Lord, it does something just a little too right for my low expectations.

It's probably the strongest bit of character writing the show's provided so far, and while I'm not exactly a fan of his pity party, it does make Diablo feel like a real person in a world he's not totally prepared for instead of the dauntless hero.

Although if he was a real otaku, he wouldn't have had any trouble finding Shera. There's an entire anime about that!

LBR if he was a real otaku he'd have been trying to get Rem to dye her hair blue and wear a maid outfit since episode one.

I See No Lies Here.

So yeah, Demon Lord's not a great show, but at least it handles itself more competently and honestly than you'd expect from its peers. It's never boring to sit through and it's pretty easy on the eyes if you have a tolerance for jello boobs.

Although the physics of this show are all over the place.

I hate it when I walk right into a 69.

I can't decide if it's a Critical Failure or a Nat 20 acrobatics check for Shera.

At the end of the day, my main takeaway from Demon Lord is that it should be so much worse given its premise. Diablo is, if not quite likable, equal parts realistic enough as a scrubby nerd and sympathetic enough in his portrayal (sleazy fanservice scenes aside) to be a compelling lead, and the story keeps its plot simple and its exposition minimal enough to hold the attention of viewers who dig ye olde RPG aesthetic. We get truckloads of absolutely worthless isekai every season, but there's a little worth in this one. So sure, why not?

Side note, I think the ED song is really cute too.
The visuals however...

ughlbhglhblblhglbhl i need a shower : (

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