Once more unto the breach.
“Satou,” aka Ichiro Suzuki is a programmer in the middle of a death march. He was supposed to be taking a nap but somehow wakes up in another world… What lies before him is what looks like the menu screen of the game he was working before his nap. He’s at a complete beginner stage at level 1. However, he had three “Meteor Showers” which could level a whole map. Suddenly, a whole group of lizardmen appears in front of him. In order to survive, Satou uses Meteor Shower, his level jumped to 310 and he became extremely wealthy. Whether it be dream or reality, Satou’s journey was now beginning. -Crunchyroll.
Is it just me, or are these series descriptions getting longer? Well, anyway, they’re at it again. Yet another Isekai story about a schmoe who gets tossed into a video game world. “Aren’t you tired of that by now?” Why should I be? It’s basically a sub-genre, at this point. And that’s fine. Every one of these does ultimately wind up telling very different stories from one another. As similar as Sword Art Online, Overlord, and Log Horizon’s core premises are, they’re fundamentally different on a number of levels. For example. Log Horizon and Overlord are good. Kidding. Not kidding. But anyway, this story hasn’t really gotten started yet, so there are plenty of directions it can take to differentiate itself. This inaugural episode, however, isn’t really the one to determine that, since it’s basically all setup. The main character arrives, gets used to his situation and abilities, etcetera.
One thing the series does a little differently is provide a different angle for its protagonist. He isn’t just some gamer schmuck. He’s actually a developer. He works on the code for the game he’s wound up in. Furthermore, he’s not some shut-in loser who no-lifes the MMO of his choice out of dissatisfaction with the real world. In fact, by his own admission, he’s pretty content with his life. Though I do think one of the themes the series may end up tackling is complacency. Because even he didn’t seem entirely convinced. And the workforce in Japan is grueling, as I understand. And that’s on top of him being a game dev, which makes things even worse on him.
But I liked the first half of the episode because it actually sets up the character very aptly, and gives us a little peek into how he operates before he’s dropped into this situation. And I also like how it plays a little with the usual conventions. He’s a dude in his late twenties (though that’s “corrected” later on), and a few of those “misunderstanding” tropes are averted, which gives me an idea as to how this series is going to deal with the usual emotional extremes we see in anime by having at least the main character be a bit more rational and levelheaded than usual.
Then comes the “good stuff.” After finishing several days of endless work, he goes to sleep and awakens in the parallel world. My own theory is that the dude died of exhaustion, and this is his afterlife, but I’ve said before that my mind tends to skew dark on these theories. Not that it wouldn’t be similar to other, more recent Isekai stories. But it’d probably take the matter more seriously. Anyway, the scene was fine. I like that he assumes it’s a dream and decides to just ride things out, rather than angst over it or go to some major extreme. It really helps reinforce the idea of what this anime is going to wind up being. Though I’ll come back to that, later. The action scene, if you can really call it that, is fine. Nothing especially impressive, but he’s a scrub when it happens. So we’ll forgive it for being less than spectacular.
One thing I find interesting is how they deal with him being grossly OP. When you look at what I’ll call “The Main Three” of these Video Game Isekai stories – SAO, Overlord, Log Horizon – you’ll see fairly different approaches. Shiroe, of Log Horizon, isn’t OP. At all. The dude’s just brilliant. And he relies on his allies a lot. Kirito and Momonga, on the other hand, are extremely OP. Albeit for different reasons. Momonga is perhaps a hybrid of the two. He was at a god tier in his game before its servers shut down. And he retained all the power he’d gained over presumably years of playing. Kirito… I dunno. He Shounen’d his way to the top, or whatever. But Satou? He literally becomes godly OP because of a coding error that he didn’t get the chance to fix before he wound up here. That. Is hilarious. And something you’ll definitely miss if you aren’t really listening to all the dialogue leading up to his waking up here. Not that he wouldn’t eventually become OP anyway. He is one of the devs. I’m sure he’d be able to figure everything out. But it’s just a funny subversion.
Of course, then comes the question. If he’s OP, then where’s the challenge? Well… as far as I can tell from cursory research, there isn’t one. And that’s actually intentional. See, this series, from what I understand, is actually supposed to be fairly laidback and chill, compared to the likes of others in its sub-genre. There really isn’t much of an emphasis on the action. So you shouldn’t expect epic duels or incredibly displays of tactical finesse. (Though if the premiere of Overlord II was to be believed, we shouldn’t expect it there, either) And that’s what I like about this. This episode sets up that mood flawlessly… until he gets there.
And I understand that they needed to get him to a point where he was, in fact, this powerful. I’m also fairly certain he’ll eventually happen across some higher-leveled threats and whatnot, just for the sake of keeping things interesting. But why spoil the ride by going too fast? What the second half of this episode does is probably going to irritate people. But really it was just a means to an end that happened to be a little unintentionally misleading. And I wasn’t personally bothered by it.
Overall, this isn’t an episode that’s going to blow anyone’s socks off. But I don’t really think that’s the point. It’s not extremely funny, the action’s not really animated all that well. But the lead character is likable and the show has some interesting ideas that I think could really help it stand out from the likes of others of its ilk. It’s does its job, and does it well. Thus I can comfortably call is Super Effective. But if you’re just tired of Gaming Isekai stories, maybe you’ll wanna see a different Isekai sub-genre at play. I also covered the premiere of Maerchen Maedchen. And while the first episode was a bit rocky, it has a lot of potential. Why not check out the review.
Or if you think this is the breath of fresh air you needed out of this sub-genre, then see for yourself. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Thursdays at 11:30am EST.