Week 5 and we’re already down one anime for the season. How have the holdouts fared, this week?
Last week, the Harem Battle claimed its first victim as Ecchi series – Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs – hit the chopping block. Meanwhile, How Not to Summon a Demon Lord surprised everyone with a massive tailwind that let it surge ahead of all competition. Will My Hero Academia and Black Clover reclaim their spots ahead of it? What about The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar? Well, let’s find out.
The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar
This week finally delivered a bit of progression and, frankly, I walk away from it slightly… disappointed? Not that I expected greatness. I mean, it was certainly watchable. But even now that there’s action, and things have moved forward, it just feels like something’s missing. Honestly, it may just be the framing. Yuuto doesn’t really do anything. And, frankly, it doesn’t make for especially compelling viewing when we don’t see him actually laying out his plans.
Take Overlord, for example. As flawed as it is, one of the things that series does to distract from the fact that its main character isn’t always the most active (mainly because he’s ludicrously OP. More on that subject later) is show his planning process. You don’t (always) know what he intends to do, but then when the plan comes together, you can trace back everything he did to set it up. This doesn’t do that. Yuuto just stands somewhere on the sidelines and commentates, then springs his trap card when it’s triggered. With no real anticipation for it. And possibly because of that, the series manages to somehow lack any real excitement factor, even when things are actually happening.
I do like how Yuuto relates his hotheaded opponent to himself in the past and whatnot. Though I would like to actually see some of what happened, rather than just being told about it. You know. Show don’t tell? Kind of a golden rule. But his talks with girlfriend-chan remain cute and endearing in a way. Even so, the episode was really just another exercise in Harmlessness.
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
On the flip side is a show with an actual OP protagonist, a solid sense of forward momentum, and all still managing to be genuinely fun and entertaining overall. Against all odds, this is the show that’s pulled ahead for the season, delivering another solid episode, even if it was just one big setup bit. And let’s be honest. That’s what it was. Rem had her introductory plot, now Shera’s getting hers. Then we’ll probably wrap with a plot that heavily involves both of them.
I think the part that works the best for this series is how much Diablo’s internal monologue is at war with his external personality. Or, rather, how he tries to adapt his external persona to what he believes it should be, in order to keep up the ruse. It’s just genuinely entertaining and honestly comes across as a lot more earnest than the aforementioned Overlord’s variation of basically the same thing. And the exaggerated nature of both personalities just makes them both much more entertaining, as well.
I also liked how Diablo went out of his way to limit himself, which we later saw in a brief chase sequence at the tail end of the episode. He even tried to check to make sure he didn’t kill anyone. I like that. We also got a new character who is genuinely adorable and has the potential to be a lot of fun. But the OP suggests there’ll be more to her as well. Outside of that, she sort of lends to the themes of female self-empowerment (I think that’s the term I want) that the show’s trying to go for. No doubt to make up for the whole “slave” angle, which is the main reason I was worried about this anime, to begin with. I don’t like that angle, but I’m glad the direction their taking is that he intends to find a way to help them undo it. Rather than just leaning into it.
Either way, it may be a bit heavyhanded, but I do appreciate the effort to subvert that whole thing with a more empowering vibe with her, and with Shera, for that matter. Overall, I’d say this episode qualifies as good Junk Food. Not as much of a spectacle as last time, but still good fun and with some decent humor and narrative movement that manages to still be engaging.
Yep, I was right. Everything’s coming up Noelle, here. Well… kinda. Point is, Noelle’s getting a looot more use, now. Granted, this is probably because she’s currently alone and they’re essentially in the middle of a mini-tournament arc. Though given how this episode ends, I think that’s gonna get put on hold for a while. That said, there were some developments with Noelle that kinda perplexed me.
She now has a handle on her magical control. But the reason she can’t hit anything with the one bit of offensive magic she knows… is because she’s trying not to hurt anyone? From a character standpoint, I can understand this. She has a guilt complex over her being responsible for her mother’s death and all that. And it does explain how she was able to hit Asta the one time. He irritated her to the point of actively trying to hurt him (that and Rule of Comedy, anyway). Same for when she was fighting in the capital. They were bad guys. But how does that explain her inability to shoot in a straight line at a target made of wood? Bit confused about that one.
Aside from that, we’re still mostly dealing with setup. One of the arc villains has just arrived so things are probably gonna go sour, real soon. But it looks like next episode is gonna focus on backstory to elaborate on the relationship between Magna and Luck, as evidenced by the OP (which has, as expected, begun to grow on me). So it may be a while before crap really hits the fan. In the meantime, this episode was basically just Harmless. Some admittedly good humor to be found (for this show, anyway), but not a lot else.
My Hero Academia
Okay. This was a lot better. Still nothing mind-blowing, but a lot more of the stuff I love about this show was on full display, and Deku was barely even in it, making that feat particularly impressive. The episode instead focused on Todoroki’s solo mission and Yaoyorozu’s group dealing with a crew of ladies from another school who trap them in a building.
Frankly, the Todoroki bit was over rather quickly. Surprisingly so, considering the setup it had in the previous episode. But it was a fairly short fight, all things considered. And he didn’t really win it in a flashy way, either. But I’m okay with that because I actually really liked the situation that Yaoyorozu and her group found themselves in. Less of a “fight,” and more of a tight situation that required thought, and soul-searching on our favorite lovable rich girl’s part. Once again, nothing overly flashy. But handled appropriately and executed in a way that had me genuinely curious as to how they’d deal with the problem at hand. The “villain” of the episode was likewise rather entertaining. Though that’s likely because I just happen to really like that character type.
The talking wasn’t really an issue here, either (for me) because it was basically necessary. It can be easy to forget that sometimes not all characters present are aware of something that we, the audience, know about. And in this situation, communication was key. I really like seeing Yaoyorozu gradually coming into her own. For all the confidence she exuded and that serious vibe she had when she was first introduced, I think she actually has one of the stronger arcs, as side characters go.
That brief moment between Todoroki and Inasa has me curious about how that’s going to turn out. And I really liked what Aizawa had to say about the students (Deku and Bakugo, in particular), at the end of the episode. All-in-all, a nice offering of Junk Food before things get serious.
Overall Episode Medalists
The upset continues as this week, it’s once again How Not to Summon a Demon Lord that brings home the Gold. The episode was just thoroughly entertaining, across the board.
This week the Silver goes to My Hero Academia, as the episode was rather enjoyable. And I like any amount of time we get to spend with the side characters at the forefront. But it didn’t have the same excitement factor I’m used to getting from this series. Not that this is a bad thing. Even when this portion of the test is over, the arc isn’t. So there’s room for plenty more. But yeah. Second place, again. That leaves the Bronze to the first shake-up since last time, going to Black Clover. The episode used Noelle more, which I appreciated, and it was funny in parts. Unlike the generally pretty ‘meh’ offering from its competition.
There’s just no question about this one. Diablo basically carries How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. The other characters are really fun (even Shera, to a point, and I thought I’d find her annoying when we first met her. I’m not big on airheads), but Diablo is just a consistent delight in the contrast between his internal monologue and external personality. This episode, in particular, showed it in full force and gave him plenty to do outside of that as well. That being said, this category also very nearly went to Yaoyorozu, purely because I like her gradual character development over the course of the series and I think she’s always great when she’s in the forefront.
Unique Achievement: Maximum Protective Instinct Quotient
Note to self. When it’s cold, Tsuyu becomes this adorable thing that I suddenly feel compelled to protect.
Unique Achievement: Heroic Villain Points
Some of my favorite ways to throw a wrench into things for characters that usually rely on some sort of ability would be to pit them against characters who are smart enough to combat those abilities. People who can overcome those powers or what-have-you by making sure their enemies play into their hands. Master manipulators. And this girl was exactly that for this episode of My Hero Academia, mixed in with a little bit of another character type I generally like, the entertainingly twisted yet classy sociopath/sadist. Couple that with a pretty cool character design (c’mon. She has a friggin’ monocle), and you’ve got a fun antagonist… who is somehow not a villain, and not likely destined to be one, though the series is still young. Present Mic doesn’t usually wind up giving those blurbs about a character’s quirk if they’re not going to appear again, is all I’m sayin’. It could happen.
So what’d you think of Week 5? How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, against every prediction I had about it, is turning out to be pretty great. And it’s maintaining a lead in the season, so far (of the things on my list to cover. There’s one or two things above it for me in the season overall, at the moment). And that’s all for me, folks. Thanks for reading, as always. Keep up the Awesome.