Friday, May 7, 2021

Episode 5 How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord Omega


After the previous scene's show of an all the more strangely detached Diablo and his to some degree off-putting cooperations with his gathering individuals, the current week's How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord Omega practically quickly follows that up by reminding us how nice a man he truly is. We knew this, of course, but we also knew this was still Demon Lord we were watching, so Diablo's noble rescue of Horn is immediately followed up by some ill-advised stripping and the shocking revelation that the adorable companion bunny-boy is in fact an adorable bunny-girl. It's quite early in the episode, but it's also a good point to be made re-aware of Diablo's inherent decency. As Horn herself points out, there are very good reasons for a solo adventurer to prefer to put forward a masculine facade in this sort of harsh fantasy world, but we also know from experience that even after the initial clothing misunderstanding, Diablo can be trusted around her. Look, he disrobed himself and even burned his own special clothes just to keep her warm at first! It's a whole theme of trust between the characters rounding back from the more dense miscommunication gags of the previous episode that help shore this one up in terms of tone, and make it the episode of Demon Lord's second season that feels the most well-rounded so far.

That post-waterway salvage pit fire correspondence problem, for all its extemporaneous sexual orientation, uncover gatherings and age-questionable exposed rabbit individual fanservice (don't think I've disregarded Sylvie from the main season, Demon Lord!) is additionally fundamentally here to show that Diablo truly is attempting through this. And despite the issues they had with his demeanor, we get to see that clear effort reflected in how the other girls still believe in him, despite being separated. For one thing, this nets us even more opportunities to see the likes of Rem and Shera back in action, my patience continuing to be rewarded after they were sidelined for those first couple weeks. And the storytelling actually ties in (possibly unintentionally) to those now-unfounded fears, as Diablo gets a whole parallel monologue describing how much faith he has in his haremettes' own abilities to navigate his dungeon. Trust is an important factor in any relationship, even (especially!) these complicated dom/sub polycule scenarios. How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord: Presenting more healthy, communicative relationship dynamics than a lot of dedicated romance anime!

It's not without presenting a few new points of difficulty for these characters to bob off of, clearly. Gewalt makes his way back, and unlike Diablo still clearly suffers from a deficiency in Women-Respecting Juice. I'm happy for this providing another opportunity to see Rem, Shera, and Lumachina stand their ground against an enemy on their own, but I honestly would have liked to see them earn the win themselves, rather than simply being saved by the timely intervention of Diablo's dungeon-guardian dragon. It makes for a suitably interesting upset, sure, and there's at least some interesting characterization that comes about as a result for Lumachina; I certainly think her priorities are way skewed in healing Gewalt, but it speaks to the kind of person she is and informs another angle of the ‘having faith’ theme running through this season, whether that be in God, Diablo, or her belief that they're one in the same. It hints at an interesting spin on the concept of unalienable faith, religious or otherwise, in that it argues that said faith should be in an entity that deserves that, not simply a blind organizational signifier.

The other entanglement is the expansion of one more new character. Rose the Magimatic Maid presents probably the apex of Demon Lord Omega's pivot to more embracing of the video-game elements of the setting, given that she's a direct carry-over from Diablo's instance of interactions with the virtual version of the world. I could criticize the idea of getting to meet a real-life version of your dedicatedly loyal very first video-game waifu as the most blatant wish-fulfillment this show has engaged in yet (which would be saying something), but it fits with what the series is doing at this moment, and there are already signs of them doing something more with her character. What becomes of a glorified personal-dungeon add-on (which Diablo apparently only included because he thought her design was cute, and haven't we all been there) when she suddenly exists in real space with a version of her ‘master’ she can actually interact with? It's certainly possible for the writing to draw a line between its ongoing ‘Faith’ theming and this connection, but we'll have to see. The point is, at the end of the dungeon here, the inherent trust between Diablo and his party is rewarded, he finds out he could have been honest with them about the dungeon being his the whole time, and he and we are rewarded with the most outlandishly horny holy healing scene yet with an intimate encounter between Lumachina, Shera, and seemingly the sexy, sexy restorative spirit of the Lord Himself. At least Diablo calls out Lumachina's reactions and the saucy presentation, which makes all the difference for tone.

Gracious and we additionally get new outfits for Diablo, Rem, and Horn. The girls' outfits are notably sexier than their old getups, but beyond the predilections in being in an ostensible fanservice show, these costumes pointedly come from Diablo's stash of high-level in-game gear, and I absolutely believe that this video game would design its rare girl-armor this way. Besides, they provide this to us after we got almost a full episode of Diablo with his shirt off! Everyone says “Thank You, Demon Lord”.

It's for the most part straightforward joys right down with this one, however, that is not really something awful. This is honestly the ideal balance of fights, fun, and fanservice that ultimately won me over with this series, and it really hits that right, good-natured tone this week. There's a dash of expansive ideas, plus some payoff at the end of this little arc that resolves some of the misgivings I had at the outset of it. And everything happening moved at a decent enough clip that I hardly got to notice how stiff the animation was this time! It was all a reminder of the real reasons I like this show so much.

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