Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a bit of an odd beast to adapt to animated form. Considering that the setup is basically a hero learning exclusively through expository conversation that his journey to end the never-ending war between demons and humans is actually a shitty idea, there would have to be quite a few liberties taken to make its transition from text to anime a relatively painless and fluid experience. Thankfully, the end result is mostly competent, even if the inherent levity in bountiful bouncing boobs often threatens to derail the mostly serious discussion.
The first episode isn’t just two people debating the finer points of economics and morality, a departure from the manga’s interpretation; as engrossing as their interactions are, that would get boring rather fast. To alleviate the issue, every so often, the shot cuts away to some throwaway character loudly musing about whether the war is really all that good for them, while sitting in the lap of opulence, metaphorically licking caviar off of a callgirl made entirely out of chocolate and gold-leaf. It’s not exactly the ideal way to spice things up, but it injects emotion and outside perspective into what’s essentially one talking head explaining circles around the other.
MMY, at its heart, is a cynical reinterpretation of the standard Good vs. Evil dilemma examined through the lens of the even more standard Human vs. Demon scenario that does its best to defy all expectations, looking at the economic benefits of ongoing war for both sides, something that’s generally ignored by most media. From the most regal of kings to the lowliest peasant, everybody profits from the conflict in some way, and the hero seeking to put an end to it is seen as too burdened by his ideals to see that every conceivable facet of his society has been drastically improved by channeling resources toward sticking pointy things into demons. From production to sustenance, the war is a boon to humans and demons alike as they do their very best to only being shitty toward the other race.
To balance out the almost morbid laundry list of benefits, the message falls just short of “Yay war! Everybody kill each other and let your blood fertilize the fields of the rich! Fuck tha proletariat!” Sprinkled amidst the mentions of economic prosperity and rich men toasting to their good fortunes while loudly pondering if it’s the right thing to do is the occasional depiction of the inevitable downside—paranoia leading to witch hunts, political corruption, and families torn apart by those who profit the most from doing so. By talking about the effects of the fighting, rather than the conflict itself, the show does a great job at setting up the moral ambiguity surrounding productive strife without coming across as heavy-handed.
Maou herself is quite unexpected in terms of personality, a bubbling, friendly, witty woman with horns who’s the last person you’d expect to rule over the realm of demons. Rather than putting a stop to Hero through violence, she does her best to talk him down and use him as her vehicle for exploring the world, treating him to dinner and stimulating conversation as a sort of bribe. Ironically, she ends up far more endearing and relateable than any of the humans shown thus far, even if that list only consists of several background characters, Hero, and one of Hero’s companions. She exists solely to fuck your expectations sideways, and she does a damn good job at it.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a series brimming with potential, and there’s far more content here to parse than I’ve let on. Hell, the comedy is actually decent, even if a good amount of it revolves around loudly announcing disbelief, and the fanservice isn’t quite as intrusive as I’ve made it out to be. All in all, there’s definitely much worse that’s going to air, so I’m going to lap this up while the going’s still good.