Maou-sama, Retry! Season 2
The first episode is present as a base for the remainder of the series, setting the assumption, rules and introducing characters. There is not much to be said here and it’s easy to have a bad impression due to the below average artwork. The next episode is where we begin to see the true valuable goods available and what to expect after. The comedy. The subversion of expectations. The bland pastry of this isekai assumption is encrusted with the caramel stones of witty writing and exceptional voice acting.
The artwork is moderate, varying passable/good at crucial points and the principal characters and their layouts to below average for support personalities. What really lets down the show however is its absolutely abysmal animation anyplace that is more lively than people taking a light stroll or bending down. Needless to say the battle scenes are disappointingly awful that’s really a surprise considering the implementation and timing of these jokes is done so well.
The series is funny, it is even funnier if you have the references to the isekai meta jokes, mocking the common tropes and subverting them by creating typical herione types obnoxious or the MC utterly indifferent. The voice acting is brilliant and the artwork is passable though the animation leaves a lot to be desired. The characters are kind of shallow, but I get the impression that this is because there’ll be a good deal of them and they’re kinda rushed so that they feel just a little bit too knowledgeable about each other when talking/annotating.
Isekai anime are getting to be dime-a-dozen at this time and garnering something of a reputation for being unimaginative, bottom of the barrel material, not least of all because of how frequently they devolve into harems too (at the very bottom of the bottom of the barrel for stimulation from story telling). It is too easy for these shows to rely on the many kinds of service available to pay for poor writing. It got so bad that we were beginning to be presented with run of the mill cooking shows shows with an Isekai spin (Restaurant To Another World) which provided much less story than what we had been afforded before. But there is something to be had here, guilty pleasures or otherwise.
Isekai developed their own tropes relatively fast and with the achievement of predecessor shows like Overlord they set a benchmark for fantasy personality archetypes. Finally, after (good) shows like Log Horizon and (bad shows) such as Sword Art Online that took themselves too seriously begun to lose cultural significance a meta started to emerge from the genre, a type of maturation which led to names such as”Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo” or”Konosuba” for short. Currently ranked #347 on MAL with a score of 8.19; creating a renaissance almost immediately after the genre started to die off with just a hand full of names to its name.
Konosuba was to Isekai what One Punch Man was to Dragon Ball Z and the action genre, although with no cream of the crop studio like Madhouse supporting the animation (in actuality, intentionally or not the quirky animation just adds to the comedic and satirical worth of this series ). However, what am I trying to get at here? Maou-sama, Retry! Ticks enough of the isekai trope boxes to make your eyes roll into the back of you mind back to front. It is a dream world (that is almost inherent, but occasionally it’s sci-fi), based on a game system (again, the RPG element is almost a given in most isekai names, but its purveyance exists on a spectrum from small nods to adventurer class systems to full blown functioning user interfaces), the MC was an admin/Dungeon Master, programmer or dominant figure like a guild master or”number 1 participant” (Death March, Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, Overlord, etc), the MC is over powered or has any sort of cheat (very occasionally it’s in fact a natural talent like over average smarts). The consumer exploits previous/home reality knowledge to enhance skills in the current/new world (Knights & Magic, The Philosopher’s Grandson, Isekai Cheat Magician, Gate, No Game No Life, That Time I Had Been Reincarnated As A Slime (I have seen so many they are all blurring into one today )); and the worst offending trope is just about the down conquered”loli” who becomes infatuated with the MC since they showed fundamental human kindness in a world full of corruption (this one irks me the most).
So really all we are left with as a distinguishing feature is that the degree of self-awareness a series has about its defects instead of innovation/originality. Konosuba was amusing because it made fun of itself and its own genre as a whole and Maou-sama, Retry exists in exactly the exact same vein.