So, this was on my watch list for Spring 2010 anime since the description sounded ridiculous. I have to say, the first episode does not disappoint!
The story is set in a futuristic Final Fantasy-like world, where there are both supernatural powers and advanced technology. The main story opens with Sai Akuto, the main character, boarding a hover train to the Constant Magical Academy, where he meets a girl from a swordsman family who ends up being in his class. From the start, the art style is clean enough and the production is slick, so no complaints from me there (as opposed to Angel Beats, which has a distinctly interesting story, but the coloring/shading makes everything look really flat, so it was a little less pleasant to watch). The voice actors also bring the characters to life, a big step up from, say, Kaichou wa Maid-sama.
Once Akuto arrives at the academy, he’s brought in for a health check, which doubles as a future occupation divination from a fat, cigar-smoking crow-spirit who looks like he belongs in Darkwing Duck (which isn’t a bad thing!). However, things quickly go south as the crow fearfully proclaims him to be the future High Demon Lord. It’s kind of ridiculous how everyone starts panicking, although it’s reminiscent of Voldemort’s presence in Harry Potter; the High Demon Lord was a rebel who started a devastating war in the past. Compare it to being labeled as the future Hitler, if you want a modern example. When he finally arrives at his class, he’s seated all the way in the back, hence the title of the anime, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, roughly “The Demon Lord in the Back.”
Note: “daimaou” is literally “big demon king,” but “dai” is frequently used as a tier indicator. In English, the corollary I choose to use is the difference between say a “priest” and a “high priest.” Even if you don’t understand the difference in role that a high priest has over a priest, you get the idea that the high priest is somehow “above” the priest in rank. Thus, “daimaou” vs. “maou” would be “High Demon Lord” vs. “Demon Lord.” Beyond that, I’d rather say “lord” than “king” because of this rank distinction. In English, we think of a king as someone of the highest rank; there are no ranks of kings. If you think of a feudal setting such as King Arthur’s Britain, you could say Arthur is the High King, and the other kingdoms have their own kings as well, but, in a modern setting, I think “lord” sounds more appropriate for an English audience. In addition, you can’t use “king” vs. “prince” either since there’s a specific word for prince, “ouji.”
By the way, Akuto’s dream at the beginning of the story is to become the High Priest. Oh Murphy, your laws are great.
Anyway, the rest of the episode consists of Akuto trying to explain how he’s not trying to become the demon lord, but getting into various misunderstandings because he’s using a normal, non-magic academy context, but all the students are taking it in the worst possible context. For example, he volunteers to be on the cleaning committee, only to find out that, at this school, the “cleaning committee” is basically defunct assassination squad that guards the school’s secrets. It doesn’t help that he also gains an underling who greatly admires him but still doesn’t get his intentions; when he tries to make up with the one friend he made before being deigned the demon lord, his toady tells him that it’s customary to knock 3 times on the window… which he fails to mention is actually customary for lovers, specifically.
Sure, this has the makings of a harem anime with fantastic elements, a vaguely similar setting to Negima, but I like that there’s actually a story instead of just “kids who go to school, and hey, the main character is randomly popular with every hot chick.” As long as the story is interesting, the characters develop well or are acted out well, and the animation quality stays high, the rest is just fanservice to me. I think I’ll definitely watch this one to the end.
And here’s a picture of Nemuru in a usaeru (bunny-frog) suit.
PS: I should probably mention that I watched subs by [Ryuumaru]. I didn’t notice any translation oddities (note: I don’t know Japanese, so you could be making stuff up for all I know) or grammar issues, the lines mostly flowed well. The only thing I might suggest would be to not split up whole sentences into different times. Either change lines so each time is a separate sentence, or word it such that you can fit it into 1 or 2 lines on screen. Not a big problem, it’s just not conducive to comprehension when you don’t have a whole sentence to read in one shot. I didn’t have to do so in this episode, but other fansubs have done the same sentence splitting, and sometimes I have to pause and rewind to make sure I understood what was said; that’s what you want to avoid.
Anyway, good subs, the font chosen works pretty well, I’ll probably continue to get their subs.