Is Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria the worst isekai ever?

What if I told you that this summer season there is an isekai anime even worse than How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, the ecchi harem show that uses slavery as an erotic comedy premise? Would you believe me? I didn’t even believe me at first; after all, there isn’t much worse in the world than slavery. But the first episode of Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria was without exaggeration the single worst piece of anime or television or any other audio-visual medium I have ever encountered. Maybe that demonstrates my shelteredness, but honestly, How Not to Summon a Demon Lord appears tame by comparison.

When, I say “worst,” I don’t refer to its poor production values (though the art and animation and music and direction all earn a clear “bad”). Instead, I mean that the ideas it contains come with implicit endorsements of violent, chauvinistic, morally abject ideologies. This goes far beyond the typical misogynistic wish-fulfillment found in generic shows like How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. It was so vile that I wanted to take a shower after watching it. I felt dirty.

Bear with me for a moment as I work through the show’s more innocuous elements before I offer my conclusions. I promise I will have a point by the end of this essay.

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How Not to Summon a Demon Lord; or, how not to make a parody

Where do I even start with this? Hmmm… how about the title? When I was browsing through summer seasonal shows on MyAnimeList, my eyes glanced across the word “dorei.”

Slave.

I stopped. Oh my god, what is this about? My cursor felt drawn to the word. I had to click it.

MyAnimeList gives the original Japanese as 異世界魔王と召喚少女の奴隷魔術 or, for those of us still stuck somewhere on the mid-hundreds kanji plateau, Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu. An English translator offers the very generous suggestion How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. A fine title for a comedy, but given the original Japanese, maybe not quite right. Let’s work through this word-by-word, shall we?

  • Isekai: different world, nowadays usually a genre label for fiction with a fantasy or MMO game setting
  • Maou: demon king, standard isekai stuff
  • to: particle, here meaning “and” or “with”
  • Shoukan: summoning, more isekai nonsense
  • Shoujo: young girl, an anime staple
  • no: particle, indicating possession or a noun used as a modifier
  • Dorei: slave
  • Majutsu: magic, part-and-parcel with fantasy isekai

Alright, the title seems decent enough. The translator made a stylistic decision to use the common English frame “How not to ~ .” That’s clever enough to hint at satirical elements in the show. Isekai is probably too clunky for a snappy title… Maou as demon lord is on point… summoning, alright check… shoujo, young girl, not in the title but perhaps removed for the sake of fluency… dorei majutsu, slave magic… Wait, what? Slave Magic? Oh my god, what is this about? How could a translator ignore that?

Because How Not to Summon a Demon Lord sounds so inoffensive as to not bat an eyelid, hopefully I can provide a more literal but less marketable English title: The Isekai Demon King and the Summoner Girls’ Slave Magic. Oh my god, what is this about?

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Sword Art Online is better than Steins;Gate. No, seriously!

To think I would ever say that… I apologize for the clickbait title, I actually meant that Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (couldn’t think of a more succient title?) is better than Steins;Gate 0. And maybe to further clarify, I should say that S;G0 is worse than SAOAGGO (What an adorable acronym!) because neither are particularly good. And maybe as a final clarification, I don’t think the shows really ought to be compared given their stylistic and genre differences except that both happen to be on in the same season and I happen to be watching both at the same time. Real rigor for a first post…

So, with those caveats out of the way, I should perhaps modify my title to say “Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online is more fun to watch than Steins;Gate 0 as a week-by-week seasonal anime.” But of course, that title is too long and, to be honest, neither show is much fun to watch.

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