What’s the show? How NOT To Summon A Demon Lord, Episode 7.
So how far are you going to go to try and excuse the gratuitous fan service this episode? There’s two very distinct types of fan service in this episode—the light-hearted type that benefits our protagonist (and therefore the audience as his analogue) and the creepy type which is relevant to express the complete moral degradation of the villain who is inflicting the “fan service” upon the character.
And you intend to defend them both? The first type doesn’t need defending, it’s entirely for comedic effect—though comes with the added benefit of explaining how Diablo is able to continue making powerful potions despite the interface between in-game and real life being very different. The second type is defensible in that it’s indefensible, i.e. it’s not meant to be just for the sake of arousal.
Fan service that’s not meant to be sexy? Care to elaborate? Well first some context—Shera’s evil brother Keera comes to collect his sister despite having no intention of leaving with him—that is until he plays a brainwashing tune on his magical flute and she can’t help but oblige his wishes. As we discovered last week Keera’s intent is to have his sister give birth to an heir, which she obviously has no intent on doing as she wants to be free to live her own life. So Keera decides to ‘punish’ her by tying her up and unleashing a slime that wraps around her like tentacles and slowly melts off her clothing.
Sounds like typical fan service to me… The show paints what’s happening to Shera as an inherently bad thing—you’re meant to feel uncomfortable and feel sorry for Shera as she’s being assaulted by the slime that’s been unleashed by her leering brother. And the show doesn’t make light of what’s happening to her—she cries and objects and wails and then when Diablo comes to the rescue he doesn’t blush or ogle her unclothed body he simply covers her up in a cloak, comforts her and makes her feel safe.
But surely just having this type of scene in an anime is meant to appeal to and arouse someone, you don’t have a “clothes melting slime” attack a main-character and it ~not~ be seen as fan service? It’s all about in how the scene is presented, the only other character in the scene is an evil, incestuous, would-be rapist who has kidnapped his sister and is assaulting her in this dehumanising way—and he’s enjoying every minute of it, if the audience is truly on Shera’s side and not just watching this show as passive voyeur this scene is meant to be gross and exploitative. Yes it’s still ~technically~ fan service, the same way that a damsel in distress in a Bond film would be tied up and have her clothes strategically torn to both highlight her sexuality as well as present the evilness of the villain.
Wait… I thought you said it was “gross and exploitative” now you’re saying it’s “highlighting her sexuality”? It can be both believe it or not—if anything this show is proof that ~just~ because a show has a lot of fan service doesn’t mean it can’t be complicated and nuanced. Speaking of which…
Yes? The character development in this episode on everyone’s part is just so damn good! It’s so well-written and naturalistic that even simple looks carry so much emotional impact. Even the brief flashback to Diablo’s in real life childhood where he thinks he’s made some friends over a shared interest in video-games only to find out that they were using him to get good in-game items is not only shockingly relatable (at least to this reviewer) but it’s done in such a subtle way and carries its impact through the rest of the episode. Not only that but there’s so many great moments early on between Shera and Diablo that lay the groundwork for a deeper relationship between the two and allows each of them to be vulnerable with each other in ways that neither would have anticipated before coming into each other’s lives.
Well that’s g— And it’s not just Shera and Diablo, Rem gets a sweet scene as she convinces the crestfallen Diablo to come to help rescue Shera—cementing the importance of their three-way friendship and the life they have all share together. Unlike some shows where it feels like characters are together for their own selfish reasons, or even just because they’re thrown together by circumstance (which is how this show started) they now genuinely feel like a family who rely and depend and yes, even love each other. And as much as I enjoy the fan service moments in the show, ultimately it’s the characters that has me prematurely calling this my favourite anime of the Summer 2018 season!
Previous How NOT To Summon A Demon Lord Reviews:
Is It Wrong To Suck A Cat Girl’s Ear In Another World? – Episode 1 Review
The Grope Debate – Episode 2 Review
Listening Is A Heroic Trait Too – Episode 3 Review
Unlimited Power/Limited Stamina – Episode 4 Review
Reigning It In – Episode 5 Review
Sexually Liberated Elf – Episode 6 Review
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