You all know the commercial where Pinocchio was a motivational speaker and kept saying “And you have potential” as his nose grew longer? That pretty much sums up Shinmai Maou no Testament for me because it took a pretty cool concept and then just turned it into another run of the mill shounen battle anime. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily BAD… just that it wasn’t amazing like the first episode made it out to be and sadly, a lot of anime are like that these days. They hook you on the first episode by making it really, really interesting and then just sour on it for the rest of the duration, but it was good enough to warrant a second season and yes, I’m probably going to watch it because I didn’t outright hate this show.
So where did this show fall short? What were its highs? I’ll answer all of that and them some as it’s review time!
So… have you ever wanted a little sister and didn’t want to go through the hassle of waiting for your father to knock up your mother or steal one off the streets? That’s essentially how this story begins. Basara Toujou is invited to lunch by his father who drops the news on him that he has not one, but two brand new little sisters because he decided to re-marry. Basara takes the news in shock and decides to recollect himself in the unisex bathroom where, unbeknownst to him, the older of his two new imoutos is in there, using the facilities. He embarrassingly walks in on her and proceeds to get the standard beatdown like you would see in every other single anime where this happens.
Basara heads back to his table and meets his new sisters, Mio and Maria, in an awkward moment. They travel home where Basara’s father just bought a new house and then suddenly he’s called away on a business trip because plot reasons. After Basara’s father leaves, Mio and Maria pull the shock of the century by unveiling that Basara’s father’s memories were altered because Mio is the soon to be new Demon Lord and Maria is her succubus! Then Basara was like “oh, cool story sis, by the way.. I’m a HERO.”
And therefore our story begins. From here on out, it’s the typical good versus evil story with shounen battles mixed in. You have this disgruntled overlord of the demon world who wants the demon lord’s powers all to himself so he sends some unique sprites after Mio in order to kidnap her. Mio herself doesn’t want to awaken her powers and would rather try and live a normal life and Basara ends up becoming her protector for one reason only: His father took a picture of them all and called them a family. Yep… he’s going through all of this because of a Polaroid Moment.
Other heroes from Basara’s village appear and some are on his side and others are not sympathetic to Basara’s troubled past and so we get some inner quarrels as well. All in all, it’s pretty standard Shounen stuff with all the predictable plot twists that you would expect to see from it. The first episode brought something new to the “I gained a little sister” genre, but from there, it just seemed like it was mostly forgotten in favor of creating characters with cool abilities in order to sell merchandise. At least it wasn’t glaringly obvious like Absolute Duo, though, but still obvious enough.
Oh, and there’s also enough sexual tension and frustration to satisfy you for the next ten seasons of anime. Get ready for this plot device! In order for Basara to easily locate Mio in times of danger, Maria arranges for Basara and Mio to form a link bond between them. The only issue is… it’s a Succubus’ Master/Slave Bond where if the Slave disobeys, then they are wrought with intense sexual desire until they are satisfied. The bond works… but it backfires and makes Basara the master and Mio the slave. I’ll let your imagination take you from there. The fact that Maria was cleaning a puddle off of the floor in Episode 2 should explain some of the events that transpired in Mio’s “time of need.” I’ll even let your imaginations determine just what, exactly, that puddle was, too.
With that being said… let’s move on to the characters before I have to clean up my own puddle.
Basara Toujou – Our main protagonist and shunned Hero from his village. He has a troubled past where his ability awakened and, well, watch the anime to see just what happened and why he was banned from his village. So he lives with his father who is, apparently, a very powerful hero himself whose name is revered and feared throughout the demon world, but don’t worry, in the first season, you barely even see the father so I’ll just lump Jin Toujou in here by calling him the father that’s never around! Basara becomes Mio’s protector as she flees from the demons who want her powers.
At least Basara has a backbone unlike a lot of anime protagonists these days. He’s quick to protect the ones he loves and never backs down from a fight. His only fear is of his own powers because they caused him to get he and his father banned from their village. Outside of his little mental conflict, Basara is pretty vanilla and straightforward. There really aren’t many dimensions to his character and I guess it works for the show, but I’m hoping for something a little more interesting from him come season two.
Mio Naruse – Mio is the one who inherited the Demon Lord’s powers when her parents were killed by a mysterious and unknown assailant. She flees to the Earth Realm along with Maria who was charged with guarding Mio. They use their hypno powers to trick Jin Toujou into thinking he remarried and now they’re all one big happy family. Now she is protected and bonded to Basara through a succubus pact as they find a way to keep Mio safe from the evil legions of demons!
As far as her character goes… she tries SO HARD to be a tsundere, but fails on so many levels. She’s a bit cold and jaded in the beginning, mainly because of the bathroom incident in Episode 1, but about half way through the series, it seems like they realized that the whole tsundere thing wasn’t working and just dropped the act all together as she warms up to Basara pretty quickly and even starts to fall for him outside of the pact’s influence. She becomes worried about him towards the end of the first season to the point where you swear they were already dating when they’re not. Honestly, I’m happy they did this, because the whole tsundere angle is a bit overused in anime and I’m kind of getting tired of seeing it. For once, can’t we just have a shounen battle anime where the love interest mutually likes either other without the standard awkwardness?
Maria Naruse – Maria is a succubus and is pretty much loli bait. Even though she’s much older than she appears, she has the body of a girl who can’t be more than twelve years old. Being a succubus, she’s a massive pervert who finds tormenting Basara, by putting him into sexually awkward scenarios, highly entertaining. When she made the slave pact between Mio and Basara, she feigns that it backfired when you can tell it was blatantly obvious it was her intentions to have it end up this way all along.
Maria seems like a filler character who ends up having a more important role towards the end of the season, however, that interesting plot point is degraded by the typical reasons you’d find in most of these kinds of situations. Wow… that was the vaguest, non-spoiler-ish sentence I’ve ever written.. Be that as it may.. Maria’s character is just wrong on so many levels. She’s the epitome of the evil little sister who plays innocent in front of others but is always mischievous and devious behind the scenes. She does add some pretty good comedy to the show, though, so it’s not a total bust.
Yuki Nonaka – Basara goes to school and runs into Yuki… or more like.. Yuki runs into Basara.. by hugging him. Basara recognizes her and realizes that she’s his childhood friend from the village who is also a hero. She was sent by the village to keep tabs on Mio because they know about her housing the Demon Lord’s powers and wanted to make sure that they didn’t awaken and end all life on Earth and things like that. Yuki also has a love interest for Basara and with her introduction, you can already tell that this is turning into a semi-harem.
Yuki is that kind of character that is disciplined and does her job, but gets swayed once she learns about Mio and gets to know her. As Mio and Yuki become friends, they also become love rivals for Basara. It’s even to the point that when the other heroes show up to find out what’s taking Yuki so long, Yuki becomes torn between helping her village and helping Mio. It’s kind of predictable which side she ends up on, though.
Yahiro Takigawa – Meet Yuki’s counterpart. He is the demon who befriends Basara in order to keep tabs on Mio so that, one day, she can be captured, but Yahiro kind of has an alternative motive going for him and actually semi-aligns with Basara, feeding him information on the demons’ movements and plans. He’s essentially in the role of the double agent, but if things get too out of hand, he warns Basara that their agreement would be null and void and he will be nothing more than an enemy. Yahiro wants something and what that something is, he gets in the end. You’ll just have to watch through to discover that on your own.
Yahiro was my favorite character in this series. Even though he’s a demon and on the side of evil, he has an honest side to him, but only because he’s working towards getting something he wants. He’s not above forming alliances with the enemy to get that either, but the thing about Yahiro and his alliance with Basara is that there is no charades or backstabbing here. Everything he says and does is genuine and completely honest, which is extremely rare to see out of the side of evil. He is, by far, the most interesting character on the show and I’m looking forward to more of him in season two!
Zolgia – The main antagonist. Essentially Wilbert, the old Demon Lord, dies and a new Demon Lord is chosen, but Mio ends up with Wilbert’s powers. The new Demon Lord wants those powers and sends Zolgia after Mio, but Zolgia wants the powers for himself and orchestrates a plan to take them while deceiving the new Demon Lord.
About as basic as a bad guy can get. I think his character description also sums up his story although he does do some pretty nefarious things to assert himself as the bad guy, though.
Art, Animation, and Sound
The artwork is pretty okay. There is censorship everywhere in the form of chibi characters covering certain body parts or well-placed sunbeams to the blatant white hazy bar in areas where sun has no business being. People who get this show on Blu-Ray, however, won’t have to worry about that and get more than their money’s worth when it comes to animated exposure.
The characters themselves are not really uniquely drawn to set them apart from other animes, but they do look unique enough to distinguish them from each other. Most of the characters are either found in school uniforms or in a t-shirt and jeans. Even the weapons they use look kind of standard with each having their nuances and special properties. The backgrounds are pretty good, but that’s becoming the case in all anime these days because it’s easy to put a pre-rendered scene as a backdrop in a piece of animation software and call it a day. The opening’s animation is completely done in CG as it doesn’t have that typical anime jitteriness to it. Plus, it begs the question.. how far can Maria stick her ass in the air until her legs just give out?
This pretty much sums up this anime (click)
The non-opening animation is decent enough. The CG and special effects are pretty standard, too so there’s really nothing special here. The OST, however, does stand out and fits the needs of the show. There’s the derpy music for those derpy situations, background music to help fill the void, and some pretty awesome music when things ramp up and battles happen. To say that the music is the best part of this show is rather sad and even still, it only shines through at certain points. Is it enough to go grab the OST? Eh… maybe not. I’d just recommend finding the OST on YouTube and picking out the handful of tracks you like and call it a day.
Like I said before.. this isn’t a terrible anime… but it isn’t good either. The characters are all flat with the exception of Yahiro. The plot points are pretty much predictable and there’s standardized shounen battle tropes everywhere, but throughout all of that, I found the show to be watchable. I really wish they took the time to develop the characters more… especially Basara. I really hate one-dimensional characters and he’s about as one dimensional as they get.
The overall story was also pretty basic with nothing really standing out too much. All of the “shocking” plot twists seem forced… as if they were there for the sake of trying to hold people’s attention. Some of which kind of stood out as if they said “please don’t change the channel… here’s something that MIGHT get you interested.” Sadly, that tactic worked because it was enough for me to carry on to the next episode, not once during this show did I feel as if I needed to see the next episode. It’s not like Arslan Senki where I was wishing it was next week the split second the newest episode ended. In fact, there were times I’d let two or three episodes pile up before I watched them just because it’s not a show I really wanted to go out of my way to watch on a weekly basis.
When finishing a mini-marathon of the piled up episodes, I came off of them with a “welp… I guess that’s done” feeling rather than a “wow.. I really wish I had more to watch” feeling. But if you’re into harems, comedy, sexual tension, and shounen battles with predictable plots, you may find this show more enjoyable than I did. I’m going to give this a five on my one to ten scale simply because it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad. It was stuck right dead in the center at “okay.”
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Until next time,
Really? Nine Times... Wow
A decent shounen battle anime with a predictable plot and one-dimensional characters. Decent enough to watch, but not good enough to love.