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Good-Looking "Demons"

February 5, 2010

     I tend to shy away from anime and manga with shounen-ai elements, mostly because they tend to be ridiculous, rather than a legitimate story about homosexual men.  However, on the insistence of my friend, I tried Kyou Kara Maou!, a very shounen-ai anime that, fortunately, is ridiculous not because of the portrayal of homosexuality, but because of the crazy behavior of its characters.  A teenage boy named Shibuya Yuuri gets sucked into a portal in a toilet that sends him to an alternate world, where “demons,” or Mazoku (who look extremely similar to humans) live.  Turns out that he is destined to become the ruler of the Mazoku kingdom, Shin Makoku, because of something that happened before he was even born.  With the help of three Mazoku brothers, Gwendal von Voltaire, Wolfram von Bielefeld, and Conrad Weller, as well as his advisors Günter von Christ and Murata Ken (a friend from back home), his spy Yozak Gurrier, and many others, he learns the customs and rules of this new world, becomes a king, and faces off against many threats to his throne and his people, including Dai Shimaron, Soushu, and the White Crows.  All the while, he deals with human-Mazoku antagonism and Wolfram’s insistence, based on a couple of mistakes, that they are betrothed.

     So yes, obviously, with Wolfram and Yuuri being betrothed, there are shounen-ai elements in this show.  Whoever says it’s yaoi, however, has never actually seen it.  However, the issue is handled very well, as Yuuri never actually marries Wolfram, and the love comes entirely from Wolfram’s side, as Yuuri just thinks of him as a close friend.  All of the characters are very quirky and lovable, my favorite being Günter, who praises Yuuri incessantly and “loves” him so much that he occasionally gets nosebleeds.  And with that, that’s all the shounen-ai in the show.  Wolfram and Günter.  That’s it.  Sure, the other men are all really pretty, but none of them hit on each other or anything.  Yozak cross-dresses, but he does it as a spy, and there’s no hint that he’s gay.  So really, if you just take it that those two characters are gay, then there’s nothing really wrong here.

     The plot is often side-tracked by silly stories and filler.  The filler can be fun, but the most intereting developments and the best character stuff normally come in the main plot.  The main plot involves Yuuri becoming Maou, staving off enemy nations, and fighting menaces like the Shinou’s nemesis, Soushu, and Ken’s former group, the White Crows.  That can get pretty crazy, with some totally shocking plot points (like when Conrad… well, gets his arm cut off).  It’s not the most well-thought-out plot, but it’s really fun and can genuinely surprise you.  Plus, because the characters are so much fun, you want them all to make it out of things safe, sound, and happy.  The animation is absolutely top-notch, and the voice acting is superb, with a star-studded cast including Sakurai Takahiro as Yuuri, Morikawa Toshiyuki as Conrad, Outsuka Akio as Gwendal, Saiga Mitsuki as Wolfram, and my favorite seiyuu, Inoue Kazuhiko, as Günter.  If you’re expecting a really deep plot, this isn’t the right story for you.  But it’s a great, whimsical tale with fun, wacky characters who you can’t help but love.  However, after this and many other anime, I’m rather tired of characters who act almost entirely based on their mother’s wisdom.  Just saying.  Oh, and FYI, I have no idea why this is translated as God Save Our King.  Kyou Kara Maou! means: From This Day, Demon King!, or less literally, From This Day, I Am the Demon King!  Stupid translators.

Story: 8.3      Animation: 9.3      Soundtrack: 8.2      Acting: 9.5      Overall: 8.3

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