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Maoyu Mao Yusha – Anime Review

Maoyu Mao Yusha (cover)For fifteen years, the demons and humans have been at war, and both sides have profited from it, but at the expense of those less fortunate. Maoyu Mao Yusha begins with the Hero venturing into demon territory to challenge the Demon King. The encounter, though, goes nothing like Hero expects – beginning with the revelation that the Demon King is a woman, and ending in a truce between them to try and end the war between demons and humans without it turning into civil war between the different factions of humanity.

Maoyu is a shorter anime with only twelve episodes, but it is a hidden gem, especially for fans of the fantasy genre. The feel of the show is reminiscent of a fantasy RPG and simultaneously plays off and subverts many common tropes.

The first thing to know, though, is that the characters aren’t called by names in this anime, they go by the titles of their roles. And that just makes the tropes even more visible, and the subversion more brilliant. Often, the tropes are combined into a single character.

First, there is Maoyu, the Demon King, who simultaneously fills the trope of the busty woman (which is as much of an anime thing as it is a fantasy and romance one). She will also fill the role of the ‘scholar’. She also mysteriously has answers to nearly every problem, and that is not quite as well dealt with, but it’s tolerable.

Maoyu Mao Yusha (screenshot 1)

Second, there is Hero. His role should be obvious. He also fills the ‘virginal’ trope, and eventually fills the role of characters who usually OPPOSE each other.

In addition, there are also (though less obviously named) tropes for the perverted old man, the warrior cleric, the mentor, the mage, orphaned siblings, cunning merchants, etc. This is not even half of the obvious tropes you will find in Maoyu. There are many more character tropes, not even touching on the story tropes.

Maoyu Mao Yusha (screenshot 2)

This anime is a good example of why tropes and clichés work, and how they can work well when written correctly – though this day and age, it’s still best to not overdo them unless you’re purposefully poking fun, like this anime does.

As for the actual plot, if you start watching straight from reading the brief summaries available on most streaming sites, you might not expect what you actually get with this anime. The summaries give the impression that it will be full of action, and there is action, but the majority of the anime is more like a strategy and economics lesson. Being an avid worldbuilder myself, I had no problem with the main topics being the history and causes of the war, and the economic gains and losses because of it. But for some people, it may make the anime seem slow.

Maoyu Mao Yusha (screenshot 3)There is a romance aspect to this anime, but it is not the main focus of the story at all. If anything, the romance is the comedic relief for a plot that doesn’t lend itself well outside of a classroom. There is a love triangle, though it is joked about by those involved. One involved party even goes so far as to challenge Hero to make up his mind about which of them is the wife or the mistress. For all that, however, this anime holds true to what I’ve observed in most others that are not actual romances – we don’t even get a kiss by the end of the series.

But the most compelling reason to watch this anime is exactly how it overcomes the tropes within it – by the amazing growth of the characters.

Maoyu can be streamed on The Anime Network, Crunchyroll, and Hulu, and is also available for purchase.

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