Ichirou Suzuki, a programmer nearing his thirties, is drowning in work. Worn out, he eventually has a chance to catch up on sleep, only to wake up and discover himself in a fantasy RPG world, which is mashed together from the games he was debugging in reality. In this new place, he realizes that not only has his appearance changed to a younger version of himself, but his name has also changed to Satou, a nickname he used while running beta tests on games.
However, before Satou can fully grasp his situation, an army of lizardmen launch an assault on him. Forced to cast a powerful spell in retaliation, Satou wipes them out completely and his level is boosted to 310, effectively maximizing his stats. Now, as a high-leveled adventurer armed with a plethora of skills and no way to return to reality, Satou sets out to explore this magical new world.
"Suki no Skill (スキノスキル)" by Wake Up, Girls! #1: "Suki no Skill (スキノスキル)" by Wake Up, Girls! (eps 1-9, 11-12) #2: "Bishoujo Tenshi Magical Rose (美少女天使マジカルロス)" by Pochi (Kouno Hiyori), Tama (Okuno Kaya), Arisa (Yuuki Aoi) (ep 10)
Welcome to a show which self-insertion is a tragedy. Show which characters are the visual representasion of its author's relationship problems. Welcome to Death March, the newest treat for the ironic anime watchers.
Death March is an isekai series similar to One Punch Man. It focuses around an overpowered mr. nice guy Jesus named Satou who saves women from slavery among other things with the powers of an I.T. guru, and makes them his property.
The events include mr. nice guy raping and pillaging like a viking, except he does the polar opposite because he is nice. Other characters in this series are women. Slave girls
1-7 and a knight. Most of them are very much into mr. nice guy but he himself is a nice guy who doesn't use women. We shan't never know what type of a glopping sound this guy makes.
The art and sounds follow the average production values which have been the standard for anime since 2013. Nothing to complain there. Just name your favorite hair color and there is a girl who has it. Smart choices.
When it comes to enjoyment, I haven't had this much fun with unwatchable trash since Shingeki no kyoujin S01 aired. I highly recommend this show because it never tried to be anything, and thus didn't fail at it.
Death March is one of the most innovative anime that I’ve seen in awhile.
Now wait a second, I’m being completely serious here. I’m not trying to coerce you into reading my review by starting off with a lame sarcastic statement. Just bear with me for a bit. Now Death March has a typical isekai plot that is generic in every sense of the word. The visuals and soundtrack are plain, and the protagonist is yet another incomprehensibly dull Kirito knockoff. But this anime is truly unique in that out of the entire lead female cast, none of them have BIG BOOBS. That’s right, all
of the important girls in this show either have modest chests or are lolis. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a plethora of harem/eiichi/isekai/anime with a bunch of girls in them, and these shows always showcase at least one main female character with large breasts who usually ends up at the butt of at least one boob joke. Not Death March. I was honestly in shock when I discovered this, and I can say without a doubt that the lack of boobs is incredibly original for this type of anime. So if you’re an avid supporter of voluptuous breast, then you’d best find something else to watch. However, if you just so happen to be a lolicon, then you might actually enjoy this anime.
Of course, that's only if you found anything else about Death March to be good, which I unfortunately didn’t.
I really didn’t want to dislike this anime. I actually don’t go into isekai anime and think, “Ugh, I just know I’m going to hate this because its unoriginal. I’m definitely going to give it a low score!” before I even watch the show. However, Death March unfortunately ended up being not only generic, but poorly executed as well. One of the biggest issues that I have with this anime is the fact that it doesn’t go anywhere. As far as I can tell, there are no goals or objectives that the main character is trying to achieve, and all Death March does is showcase this dude living in a fantasy town with his loli slaves and occasionally fighting weak monsters whenever they appear. And even the enemies who are built up to be potent forces are completely owned by the protagonist, thus completely removing any sense of excitement or tension in these actions sequences, resulting in some unbelievably dull moments.
Now before I continue to discuss the failings with the general plot execution and story elements of Death March, I’d first like to address what I found to be the most monumental error of the anime, which would be the main character.
Our protagonist is named Kazuto Kirigaya Knockoff, or KKK for short, and he is a dude who inexplicably gets transported to a fantasy world after falling asleep at work. Wow, Death March didn’t even come up with any reason at all, much less a tangible one, as to why this guy got teleported to this world. Anyway, KKK is, wait for it…completely overpowered from the get-go! How exciting! This guy can literally just max out any ability instantly whenever he feels like it and seems to be invulnerable to everything. Because why would anyone want to watch a character work hard to get strong when you can just start off invincible like KKK? But he’s too modest to show off his immense power, so he usually lets others fight and die during battles while he puts in minimal effort. How heroic! He also purchased all but one of the main girls as slaves but decides not to free them because in his opinion, they’re all happy as slaves because he’s a good master. How noble! Finally, KKK’s personality is, from what I could discern, nonexistent. Seriously, his mediocrity as a character is astounding.
None of the female characters receive substantial development and only succeed at looking cute. If written correctly, I believe that several of these characters had the opportunity to be interesting, but their lack of growth decimated the chances of this actually happening. Let’s start off by analyzing Tama, Pochi, and Liza. The anime mentions how this trio is discriminated against by the general populous for being animal girls. Now the anime could have delved into illuminating the deleterious effects that this torment had on the mentality of these girls and their outlooks on society, but of course it doesn’t. The girls’ only character traits are that they’re nice and like to eat a lot. At least the latter ties into the fact that the girls were malnourished under their previous master. The majority of the other girls in the anime receive similar treatment from the writers, which is unfortunate.
The girl who stood out to me the most was Arisa, whose gimmicks were kind of cute and amusing, however the comedic value of her actions, such as her sexual advancements towards KKK, were lessened due to KKK’s lack of reaction towards them. In order for comedy between two individuals to truly shine, both of them have to play their part. So although Arisa’s flirtatious behavior was fun, since KKK didn’t actually respond to it in any way, the scenes between them lost value in my eyes. Leave it to KKK to suck the joy out of everything.
I believe I mentioned how the slave girls love food. Well, apparently the show’s creator does as well, to the point where he decided it would be a fantastic idea to insert a plethora of random showcases of a variety of exquisite dishes into the show. What basically happens is that whenever KKK sits down to eat a meal, he goes off on an unnecessary explanation of the food’s properties while the anime presents viewers with an image of the food that is more intricately animated than anything else in the anime. And this happens in literally every episode. Its like I’m watching a cringy, mediocre version of Shokugeki no Soma, except this anime is supposed to be about a fantasy world, not food, so these scenes that last several minutes are completely worthless. Plus, I thought that this was a medieval setting, so where the heck did all of these exotic dishes from across the globe come from? Shouldn’t they just be eating hard bread or something? I had to dedicate a paragraph to this because it just seems so absurd and out of place to me for an anime that isn’t about food at all to dedicate so much time to characters eating.
Well, it seems like I ran out of things to talk about. I know I said earlier in this review that I would eventually get to discussing the plot elements of the show and why they fail, but between you and me, that was just an excuse for me to move on and talk about something else. The truth is, Death March’s so called “plot elements” are basically nonexistent, so there’s practically nothing to actually discuss. This show is simply about a guy living in a fantasy world going about his day to day life with his loli slaves. Nothing noteworthy happens, and there is zero development in the story and characters. I have to give some credit to the show though, because although it was terribly boring to watch, for some reason I stuck with it, so I guess that’s something. Maybe I was just waiting to see if KKK would eventually develop an actual personality and stop being a horribly boring and annoying character.
…It never happened.
Oh well. I honestly couldn’t find anything that appealed to me in this anime, but I’m sure there are some isekai fans out their who enjoyed it. Maybe even you. Now that this chapter in the great bibliography of isekai anime has concluded, its time to set our sights to the future of the genre. Hopefully upcoming installations will tell a more compelling tale than Death March.
Before actually deciding to watch this show called “Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku”, I have to ask a question: do you really watch a show for enjoyment or do you watch a show to get the most out of it? When I sat down and decided to give this series a try, it felt like an anime that I would not have high expectations on. The premise, character visuals, and just overall idea of it sounds like a copy-paste story you can find in almost any light novel medium these days. But for Death March, this proved to be one of the blandest anime
I’ve seen in recent years even compared to similar premises. It’s a literal slap to the face to anyone who expect this to be better than what it looks like.
Just for reference, I have read the light novel and keeping it up with took a lot of commitment. I’m actually close to dropping the LN series but this adaptation is on another level of trash. Taking place in a fantasy setting with RPG gimmicks, we got main protagonist Ichiro Suzuki (also known as “Satou” in the other world). His life changes one day after getting hit into an accident and wakes up in this unknown world. Sound familiar? I swear, you can literally pick up any light novel these days with a similar premise and the set up would be something similar. In the meantime, we follow Satou’s adventure as he begins to adapt with his new life.
I’m just going to throw it out here. This show is extremely blend in terms of storytelling. My initial impression of the first few episodes were pretty much me struggling to stay awake. Not only is Satou an uninteresting protagonist but the story itself is devoid of emotions. It’s actually a bit ironic since a show like this should have colorful world fiction to make the setting feel alive. What do we get instead? A group of one dimensional characters in a blend world that felt like it’s part of a video game. Or I should say, a broken video game. A polished game would have memorable characters but you’ll find none of that in this series. Main protagonist Satou is not only just overpowered but also exhibits some disturbing personality if you read between the lines. The way he speaks, behaves, and interacts with certain characters is never engaging to watch. It doesn’t help that his personality is dry to the bone and seemingly always acts the same with his harem. Oh, I did just say that word. Some people may not call this a harem but to me, this series is about as harem-esque as it can get. Consisting of mainly female characters, it doesn’t take long for viewers to find out that they are fond of Satou. Arisa, Pochi, Tama, Zena, Nana. There’s pretty much no character development for any of the main cast. Instead, most of them are there to interact with Satou in order to put him over. The only way to say there’s any development is Satou’s progress as a character as he acquires more skills. Bleh.
That being said, I guess there’s some hope for the main story? The series does take place in a fantasy world and that can have potential, right? Wrong. The world building in the series is incredibly underwhelming as most places look bare and feel almost identical. If you’ve seen one place, it feels like you’ve seen them all. Bear in mind that as the series progresses, the world of Death March never evolves just like the weak character cast. The story feels more like a slice of life with occasional fighting and drama thrown in. My main issue in the story is just how meekly it’s written. Story segments feel anticlimactic and lacks substance. It doesn’t connect with the characters and never makes an impact. Pacing issues also puts this show to shame from the start as it never manages to salvage itself. Also, keep in mind that the light novel series has hundreds of chapters and this is a 12-episode anime adaptation. Yes, you can guess it. This anime pretty much throws the big fat sign of “buy the light novel!” My advice is don’t. That money could be put into so much more value and it’s a waste to spend it on this. Nonetheless, Death March loves to showcase Satou like he’s some of saint in the show. And that gives me nothing more than a thumb down.
Silver Link adapts this anime and it’s sad to say but they dropped the ball. What could have been a beautiful world setting turned into mediocre junk. I’ll be honest here. It’s terrible. The CG is awkward along with the blend character designs. Even the main female protagonists all look like cheap cartoons made by amateurs. Most of them have the same face but with different color hair and body proportions. The fan service has incredibly cringe timings that I can’t help but laugh in the wrong way. Action in the series is also poorly animated in terms of choreography and key animation. The body movements feels flat and it seems to me that this anime project was not taken seriously from the beginning.
I’m not usually one to jump on a character for their voice but my goodness, Satou’s voice genuinely makes me wish they found a better VA. His voice sounds like it’s putting us to sleep and lacks any personality. Even when he shows emotions, it feels incredibly forced with cheesy dialogue delivery. There’s not one line in this show that I find memorable and that’s because of his voice mannerisms. Sometimes, I wish there’s a volume lower than mute. The theme songs aren’t much better as it’s incredibly generic made with lazy lyrics.
Watching Death March was a challenge for me. What could have been a chance to showcase a watchable fantasy series turned into an abomination. By the time I finished watching this show, I felt a sigh of relief that the series ended up only receiving 12 episodes. It should have just been left alone as a light novel instead. The adaptation has a dysfunctional story, uncharismatic character cast, and really gives isekai a bad name. In fact, I’d say Death March almost made a show like Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni look good.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody seems almost as perfunctory as anime gets, as if to be the self-appointed embodiment of “anime today, 2018”, but with some sense of restraint, much to the relief of some. By that same token, it manages to actually somewhat succeed at being incredibly basic (temporarily), because sadly, it's hard to find a show that can pull this off. Giving the finger to SAO, Re:Zero, and Isekai wa Smartphone, this is Death March’s brief time in the limelight.
I'm sure that at least some who are aware of my outlook on a variety of shows of Death March's
ilk are recognizing me as daft for even glancing at this show's general direction. However, the intention goes far beyond having an excuse to malign another anime. Put it simply, I want to prove the existence of a hierarchy.
Every genre, and every category of entertainment has a relative and not entirely subjective hierarchy consisting of installments that are better than most, worse than the rest, or are somewhere within a grey area of sorts. Even the harem show has undisputedly better installments such as Ouran High School Host Club, and irrefutably awful ones as well, such as Isekai wa Smartphone. The school battle anime typically goes with the comparison of Chivalry of a Failed Knight to The Asterisk War for such a comparison. While some shows that are more commonly considered to be in the middle are treated like the worst of their kind, it wouldn't be fair to label them as such. Even genericism can be executed swimmingly or horrifyingly. As for where this show stands in the isekai totem pole...well, an important enemy from episode 1 somehow died offscreen in the beginning of episode 2; this anime isn't exactly the savior anyone here is asking for.
Slamming aside, this show isn’t have bad. In fact at times it can be decent, even good. For example, the first 12 minutes are actually pretty great. We were shown a horrifyingly real depiction of the Japanese work industries, with people often staying for hours upon hours at their job, falling asleep there out of sheer exhaustion, not coming home for days at a time, and the workload being asinine. The directing by Shin Onima helps sell how dreary it all is, with incredibly harsh lights shining when the protagonist sits on a train to get to work in his sleepy state, and how silent everything is in the workplace in regards to background music until we transition into the primary setting of this anime. Hell, even when the surprisingly likable MC is transported to said game world setting (don't ask me how, this never makes sense no matter which anime pulls it, and most don't even explain themselves in some way), it still feels oppressive. When he first enters the game, we get to see Sato immediately become at least somewhat disillusioned with the idea of this being an ideal “dream” when he is attacked and writing with pain while bleeding, in a scene somewhat reminiscent of some of the better moments of Re:Zero’s early portions.
From there, it becomes a bit more hit and miss. While some aspects of the game make no sense (why would need allow your character to learn language comprehension?), they did think about stuff like currency, tax, and the overall economics and societal rules in a simple and effective manner, unlike the convoluted and meaningless currency in say, Smartphone, that never gets brought up after the first instance. It somehow manages to be a pleasant watch at times, notably because of the main character, the constant music that blends in perfectly, and the occasionally pleasant misadventures Satou and his posse go through, and the surprisingly passable world-building. Sometimes, the show can feel dull and blasé, needlessly so. It doesn't help that the show does sink into some of the more loathsome temptations of its maligned brethren on occasion. It’s annoying to see such practices continue since we’ve come so used to the absolute bottom-tier dreck these kinds or anime shit out souleslly while removing anything they seemingly had in their LN counterpart (see Mahouka’s main character as a known example of this). It does this further as it goes along too, as if the reviled temptation is increasingly heinous for them to resist. Due to this, the bare minimum of what should be considered acceptable can almost be seen as nigh-revolutionary. This really is like the “triple-A game industry”.
A large part of why this series works is Satou, our main character. On the surface, he seems like the run-of-the-mill insert, especially based on his appearance. Admittedly his reactions would be rather typical. However, he certainly isn't an awkward buffoon who only has a spine when the chips are down like most of in contemporaries do, and a majority of the time, we actually see what he thinks about any given situation. It's actually rather amusing to hear him gush over every intricacy of his meals or react negatively to whatever bullshit someone gives him. Additionally, the main character often has to use his surroundings to adapt to new situations (with ease, but still, it's something) using strategies he comes up with in the fly with party members. The fact that we get to see actual strategies being employed when facing an enemy in say, a dungeon, is surprisingly not that common in MMORPG anime, if Sword Art Online has taught us anything. Him looking like Kirito in the early episodes of his show and being better at MMORPG culture and strategy than him makes him all the more glorious, especially when unlike nearly every other overpowered protagonist, he actually has a semblance of variety to his powers. To add on to how much of a cheeky fuck he is, when he wants to rename a female companion, he just translates their garbage name in Japanese, expecting no one to notice. The only real issue I have with him is that he doesn’t bother leveling up his skills until the need for a specific skill becomes relevant for the first time. One could say it’s so that he doesn’t become boring and absurdly overpowered, but if he can do this already, and if he is already at level 310 by the end of the first episode when by the time we are ⅔ into the series, the highest leveled opponent has been level 50, then this excuse can no longer fly. That, and how he can get dull over time, though not by too much.
The main character can't carry such an annoyingly dull cast, however, as most of his posse feel less like dynamic characters, and more like largely distinct accessories for him. Obviously he doesn't feel this way about them, but as established, he’s certainly less of an audience surrogate than many of his ilk. They're thankfully nowhere near as obnoxious as most female harem characters, as none of them quite fit into the tired archetypes of harem characters, and each character is distinct from one another, unlike Smartphone, where most of the women are lately the same character. Not to mention that while not every female Satou collects is in love with him, it increases every so often, threatening to turn this pseudo-harem into an actual harem with leftovers. Arisa can get grating sometimes with her bullshit, making her probably the worst of the lukewarm bunch (aside from that one demon in episodes 3 and 4, whose voice was a spell meant to poison the ears), side-characters included. A majority of the villains are borderline worthless husks meant to serve as a “standard evil prick”. Understandably this takes place in a video game but the antagonists really are just the Light Novel adaptation standard when they didn't entirely have to be. At least the villain in the second arc has some pretty decent and interestingly foreshadowed motivations.
Easily the worst part, however, would be the production values. Even outside of the nice directing moments present in episode 1, and how they purposely instead sunlight saturation in certain moments of episode 2 to accentuate the wonder Satou feels about this new world he is in, there isn't much flare to speak of. The character designs looks rather sharp, possibly too sharp, though improved over the original novel. Thankfully it isn't the LN standard but it's still not that pretty to look at. The action is not very well animated either and the magic spells aren't with any sense of flare like they would be in Konosuba or Knight’s & Magic. As mentioned earlier, there are some neat directing moments sprinkled throughout, but that’s all they are: moments. Not all episodes even have those brief moments, and coupled together with terrible, sometimes even laughable action sequences, it’s certainly little better than the rest of Death March’s borderline pitiful visual presentation.
I'm more than willing to believe that the 2D aspects were studio Silver Link and that the rest is Connect, given their repertoire and how Connect has never done a solo project. I say this because the CGI bears massive simulators to another joint project of theirs: Chaos Dragon. Thankfully there is no frame rate slow-down, aside from the CGI already having bad frame rates as is, but the CGI is both disturbingly prevalent and disconcertingly awful, with most soldiers being reduced to CGI armor models that look putrid, and many creatures being reduced to unintentional abominations due to the same hideous 3D model quality. Regardless, this show looks terrible and doesn’t move well. It’s a shame that somehow it’s the production values that hold a light novel anime back more than anything else, as if this anime wasn’t a bewildering rarity already.
The music is mixed as well, though it is conversely the best aspect of the show. The Opening, "Slide Ride (スライドライド)" by Run Girls, Run!, is a real good contender for “most generic-sounding anime OP”, and needless to say, it wasn’t very pleasing to listen to. The Ending theme, "Suki no Skill (スキノスキル)" by Wake Up, Girls! Isn’t much better, as it’s another ending theme that isn’t noteworthy. The rest of the music is pretty decent, feeling like it truly belongs in a fantasy video game. This only applies when the characters are in the villages and not elsewhere. One minor jingle in particular even opts to make you feel like you've discovered or done something grand, and if there’s one thing video game scores are fantastic at, it's giving off a sense of grandeur. The track pool even expands in the second half when things try to get more serious and full of dread and tension. There are some nice emotional tracks too, like the one in the penultimate scene of episode 9, and the episode 10 ending track, which sadly cannot be named at the time of writing. Such a shame that the opening and ending themes that sandwich these tracks are what hold the audio component back.
Ultimately, in a world where perfunctory is revolutionary, you can forgive the disproportionate applause at least once, as even mediocrity of this kind, in such a location, can inspire hope for the future of Isekai, garbage visuals aside. There are some genuinely nice moments, visually, and emotionally, so to see it settle is annoying at times. At the very least, if something like Isekai wa Smartphone was up the alley, this is worth viewing too, that way you find an infinitely superior product with a trick or two up its nonexistent sleeves. For now at least, I can say Death March thankfully didn't live up to its title in terms of viewing experience, awful finale notwithstanding, as it’s surprisingly high up on this totem pole. Not bad for a modern LN Isekai title. It may not be good, but hey, baby steps.
Also, the fact that people are treating this show like an endorsement of slavery is woefully disconcerting; please don't do what you tried going with Mahoutsukai no Yome.