Maoyū Maō Yūsha (or Demon King and Hero) was originally a light novel series by Mamare Touno that was initially posted in a play format on 2chan back in 2009. It has since had five of its novels and three of its side story novels published by Enterbrain, five(!!!) manga adaptations, a fan made manga originally posted on Nico Nico Douga, and an anime adaptation. We'll be discussing the anime adaptation mostly along with some comparisons of my favored manga adaptation Maoyū Maō Yūsha - "Kono Watashi no Mono Tonare, Yūsha yo" "Kotowaru!" Eventually I'll get around to reading the novels if anyone decides to actually translate them in their entirety.
Maoyuu (as some shorten it) is basically a story similar to Spice and Wolf that deals heavily with the economics aspect of what would occur in a war between two opposing forces in the setting of a human world versus a nonhuman/demon world that you see often in RPGs. This could have easily been a war between human factions, but I can understand the use of this setting...especially if you want to turn it on its head, which this story does in spades. However, one of the things it does not skimp on is the character aspect. Without people, whoever and whatever they happen to be, interacting with each other, commerce does not happen, and this story never passes on those details, at least, not to the point we've managed to get to in its various translations.
Needless to say, I really liked it. It's a damn fine piece of storytelling; that type storytelling being so woefully lacking in the lion's share of what passes as manga/anime/novels/games now adays from the Japanese producers of such things in current times. The manga-ka of Maoyū Maō Yūsha - "Kono Watashi no Mono Tonare, Yūsha yo" "Kotowaru!" really gets it too, both the economic and humanist (so to speak) aspects of the story. Appropriate attention is paid to the situations the characters find themselves in with both the gravitas and impact that both their lives and hard hitting moments require. While the other adaptations have their charm, this particular manga has so far just done everything right. The way the Hero and the Demon Lady grow and develop as they do everything in their power to save their world is nothing short of dazzling. It should really be noted that the Demon Lady is the brains of this operation, but if she didn't have the Hero, she'd never get anything that needed done...well, done. Watching all the characters, such as Young Noble, Young Merchant, and Young Swordsman, several others, and most especially the Hero himself grow in understanding, even beyond what the Mao could have imagined under her tutelage is the hallmarks of a damn fine story in and of itself, but is set against the backdrop of a war of the worlds and that all important economic system that makes it go.
You'll note that no one has names in this story. Or to be precise, they have the oldest of names that denoted more what they did in society, such as Weightsman, Smith, and the like. Oldest of names, and the oldest of contracts, as the Mao and the Hero sold themselves to each other...marriage, if you will...the most ancient kind...the first kind of marriage. Perhaps taken to a greater extreme than the usual of such economic contracts, but definitely still the oldest definition marriage (certainly not this absurd parody of the notion we have today).
Concerning the story itself, I was actually rather disappointed that what I had read to date concentrated almost exclusively on the human aspect of the equation. Given the rich story telling possible with such a premise, I actually considered it a literary crime that the author seemed to be excluding the demon 'world' and its people as much as he was. However, that has righted itself after the first major story arc, as now it's really looking like we're going to get to explore both that world and its people in detail in this next one, and I say, about time.
Given all that, it's a fucking shame how much the anime dropped the goddamn ball on this series. Let me be clear, whoever had the responsibility of script writing was a damn fine writer, but that individual was handed a basic outline and mailed in the fucking series. Near as I can tell, the director did pretty much the same thing. Rather than going, "Hey, you sure you wanna do that?" he just did what the script decided upon and did it well. This is what happens when talented individuals just decide to not concentrate on what they're doing. This series deserved better. There were too many instances of the inclusion of the anime tropes they are so hopelessly bound to include (a Dakimakura? Really?), a bit of wusification of the Hero (he's a little unsure of himself around the Mao, but he is NOT a fuck mothering harem anime spineless wuse), and whatnot that actually detract from the story rather than enriching and strengthening it. There were also events that were fucking glossed over (seriously, the Dragon Princess...what the flying fuck? Two minutes! That's all it would have taken! Two! Fucking! Minutes! Fuck everything!) and far too many events that were not given the gravitas and impact (that entire Super Demon Lord possession sequence...watch the anime and read the manga I favor, and you'll see what I mean there) that such moments and events required. Also, whoever picked that opening song should have been marched out into the town square and scourged. Yelling is not the same thing as singing, and that's all the girl in the opening does in that parody of an opening. Christ, despite my absolute hatred of the series "Attack on Titan" it had a DAMN good opening song and animated sequence. Speaking of opening animation, whoever produced that piece of shit needs to be fired. You are supposed to hint, SUBTLELY, at the story, not spoil it.
It's a fucking shame too, I mean, the animation was fairly well done overall. They went with the character designs from the original Enterbrain novels, which, while generic, are more than serviceable if used right, and they were used fairly well overall. Some of the story elements that were expanded on were done exceedingly well; episode eight, for example, is as close to storytelling perfection as it gets. The inclusion of the illusion lantern I would not have recommended, but this is more of a personal preference, and I see the utility of the device as the Mao explains her plans using it in an almost Power Point presentation method. It fits her meticulous personality in a truly eerie way. In the future of that world they'll be an Office Suite called Mao Works; swear to the fucking gods, that's what's going to happen. Speaking of which, at least the writer had a decent idea of what the Hell the Mao and various others were talking about when they were talking about things like alternative currencies and crop rotation. Finally, while the opening song was absolute shit, the ending theme was pure ethereal Enya, like you'd think a fantasy story would have. The score was pretty much standard stuff and neither detracted nor enhanced the experience...it was there, and did what it was supposed to do.
They had everything they needed to do this story justice, except for the will to do this story justice. This whole series is just the production staff just doing their job, and only their job, well, but that's all. It's not a bad adaptation, and includes basically everything that was written in the novels if the manga is any indication, but there was no artistic will to make it be all it could have been. It's simply good enough; this story deserved better.