Mao makes her demon lord debut in a table-setting episode of ENDRO!
Overview (Spoilers Below):
After completing an advanced quest by defeating a powerful Griffin, our heroes are granted a request by Mao. Yusha asks to have a chance to fight a demon lord, but of course, that can’t happen. Instead, the girls request to come over to Mao’s house for a fun visit. Everything is going great until Mao decides to cook for them. The girls are forced to stay overnight because of their upset stomachs. Later that evening, Chibi barfs up a bunch of stuff, including Mao’s former golem attendant!
Mao is worried that the golem will blow her cover, but she has amnesia. Unfortunately, Rona has legendary Cartado, including a card to restore memories. She uses it on the golem, and it restores the memories of everyone in the room! Yusha and her team remember that they’ve fought the demon lord before. When Rona tries to adopt her golem, Mao makes her stand. She’s got pride in herself and her demon lord heritage, and Yusha’s not going to show her up today!
For what amounted to mostly a setup episode that gets everyone in place for the finale, Final Dead End! is a pretty enjoyable episode in its own right. I was never quite sure of where things were going, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We start with Yusha defeating a griffin, and quickly move to a slumber party at Mao’s. At that point, I was thinking it would be a simple slice-of-life type episode, but then we get the big barf to reveal from Chibi. And everything goes haywire from there.
The golem’s appearance is really the trigger for Mao eventually retaking her mantle as the demon lord. We never really find out exactly how or why Chibi has kept all that random stuff in her gut, but maybe that’s a question better left unanswered. When we last saw the golem a few episodes ago, during Mao’s flashback to her time as the demon lord, she was a loyal, unquestioning follower who wouldn’t really even indulge Mao’s attempts at friendship. Golem’s aren’t people, Mao tells herself in this episode. They exist only to follow commands. Yet, Mao can’t help but worry about the golem when Rona says she’ll take care of it inside her palace. I found it really interesting that the new, more compassionate and caring side of Mao is perhaps part of what forces her to make her move as the demon lord. It had to do with her pride, too, of course, but without the arrival of her golem, I feel like Mao might never have gotten around to turning into the demon lord ever again.
Rona didn’t have too big of a role in this episode, except to serve as a sort of plot device. Basically, she has an unlimited supply of Cartado that can do anything the episode needs to happen, like showing Mao proof of their griffin attack or resurfacing hidden memories. I don’t have an inherent problem with this, but I do wish that Rona would contribute a bit more to the entire show as a whole. Her fan crush on Yusha hasn’t really progressed at all, and her personality isn’t really unique enough to stand on its own besides more individualistic characters like Mei and Yusha.
Alison Viktorin turns in a masterful performance as Mao in this episode, doing a fantastic job channeling her disbelief at the golem’s appearance and her ultimate concern for being uncovered. A lot of her dialogue is internal, which can be hard to do since you don’t have anyone to play off of. But she really nails it! She had some great deliveries when it came to quips, too: “I’m not your friend! I’m your teacher, and there’s a difference!” I nearly lost it when Mao responded to Yusha’s request to defeat the demon lord with:“This girl’s terrifying; look how badly she wants to beat me up!” Calling Rona a ‘hero-fanatic princess’ was funny, too. And Mao and Seira bonding over their mutual messiness? Amazing! “Any beautiful room will get dirty, that’s just the nature of things.”
The penultimate episode of ENDRO! introduces a weird twist in an attempt to set the stage for a final showdown between Yusha’s hero party and Mao’s demon lord form. I suspected that there would be another fight between them, but I didn’t quite expect it to be initiated in this way. I’m not entirely sure I follow the logic in Mao choosing to become a demon lord again because of pride since she seemed so set against it at the start of the show. At least we’ll probably get a cool battle between them next week in the finale.