Mao regains her health… and maybe gains newfound purpose.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
When Mao collapses in the middle of class, everyone is worried about her. After being checked by a doctor, it is a rare condition called demon lord fever. Mao goes home to rest, but can’t escape from her memories of the past and what led her to this point. Her sickness is getting worse when the heroes show up just in time.
Despite Mao’s protests, Yusha and company quickly take charge of the situation, giving her a sponge bath, making her soup, and putting her to sleep. Mao wakes up feeling a lot better, and it seems like she may have recognized that Yusha is a lot nicer than she thought.
ENDRO! is officially at the halfway point now, and I’m glad it made it to this milestone with a pretty good episode. One Room, 100 Square Feet, Demon Lord Included! doesn’t necessarily have a lot of thrills, excitement, or surprises, but it does include plenty of nice moments and some good character development where the demon lord is concerned.
Mao has always been my favorite character since the first episode. This is mainly because she’s the most interesting. An evil demon lord with a chance to start fresh, she quickly gives up her mischievous ways and decides to just live life for herself, forgoing her duty to conquer Naral Island. While this was a cool way to start her character arc, the show has ignored it for the most part until this episode. Luckily, we pick it back up seriously this week and gain a lot of insight into how Mao views herself and her predicament. As it turns out, she was struggling to find meaning in her life even before Yusha’s mistake sent her back in time. We see through flashbacks that her time mostly consisted of waiting for the hero to show up and trying to make conversation with her gargoyle servant, who she doesn’t even know on a first-name basis.
This crisis of identity has persisted into the current timeline as well. Without the name and status of the Demon Lord to hide behind, Mao doesn’t really know her purpose. It all comes crashing down when she realizes she’s all alone and sick in her house. It’s handled nicely and is a pretty affecting scene. There’s a couple of those in this episode, actually. Especially near the end, when she realizes how much Yusha and co. care for her. It doesn’t matter if the soup is still physically warm because it warms her heart no matter what!
On top of this week’s emotional feels, there were some solid gags to be found. This hasn’t always been the case with ENDRO!, so I was pleased to find myself chuckling during the episode. There were lots of cute, fun segments, like Mao’s continual obsession with chugging fruit juices like their alcohol. Being a cute demon lord is definitely milked for comedy, and it works most of the time, like when everyone gives her candy out of pity. She accepts it, thinking it is a tribute to her demon lord self. The look Mei gives when Yusha unintentionally insults the power of cartado is hilarious. And I was simultaneously laughing and feeling sorry for Serien when Chibi was coming at her with the inset leg hanging out of its mouth.
The dub was really good this week, mostly because a lot of it consisted of Alison Viktorin playing Mao in her usual amazing way. She does a great job of making her feel less like a reincarnated demon and more like a little kid: “I feel like I’m some kind of gargoyle in a birdcage.” I feel so sorry for Mao after this episode. Not only is she trapped, but she has to go up against the most foolhardy hero of all time: “Why did the hero have to be someone so clueless?” The final line of the episode ended it on the perfect note: “No thanks. It’s still plenty warm.”
One Room, 100 Square Feet, Demon Lord Included! is an excellent midpoint to a so-so series. Focusing on Mao was a nice decision, as she’s one of the neatest characters, but has been neglected as of late. It had lots of humor and heart, plus some interesting insight into how Mao views herself and her need for warm friendships. I hope ENDRO! can keep this momentum going next week.