A hero chooses a new destiny as she befriends a demon lord.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
ENDRO! is the story of Yulia Chardiet and her group of friends. Together, they form a hero’s party and go on quests to strengthen their powers. Their hope is to eventually confront the demon lord, the prime force of evil on Naural Island. Little do they know, the demon lord has been among them this whole time – she’s their teacher, Mao. See, in the first episode, there’s a battle between the girls and Mao, which throws them all backward in time, before the girls became heroes.
As the series progresses, Mao comes to know her students more and more and spends a lot of time with them. They even come over and make her soup when she’s under the weather! As Mao’s destiny as the demon lord looms large, she agonizes over her newfound attachments. When Meigo, her former golem assistant turns up, Mao is forced to reveal her hand and returns to her demon lord castle to await Yusha’s attack. But in the time they’ve spent together, Yusha and Mao have become friends. Yusha can’t destroy the demon lord, even if it is the hero’s duty. But can she find another way?
ENDRO! is the kind of show that delivers exactly what you expect. If you’ve seen the trailers or watched a clip, you know what the entire show is going to be like. There are no spectacular fight scenes or epic battles, no complicated character arcs or last-second reveals. There’s just a whole lot of mild, silly humor and cute, wholesome characters that occasionally pound bad guys.
At the core of the show, like any good series in the slice of life genre, are the relationships between the characters. Our main cast consists of four main girls: Yusha (the helpful hero), Seira (the mom/priest), Fai (the hungry warrior), and Mei (the Cartado nerd). These characters are not complex in the least, I’m just going to say it. Every single one is drawn as broadly as possible, and basically everything they say can be traced back to their singular character traits, especially with characters like Mei, who literally only talk about Cartado for 90% of their dialogue. (Mei was actually one of my favorites, though, just because of how fun it is to see her geek out about her passion for rare Cartado!) Since none of the girls are too interesting on their own, most of the fun comes from seeing how they get along. They’re friends at first, but as the series moves on, they become better, closer friends who always support each other and have each other’s backs.
This is all nice and such, but the main relationship arc in the entire show is that of Mao, the demon lord turned teacher and the girls. When we see Mao in the premiere, she’s a vengeful villain hellbent on destroying Yusha and conquering Naural Island. Once she’s sent back in time due to Yusha’s spell, however, she quickly turns over a new leaf and becomes their adorably feisty teacher. Her transformation from evil demon to the snarky teacher is funny and feelsy, and is definitely the highlight of the show. The final episode drives this arc home in an excellent way, too.
The humor is a lot more hit or miss, unfortunately. While there are moments where the show finds its comedic footing, there are just as many moments where the jokes fall flat, mostly due to their nature of poor writing and constant embracing of worn-out cliches. Basically, I found half of the humor groan-worthy and the other half mildly amusing. I would not recommend this show to anyone looking for a comedy first. Sweet and silly, sure, but funny ENDRO! is not.
The English dub is serviceable enough, meeting the usual quality of Funimation’s simuldubs. While there are a few oddly-phrased sentences and awkwardly-timed phrases, the translation flows well and for the most part, feels natural. All of the cast do good jobs, but a couple of particular note are Alison Viktorin and Trina Nishimura. Viktorin has a lot of fun playing Mao, and perfectly portrays the grumpy yet adorable demon. Meanwhile, Nishimura fully inhabits the unreserved passion of Mei for Cartado, and her performance makes it easy to get caught up with her.
In summation, ENDRO! is not a show of extremes. It plays it very safe, in all aspects. Its characters are the same old stereotypical heroes. It’s writing recycles worn out chest size quips in an effort to be funny. It doesn’t break any new ground and will not be a show I ever desire to rewatch. But it had some fun moments, too. There were lots of good relationship building scenes, even if I wish the individual characters were stronger on their own merits. The relationship arc of Mao learning to be more fun and less evil was heartwarming. At its end, ENDRO! may not have been surprising or clever, but it sure was adorable.