Blu-Ray Review: How Not To Summon A Demon Lord – The Complete Series

In our latest review we explore what the UK Blu-Ray release of How Not To Summon A Demon Lord – The Complete Series has to offer and perhaps learn a thing (or two) about summoning demon lords.

Synopsis:

Takuma Sakamoto is famously known as Diablo throughout the MMORPG Cross Reverie. And although he’s a magical prodigy in-game, in reality, he’s a total social outcast.

One day, in his video game body, Takuma is summoned to another world by two girls seeking to control him. But when he accidentally reflects their enslavement ritual back at them, the only way to save face is to act how he looks.

Our View:

Adapted from the Yukiya Murasaki’s light novel of the same name, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord combines a mystical world filled with magic and demi-humans with questionable levels of fan-service to deliver a comical tale that rarely takes itself seriously until its closing act. Big breasted warriors, flat-chest cat girls and destructive beasts roam the world and only one demon lord is capable of controlling it all; just not the demon lord you would imagine.

Takuma Sakamoto, our protagonist, has isolated himself by playing the online game known as Cross Reverie and it sees him take on the role of Diablo, a demon lord, whose skill level remains untouchable against other players.

While Takuma (Diablo) is successful in this virtual online world he is inept in the real world; that is until the real world and digital world collide when Takuma is summoned into a world based upon the foundations of Cross Reverie. All of Diablo’s skills, abilities and appearance are transferred into this fantasy world and upon arriving finds himself being kissed by both an elf and cat girl.

This introduction kick-starts the insanity that is How Not To Summon a Demon Lord; with the kiss acting as a seal for the summoning process but with Takuma (who will now be referred to as Diablo) wearing a reflection magic ring it instead causes the elf and cat girl to be forced into his command rather than the other way around.

This chance encounter sparks and unexpected friendship between the three and they soon find themselves working together in order to find a spell to reserve the imprisonment seal. This imprisonment seal means that the elf and cat girl, now introduced as Shera and Rem, must follow their commanders orders when imposed; but fortunately for our female protagonists this rarely happens.

With key character introductions aside How Not To Summon A Demon Lord begins by exploring its varying stories the key stories with the characters that interact with Diablo. For starters Rem, the small straight-forward cat girl, reveals that she has the demon lord Krebskulm residing inside of her and that she wishes for the demon lord to be extracted and defeated; a request which Diablo agrees to find an answer for.

Additionally Shera, the big-breasted elf-woman, finds herself fleeing her country as her family want her to marry her broher for some political gain within the elfin community. These two underlining stories, along with Diablo’s own story of discovering more of this familiar world, intertwine with each other to deliver a mixture of different stories that see the characters in all sorts of situations.

Naturally as part of this Diablo opens up to Rem and Shera, so much so that they both open up to him and develop a ‘fondness’ for his unusual kindness; but before the real stories begin to surface we get to explore the everyday tasks of an adventurer.

This new world operates similar to the game world that Diablo (Takuma) played and as such the characters join a guild in order to take part in quests to obtain money and increase their levels; but by doing so they uncover more disturbances within the peaceful world.  These stories, such as an ambush attack from elf’s and an attack from horde of monsters (known as Fallen), may distract from the goals of the group but in actuality they build-up the foundations of the bigger storylines and make them have a bigger impact.

Spoilers aside characters thought as enemies, and characters thought as friends, soon reverse roles while characters that resided in the background appear to demonstrate their twisted desires. The end result is that Shera and Rem are put in danger with Diablo left to take charge and save them from their situations – just like any good demon lord (hero) would do. For me the pacing and presentation of How Not To Summon a Demon Lord felt just right, with elements of each episode moving slightly along without out staying its welcome.

The only cause for concern would be the fan-service (lewd) moments which – when taken out of context – seem completely inappropriate. Fortunately these do not disrupt the flow and pacing of the story, but it does raise some eyebrows and ask the question; where they needed? The answer is naturally yes; as it helps build the character of Diablo who, until now, had little contact with other people.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord forgets the story of wanting to leave the current world, and for the main character to return home, and instead focuses on the stories of his two new companions and the difficulties they have to overcome. It’s compelling, fun and downright entertaining from start to finish; but while the story does end on a successful conclusion the story could easily continue – something which may exist in the source material. If so then this acts as a great entry way into the light novel that inspired by the anime series.

Extras:

The bonus features in How Not To Summon A Demon Lord offer a short variety of content, with all supplementary content being included on the second Blu-Ray disc. In this particular release viewers will find an English Cast Video Commentary for the first episode alongside an English Cast Audio Commentary for the eleventh episode alongside Japanese promotional trailers and the textless opening song.

In terms of supplementary content then it is only a little bit more than the standard barebones release, which is of course a positive, but the English Cast Commentaries do very little in adding any real worth to this package. The English Cast Video Commentary for Episode 1 is – at times informative and entertaining – with the cast providing insight into the series; but BE WARNED do not watch this before watching the series to its conclusion of you will experience a lot of spoilers. I actually watched this before the other episodes on the disc and was a little disappointed that content was spoiled.

The English Cast Audio Commentary for the eleventh episode meanwhile is, put simply, a waste of time and ends no additional insight into either the franchise or its English Dub production. For the most part the vocal talent in the booth just bicker and banter amongst themselves before starting a discussion that goes nowhere. If you prefer unscripted commentary with voice actors being themselves then you might find some enjoyment here.

The final selection of content meanwhile is the inclusion of the original Japanese promotional material, something which seems to be a rarity nowadays, alongside the opening song in textless form. For some reason the ending animation, which to be fair is simply character artwork for each character within the series, is nowhere to be found. An interesting selection of content that far exceeds the norm, but slightly disappointing all the same.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 3:33:18 (Disc 1), 1:12:38 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DolbyTrue HD 5.1 (English) & DolbyTrue HD  2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord is just as fun and quirky as the title of the series suggests with a socially inept gamer being transported to another world after being summoned by a cat girl and elf. This crazy adventure leads the socially inept gamer, known as Diablo, to form friendships with Rem (Cat Girl) and Shera (Elf) so much so that they share their darkest secrets and troubles; with Diablo steeping in to assist in their support of freedom from the burdens they found themselves within. Alongside this two pronged approach to storytelling side-stories introduce new characters, enemy threats and the powerful nature of Diablo’s skills that he obtained while playing the online game in his real world.

These two key stories overshadow the episodic events of each episode but it’s not until the final three episodes of the series does elements from the entire series come together to form a bigger picture; with events that seemed pointless being broken down and adding to the story.

Story aside How Not To Summon a Demon Lord features a fair amount of questionable fan-service; some of which serves its purpose by further advancing the plot while others have been added for the fun of it. It’s easily to tell which is which, but generally all of these elements help further refine Rem and Shera’s relationship with Diablo.

From a perspective then the Blu-Ray release of How Not To Summon a Demon Lord remains consistent with other FUNimation produced releases with both visual and audible aspects being of consistent quality.

The English Dub also offers a strong cast of actors with Eric Vale handling the lead of Diablo and Jad Saxton lending her voice for Rem – those familiar with Highschool DXD will get the vibe of Rem’s personality with another cat eared character – of course those wishing to experience the original Japanese audio can do so; but personally both audio options were great. Subtitles are presented to the same standards as other Blu-Ray release but for some unknown reason the opening and ending songs were not translated.

Overall How Not To Summon A Demon Lord provides a nice mixture of familiarity and fan-service that offers both comedy and serious toned storyline when it needs to be. Fan-service is an integral part to the series but unlike other fan-service themed shows it does not feel wasted and further adds (and refines) the experience of the series.

It’s worth noting that some elements of the series and not advised for public viewing; but these can of add to the charm and lore of the series. How Not To Summon a Demon Lord delivers a complete story, from an incomplete story, filled with a charming cast of characters that gets better as each episode goes on. If you enjoy overpowered demon lords, magic and demonic creatures in a colourful, but dark toned, setting then How Not To Summon A Demon Lord will offer something for you.

Score: review-stars-5

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-Ray via Manga Entertainment UK on the 17th February 2020.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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