Yuri Shibuya was living a pretty normal life. That changed the day he was dunked into a toilet after an attempt to save a classmate from a gang of bullies. Instead of just getting a good soaking, he’s pulled in. The next thing he knows, he’s in a world that vaguely resembles medieval Europe. If that’s not odd enough, he’s told that he is to be the next Maoh, just because he has black hair and black eyes. The Maoh is the King of the Mazoku, who are coexisting not-so-peacefully with the humans in this world. Much to his subjects’ dismay, he’s totally different from the rulers they’re accustomed to. He’s kind, considerate, a believer in justice, and not willing to use violence to solve conflicts. Not exactly someone they want running a country on the very brink of war. Now, Yuri has to deal with trying to become a good Maoh, while at the same time attempting to adapt to this lands’ customs and culture, all in a world where the tension between the humans and Mazoku is reaching its peak.
Bacon! Do I have your attention now? I reviewed the second season of Kyo Kara Maoh a few months ago and compared it to FullMetal Alchemist meets The Twelve Kingdoms… with bacon. And so to bring more bacon into everyone’s diet (everyone needs more bacon), I’ve decide: let’s go back to the beginning to that flushing that started Kyo Kara Maoh.
For those that haven’t seen or heard of Kyo Kara Maoh (aka God(?) Save Our King!), I’m talking about this manga/anime that began when the lead character got sucked into an alternate world by being flushed into a toilet. Yuri, a normal 15 year old kid growing up in Japan, decided to stand up for one of his classmates, Murata, that was being bullied, and ended up being flushed into the Great Demon Kingdom. He thought he passed out from the swirlie and was dumped in a Medieval Times kind of theme park at first. Then, this guy shows up and uses magic to unlock part of his soul’s memory so he can understand the language of this alternate world. He’s Adelbert von Grantz; Yuri’s godfather (Yuri finds this out later), Conrart Weller, and his friend, Gunter von Christ, show up and whisk Yuri off to Covenant Castle (aka Blood Pledge Castle). It turns out Yuri has been selected at birth to be the next Demon King. Once at Covenant Castle, Conrart’s brothers, Gwendel and Wolfram, show up and aren’t his biggest fans since Yuri is half demon, half human and most importantly, he didn’t even grow up in the Great Demon Kingdom! Things get complicated when Yuri, not understanding the protocols of the nobility of this world, slaps Wolfram on the left side of his face and ends up being engaged to him. A few seconds later, still not understanding protocols and not bothering to slow down to learn, he ends up accepting a duel from Wolfram. On top of that, Conrart’s mom shows up and she is the cougar of the century! She’s hot but poor Yuri’s a little slow on the development side of things… The bikini thong underwear that the nobility are required to wear is not very… umm… helpful?
So Yuri spends most of his time in the Demon Kingdom getting a crash course in “How to Lead a Magical Medieval Kingdom” and whenever he gets near water, he might be swirled back into modern day Japan and be a normal baseball playing boy with a hyper-ditzy but absolutely adorable mom and new geeky best friend, Murata. It’s a welcome change from leading a nation, trying to avoid being killed by assassins, negotiating peace treaties, saving dragons (yes, I said DRAGONS), adopting a daughter, fending off sexual overtures from his godfather’s mom and his fiancÈe, saving babies and pregnant women, and last but not least, trying not to be killed by a koala. You have to see/read the last item to understand what I’m saying; koalas in the Demon Kingdom are no joke.
Now, some might be too lazy to read the manga, I know I was. You can go straight to the anime and watch the whole first season in…oh…three days non-stop until your eyeballs feel like you’ve propped your eyelids open with toothpicks and your body feels like one of Gwendel’s knitted bear/pig-looking kittens? You will get the stories, the crazy characters, and everything without having to spend any energy flipping pages or making your eyes travel from top to bottom, side to side but then you’ll be too lazy and be missing out. As Spinal Tap said, “These go to eleven” and that’s what the manga does, it goes to eleven. It almost sounds impossible but the anime seems strangely docile and serene compared to the manga even though it’s so lively already. There is an energy to the manga that pops out from the drawing; it’s as if the artist does not need to worry about how the emotions need to change from one frame to another and can give his all into that one moment in time: all his emotions, his energy, and his focus with no need to worry about wasting precious seconds or even minutes panning a landscape to set up the next scene. You are constantly on the move; your eyes do not have time to rest because your next frame is waiting for you. Everyone can do something for three days at a go, but do you have the endurance to savor a manga series like Kyo Kara Maoh?
Reviewed by Carolyn Whu, September 2010
Kyo Kara Maoh: Season 2
Anime DVD Review
Kyo Kara Maoh… is it FullMetal Alchemist meets The Twelve Kingdoms… with bacon? (Everything goes better with bacon) Or is it even better than that? If you’ve watched the first season, I don’t think I need to say anything. You are going to watch season two anyway. Just remember to be civil as you are prying the DVD from the person’s dead body to buy, ok? Ok, Kyo Kara Maoh is not so great that you need to kill someone for it; I was exaggerating. It is good enough to beat a person to a pulp for though.
I mean, how many mangas or animes do you know where it begins when your lead character gets sucked into an alternate world by falling through a toilet? Yeah, we’ve had plenty of leads becoming the king or queen of whatever alternate world or gaining godly powers when they get picked on but how many got flushed to that state. Queen Youko was spirited away to her kingdom in The Twelve Kingdoms and only has Keiki attending to her. She’s got nothing on Yuri Shibuya.
Yuri was a normal 15 year old kid growing up in Japan. He grew up with his mom, dad, and older brother and inherited his love of baseball from his dad. Unfortunately, baseball wasn’t the only thing the brothers inherited from their dad… It turns out that their dad is a demon from the Great Demon Kingdom, so both brothers have a magic element within that allows them to control water. Both parents have decided not to tell the brothers about this secret, so when Yuri decided to stand up for one of his classmates, Murata, that was being bullied, and ended up being flushed into the Great Demon Kingdom, boy, was he surprised.
He thought he passed out from the swirlie and was dumped in a Medieval Times kind of theme park at first. Everyone was dressed up like they were medieval Europe and speaking a language he doesn’t understand; can you blame him? Then, this guy shows up and uses magic to unlock part of his soul’s memory so he can understand the language of this alternate world. He’s Adelbert von Grantz and was the fiancé of Julia von Wincott, the previous owner of Yuri’s soul. The action doesn’t stop though; Yuri’s godfather, Conrart Weller, and his friend, Gunter von Christ, shows up and whisk Yuri off to Covenant Castle. Yep, his parents also decided not to tell the brothers that Yuri has been selected at birth to be the next Demon King. It was only decided 4,000 years ago by the first ever Demon King, the Great One, but Yuri didn’t need to know that.
People weren’t happy that the Great One selected Yuri. He’s half demon and half human and most importantly, he didn’t even grow up in the Great Demon Kingdom! Conrad and his cross-dressing friend, Josak, have no problems because they are both half-breeds like Yuri but his other protectors needed some persuading since they were full-blood demons and nobles on top of that. Adelbert lost his love because of Yuri so no surprise there that he doesn’t like Yuri being the newest Demon King. Conrad’s brothers, Gwendel and Wolfram, aren’t his biggest fans either but they have pledged their lives to honor the Great One’s wishes so they put up with things. Things get a little more complicated when Yuri, not understanding the protocols of the nobility of this world, slaps Wolfram on the left side of his face and ends up being engaged to him. Even though Yuri insists that he’s not into guys and didn’t mean to be engaged to him, Wolfram refuses to let go and takes on the role of the clingy, high maintenance fiancé with a lot of oomph and finesse.
The nerd, Murata, who Yuri was protecting on Earth, turned out to be the reincarnation of The Great Wise Man, best friend of the Great One. His specialty is remembering everything that has happened in all his pass lives and divulges bits and pieces of that info to Yuri and his protectors whenever he feels like it. He seems to work well with the Priestess Ulrike, who hears the voice of the Great One and passes on his guidance to the masses. Shori, Yuri’s brother, thinks that the Great One and Murata have a hidden agenda and are herding people like sheep down a path towards something sinister.
Shori’s powers haven’t manifested as strongly as Yuri’s but he’ll do anything to protect him. What kind of brother is he if all he can do is sit back and let the nobles protect the Demon King, his brother? Gwendel and Wolfram hates humans and halfbreeds; will they stand by and watch as Conrad die to protect Yuri? Did the Great One and The Great Wise Man have a hidden agenda? Will Yuri and Wolfram really get married? Most importantly, where the hell is Yuri’s parents while he is getting his ass kicked around by demons?
Reviewed by Carolyn Whu, September 2009
Below: Scenes from Kyo Kara Maoh!: God(?) Save Our King!