Considering the way the series turned on a dime in the last couple of episodes, the ending could go in just about any direction.
What They Say
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final episode of the series, the show finishes out is odd turn of events that's really thrown the whole thing off balance. While we had enjoyed the show a great deal for what it was during the first eight or nine episodes, things changed substantially once it really finished introducing Hero and then going big with the whole end of the world style storyline. The show prospered well and was a great deal of fun when it was focused on the characters and the situation that Sai found himself in by being told he would be the Demon King someday. The Kyo Kara Maoh flavor worked well, heightened by a lot of fanservice, and each episode was a certain exercise in good goofy action comedy.
When it turned decidedly serious and ejected the majority of the comedy and fanservice, it did it so suddenly that it left you scratching your head wondering if you really were watching a different series or if you missed a few episodes. With the original light novel source having running several volumes, there's probably some truth to it. Watching this last episode, I'm left with much the same feeling I've had for the last couple in that it's now just a slew of events that may have been cool to watch play out if there were an additional ten or twenty episodes in between, or more depending on how they wanted to expand on things, since it does all make sense. It's simply coming out far too early. Watching as Yamamoto sets about for causing the destruction of mankind, there's all sorts of mystical moments, magic and intriguing beauty to it, but it's all incredibly hollow.
There are no true surprises here in this final episode. Yamamoto plays the typical villain in thinking that Sai may understand him some but he still has to kill him. Yamamoto also goes through in talking about his plans, the necessity of it all, when he gets to confront Keena before overpowering her easily. And Sai gets to show up, shirtless and fully ripped, as he has to act cool while saving the day and ending the threat to the world. It's all incredibly by the numbers and without any serious emotion, again owing to the shortened nature of the overall narrative. There's just no way the series could work under the structure used in twelve episodes without actually specifying that significant amounts of time had passed between certain episodes because Sai is an unfortunately completely unbelievable character at this point when you think about what he wanted out of his life before entering the academy.
While this show garnered a whole lot of interest from me at the start and lasted just past the halfway mark of the series, it managed to flame out horrifically as it went along. The downward spiral for me began with the introduction of the Hero character itself, not the man in the suit, as it really did not feel like it belonged in the world that was being designed. This episode goes for a huge epic feeling without the heart to sustain it or allow it to connect to the viewer. It's just rushed, both in execution and in how early it's shown up within the storyline in general. Sai's role in being the great demon king is a fun one, one that we've seen executed to solid effect elsewhere, but is too haphazardly done here. It's rare to see a series of such a simple nature turn into such an incredible mess so quickly. The final few episodes of Ichiban Ushiro no Daimou can be summed up easily in saying that it has pretty images but nothing else. And it's very unfortunate considering the promise it had at the start of being fun and sexy.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.