With the rise of the isekai genre, stories about reincarnation have been popping up left and right as heroes are reborn in another world. However, new light novel series The Greatest Demon Lord Is Reborn as a Typical Nobody is here to put a spin on the trope and today I’m here to find out if it’s successful or not.
Our story follows the Demon Lord Varvatos who, being the most powerful person alive, finds his life boring. His role as Demon Lord has left him friendless and feared by those around him, so one day he decides to use magic to reincarnate as a perfectly average human! Three thousand years after casting his spell, Varvatos is reborn as Ard Meteor a typical villager born to your average parents (as far as he knows anyway). Little does he know that his parents are famous mages and that his magical abilities are still much more powerful than your average person…
Ard’s early years go by with him camped out in his parents’ library. He wants to make friends but struggles to interact with the other kids from the town, so dives into books instead. At the age of 12 things begin to change for our protagonist as he meets an elf girl called Ireena while out practising magic. Fast forward to Ard at age 15 and the two become inseparable friends who, having reached the beginning of adulthood, are being sent to The Academy of Magic by their parents.
In his past life, Ard was bullied at school and doesn’t want to attend in this life, but with Ireena going, he feels he has no choice. Once there our hero is quickly branded a weirdo, with magic so powerful even Ard begins to realise he’s not the average villager he had hoped to become. Standing out among the students is fine as long as he has Ireena by his side, but it’s not long before he finds himself in deep trouble, no matter how much he tries to live a normal life.
The concept behind The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn will feel very familiar to fans of this genre. A lot of what it does is similar to Wise Man’s Grandchild, a light novel series adapted into anime for the Spring Season. While the protagonist in Wise Man’s Grandchild is reincarnated from Earth into a fantasy world, he also has powers far above the average person and is similarly oblivious to this fact as Ard is in this light novel. The problem is that Wise Man’s Grandchild is a much better series, which left me wishing Yen had licensed and released that instead.
The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn is fun and I genuinely enjoyed some of the story, but it’s not without big problems – notably how it treats its female characters. Both Ireena and Ginny (a succubus Ard makes friends with at school) exist purely to be saved by and be in love with Ard. This is only made frustrating by the fact Ard does not understand the girls’ feelings at all, despite having lived such a long life as Varvatos. If the girls were subtle about it, that would be one thing, but they practically throw themselves at him repeatedly!
Another big problem with the book is how inconsistent the quality of the writing is. Sometimes it’s written as a fun comedy that you’re not supposed to take seriously (think I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed out My Level), but often it resorts to some extremely perverted jokes which don’t fit at all.
The sexual jokes often come out of nowhere. For example, when he’s a kid, Ard asks his parents how to make friends. His dad answers that he should show his strength and beat them up (which for a warrior makes sense) but his mum talks about how she only knows how to make sex slaves and not friends. In a later chapter, Ireena admits to Ard that his mum encouraged her to enter his room naked in the hopes they would have sex and make up after a fight they were having (reminder that these two are not dating).
If the book had that tone of writing throughout, I’d be fine with it, but because it doesn’t, this creates a disconnect and ultimately has put me off reading more after this volume. It’s a shame because author Myojiin Katou had a lot of potential for a fun comedy series, but between the badly-placed jokes and treatment of the female characters, it’s just a subpar book in a market filled with much better options.
The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to publisher Yen Press. The book has been translated by Jessica Lange, whose translation reads well and is problem-free. Illustrations for the series have been provided by Sao Mizuno who captures the cast in attractive artwork. They certainly seem like designs befitting an anime (if it ever gets one) and the colour pages especially capture the intriguing action scenes.
Overall, The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn is a disappointment. There was certainly potential for something entertaining but underutilised female characters and perverted jokes spoil it beyond saving. One to avoid unless you’re taken with the concept.