Making a good anime may be hard, but making a good anime short is virtually impossible. All the difficulties inherent to storytelling through animation with only a fraction of the time to work with? There are reasons I seldom keep up with or even try shorts. Nonetheless, there’s also a reason Obey Me! immediately caught my eye and earned at least a watchthrough of episode one. That reason? Pretty anime boy Satan.
For more context, I’ll let Funimation’s series description do the talking:
Lucifer, Satan, and the other five princes of hell: how will these brothers handle everyday lives at their demon academy?
That’s right, it’s an anime harem full of demons. The series is a comedy based off a dating sim phone game I’ve never played, and it’s available to watch via Funimation as well as for free on the game’s official YouTube channel. So, how is it?
I’m happy to report that not only is Obey Me! easy to follow regardless of whether or not you have prior knowledge of the game, but it’s also that rare needle in a haystack: an anime short that’s actually good. Not only that, but even more unbelievably, it’s actually funny.
It would have been easy to execute the premise in a way that felt cringe-worthy, but that’s not the case at all here. The series’ success is owed largely to the way it embraces its own absurdity. This is evident in the character designs, for example. There are no horns, forked tails, or characters with Crayola red skin. No, these devils just look like anime boys that could pass as cast members in any other number of shows, making their debut appearances with their names subtitled beneath them all the funnier.
Despite its dating sim origins, Obey Me!’s first episode doesn’t include a point of view romantic interest character. Time will tell if this changes in episodes to come, but the decision definitely works for the pilot. The seven brothers already amount to a lot of characters to introduce in just five minutes, so it’s smart not add in too many outside elements just yet. The brothers aren’t particularly deep characters by any means but they are fun and all seem have their own personal quirks. The standout here is Lucifer himself, the responsible stick-in-the-mud type who can’t help but indulge in childish pastimes when he thinks no one’s looking.
The plot of the first episode centers around a phone game the brothers play in which various emojis float down the screen and the players have to make corresponding facial expressions for points. If you weren’t already on board with watching devils hang out as pretty anime boys then your answer of whether this show is for you will likely come from whether or not you chuckle at the brothers competitively making silly faces and wondering how they’re supposed to emulate a poop emoji. For me personally the comedic timing was great and even if some of the gags weren’t particularly inventive they still landed and made me feel happy as I watched them.
All in all, the first episode of Obey Me! did the most important thing it could have: it made me want to watch episode two. It also planted the seed in my brain that the creators are undoubtedly truly aiming for: it made me curious to check out the mobile game. I don’t know when I’ll actually get around to it given the million other things on my plate, but at the very least I’ll definitely keep watching the anime.
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