Otaku USA Magazine
What Makes an Anime Demon Lord So Lovable?

How to love a Demon Lord

Anime is full of fun character tropes we love to come back to. The underdog with a heart of gold. The clumsy heroine. And, apparently, demon kings and demon lords. We can’t get enough of them… and not as bad guys, either. As heroes. Sometimes even as wholesome heroes.

The idea of a traditionally villainous role actually being quite nice is fun on its on. But what makes us actually fall for these surprising heroes? There’s a wide variety of takes on the trope, but here are a few we find work.



The Misfit of Demon King Academy

Sometimes, a demon lord is reborn as a human. Sometimes they’re just as demon as ever. Either way, living that weirdly normal lifestyle — going to school, getting a job, enjoying Mom’s cooking — makes a King of Darkness endearing. And not necessarily in a comedic way.

While shows like Astro Fighter Sunred thrive on the humor of making a villain into a chill good guy, other fantasy series make it a heartfelt focal point. Not all demon kings sit on bone thrones and sulk all day. Some are just like you and me. Well… some also have the bone thrones.



How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord

Also, not every demon lord was born to it. An increasing number of them are dudes who were just super good at video games. When you’re new to the role — like five days new — you’re not going to have that same swagger. Under the costume, you’re still just the normal human with anxiety issues. Meanwhile, you have to pretend you’d totally rinse a village if you got angry enough.

That vulnerability coupled with the title is even more relatable. We all have those moments… Okay, not those exact moments. But those times when we feel underqualified for where we are in life. But if Diablo can carry on, so can we.


Doing the Right Thing


Once you get past the most basic line of thinking, it’s pretty obvious that a demon lord doesn’t have to be evil. Depending on the setting, obviously. Sometimes they just wanna look after their subjects. Heck, even if they’re expected to be evil, they might not care to be. You can only rule with an iron fist for so long before it gets boring.

In shows like MAOYU, the Demon King decides that an alliance will be more beneficial than continued enmity. She’s not wrong. By their powers combined, the pair can benefit both realms with their magical libraries’ extensive knowledge of farming and economics.

Speaking of surprisingly benign things, here are some creepy anime theories that just aren’t true.

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.