The Reformation of the World as Overseen by a Realist Demon King GN 1 – Review

Power creep can be a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up with shows with some of the most absurd power scaling ever, and sometimes you want to see someone win a fight by hitting them really, really hard. But sometimes, less is more. Creating a story that relies more on strategy over brute force can serve two major purposes. The first is satisfying that classic underdog narrative that I love so much. The second is forcing the writer to develop creative ways for the hero to save the day. However, we’re not dealing with a hero; we’re dealing with a demon king.

Our protagonist Astaroth is one of the best and worst things about this story. Starting with the positives, the strategies he develops for the world’s rules are interesting and will keep readers invested from beginning to end. The book does an excellent job of establishing these rules while extrapolating feasible workarounds to difficult situations. If your army isn’t as big as your opponent’s army, make sure that your army leans into the weakness of your enemy. If the world follows the standard tropes of an RPG video game, use those rules to force your opponent into a compromising situation they might not have expected for the sake of tradition. All of that is interesting, and this is right up the alley for fans of more strategic combat stories.

There’s also a great deal of mystery revolving around the larger story, as this book functions as an excellent prologue. By the time I got to the end, it was clear that there was a larger story envisioned and that everything here mainly was to establish the world as well as the moral alignment of Astaroth. However, while you could argue that the whole volume was set up, it didn’t feel like that until the very end. I don’t feel like my time was wasted, and that’s a testament to good writing where the setup can feel just as engaging as the potential for a larger narrative.

What isn’t engaging is our main lead the other half of the time. The volume very heavily leans into the idea that our protagonist is special because, unlike other people, he is a realist. He is blunt, tells it like it is, and is very open about the fact that he has to make substantial strategic gambles or won’t win upcoming battles. The book tries to frame him in a kind of lawful evil light, even though he appears to have a kind heart. The problem is that we’re left with a surprisingly bland character when he’s not strategizing.

Astaroth does have agency, but he’s not that interesting of a person, nor does he do anything to convince the reader to root for him. Breadcrumbs throughout the volume imply he has a past from a previous life, but he doesn’t seem to care about it. We get some introspection from the character, but what’s there is incredibly surface level, almost as if the book could go into more detail about who Astaroth is as a person, but it doesn’t want to take away from the stoic, realist persona at the center of the story. This makes it hard for the emotional moments, as few as there are, to hit any chord. The song itself is great, but it does leave me asking for more.

This isn’t helped by the fact that his design isn’t particularly inspired. Most of the designs in this book aren’t particularly unique. The Reformation of the World as Overseen by a Realist Demon King is taking much inspiration from video games and RPGs. It even displays a stat block for some characters when summoned, like in a gacha pull, putting it in leagues with dozens of other light novels. It works as a prologue to a much grander story, and it has some fun variety in its combat strategies, but that is as far as the book’s creativity goes. Your mileage may vary, but this is an example of a story whose intrigue is, unfortunately, balanced out with an aesthetic and main character that could be more interesting.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.

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