Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: The Duke of Death and His Maid

Original Run: July 4, 2021 - September 19, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Supernatural
Based on the Series Created By: Koharu Inous

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for The Duke of Death and His Maid. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

When he was a child, a witch cursed a local duke (voiced by Natsuki Hanae). Anything the duke, affectionately named Bocchan, touched would instantly die. As a result, Bocchan has lived as an outcast from society and his family. Most people are too scared to go near him, and thus, for years, he has only known loneliness and scorn. 

Bocchan believed there could be no one who would show him affection. But that changed the day the maid Alice (voiced by Ayumi Mano) came to work at Bocchan’s residence. 

Rather than fearing Bocchan, Alice has gone out of her way to be as close to him as possible. She loves nothing more than teasing the innocent duke with her feminine charms. Though a bit forceful, Alice has genuine feelings for her lord, and after some time, Bocchan thinks his heart can risk falling for her, too.

Despite the danger of the curse, Bocchan and Alice are rarely apart. Theirs is now a love story fraught with unique challenges and undaunting sincerity. 

Series Positives

Some shows are simply what they are. For instance, The Duke of Death and His Maid (The Duke of Death) is good, and that’s the end of it. 

While this series might not stand at the same heights as some of its fellow summer 2021 contemporaries, it also isn’t something you should ignore. The Duke of Death is one of the most solid romance anime to come out in its year (as of this review’s December 2021 posting). At the very least, no one can describe this show as merely another run-of-the-mill high school love story.

The Duke of Death was, to sum it up with a single word, enduring.

This series preferred to be more well-rounded than let’s-put-all-our-eggs-in-one-basket. The show could transition from comedy to drama to romance to slapstick silliness within a single episode and make it look easy.

What’s more, The Duke of Death never felt random or directionless. On the contrary, this series had a lot more going on that one might otherwise guess from the outset. Or, to put it another way, this story could have easily been nothing but a silly, jokey-joke affair, albeit in a morbid kind of way. While this show had light-hearted and humorous moments, it was not afraid to tug at the emotions. On more than one occasion, it was hard not to feel sad about how incredibly messed up Bocchan’s situation was. 

And it wasn’t just Bocchan. Several other characters in this series had their fair share of hardships in their backstories – like Alice.

Having said that, the relationship between Bocchan and Alice made The Duke of Death worth watching. These two were an enduring pair – there’s that word again – and were a true hallmark for 2021. Seriously, I can’t recall another romantic couple from this year that was anywhere near as perfect a pair as these two were. 

Sure, it did get a little old every time Bocchan flinched at one of Alice’s advances. You would think that after so long, and how frequently she played with him, Bocchan would get used to his maid’s antics. Fortunately, though noticeable, our titular duke’s trepidation was never overbearing. A quality helped significantly by Alice’s strong, confident personality.

As such, I would have to say it was Alice who was this show’s brightest star. And that’s saying something when The Duke of Death had my favorite voice actor as part of its cast – Mr. Hiroshi Kamiya, who played Zain. 

Before ending this section, I want to acknowledge two things.

First, I realize this review hasn’t had much substance to it. All I’ve seemed to have done is stretch out the word “good.” 

Second, The Duke of Death was good because it was so well-established. Everything this show needed to get right – the characters, the story, etc. – it got right. Concerning the fundamentals, there is little – almost nothing – I can say against this series. Likewise, I am not at all surprised that The Duke of Death is continuing with a season two. This show has all the makings to be something you’ll want to follow. 

I hope this doesn’t sound disingenuous, but The Duke of Death was a textbook example of what a respectable anime should look like.

Series Negatives

Although I keep saying a series’s animation and art style are secondary, I am also not going to pretend that The Duke of Death looked good. 

This might be a personal preference, but these bubbly, Zelda: Wind Waker-esque visuals (which were fine in that game) looked like crap here. For some reason, J.C. Staff, the studio behind The Duke of Death, has been establishing itself as a champion for this type of animation. If the impossible-to-unsee CGI characters models of this show seem familiar, then you’re probably recalling another J.C. Staff production – Hi Score Girl.

The long and short of it is, I didn’t care for this style back then, and I care for it even less in 2021. 

What made it even worse was how this show dropped the overt CGI in a few character backstory scenes. And wouldn’t you know it; not only did this show look fine, but it also looked outstanding. 

This art style did nothing except have this show look cheap and unfinished. Luckily, the story and the characters made up for the visual’s shortcomings.

The Duke of Death

Final Thoughts

As I said, it doesn’t surprise me that this show has a second season on the way. Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret. I am very much looking forward to it. I want to see where this story goes.

This series is a hidden gem of 2021 that you should not miss.

Sure, the animation and visuals don’t look great. However, in all the areas that matter, this show knocked it out of the park.

The Duke of Death and His Maid has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise The Duke of Death and His Maid? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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