Upon the suggestion of some fellow otaku friends, I decided (against my better judgment) to join a watchalong for Eminence in Shadow for the first couple of episodes. And boy, that was a great choice (I think).
I refuse, absolutely, to believe that this show is anything but parody.
In the first episode, we are introduced to our main character but pre-reincarnation. Kageno Minoru is a high school student who acts like he’s the main character in some sort of crime mystery series. He refuses to interact with the people around him, instead getting lost in the delusions of becoming some sort of mastermind archetype. He feels and is quite literally the chuunibyou fictional stereotype. The delusions do come in handy, though – when his classmate Nishino Akane gets kidnapped, he sweeps in to rescue her. However, he gets killed off at the end of the series as he laments the fact that he was only ever a regular human being limited by physics.
When he gets reincarnated, the world feels both new and yet familiar. Some characters share exact designs with the main character’s “previous world”, and the name of the main character stays the same (Kageno). Through the next couple of episodes we watch as the main character builds up a cult of followers, go through a bunch of battles, and enter high school.
But how much of this is reality? Even the main character is not entirely sure, as shown when his cult disbands at the end of episode two and he simply believes they were sick of him. Kageno remains committed to his “mastermind” persona even though he continues to doubt how much of what he encounters is real.
There are also very heavy handed hints that the creator might have meant this series to be a parody of most isekai series, such as in the build up of the character as an “overlooked but overpowered” archetype, or the miscommunication trope used to create tension between two sibling characters.
Whatever it is, I will be continuing to watch despite my better judgement to see just exactly what this series is about. The wonderful gaps between the characters’ misunderstandings of what is going around as well as the sometimes heavy handed fun the series likes to poke at the isekai genre in general makes the series a bit of an enjoyable watch, even if it isn’t a masterpiece.