Black Summoner is a Fun Ride

This is one of those anime that doesn’t simply have the usual tropes of an overpowered protagonist in another world with a bountiful harem… it celebrates and has fun with these tropes! And, based on the ending to its first season, the creators behind it are definitely hoping to keep the party going at some point.

Black Summoner follows the adventures of its titular character, Kelvin. The “black” part refers to his dark raiment and his aggressive demeanor – he’s a battle junkie, loving the thrill of a good fight with someone strong – but the “summoner” part is not entirely accurate. Yes, he is a summoner, and it’s easy to see how that can be a very potent ability, depending on how it’s used, but it’s only a small part of his overwhelming power, and one which comes up less and less as things progress. He brings a lot of firepower to the party with his elemental magic, his powerful combat techniques, and his arcane artifice by which he easily crafts numerous powerful items for himself and his growing team, which is mostly made up of his growing harem.

Said harem begins with Melfina, the goddess of reincarnation, who, as Kelvin wakes up in a fantasy world with no memories, informs him of his situation. He was reincarnated from his previous life, and traded his memories for higher stats in his new life. He also apparently fell for her the first instant he saw her and was so charming that she decided to take a vacation from her duties as a goddess, accompanying him first as a disembodied voice in his head, awaiting the rise of his levels to a point high enough to summon her. Once he does that, she quickly gets herself a physical body so she can win his heart instead of any of the increasing amount of competition.

Said competition thus far primarily consists of Efil, a half-elf ranger who is a slave for some stupid reason and who is apparently condemned to be dressed as a maid forever, and Sera, a demon princess entrusted to Kelvin’s care by her guardian upon said guardian’s defeat. There’s also a magnificent queen who has her eye on Kelvin, and the more probable additions (in due time) of the human princess of an enemy kingdom and a local secretary girl who is more than she seems (in the manga, at least). Another girl, Rion, is more a little sister figure and will hopefully stay that way, but it’s the presence of Gerard, an imposing black knight ghost, and Clotho, a cute slime, which thankfully balance out the usual harem hijinks.

On the note of Rion, especially, I want to mention the presence and influence of other isekai figures. Kelvin was reincarnated because he was killed by mistake, while Rion is reincarnated via a summoning by Kelvin and Melfina, as a hero and an addition to their family. Her life was apparently cut tragically short and was not a pleasant one, so she’s grateful beyond words to be living a new life, better than the last, having adventures with her new older brother and her dog, Alex, a shadow hound that Kelvin tames for her. But it doesn’t end there. No, there are plenty of other people who’ve had and are having isekai adventures, and they provide an interesting flavor for this story.

There’s a quartet of summoned heroes, a boy and his obvious harem of three girls. They’re nice people, selfless and brave, and Kelvin unofficially takes them under his wing a little, teaching and training them for a time before sending them on their way.

There’s some indication that the ancestor of that queen I mentioned was from Japan as well, and evidently he somehow introduced rice to the world.

I’m going to be honest, in Kel’s place, with a queen like her throwing herself at me? I would have stood zero chance!

There’s an enemy general who has a good deal of power and is hugely self-centered. This one clearly bought into all the worst parts of these stories, wherein he thinks of himself as the protagonist and everyone else as his playthings, including a large harem that he forced to be his with magic to bespell their minds. When he encounters Kelvin, he tries to say Kelvin is reveling in his greater power, enjoying a good fight, but the key difference is obvious: Kelvin does not trample on others for his own amusement, actually cares about others, and does not enslave anyone’s minds. (Though he does still have Efil as a slave, which, why not just free her already?)

If we get a second season or more, I am intrigued to see what else they do with this trope, but, on that note, I want to dwell on Kelvin himself. It is well-known that most of the protagonists in harem and isekai anime these days are bland self-inserts for the audience, but Kelvin is not. The thrill he gets from a good fight is proof enough of that, but it’s balanced with a kindness and consideration for those around him. He understands people and gets along well with them, not arrogant but also not wimpy or meek either. There is something refreshing about that. About the only thing he has in common with those usual protagonists is how passive he is with his harem. They don’t do anything bad to each other or to him, which makes them one of the more favorable harems out there, but they clearly vie for his attention and affection, and he’s not doing much to pursue any of them.

And then there’s how Kelvin spends the entire first season being consistently stronger than everyone else. In most cases, that gets boring, even annoying, but Black Summoner manages to make it a lot more fun than it usually is. When he plays a little trick on the party of heroes, he is clearly much stronger than them, but not too much. He needs to use his wits more than most other overpowered protagonists, and there are enough people as strong as he is that the humor of stomping on weak enemies is often followed by something more exciting. Finally, it’s outright stated that there are plenty more figures that we haven’t met yet, plenty who are just as strong as him or even stronger, which promises more thrills and fun in exchange for Kelvin having it easier in most fights. Not to mention the promise of demons lords rising, would-be empires invading, and the promise of revenge on an enemy kingdom. There’s a good deal of material still to work with here in future seasons, assuming we get them.

If there is anything that I would change, it would be the sudden change to CGI for some of the fights. It’s unexpected, jarring, and leaves a great deal to be desired. Outside that, it’s just a matter of details, like the whole “slave” thing with Efil.

All in all, it’s a fun ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with interesting tweaks on the usual tropes, lovable characters, and interesting, though not exactly complicated, plots. Reminds me a bit of Skeleton Knight that way.

Rating: 8 stars out of 10.

Grade: B-Plus.

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