Manga Spotlight: Level 1 Demon Lord & One-Room Hero

Hello all! Long time no post. I started a new full-time job after 35 years of freelance in 2020, and I’m now a Senior Copy Editor at Seven Seas Entertainment! I read manga all day on the lookout for forgotten sound effects and other such things.

I love my job, but I have to read a lot of stuff I don’t like. But it also fires me up because there are a lot of comics I like a lot, and you will probably never read. So I’m going to make these Manga Spotlight posts now and then to highlight really special manga that I think you should check out. Some of these might be NSFW but this one is not. I need everyone to know about Level 1 Demon Lord & One-Room Hero.

The cover of a manga comic that reads "Level 1 Demon Lod & One Room Hero" volume 1. It has two characters standing in a room filled with clutter and trash, one wearing only a t-shirt and boxers, and a much smaller one with horns in a school girl uniform.
Cover pic stolen from the Seven Seas website.

I have to read a lot of isekai for work (and if you don’t know what isekai is, that’s a whole other blog post) so one of my favorite new tropes is “playful subversion of isekai and the fantasy genre.” Level 1 Demon Lord is one such book.

Ten years in the past, a classic RPG party went to save the world and killed the demon lord to save the day. The world settled into a comfortable peace, but demons have seven lives. The demon lord awakes ten years since his death, far too early and in an extremely weakened state. He runs off to find the hero that killed him years before to see what kind of future he’s made for himself. Instead, he finds a deadbeat who sleeps all day in his bachelor apartment, a man who has given up on life.

Screenshot from the comic itself. Three panels have the scruffy deadbeat guy from the cover saying "You want to know? It's simple. Heroes have no place in a peaceful world. We're not welcome anymore."
The hero, Max, is having a bad time.

Our hero, Max, is living a regular life in what appears very similar to modern-day Japan, but is still the fantasy land that was saved ten years ago. Our demon lord asks questions and struggles to understand why the hero isn’t living large in the way that he deserves. Max is cagey about answers. It becomes clear before long that the media has taken advantage of Max for his fame, twisting all of his actions into a scandal. He does as little as possible so he can stay out of the spotlight, but with a demon lord in his company, trouble has come to find him again.

This manga is mostly a gross fanservice comedy, but Level 1 Demon Lord doesn’t shy away from inter-country politics, corruption, and the tempestuous relationships of shitty adults who once were friends. It’s a bit about how fame is a double-edged sword, a bit about wrangling with depression and disappointment, and a little bit about how your idols are real people.

Not only that, but there’s a weird little romance going on between the Level 1 Demon Lord & One-Room Hero. Is it gay? The demon lord, when pressed, won’t clarify whether or not he’s a man or not, though he proceeds to present as a woman more and more as the series goes on.

Several panels of the comic where the demon lord mentions that his outfit of choice is a school uniform, so he transforms into a female student. Unfortunately his outfit doesn't get larger, so it looks like he's wearing skimpy stripper clothes.
Our naked little demon lord turns into an inappropriately-dressed young lady.

I feel like it’s difficult to express the charm of this series because I’m trying to spoil as little as possible. But I look forward to every volume that passes my desk. It’s one of my favorites. I find the artwork charming and the story funny, and this post-fantasy land is devolving into war and terrorism with neighboring countries. Old allies struggle to get Max to take a stand politically, but he avoids it while also keeping his new allegiance with demons a secret. If the public finds out about the new company he keeps, he will be seen as a traitor to humanity and kick Max while he’s already down.

The stakes are high and hilarious… until they aren’t! Please read Level 1 Demon Lord & One-Room Hero. It rules.

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