As Miss Beelzebub Likes It
Mullin is excited and a little bit anxious. He's going to be the personal attendant of the ruler of hell, after all. What an exceptional person she must be, Miss Beelzebub, to be able to hold this position. Surely, she must represent the elite among the resident of hell, even among many other amazing people. Surely, miss Beelzebub couldn't possiblyfail to live up to these expectations, right?
Oh, yes, she can. And she isn't going to be the only one who isn't exactly like Mullin expects on first glance, but is that really so bad? That is our main theme for the majority of As Miss Beelzebub Likes It, at least for a little bit.
I'm always been a huge fan of movies or series that sort of subverts first impressions. I'm not going to deny that there is some merit to the idea of making one, but there is also an almost astounding level of dishonesty when you put too much importance in what is otherwise a superficial judgement of something... or someone. As such, I've always loved when a movie stars someone in the role of the protagonist that has earlier done almost nothing but antagonistic roles, since that is almost squarely in the realm of the less attractive, or even scary-looking people. (Though not necessarily always: the term "Draco in leather pants" didn't come out of nothing but idle thoughts.)
Of course, the first thing we see of our titular character, she's flying around in some kind of fluffy wonderland while eating something that looks for all the world like cotton candy. She jumps and flies among the clouds, and even when she falls and then wakes from her dream, she finds herself in her own bed surrounded by white fluffballs that As Miss Beelzebub Likes It calls "White Gossamers". And of course she sleeps naked, because how would she otherwise feel the soft fluffiness on her skin? Ridiculous, I say. Ridiculous and unthinkable. While Miss Beelzebub does take her work somewhat seriously, she seems less concerned with her reputation, much to her head aide's consternation, and curiously enough, she's actually quite sexually aware even in her relative innocence. She isn't particularly bothered with the fact that Mullin can see her naked when he entered her room, and even makes a pretty sly joke with his reaction of embarrassment after the fact. But girl's got her priorities, and on top of that list is experiencing the fluffier pleasures of the world, which made for a pretty hilarious reaction shot from her when Mullin presented her with a sweater made of alpaca wool for her to use as pajamas. (As a connoiseur of pretty girls in sweaters, I approve of this.) Or when she learned that not only does Mullin's family own the fluffiest of dogs, but he's also a big brother to two young girls.
Compared to her, Mullin does come across as a bit of a stick in the mud, at least at first. Ideals can be a nice thing, but Mullin has a tendency to put people on the kind of pedestals you shouldn't put people on. His image of what Miss Beelzebub should have been like isn't entirely unrealistic, but his overreaction to her not living up to his image is a bit too much. I say "a bit", though, because As Miss Beelzebub Likes It is almost relentlessly gentle in both its imagery and the way it lays out each episode and whatever plot they choose to center said episode around, and so, the day-to-day events in As Miss Beelzebub Likes It tends to deal with very regular days at work, or fairly regular events off duty, like visiting a cafe and having a soft, fluffy piece of cake. And unlike the lackadaisical Miss Beelzebub, Mullin is almost too aware of his own sexual desires. As in he has them, but they drive him up the wall with embarrassment every time.
Weirdly enough, the original manga actually ran in a shounen magazine, and while one might not find that too strange due to the copious amounts of fanservice, the show is draped in so much visual softness, I wouldn't blame you if you thought it was the shoujoest of fluffy shoujo. Clouds, candy, fur and more ribbons than you could shake a pastel-painted stick at, As Miss Beelzebub Likes It also has most of its characters act like something you'd find in a shoujo, particularly the male characters and their tendency to buck otherwise shounen trends.
Like Azazel, for instance. Having learned nothing from his mistake in judging Beelzebub's personality, Mullin immediately thinks Azazel is the manliest of men due to his general quiet behavior and muscular physique, taking to calling him "brother" as if he was some kind of yakuza sempai. So of course Azazel then is shown to love cute stuff, plushies and teddybears in particular, and likes to engage in needlework on his free time. That is, whenever he isn't reading books like "101 Dog of Flanders", which, judging by the cover art, has a much happier ending than the real-life franchise it's based on. And since this show seems quite invested in pairing everyone up, we meet Belphegor in the same episode. Unlike Azazel, who's just worried he'll weird someone out with his interests, Belphegor herself seems to suffer from a rather severe case of social anxiety coupled with poor bladder control. While I'm assuming Azazel can talk for real if he wanted to, but chooses to do so with written signs for some as-of-yet unexplained reason, Belphegor often speak in half-sentences because that's as far as she'll get before having to run off to the nearest toilet. Given the pattern I've observed so far, I actually expected Belphegor to be male the first time I saw her, but I guess she wouldn't work as Azazel's love interest that way. As magnificently homoerotic as the first meeting between Mullin and Azazel can come across, there is little to no actual gay romance in As Miss Beelzebub Likes It, though the show doesn't really give off the impression that it's against it either. There are no tasteless jokes made on the subject, at least.
And yes, there are more couplings-up in As Miss Beelzebub Likes It than Beelzebub/Mullin and Azazel/Belphegor. We are also introduced to Astaroth and Sargatanas. Astaroth is a womanizing slacker who wants to spend most of his time chatting up as many women as he can get his hands on, while Sargatanas is his pained aide who has to chase him down and drag him back to work. Sargatanas might come across as a bit prone to anger outburst and general seriousness, but honestly, I don't blame her: having to work for Astaroth would wear down anyone's patience in a heartbeat. Their relationship does have a mild tsundere part on her side, since she often questions why she feels anything for this idiot, but honestly, so do I. Every time. Even the ever-friendly Beelzebub doesn't seem to like him very much, so why Sargatanas would take this all the way up to love is a big mystery. Yeah, the guy is at least nice -- sort of -- but to be this trying on patience? But for all Sargatanas wants to come across as a strict and humorless person, mostly to keep Astaroth in line, she likes cute and fluffy stuff like almost everyone else, but feels like she has to keep it a secret. I have no idea why; while this might've been a legitimate worry in any kind of "real world" equivalent, just about everyone else in this show doesn't just not mind, they're all more or less living in this pastel-colored candyland wersion of hell. Mullin's "disappointment" over being so utterly wrong about Azazel was something he got over pretty quick.
On a more iffy note we have Eurynome, because she likes hot, young boys. I mean really likes hot, young boys. (Her words.) One of her favorite pastimes is hiding in the bushes near a boys' school so she can gaze at their legs while they are out on an excursion or some such. I found it grimly amusing that Mullen thought she'd actually assault them; female characters are not often accused of this -- or even presented that way -- but as it turned out, she just wanted to bask in the light of this presence of hot, young boy legs, and she feels sad for you that you do not understand this. It's creepy, yes, and the show takes some delight in making "Eurynome is being creepy again" jokes, so be mindful of that if you're going into As Miss Beelzebu Likes It. Especially since you're being made to watch some of her creepy fantasies, the.... high point, if I may use a term like that... being an annoyed Sargatanas tying up Astaroth to bring him back for the umpteenth time turned into a weirdass S&M scene with "Sargatanas" sexually abusing a very young "Astaroth".
Among the semi-main cast, one of her targets of this type of affection is Dantalion, the master librarian in hell and also a hot, young boy. Again, this is her words, though like every young male resident in hell, he is a bit of a prettyboy... with bunny ears. The poor lad seems at least partially narcoleptic, because you will most often see him sleeping over a book regardless of whether he's in the library or not. And even if he isn't sleeping, you can usually find his nose in said book anyway, more or less tolerating the presences of everyone else; be that Eurynome or his total spaz of an assistant, Molech. As for Molech, that guy is constantly running around being loud, and as such, he will be another potential stumbling block for this show, even if he doesn't quite reach Astaroth's or Euronyme's levels of potential offputting.... ness. We don't really get to see a lot of them, but Dantalion did turn out to be one of my favorite characters in the show anyway, mostly due to his dry wit and the fact that he isn't meanspirited enough to make his disagreements with anyone into more than a casual statement. Instead, if you piss him off, he'll spoil your book storylines for you, and it's surprisingly effective. Molech, on the other hand, wore out his welcome pretty quick, despite the fact that I actually like cheerful people most of the time.
The visual style is definitely keeping up with Miss Beelzebub main topic of interest. The show is almost relentlessly soft and fluffy, with soft designs to everything -- buildings, gardens, interior designs in general, particularly the dorm rooms of the cast -- and a penchant for a very formal fashion sense. While I'm generally not all that much for this excessive sense of formality and overloading of ribbons, I'm not going to hold that against the show. I am, however, going to question whoever thought this would be a good representation of hell. You know, the place where terrible people (and nonbelievers) are supposed to end up after their lives are over, sceduled for eternal torment. The whole "fire and brimstone" thing, now as fluffy as... well, those Gossamer things. But then, this isn't Hozuki's Coolheadedness, so the goings-on of the recently deceased isn't really a topic of conversations at any point in this show. Then again, while I can take excessive cutesy in short, weekly doses, living in it would probably drive me mad at some point.
The disconnect continues as Miss Beelzebub Likes It, in all its shoujoistic flair, actually contains a significant amount of fanservice aimed at men (and potentially also lesbian or bisexual women.) Not quite to the level of various harem shows -- Monster Musume or To Love-Ru this is not -- but Beelzebub's chest is actually a topic of conversation or monologuing from time to time. Her favorite outfit has a huge boob window, and there's actually a pretty amusing explanation of why she wants it like that: when Mullen got her to wear something without said boob window, it upset her, because she couldn't feel the soft fluffiness of her Gossamers when she pressed one towards her chest. I'm also a bit mystified as to why Mullen would confuse Azazel as some kind of yakuza big bro since every single adult man in this show, regardless of muscular proficiency, are wearing their emotions on their sleeves. In fact, the bigger and more muscular a man is in this show, the more likely he will throw himself into crying fits or just generally be into hobbies or jobs that at least used to be predominantly female. This is part of the reason why I suspected Belphegor was male at first despite looking so much like a girl.... which she ended up being anyway. I guess the way the show throws you off your feet can be considered a positive thing too. Then again, you don't necessarily have to like it either, regardless of gender, so just consider it a selling point -- you shouldn't be guilt-tripped or mocked for liking this stuff, but neither should you if you don't find it to your tastes. And, again to the show's credit, it does neither.
Of course, the show makes no secret of its story mainly being the love that slowly developes between Miss Beelzebub and Mullin, and it's here that it's playing its cards the straightest. I mentioned earlier that Beelzebub doesn't seem all that concerned about whether Mullin sees her naked or not, but she certainly becomes more aware of the potential embarrassment later on. And for being that lax about it, to the point of making jokes about sexual stuff or plain-Jane romance, even she has something she can get embarrassed about, it seems. Mullin is like most post-pubescent youths, however; walking in on a girl in a state of undress is embarrassing for him because he's a bit worried how he'll... react to it in more ways than one. (And he definitely doesn't want anyone to hate him for it.) For all the boobs on display, As Miss Beelzebub Likes it is being weirdly innocent when it comes to romance. The standout gag that points this out the most can be seen when Beelzebub breaks one of her heels on her way to work. His first plan, the Princess carry fails because her boob window is now right up in his face. His second plan; carrying her on his back also fails because... well, I'm sure you can imagine why. (*squish*) Said gag also introduced us to Adrammalech, another character of some contention, since he acts like a huge camp gay stereotype, and acts slightly predatory towards Mullin... until it's revealed that he was merely admiring himself by his reflection in Mullin's eyes. He's also hell's fashion advisor and designer, and is probably responsible for the realm of eternal damnation looking like a victorian pastel paradise. I'm honestly surprised there aren't any gay relationships in this show, but the only thing that vaguely hints at it is Morrigan -- Adrammalech's... colleague? -- and her penchant for female aides, which may or may not be sexual in nature.
Weirdly enough, As Miss Beelzebub Likes It hasn't forgotten that at least some of the devils and demons who reign in hell are former angels. Beelzebub herself being one, the event has imparted her with a very natural and logical fear of thunder and lightning that's more or less directly related to her fall from being an angel. In fact, quite a few of the demons in hell are referred to as "former angels" or "cherubs", and their names are more often than not Enochian references -- well, for as much as I could research anyway. The legitimacy of scriptures of that age is still up for heavy debate, and neither I nor As Miss Beelzebub Likes It are going to do so here. The show borrows names and maybe some vague recollections of the concept of fallen angels, and that's about it.
While As Miss Beelzebub Likes It can get a bit dull at times, it's got a pretty good head on its shoulders. I've mentioned Beelzebub's casual way of handling her own body and her... proximity to someone else, and Mullin's reaction to that proximity. There was even a nice segment where, due to a misunderstanding, both Mullin and Beelzebub thought they had made each other angry, which lead to a surprisingly evenly handled scene where the two got to settle their differences by BOTH apologizing and wondering why the other part also apologized. I was a bit worried when the show introduced a bathhouse episode with Astaroth dead set on spying on the girls, but most of the episode played out with the other guys being irritated at the idiot for his idiocy, so I let down my guard. And then the episode ended up with Astaroth dragging Mullin into this anyway, which lead to Beelzebub being upset at him and thinking he was in on it. Even aside from this being one of the most tiresome anime tropes mostly used in harems, it's disappointing to see this show use it anyway when even Beelzebub should know better. It would honestly be better if Mullin had left Astaroth to dig his own grave. The show's comedy is generally fun, which just make these odd missteps hurt that much more. The other misstep is that As Miss Beelzebub Likes It is a bit too happy to remind people of things. Each episode beings by reminding us that Beelzebub likes stuff that is cute and fluffy. And we often get reminders that Mullen is very nervous about anything even vaguely sexual between him and Beelzebub, or that Belphegor is so socially anxious that even the idea of talking to a guy -- never mind Azazel -- is liable to send her flying to the nearest toilet. Or that Astaroth is chatting up women and Sargatanas is most likely looking for him. The jokes may be solid enough on their own, but they get repeated a lot with little variation, and that gets a bit trying on the patience.
While I didn't care for a lot of the designs the show used, the visuals are generally very nice. The show's got some decent animation, which offsets the weirdly clear lines that make up character details. I've often complained about shows that will look good on promo images, but has terrible animation, but Miss Beelzebub's issue is the opposite of that. The art doesn't look cheap, specifically, or bad, but there is an odd vague simplicity to it that doesn't translate well to still images, and this goes doubly if you aren't much into the kind of fashion sense and excessive cuteness that As Miss Beelzebub Likes It have. Or just its lace-y and flowery shoujo aesthetics in general. The linework especially just looks thick and stumpy. Again, the animation is fine, so I eventually made peace with this.
This has been one of the more difficult reviews to write, because in the end, it's hard for me to say whether I actually enjoyed As Miss Beelzebub Likes It. Sure, it should be telling that I watched it all the way to the end, but that's more a norm for stuff I review nowadays. Shows don't often come with such a clearly defined "pros and cons" list, even if I never really truly hated anything that was going on here. There were parts that I felt was honestly adorable, though it also has a bit of an obsession with things that LOOK cute, but doesn't seem to serve any particular point beyond that. Some of the repeat gags can get a bit annoying, but just as often the show pulls out a nice save in what would otherwise become a tiresome repeat joke. The whole "bathing house" thing was more of a major downer for me, but the show also seemed to forget it ever happened later in the very same episode, so... yeah. It's mostly a decent show, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I admit I honestly enjoyed my time here.
Oh, damn it all to hell!
Too aggressively cutesy and a comedy act that's mostly hit, but with some pretty hard misses and short on variety. It's still pretty enjoyable, though, so add one star if you think this sounds fantastic. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The show has a significant amount of fanservice, mostly centered around Beelzebub's cleavage and the wonderful effect it has on Mullin -- whether it's right in front of his face or smooshed into his back. She will also sometimes be seen sleeping naked in bed, with Gossamers covering up her naughty parts. And of course, there are some muscular upper bodies of men... or hot, young boy legs for those of you who are into that sort of thing.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs only.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
As Miss Beelzebub Likes It © 2018 matoba/SQUARE ENIX, Beelmama Committee
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