As open to wild misinterpretation as this is, I actually have a lot in common with Diablo of How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. No, I'm not talking about wearing fake horns everywhere, being level 150 in any game, or his very specific way of getting to know women. By saying "I have a lot in common with Diablo," I really mean "I am super socially awkward and hate navigating interpersonal situations."
Granted, Diablo (or Takuma, I guess) has it a lot worse than I do. He's in a completely different universe, he's promised to purge a demonic presence from a member of his ever-increasing harem, and now there's a war about to break out because an elf wants to marry his own sister. Considering how I get when I have to call the insurance company, I'd probably have tapped out about four episodes ago.
But it's no secret just how confused and frustrated Takuma is in How Not to Summon a Demon Lord--not to us, at least--we get insights into his inner thoughts as he tries to navigate all sorts of issues while still maintaining his Demon Lord persona. Minus a misstep here or there, he's done pretty well with this method. So I wondered... could Takuma's "demon play" help me?
I decided to try it for a few days and see what would happen. Would it get me through awkward encounters like it helps our buddy Diablo? Minus a couple of his more "hands-on" techniques, I gave it a go.
So first off, what exactly does it mean to "act like a Demon Lord?" To be fair, even Diablo isn't always sure. But what it seems to come down to is exuding confidence and talking really loud--heck, I'm halfway there with the volume.
So, the first test: a phone scam.
I figured a guy saying he was calling from "Windows Computer Place" and he had to fix a computer running a system I don't even use would be a safe bet. All I had to do was shout him down with Diablo's signature style once it was certain he was messing with me.
I don't seem to remember anyone laughing at Diablo when he told them he was level 150 and unkillable.
Though, to be fair, Diablo really is at the game's level cap, and he really can withstand just about any attacks thrown at him. The world of Cross Reverie operates in terms of levels, just like an actual video game, so he's a lot more likely to instill fear with those words than someone in the normal human world.
Time to re-evaluate: funnily enough, battles of any kind aren't a common occurrence in the world of How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. Diablo noticed it himself — even respected adventurers have what gamers would consider fairly low levels. Then again, there's a major difference between games and real life: in real life, you can't get resurrected, and going out to level up with just one life at your disposal isn't safe or smart.
Okay, so how is he holding people's attention when they aren't fighting him? Largely, it seems to be a matter of reminding people of exactly who and what he is, and letting that speak for itself.
The problem here made itself evident a lot more quickly: no one knows who I am. Well, except my friends. They know I don't even have power over my own pets, much less the realms of magic and darkness, and declaring loudly that you are a mighty news and features writer for Crunchyroll does not make the corner café magically give you free cookies. This was a hard lesson learned.
But there's more to Diablo than that, isn't there? After all, he had to introduce and ingratiate himself to an entire world of strangers before his reputation started to spread. Was it the horns? The face tattoo? Or was it just straight-up fake confidence? Diablo's internal monologue really suggests the last of these--so much of what he does involves simply playing the role. In other words, giving the people what they'd expect a Demon Lord to be while hiding his understandable worries and insecurity.
But... shoot. There's even more to it than that, because his Demon Lord act actually changes based on who he's doing it for. To strangers and dignitaries, he's full dark power, letting them fill in the blanks. But for his traveling companions, Rem and Shera especially, his act is coarseness just barely covering genuine caring.
So if I've got this right, the way to act like a Demon Lord is to flaunt your power just enough to let people decide for themselves how scary you are, insist that you being who you are demands a certain respect, and then on the side be a loud tsundere? No wonder Diablo's always so out of it... that's a lot for anyone to try to balance.
A few weeks of Demon Lording it up didn't accomplish much for me, save for really cutting down on the number of scam phone calls I get. But for Diablo in the world of Cross Reverie, the ability to play that part may be the one thing keeping him and his friends afloat right now. And if nothing else, I can seriously appreciate keeping all those variables in check, and having to change out just how demonic he is at any given time. By comparison, an occasional bit of social anxiety isn't much to deal with.
I still want a free cookie, though.
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos. Her latest book, Black Archive #21 – Heaven Sent, is currently available from Obverse Books.