Let’s Plays are, by their nature, generally a chill exercise. They’re an invitation to come and vicariously sit on the couch alongside gamers and experience their playthrough. Even if there are swings in the story intended as genuinely dramatic, there’s usually an air of levity to the proceedings. Endo and Kobayashi Live hasn’t wholly abided by that approach, including as it has several stretches of pure game-drama story with little input from our couple of color commentators. But even compared to those earlier indulgences, this week’s episode of the show kicks things up a notch, hurtling the story within Love Me Magically forward in dramatic ways. Yet it weaves in Endo and Kobayashi’s interaction with the text in ways that mostly increase our mutual enthusiasm for this plot. It feels like this anime is stepping up its game as it approaches the climax of its first story arc.
A lot of that energy is down to just how much actually happens in this one. Maybe it’s Liese being motivated to help however she can now that the relationship between her and Fiene has been revealed. Maybe it’s Endo and Kobayashi getting more consistently active, regularly popping in through this episode right when you think the writing might have forgotten about them again. Everyone’s much more aware of each other now, that’s for sure. Whether it’s Sieg and Fiene making clear that they wholly understand Liese’s tsundere style of expressing her affection at this point, or Liese directly confronting Baldur over his occidental confession a few episodes ago, these visual novel characters all get to be that much more communicative within the kind of story otherwise often fueled by misunderstandings.
That’s enforced in the new approach by a character like Liese. For one thing, this episode lets us explore her character a bit more deeply, particularly through the nightmares she’s been experiencing. It helps bring more of her characterization to the fore, as opposed to her previous handling which was mostly based on other characters in and out of the game observing and cooing over her. That mostly worked at the time, because as mentioned in previous reviews, Liese is pretty friggin’ adorable. But as the web of character relationships and plot concepts has grown, it was definitely time to start taking her seriously as a more involved presence in the plot. That’s reflected in one of Liese’s big contributions to the proceedings this week, where she pulls a My Love Story!! maneuver on Bal and Fiene in setting them up with each other.
It’s a great bit, least of all because it wasn’t directly initiated by Endo and Kobayashi’s metagaming machinations, but simply came about as a byproduct of the other character communications they’ve engineered with their input. It means the power-gaming pair get to be as pleasantly surprised as we in the audience are. Yes, they give things the final push by establishing contact with Fiene to help her seal the deal, but Endo and Kobayashi’s elated “Yesssss!” rings as true to anyone who’s experienced similar bliss from getting their favored supports maxed out in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Endo and Kobayashi Live is able to ride that level of engagement into its other big plot-track this week, and the one it’s been working towards since it started. Just the implications of Liese’s nightmares, her fears, and her recoiling from her loved ones as she feels worse draws me in because, again, the series has committed to making her feel like a full person and not just a mascot by this point. Because we’ve followed her and Sieg’s cute courtship, or the whole Fiene/Bal situation that just transpired because of her, it feels “real” to have these characters turn around and notice Liese’s growing distance as something to be worried about. Sieg making efforts to talk to her is a satisfying subversion in itself, since even that attempt at healthy communication in relationships would be unheard of in so many rote romance visual novels. And the regular input from Endo and Kobayashi effectively mirrors the concerned reactions any overly empathetic gamers have surely vocalized while experiencing similar worrying circumstances in game stories.
In other words, while the anime doesn’t do much of anything with Endo and Kobayashi’s own story this week, it does use the device they represent effectively to elicit the desired reactions from viewers in this surrogate play-through. Part of that’s just due to how little the Love Me Magically story is resting on its laurels in this episode. I’m genuinely concerned to see how things are going to work out for Liese next week, but I’m also squeeing along with Kobayashi over the touching connections between her and her loved ones. It’s structured emotional engagement garnishing a solidly effective story, which, given the occasionally flat presentation alongside some pretty obvious animation shortcuts, is a smart way to keep audiences entertained. Given that visual novels themselves are traditionally static sprite slide-shows, Endo and Kobayashi Live making that work even in anime form is a testament to how earnestly it believes in the medium’s power.
Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte is currently streaming on
Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.
Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.