Being a demon lord in Dickensian London is no fun. The extremely bored, quite friendless, and eternally young Marbas, one of the Thirteen Calamities, is hanging around Big Ben and wishing his life would just end already when he comes across Wisteria, a young silver-haired beggar girl who has the ability to see his kind. Mildly intrigued by her reaction to his presence, he follows her to the church where she is mistreated by a sinister priest, and they start talking. Eventually, she asks for a bedtime story. Night after night, the encounter becomes the high point of her miserable day, but Marbas seems to experience no emotion in turn. When Wisteria learns that she is about to be sold to an aristocrat, she meets the demon lord in the main church, crying and asking him to take her away, but he cooly explains that unselfish acts would cause physical harm to his demonic body. As Wisteria is being taken away, though, her long-lost brother, now a Knight of the Sword Cross, appears, coming to the rescue…or to hunt Marbas, perhaps?
Well, the ending theme of The tale of outcasts (as it is stylized) was so good that it almost made me reconsider my decision to abandon this series. All sorts of intriguing character designs, inventive frames, and cool fight scenes were teased in the EP. But I don’t know, people. Dickens was famously sentimental, but he would balance that with his epic, cartoonish and relatable “human gargoyles”, characters like Scrooge, Miss Havisham, Bill Sykes, or Barnaby Rudge, characters who were so alive that they seemed to jump off the page. Despite looking more like an actual gargoyle, Marbas is no fun, and Wisteria is just too much of a cliché. They lack the intriguing, eerie quality that The Ancient Magus Bride (a show with many parallels to this one) managed to provide to both Chise and Elias, and their English setting too. The villains here just have JoJo levels of dumb evil intensity, while the plot is simultaneously too sentimental and too dark. The fight scenes lack tension. Additionally, the Victorian demon lore is tricky stuff, and I’m not thrilled about seeing it put to “shoujo trope” usage. So, this one is not for me. Your mileage may vary, though.
The tale of outcasts can be streamed on Crunchyroll.