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This Week in Anime – Unraveling the Eccentric Chaos of Dead Mount Death Play

If anyone can combine mismatched ingredients into something entertaining, it’s Ryōgo Narita. After and , this season marked the return of Narita’s works to the screens with the adaptation of . Read on as we dissect the intricate magic woven into Narita’s latest work.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll and Disney+.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Steve, we live in troubling times. The ocean’s denizens are rebelling, with orcas pulling rudders off boats and non-metaphorical sharks seeking blood. While most of us remain safe on land, it hasn’t stopped people from declaring war on nature. With that said, I think it’s important to be upfront with our readers regarding our stance on this conflict.

Let it be known that if I had to choose a side in the war between humanity and all marine life, I’m joining the side with the sharks!

Amen to Sharkborg supremacy. I’ll actually go one step further and declare that, even in death, I will refuse to have “rest in peace” etched on my grave. That way, I’ll be automatically drafted into the Skeleton War to continue fighting for all things noble and pointy-toothed.
Man, sea critters and skeletons, next thing you know, they’re gonna be arming themselves with cybernetics, and then we’ll really be screwed as robots, skeletons, AND the sea all turn against us. What a world, huh? What kind of madmen could mix all these elements in the same melting pot and still make me root for them, I wonder?
Probably the same people who decided that one of the secretly most important figures in this plot should be a spider-themed mechanical pencil.
Or maybe it’s a novelist by the name of Ryogo Narita, also known as the very same pen that inked the equally chaotic works and ? Narita’s storytelling style is all about throwing various mismatched ingredients together and casting some sort of spell over it that makes it entertaining. While his work often features real settings and time periods, they’re also just curtains for the bombastic and fantastic occurrences happening behind them. His actors are equally eccentric, and many of them are members of underworlds, such as the mafia, gangs, or in this case, the literally undead! Being both showy and very technical, his writing is most comparable to magic.

However, it’s also been quite a few years since we’ve had an anime adaptation of one of Narita’s works, so let me explain why I’m so giddy to talk about .

Let me just say it’s been an absolute delight catching up on this tasteless cacophony with a heart of gold. It would have been the most fun this season if not for , but I won’t hold that against it. And to your point, it definitely shows that Narita still has the juice. , for instance, sticks in my brain a lot harder than most other anime I haven’t seen in about 15 years. I still find myself musing on the dumb escapades of Isaac and Miria or the nomenclatural genius of “Jacuzzi Splot.” Narita’s mind works on planes of existence I wouldn’t dare to comprehend.
is probably one of my favorite anime of all time. The speakeasy-era skirmish between immortal mafia men won me over by being excessively charming as well as bloody. Even today, few other anime know how to swing between so many beats across plots, characters, and time periods. However, while the novels were ongoing and the series critically praised, the anime never received more than one season.

Meanwhile, the more modern left a pretty big impression on anime fandom. Its zany, but lovable and morally indifferent/downright immoral cast of characters made quite an impact. However, it didn’t get a follow-up for years until they suddenly announced several seasons at once, leaving us with a messy and rushed sequel and little fanfare, even from me.

I missed the boat on the fandom, but I was happy to see that Narita’s penchant for violent women in motorcycle helmets persists to this day.
Oh yeah, I didn’t have super high expectations that this would be an amazing adaptation, being unfamiliar with the source manga, and simultaneously all too familiar with the trend of the low-budget high-speed rate at which most anime are produced nowadays. But for all the highs and lows I’ve had with Narita-inspired anime in my years, I’m glad to say that proves that the appeal of his work hasn’t been lost on me. (The exact appeal being absolute trash murderous weirdos being wholesome dorks.)
There WILL be psychopaths, and you WILL love them.

I was also somewhat surprised because the premise sets itself up as a more contemporary entry into the modern isekai-fantasy genre. A powerful necromancer transports himself into a teenage boy recently murdered in the shadows of present-day Shinjuku!

I can understand why I haven’t heard a whole lot about this from my peers cuz the first episode deceptively goes hard on these elements of every other grand power fantasy that’s made today. I’m sure this worked to hook new fans before quickly sliding back into being, frankly, much more silly, self-aware, and characteristic of Narita.
Yeah, that’s something we touched on during our seasonal isekai sampler at the beginning of the season, and I’m glad the show just keeps leaning harder and farther away from the tone of that first episode. I have nothing but respect for that kind of bait-and-switch too. The best thing an established author can do with the new hotness is used it to trick people into reading something completely different, and Narita dons those isekai trappings just to dramatically fling them off and write another quintessentially strange Narita story. That’s why he’s one of the goats.
Narita is also attuned to putting things that don’t belong in otherwise pretty average settings. has faeries and occult objects, has immortality, but he gives them texture and toys with our expectations about them. The Corpse God that possesses Polka’s body isn’t actually that bad, he’s just an incredibly powerful magic-user that likes children and making pacts with ghosts and wants to live in a world that’s peaceful. He’s also totally chill with resurrecting and befriending the crazy teenage girl assassin who was paid to murder him, and all she can say is “That was fun!”, after dying.

There are also a lot of video game jokes (with appropriate SFX), and God Polka’s concerns become more focused on “How is a master of the undead arts supposed to make any money?” Honestly, if I were to compare it to another reverse-isekai, it would be .
And like that series, gets a lot of mileage out of taking jabs at the edginess of its premise and peers. Not-Polka can call himself the “Corpse God” with a straight face, but the show itself knows that skeletons are actually hilarious.
The real Polka is in the shark plush, by the way. He’s not dead, he’s just vibing!
I mean, what better trajectory is there for a narrative than to begin with a huge all-powerful bone lord, and then shift the focus to his new friends: kooky zombie lady, stuffed shark boy, and pencil ghost gumshoe?
The tone shifts are delightful, and honestly, I think being able to execute that kind of rapid switch gave me a lot more hope for the overall production than just fancy CGI skeletons. There’s clever timing and emphasis required to match the eccentric dialogue. It’s impressive when the show decides to stop kidding around and demands to be taken seriously, whether it’s being serious, scary, or even downright sympathetic. I particularly love the bright purple effect for the ghosts, acting as a sort of “power-level” indicator!
While I wouldn’t call it an especially pretty adaptation, it brings its A-game to the supernatural elements, whether it’s the restless spirits Not-Polka can perceive or the creepy footprints of his shady adversaries in Shinjuku.

Yeah, the production comes off a little unassuming at a glance; the character art is shaky, and the colors are a bit washed-out. The art direction and production don’t quite capture the image of a bustling cityscape in the same way its predecessor, did. There’s a distinct lack of neon and nightlife, but it still gets the vibes where it matters. I would be remiss if I didn’t credit the OST for bringing it when the product fails to impress. The hip-hop and horror stings really help. I didn’t include the OP in our “best” column since comparing it to other Narita anime is tough competition (feels wrong to not have every character named), but it meets the quotas for being dynamic and insanely catchy.
The overall presentation is passable, and that’s all you really need when the real draw is the characters. And, of course, the gratuitous cleavage. We now have an established pattern of exposition-heavy dialogue interlaced with scenes of a criminal underworld middlewoman with a monocle engaging in yet another lesbian threesome. Narita’s still got it.

Strangely, I think this is probably the horniest Narita anime that’s ever been made. I’m used to titillation, but the initial juvenile boob jokes directed at Misaki felt out of place.

This was before it went back to being over-the-top though, and back to being funny again.

Yeah, it definitely goes too far in some places, but it leans more toward being amusing rather than uncomfortable. The over-the-top fanservice feels right at home amidst the over-the-top nature of the anime.
Something about that shower scene made me double-check if I wasn’t watching part of the franchise. But I cannot deny the joy of bonding over a mutual adoration of sharks.
Sayo turns every scene she’s a part of into a sharky paradise.

Tremendous character. Tremendous commitment to the bit. Tremendous mood.

Mostly, I would say that some of it is a bit of an acquired taste. Even as a self-identified trash-enjoyer like myself, I have to rummage through it at times. Shark-girl is a treasure, though.

And hey, I did get an “equal opportunity” abs moment from one of the scary, but totally hot, cop guys—who is also despicable, because he’s a cop in a Narita work, and he hates cops.

I love that his partner’s defining character trait is wearing camo pants with a white belt. It says everything you need to know about the guy.

Even the cop besties get a lot of great character moments though. It’s lovable jerks all the way down.
Oh yeah, part of that is that they’re probably not even the most depraved cops and are more in line with the weirdos they’re hunting than regular cops. And that’s because another theme in Narita’s works is that all the weirdness is a bit of a cover for larger mysteries and conspiracies that draw all of them together!

And sometimes we hand the entire key to that conspiracy to an idiot!

And it was simultaneously the best and worst thing that could’ve happened.
So, is Solitaire the best character or the best character?
He’s totes the best character, and also the most on-brand for Narita. He’s introduced as a cunning detained criminal but turns out to be more Houdini than Hannibal. While Corpse God Polka is capable of performing real magic, Phantom Solitaire is just a stage magician who is showing off for the heck of it because he wants to bait someone into proving that real magic exists. He’s not really murderous or out to hurt anyone, but he enjoys making a stir and blustering at anyone who would listen.
We stan a classy gentleman who’s made a living out of trolling government officials.
This is especially good because, on the path to uncovering the hand behind Polka’s assassination, we encounter quite a few individuals with ambitious schemes. Polka turns out to be the inheritor to a wealthy and influential family, much to the dismay of his elder nephew. The goddamn pencil was murdered while on the trail of an internal police investigation. There are other hired hands, as well as arsonist hackers! Most of this remains unbeknownst to the characters, but it’s just the right formula to keep things shaken up.
Yeah, the series has a hell of a lot of fun with asynchronous information distribution. A good, recent example is when Solitaire gets his fortune told by Not-Polka, and neither party realizes exactly who they’re talking to. Yet, they inadvertently push each other a little farther toward their respective goals. Some viewers might find it too precious, but this is the kind of clever and knotty writing I expect from a story like this—especially given its pedigree.

And overall, witnessing Solitaire bumble so close yet so far from the real magic he’s seeking is a bit that never gets old.
IMO, I’m more than okay with having a joke in there to break up the density and keep things interesting, even when I start caring about the stakes. Too much plotting can really become monotonous, but a good laugh snaps me back. It’s like a literal vibe check, if you will.
And the secret sauce to is definitely its aptitude for knowing when and where to throw in those jokes to maintain its airy tone. It does allow itself to get serious and sincere at points, which is also nice, but for the most part, it knows the audience is here for a good time, and that’s what it prioritizes.

Like, my favorite non-sequitur has to be the random plug in the middle of one episode. It’s a respectful nod from one trash pile to another.

Trash recognizes trash, and I wouldn’t be the anime fan that I am if I couldn’t acknowledge that. It takes a certain kind of person to laugh at the incredible stupidity of having a completely random retro-style recap in the middle of the episode and then still take the rest seriously. Not every fan can “go with the flow” like that, but sometimes not knowing what to expect makes the payoff more rewarding.

I’m just sitting here clapping like a seal every time I see a new character design sillier and/or hornier than the last. So far the winner is Bonelord’s old teacher.

Runner-up being Bonelord himself in his hoodie. Also a mood.
Being weird without explanation definitely beats being boring paste. The expectation that every anime has to follow the same set of tropes to appeal to an audience really makes me appreciate variety. That’s why I keep an eye out for bold creatives like Narita. Very few anime nowadays really have the budget, talent, or drive to liven things up but DMDP still tries to make it possible.

Ultimately, I’ve really missed having Narita’s name attached to anime, and I’m sad that so many older fans seemed to miss the label on . The manga has been simpub’d in English for years now, and I didn’t really know about it. While I prefer the production of other works more, I think DMDP is a good introduction to the kind of stories he creates. People already fond of Narita’s style will probably find it worth checking this out, and anyone getting associated with this author for the first time might enjoy his previous works!
My humble bit of shilling for Dead Mount is that it’s a wonderful popcorn anime, plain and simple. If you, like me, think we need more stories about lovable necromancers, then pull up a chair built out of femurs, and enjoy. It’s got ghosts and goofs galore, and it’s propulsive and off-kilter enough to keep me chomping at the bit for more.
See, a craving to chew things that are propulsive means maybe we all have more in common with sharks and orcas than we thought? I knew we could find a way to settle our differences. Let’s all give a big rally for peace between land and sea! (The skeletons can join too.)



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