Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World Episode 10
You know, I liked to think that my most consistent complaints about Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World effectively echoed the elements its intended target audience would be disappointed by: The story is boring, the sex is uninteresting, the slavery and harem elements are underutilized or ignored. And yet somehow, this sad little show's reader ratings are continuously pushed into the 'Above Average' zone because people are seemingly willing to settle, or reinterpret the series' intent as some sort of intentionally-slow, relaxing, slice-of-life iyashikei venture. But that hardly tracks with our heroes still engaging in regular monster-combat or bandit-murder on the reg, to say nothing of that nominal slavery element. The best iyashikei anime, Laid-Back Camp, worked specifically because a character like Shima Rin wasn't compulsorily coaxed into camping with the group; I don't think that series would have hit as effectively if Nadeshiko had slapped a collar on her and forced her to come along. I mean, that certainly would have worked for some people out there, but my point is… What was my point again?
Anyway, I can say this for Harem Labyrinth this week: It put a modicum of effort into attempting to be effective porn. Michio still doesn't have an actual harem beyond his solitary slave, but he and Roxanne get it on in more varietous vectors than their usual half-interested hay-rolls. The apex of this is a supposedly-medicinal bout of finger-fellatio giving way to the real deal with the exact escalating joke I made to myself during the first part. It almost comes off as needlessly overboard; What was the point of going all-out in animating that single-entendre action with the finger if they were just going to illustrate the actual deed a moment later?
But it ultimately just adds up to compounding saucy content for the viewers who are specifically here for that (read: all of them). And I'll admit, this is probably the part that got me most interested in what the uncensored version of Harem Labyrinth would look like here, in how they would peel back their own screen-obstructions while still cutting around anatomy that would otherwise legally require pixelation. Yes, it's a purely technical curiosity, but given how so much of the erotic writing in Harem Labyrinth comes off like an instruction manual composed by someone whose only knowledge of sex comes from old Newgrounds dating sims, I'd say it's an appropriate attitude.
On the flip-side, there's actually a momentary attempt to tie the sexual element into what passes for themes in this story. Michio's stressed, somewhat rougher round with Roxanne earlier in the episode is intended to speak to the contemplations of his own mortality he comes by. Now, this is one place where the censorship in the streaming version does things even more of a disservice than usual, since we're barely permitted to see anything beyond some frames of Michio's dead-eyed expressions to distinguish this wall of gray boxes from any of the other ones. But the whole exercise just fails to make an impression anyway. Michio and Roxanne's encounter with the doomed adventurer in the labyrinth while queued up for the boss has all the excitement of making conversation with someone in line at the DMV. And the man's death isn't treated as an opportunity for Michio to empathize with someone else or even reflect on how his own journey mirrors that of so many other people in the world. It's simply a shoehorned-in instance of Michio realizing that, technically, he could be killed by the nonthreatening stock monsters in this maze, sweating the implication that he's got just as much chance of being offed as that rando who was killed by a low-level boss monster Michio was able to one-shot.
The whole thing is really just an excuse to end up selling the fantasy of Roxanne as the kind of wife well-suited to obliterating this particular Problems Clown for Michio. "Thank you, Roxanne" he gratefully mumbles into the boobs he bought specifically for this kind of comforting. It's a tone that they vaguely round back to later in the episode with the whole mouth-to-dick resuscitation thing supposedly being a demonstration of Michio's 'rewards' for any pains he suffers in the labyrinth. But it also just rings as weird to sell that dungeon as this sort of dangerous place one must feel driven to challenge out of adventurous spirit, when the interactions with it have always been depicted with all the dejected resignation of punching in for work in the morning.
They also show off Roxanne in some sexy new underwear this episode, another notch for the fanservice efforts, but it's generated out of so much of the rest of this one being rooted in watching our leads farm rabbits and go out clothes shopping. But that's the same old Harem Labyrinth we're used to, and it speaks to the show's continuous overall failure. The fanservice angle of the series was actually functional for once this week, and was in fact the one part of the episode I wasn't aggressively bored or annoyed by. But it still wasn't enough to make up for those shortcomings, or push the series past its usual below-average threshold.