Imagining every minor detail that composes the modern otaku dream is not a difficulty task if you've been updated with the anime industry in the past decade. The light novel boom a decade ago gave us a massive amount of tales that were basically the same thing, or at least based on extremely similar concepts. The most successful of those novels were based in some sort of alternative world, typically based on an MMORPG or virtual reality. They also had some mature premise, varying from some heavy theme to giving us a glimpse of a harsh adult reality in corporate companies in Japan. Finally, they had a protagonist that was far ahead the competition, way smarter and stronger than everyone else, capable of being a dick and still seducing every horny teenage girl along with being always the generic average japanese guy with some sort of social issues or depressive thoughts (or at least for the first five minutes).
Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku (Death March) is a massive collection of every trope collected in the last decade. It has a virtual world based on a game, an adult protagonist that becomes a teen, a harem filled with cute lolis, an over-powerful lead, and so on. It all starts with a reference to our own reality, where a random japanese guy nicknamed Satou is being enslaved in a game-developer company, spending his stupid life in the office and being deprived of real rest. When he finally sleeps though, he wakes up in another place, very similar to some of the videogames he was working on. So similar it even has some of the same bugs he knew. Well, it happens his starting items manage to wipe out an entire map of high level enemies and thus his own level jumps to a sky-high number, along of gaining a shit-load of powerful items and gold.
You may ask what happens next and I will sadly tell you: nothing. Long story short, Death March tries to mock the tropes it uses, such as initially reminding us that most MMORPGs don't even have the concept of an ending (yeah Sword Art Online, I am looking at you), but it never really establishes a major objective for our protagonist to strive for. He doesn't care about leaving because, gods, the life of an average japanese worker seems the closest we get from actual slavery. He is interested in exploring stuff. And he is so over-powerful he can basically play god in this new land without any kind of danger.
Oh, he is young again
Yup. I told you, you need an average guy as a protagonist as in every other damn light novel ever released. So that adult guy having a crap job is magically transformed into a teenage version of himself in this new world. One could say this simply means adult life in Japan is the same as death, so becoming younger is like a way of having a life again, but it seems obvious this is just for the sake of playing safe with the marketing and sales number. It is also a pity that even though his mind is that of an older person, he simply acts as the teenage boy, much like what happened in Relife and Erased.
What does he do in this new world?
Well, he is an over-powerful being capable of seeing into people, learning things instantly and with an inventory filled with powerful items. Why not buy some loli slaves then? Yeah. Why not? In this new world there are slaves and it seems most of them are underage girls, some being sexual slaves, of course. Building a harem has perhaps never been taken so literally as in here. "Oh, a cute 11-year old slave princess? I'll pay for her to satisfy my pleasures."
Anyway, this is a light novel, so even though there are slaves and our protagonist is buying a horde of underage girls to serve under him, there is absolutely no new ground explored. Slavery is only an issue for a second or two when some snob tries to throw rocks at the poor girls. Satou has an adult mind, but he ends up only resisting the loli's attempt to bed him like any teenager protagonist would do. Everything is so damn cheesy and cliche it gets annoying most of the time.
It does get some things right though
Well, not much. Death March does nothing that other similar shows haven't done. It is perhaps the most sincere of them all, which is a big plus in a genre that is filled with mediocre attempts to simply please an audience with fanservice. It is hard not to compare it to Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, and Overlord, but it also follows tropes from Tanya, Relife, Erased, and Knights & Magic. Its sincerity allows for a much smoother experience, one that is simply based on the joy of learning about the world, seeing Satou using his MMO-knowledge to help his slaves level up, and being dazed with the cute underage girls. Where some shows of this kind would lose their edge when trying to be feel mature, over-explaining itself, or wasting time with lizard sex, Death March is simply an honest harem with the elements attractive to the current audience.
It is ugly though
The girls are fine, they can be seductive default cute lolis. Death March, however, is wildly inconsistent and perhaps the worst job from Silver Link in a good while. Animation is basic at most, but even some static scenes are plain ugly, rushed, and lifeless. The scenery doesn't help at all too, with the city looking like a collection of big bland blocks for a wall and a lack of detail to houses, caverns, and other places. The big killing move, however, falls to a boring sound track with no impact at all, which is only slightly saved by a decent, although majorly annoying, voice-acting and interesting opening and ending themes.
Although Death March is a complete mess from the get-go, it was an enjoyable experience. The major factor to contribute to that is how the harem-building element never moves against an overarching plot, which is one of the major faults of Sword Art Online, for example. Death March, in fact, lacks an overarching plot entirely, being basically a compromise about a young boy with infinite money buying girls to satisfy his need to feel like a good-doer man and secretly giving him pleasure as he travels around a world that is much more interesting than his reality as a corporate slave doomed to die alone without doing shit with his life.
The fact that it lacks a purpose could be a fault, but considering how similar shows end up a drag when trying to give detail to their worlds and losing their track along that path, this simple tale of wandering around and a short amount of episodes contribute into making it a more interesting experience than it first seems. Sadly though, the is no conclusion whatsoever in this first season and perhaps dragging for more episodes will make this already mediocre tale something intolerable.
Well, this is just an average show about elements we are all tired about, but if you ever had any fun with these elements Death March is a safe bet for a short entertainment.