Image source: まけるな!! あくのぐんだん! on Twitter

Earth is, once again, under the threat of invasion by an alien species far more advanced than us. Our days on this planet as humans enjoying freedom may be numbered. Perhaps we have been taking it for granted for too long. How do we fight back against our new enemies; how can we now finally put aside our differences and unite in the greatest challenge to our existence, for our right to our home world?

Well, we could probably just chill out and carry on as normal.

Don-sama is the stringent and determined leader of a trio of aliens bent on taking over the Earth. His sidekicks are Pepu, a bubbly little guy who just wants to help, and Chiku, the rather cynical realist of the bunch. Don’s motivation is often knocked down several notches by the constant crises happening around him, however, and so taking over the world becomes a real headache of management logistics. Can he endure these tribulations and rule the planet?

As you can imagine, Makeru na!! Aku no Gundan (“Don’t fail, Army of Evil!!“) is a gag anime, with a very familiar comedy style if you have seen any Tatsunoko Productions series before. In fact, the most recent one was Time Bokan 24 and we already covered how the “bad guys” in that show were portrayed as just regular folk trying to do their job and make a living, thereby triggering some sympathy in us, the viewers. We felt bad when the middle-aged “salaryman” employees got invariably blown up by the young, spunky heroes at the end of each episode.

The Antagonists of Time Bokan 24 Are Not the Villains of Yesteryear

This show, however, hits the point right home, to the extent that we actually want these guys to succeed, rather than simply feeling sorry when they inevitably fail.

Image source: まけるな!! あくのぐんだん! on Twitter

Even though they are trying to take over the Earth, and we should therefore be at war with them, they are just so bad at it, even with all of their determination and their wills energized, that we feel their struggle. This is done through a clever way of parodying tropes invoking sentimentality.

In particular, this tone is set very early on, in one of the first scenes of the first episode, in fact. When Don and the aliens leave their home planet, it’s like a young adult leaving the family home and moving to the big city headed for greater things, with his mother waving goodbye in the distance. She remains standing at the station, watching her son from afar, like an old lady in a melancholic coming-of-age drama. So it’s very relatable in a real, sentimental way, but at the same time, we have become so accustomed to those same scenes hitting the same beats in serious drama, that it is amusing when they are presented here in this ridiculous context. We laugh at the absurdity because it is a gag, and yet it humanizes the “baddies” enough that we care for them and don’t want the old lady—who, as a relatable parent, only wishes all the best for her son—to be let down.

Image source: まけるな!! あくのぐんだん! on Twitter

While we may not agree with his intentions, the challenges Don faces echo all too real for us as we start out our careers, and try to realize our goals, finding out that no amount of preparation is enough for the tough, unforgiving world we must somehow tame. As he flicks through his copy of “World Domination Made Simple,” we recall our younger days when we, too, thought we had things figured out, then the stark reality set in and shattered our aspirations. We genuinely feel for the poor guy, because we’ve been there.

That is not to say that we want to see him enslave humanity, of course! Makeru na!! is smart enough to also highlight how great human society is when everyone works together in the community spirit.

Image source: まけるな!! あくのぐんだん! on Twitter

An example of this is that even when our villains capture the entire population of humanity, a lot of emphasis is put on the good of everyone. At one point Don wants to eat some sushi, so they have to let the sushi chef go. But it turns out the sushi chef cannot make sushi without a fisherman, and the fisherman needs another guy, and so on. So, they end up letting everyone go because everybody’s profession is connected. It’s played for laughs, of course, but look deeper and you may find that it’s a very peaceful, positive picture of camaraderie and community that is being represented of our society.

If only it didn’t need to take an alien invasion to see our true connections in real life.

Makeruna!! Aku no Gundan! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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