Fail to the King!

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Sturgeon's Law can be a cruel mistress. While popular series like Naruto and Harry Potter have tens of thousands of fanfics and dozens if not hundreds of entries worthy of a spot on the Fanfic Recs pages, less-known franchises may never see more than a handful of sub-par stories rife with Rouge Angles of Satin and infested with Mary Sues.

Luckily for Disgaea fans, however, the collected works of Nippon Ichi do not fall into the second category; we have Fail to the King!

FttK is a Disgaea fanfic written by Varanus and based on the events of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. The plot’s big gimmick is that it’s set after the alternate “Super Hero Almaz” ending, which features Almaz being crowned Overlord and Dean of Nether Institute by Mao’s father and then being abandoned by the rest of the group for various reasons. While it’s largely considered a gag ending by the fandom (you need to jump through a few hoops to get it instead of the normal ending and several characters act very OOC by abandoning Almaz), FttK takes the notion of Almaz being Overlord and runs with it, turning Almaz’s Downer Ending into a Sequel Hook.

The story picks up a week later when Aria, a kunoichi and former vassal of Mao, is assigned by a mysterious benefactor to check up on Almaz and finds that he’s been stuck in a Heroic BSOD since the end of the game. One hilariously brutal Bright Slap later, Almaz gets his shit together and decides to get to work on this whole “being Overlord” thing. Unfortunately, he’s got a lot to learn and no time to learn it in, because a mysterious and powerful new foe has just breezed into town with dark designs for the academy and ambitions that span the multiverse...

With an intriguing plot, good fight scenes, interesting use of gameplay mechanics, numerous shoutouts and a sense of humor that’s close to Original Flavor, Fail to the King! stands out as one of the best Disgaea fics available on the internet.


Tropes used in Fail to the King! include:
  • Author Appeal: Cited by Word of God as the main reason Asagi is appearing in the story. Not that we mind or anything...
    • Also, the idea of EmpathicWeapons is a favorite of the author, which fits in nicely with the magichange system.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Mao. In a flashback to the Almaz ending from his perspective, it's shown he actually calculates his attack patterns and enemy's predicted movements beforehand, right down to the angle his sword strokes make. Turns out, whenever he said 'My calculations were off a bit', he meant it.
  • Back from the Dead: Almaz, right at the end of chapter 23.
  • Battle Aura: Monty seems perpetually surrounded by a bright yellow aura leaking out of his armor. Turns out his body is nothing but aura. Being The Faceless, it also served as an Expressive Hair of sorts.
  • Battle Couple: Adell and Rozalin.
  • Beat Them At Their Own Game: Almaz averts an early assassination attempt by Rasberyl by inviting them to breakfast and generally acting more polite than them, then calling them out and making them look rude for trying to kill such a gracious host.
    • During the battle against Monty, when they were dueling in the Up to Eleven Infinite Graves, Almaz wins by using Monty's own swords against him. Seeing as how Monty had previously described those swords as his soul, he basically saw it as a very brutal, humiliating 'Stop hitting yourself!' moment. No wonder Monty had to suppress a minor Villainous Breakdown when the attack ended.
  • Big Damn Heroes
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Mao: Almaz... I watched your DVDs!

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"My extensive hero research has shown that no amount of mental turmoil can withstand a straight right hook."

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  • Bottle Fairy: Tileyfa mentions that the humans of Holt Village see her as one.
  • Check, Please!: Tink, after realising the woman he's chatting up in the cafe is a spy hunting for Rozalin.
  • Chess with Death: The image is invoked by Phoenix when she dies and faces the Reaper.
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Gig: Hate to break it to ya, but I don't play chess.
Phoenix: Hate to break it to ya. Whips spear forward. Neither do I.

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  • Chekhov's Gunman: Aurum vanishes several chapters in and goes on a quest to find his old heroic nature again. It’s a sure bet we’ll be seeing him again sooner or later.
    • A slightly more meta version with Aurum: during the Almaz ending, you never see him leave the throne room... because he didn't. Also, Champloo vanished during the Almaz Ending and hasn't been seen in the Netherworld since... because he was taking a holiday in Rhodonite Kingdom. His first appearance has him giving critical advice to, ironically, Almaz's mother.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Several.
    • Almaz remembers one point where a demon stole his pants while he was sleeping and set a Baciel on him during his early Academy days. Turns out Phoenix did it.
    • Adell kicking the side of his house.
    • Why Adell hates Monty Python.
  • The Chessmaster: Cinos is a villainous version of this. Interestingly, he’s clearly not a perfect Magnificent Bastard; he succeeds in isolating Sapphire and Aurum and trapping them in the human world and he lures Almaz and several of his vassals into a deathtrap, but he openly states later on that he didn’t count on them surviving and hooking up with the Disgaea 2 crowd.
  • Click. "Hello.": Rozalin is good at this.
  • Contrived Coincidence: One that affects both Almaz and Cinos when the story reaches Veldime. The scope of it goes over Almaz's head, but Cinos is not amused.
  • Cosmic Plaything: No, not Almaz actually, all things considered things have been going pretty good for him. Axel, however, is still karma's personal Chew Toy.
  • Crossover: Word of God says all the Disgaea characters will be appearing sooner or later. Adell, Rozalin and a good chunk of the cast of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories have already made appearances. Gig is referred to offhandedly several times before eventually making his own appearance as well and Etoile features prominently in the backstory of one of the antagonists At least, that's what we're led to believe.
  • Cruel Mercy: Aurum gets this treatment from Almaz, who refuses to grant his death wish and tells him to go find himself and rediscover the reason he became a hero in the first place.
  • Death by Origin Story: Etoile Rosenqueen
  • Death From Above: Happens when Almaz and co. find themselves smack dab underneath a 'Big Bang' attack. To a lesser extent, whenever Almaz uses 'Slayer's Decent'.
  • Deface of the Moon
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After being defeated by Almaz, Monty is willing to let him wield him.
    • Subverted. Whatever Monty really is, he is NOT Almaz's friend as shown in Chapter 23. At best it views Almaz as just another thing to corrupt and tarnish. Subverted AGAIN when the real soul of the weapon is shown to actually rather like the kid.
  • Did You See That Too: Between Adell and Yukimaru after Aria intercepts them and gives Almaz a piece of her mind.
  • Dramatic Irony: Any reader who finished Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is well aware that Rozalin is both Zenon, the Overlord that Tav is hunting for revenge... and the little girl from the Snow Village that he almost gave up his quest to become a father for. He isn't.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Rozalin, dreaming of her past life as Zenon.
  • Evil Counterpart: As confirmed by Word of God, Tav is basically what Adell could become if he ever lost Rozalin.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Cinos fits the description quite well.
  • Evil Weapon: Sienna's cursed axe fits the description perfectly, and has displayed a disturbing habit of forcing its wielder to relive their memories. Mao seems to be able to suppress it to a degree.
    • Mao even lampshades it when he sees it, because it "positively screamed evil". It's been revealed that it is in fact the Grand Madness, the ultimate axe weapon in Disgaea 3, and is slowly driving Mao (more) insane.
  • The Faceless: Monty's helmet covers his face, and once that helmet gets knocked off, he's promptly killed and transforms into a sword.
  • Failure Knight: Etem's motivation.
  • Flat What: From Cinos, of all people.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Averted! Many of the gameplay elements Disgaea is best known for have actual effects in the story. Leveling, transmigration, mana and weapon skills have all seen use so far.
    • The changes of personality generic units undergo when they transmigrate into a different class is explained as a sort of mental condition called Transmigrative Compulsive Disorder. Basically, the demons get so gung-ho about their new forms that they tend to only focus on what those forms do and lose their sense of self.
    • Turns out, all you have to do to read someone's title is just look at them closely.
    • The fic's best example of this trope? The villains of the story are not demons, but Item Gods.
  • Genre Savvy: Well, it is a Disgaea fic after all. That said, no-one's realised they're in a fanfic yet.
  • Guns Akimbo: Rozalin, with Gatling guns.
  • Homage: Infinite Graves is already noted on the Disgaea page to be an Unlimited Blade Works reference but Almaz’s battle with Monty takes it Up to Eleven and more directly references the Shirou vs Gilgamesh battle in UBW, with swords flying every which way and Almaz’s copied blades breaking with every use.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Tav and Zenon play freaking ping-pong with these things during their battle in chapter 21; first with Zenon mocking Tav for thinking his despair could ever match hers, then Tav countering with a Kirk Summation...
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"Can you really claim to be so lonely with Adell by your side?"

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    • ...and immediately launching into his own "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Which is then turned right around and thrown back at him after Adell performs his own Dynamic Entry and Zenon admits that he's right.
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"Feel this, Etem. Feel the depth of my despair and solitude. May your knees buckle under the weight and let the black tide of sorrow drown you as you fall into oblivion. Take all of my anger, all of my pain, all of my sadness – I have no more need of it. I am free of it!"

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  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played with. Jericho has spent his long lifetime transmigrating over and over to perfect his skill with the sword, the side-effect being a huge number of useful skill such as healing, sensing mana, Stealth Hi Bye and the ability to create and manipulate Dimension Gates. These skills come in handy a lot in the story, but on the other hand, despite centuries of training every canon main character is still stronger than him despite the fact they've only been fighting for a few months, tops.
  • Hot-Blooded: Adell, literally during one battle. After coughing up blood, it hits the ground and begins to steam.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In Chapter 13: "About the phone call… even with the best telephone service, there's a problem with calling other planets. A big problem. Huge. It's the rates. They're astronomical."
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Phoenix, when caught in an ambush, tosses her spear away and unconditionally surrenders. Cinos catches it after it cut through several stories of the castle and throws it back to her while the heroes' guard is down.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Phoenix thought Tink would be easy prey. Phoenix thought wrong.
    • The entire fic is an extended one for Almaz, really.
  • Light Is Not Good: While not entirely a villain, Tav and his heavy light motif most certainly falls into this bill.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cinos has moments of this, especially when he lures Almaz into an ambush by baiting his love for Sapphire. Phoenix, on the other hand, seems to be a master of this, delivering a harsh "The Reason You Suck" Speech to an ally in order to nip a potential Heel Face Turn in the bud.
    • It's explictedly stated by The Emcompasser later that part of the reason he didn't want to work with Cinos was he enjoys deliberately withholding information until it suits his purposes to reveal it. And Cinos does exactly that after figuring out Rozalin is the reborn Zenon.
  • Mathematician's Answer: "A-are you Rozalin... or Zenon?" "Yes."
  • Mental World: Phoenix enters her own heart at one point, the inside of which is a Phantom filled white-hot iron city built atop a sun, floating in a starless abyss. This is directly contrasted to Mao's crystal wasteland in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. Apparently the trick to traversing these worlds is an Alternate Character Interpretation of whoever's heart you're in.
    • Almaz's heart takes the form of an enormous city made of copper with a diamond replica of Rhodonite Castle at its center.
  • Moment Killer: Phoenix in chapter 16-17. Emphasis on the killer.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Mao’s Giga Ice.
  • Noodle Incident: At one point, waking up in an unfamiliar room, Almaz idly remembers all the other times in the past that he's woken up in a strange room, wandering around in the middle of the night after somebody had stolen his pants, trying to avoid demons, only one time a Baciel spotted him and-- At which point he re-suppresses the memory.
    • Adell refuses to comment on what made him hate Monty Python, but it's somehow Axel's fault.
  • Not So Harmless: At first, Monty seems like a joke because of his reference spewing going as far as getting his arms cut off for the sake of the routine. Then he gets bored and decided to actually start fighting. And keeps on fighting, even after they thought it was over. If Almaz wasn't so Dangerously Genre Savvy, it would have ended much differently.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Aria catching Rozalin heading to Adell's room for comfort after a nightmare.
  • Obviously Evil: Cinos is accused of this by some of the protagonists, though it's more Genre Savvy on their part, seeing as all demons try to cultivate this look. Aria calls it a "'fallen angel' renegade heretic" look.
  • OC Stand-In: Several. Aria and several other vassals from Mao’s army are all based on the generic player units, and Cyprus is the Cu Sith that Sapphire summons for her Shunpo Moondance technique. The rest are all run-of-the-mill Original Characters.
    • Same goes for the antagonists, only with slight adjustments. Cinos himself is a Heretic (male healer) wearing a cape/robe, Phoenix is a Valkyrie with gauntlets as well as greaves, Sienna was a Heavy Knight/Berserker and Tav is a mix between a Sinner from Disgaea 2 and a Brawler from Disgaea 3.
  • Oh Crap: Plenty, but of particular note is Adell's after learning his new friend Tav is seeking revenge on Overlord Zenon.
  • Omake: An extra scene at the end of Chapter 10 explaining why Adell got the Monty Python references.
  • One of Us: Varanus isn’t just a troper, he’s a contributor known hereabouts as User:Arc Varanus.
  • One-Winged Angel: Subverted by Cinos' true form: a staff.
  • Physical God: Cinos, Phoenix, Sienna and Tav are Item Gods of the ultimate weapons from Disgaea 3. Invincible and Radiance are set to follow.
  • Power Gives You Wings: So much so with 'Slayer's Descent', of the wings of light variety
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Mao, facing a hoard of feral demons:
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"Today we're conducting an experiment entitled 'Newly Spawned Demons; Lifestyle in a High Hostility Environment'. Glad to see so many volunteers!"

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Cinos: It's just that I promised his Princess that I'd make him suffer. It was really more of an idle, 'because I can' kind of threat, but... you know how I am with promises.

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Aria: His girlfriend without benefits.

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  • Shout-Out
    • Gurren Lagann and Dragnaut get references early on after Mao plunders Almaz’s DVD collection.
    • Monty is a giant Monty Python reference-spewing machine.
    • One of Almaz’s attacks is noted to rush toward its target “like the Death Master’s scythe”.
      • Another mention later, of how Tav looms over somebody like the Death Master.
    • A minor one, but in Axel's appearance on TV alongside Pleinair and her rabbit chew-toy Usagi, he calls Usagi 'Serena' by mistake.
    • This exchange, right after Almaz and the D2 group become good Friends:
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"Where did you put it?"
"In the freezer,"
"… and you think it's safe there?"
"Well, safe-er,"

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It was a routine plan – Step One, crash in, kill everything inside. Step Two, steal everything that wasn't nailed down. Step Three, steal the nails. He was a little sketchy about Step Four, but Step Five was supposed to be pure profit.

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"Whoops. I just jinxed the trip, didn't I?"

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Tink, while turning red: I would not lead a lady on, and I am loath to let them come to harm... but, that is fine. After all, you, madam, are no lady!

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Etem: You have grievous internal bleeding and practically every bone you possess is at the very least fractured, not to mention your broken arm.
Adell: Ha! That just makes us even!

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    • Another case with a different character, Jericho's injury , a burnt hole where his left lung should be, should relegate him to bed rest. Instead, he 'appeals' a petition in the Dark Assembly and, more seriously, charges off to distract a giant lava serpent from destroying Holt, all while only being held together by his own mana and resolve.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Spoken word for word by Jericho in Chapter 24.