The Demon Girl Next Door – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser July 11, 20190 Comments
Yuko reaching up to touch one of her horns. subtitle: Apparently, because I grew these horns it's my destiny to find and murderize a Magical Girl

What’s it about? Yuko Yoshida wakes up one day to find she’s grown horns and a tail! It turns out that not only is she descended from a demon, but she’s been tasked with killing a magical girl to lift the curse placed upon her family. Unfortunately, a newbie demon doesn’t stand much chance against a world-saving veteran.

It’s amazing how much more palatable moe is when it doesn’t make up two-thirds of a season. Demon Girl is definitely cloyingly cute, but if you’re in the market for low-key slapstick with buckets of shipping fodder between the two leads, this isn’t half bad.

Do definitely check your tolerance meter for shrill screeching, though—about half of Yuko’s dialogue is given in full tsundere screech, which are also the moments when the show wobbles between “average physical comedy” and “I’m not sure this girl could lace her own shoes.” There’s definitely a rounded childishness to the designs, which falls straight into the uncanny valley when Yuko’s ancestor shows up in her fanservicey outfit. I didn’t ask for 12-year-olds in lingerie, thanks.

Yuko imagining her ancestor floating over as she sleeps. subtitle: You must vanquish a Magical Girl who lives in this town, and restore our clan to its former glory.

But the real MVP of this premiere, the thing that made me consider sticking around for another episode, is magical girl Momo Chiyoda (which I can only assume is a deliberate reference). Momo has apparently saved the world already, and her response to being threatened by a tiny demon is to feed her bread and try to teach her to punch better, all with the same stoic expression. She’s completely unphased by Yuko’s murder declarations. Honestly, she reminds me of Doumeki from XxxHolic and I love her.

The rest of the cast besides Momo? Ehhh, they’re all pretty light on personality, ranging from “there to deliver exposition” to “there to inflict slapstick on Yuko.” The opening definitely looks like it’s striving for an ensemble dynamic, so it had better fix that particular flaw sooner rather than later. Heck, I’d settle for them smoothing out Yuko’s characterization, as her switches from agreeable wallflower to tsundere rival often feel forced.

On a technical level it’s….not the worst, but definitely on the lackluster side. There’s a lot of characters standing against colored backgrounds in close-up in order to save on dynamic movement and some alarming weirdness with characters shifting proportions within a scene

Yuko imagining being princess-carried by Momo. subtitle: I ran across a Magical Girl! She actually saved me!

The energy feels like the animators would love to go more all-out, but they’ve been told not to overtax their assets. The localization is hit-and-miss too, with subs lingering on screen after a line’s ended and onscreen text only selectively translated. It’s a decidedly mid-tier offering, here to fill a genre niche rather than standing out above the pack.

The dynamic of “my enemy, whom I’m definitely not crushing on” is done rarely in yuri-adjacent anime, and to be honest I’m charmed by it. I wouldn’t steer anyone looking for explicit queer representation here, but anyone okay with only heavy subtext (they’re sharing an umbrella in the opening, for pity’s sake) might give it a look. Although even then…I mean, GRANBELM is right there, folks.

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