Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser October 6, 20190 Comments
Sullivan kneeling in front of Iruma, who's in a big chair. subtitle: Won't you be my grandson?

What’s it about? Suzuki Iruma thinks his life is over when his parents sell his soul to a demon, but it turns out the demon’s greatest wish is to make Iruma his grandson. Now Iruma’s starting a new life at a new school. There’s just one problem: if anyone finds out he’s human, he’ll be eaten!

A shounen series seemingly aimed toward the same middle-grade sort of audience as Little Witch Academia, Iruma-kun feels perfect as a bit of fall sweetness. If you’re looking for something to watch with older kids, this seems like it’s shaping up to be a good pick. From the appealing stylized silhouettes of the Netherworld to the Halloween-y purples and oranges that feel reminiscent of Soul Eater at its best, there are buckets of charm on display in this premiere.

Iruma drawn as Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. subtitle: it'd be "Overwhelming Crisis Evasion Capability." Onscreen text: Overwhelming Crisis Evasion Capability

A lot of that comes down to protagonist Iruma, who comes from the “this would be unbearably sad if you applied the slightest bit of dramatic framing to it” school of writing. Fourteen years of parental neglect and abuse has left Iruma so passive that he’s basically incapable of saying “no” to anyone. But in the world of demons, extreme conflict avoidance turns out to be his superpower, allowing him to win over his first friend…subordinate…future fanfiction costar, the haughty pretty boy Asmodeus, by managing to avoid every attack thrown at him.

It also helps that the world Iruma inhabits is on his side. His new grandpa, Sullivan, is basically what happens when we all shake hands and agree that Dumbledore is pretty shady, providing “help” that’s shenanigan-inducing but also without any mean-spirited teeth. It makes for a compelling balance of dark humor – Iruma freaks out at a graphic school song about the joys of devouring humans, for example – wrapped preemptively in a comforting blanket.

A blissfully smiling Asmodeus. subtitle: First, let's make the entire student body your servants.

This episode drops hints of a larger plot going on, as the cold open implies Sullivan might be setting Iruma up to inherit his role as the Demon King. But, since this is confirmed as a 23-episode series, those kinds of stakes are likely pretty far off in the future. Most of the female cast that the opening theme promises will be prominent are also backgrounded in this first episode, but it’s heartening to note that neither the opening nor ending visuals are particularly fanservicey, and that the show seems to be working its way up to a mostly gender-balanced cast.

In a stronger season this would probably be a solidly middle-of-the-pack show, with its pretty visuals and familiar but well-executed story beats (given that it’s airing on NHK Educational TV, I don’t expect it to do anything particularly daring, either). But it put a smile on my face from beginning to end, and I’m looking forward to a weekly dose of episodic adventures for the next few months.  

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