First of all, I would like to sincerely thank Cauthan for convincing me to watch this series with his fantastic post about why this series isn’t garbage. I may have missed the point a tad with his post, but nevertheless. If not for him, I may have never gotten around to watching this for the foreseeable future, which would’ve been a crying shame. Because I like this more than Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.
In an event that will go down in infamy, Kobayashi has been dethroned as seasonal MVP by a series that follows along the same lines. Demi-chan wa Kataritai does what Kobayashi does without the need for moe or constant colorful barrages of cuteness. Some people prefer this, while others see it as a transparent attempt to cover up the artificial reality that has been established. Part of the appeal to Demi-chan was being the opposite of that; it felt real. More real than anything I’ve seen in a long while.
Of course, it’s not completely real. Not in the pragmatic sense that everything is an anime and fictional and I will never be able to interact with darling Hikari, but the way the narrative is structured. What Kobayashi overindulges in moe, it makes up for by having a relaxed tone undeterred by heavy bouts of drama (until the final episode). Demi-chan seems to believe that a constant stream of good vibes is evil and should be blocked by a dam, rock, or bridge every once in a while. Its core structure is lovely, though it falls victim to setting up conflict for the sake of setting up conflict, which hurts the overall genuineness by riling up evil, one-off characters only to have them do 180s by the end. While the standard formula is noticeable, it’s at times like these that make it hard to swallow.
But what makes the anime so great is its cast of characters (not including the male lead). It’s rare to have me like one or two characters from any particular series, even rarer to have me like most. To like most of the characters and love one? Not since Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge had I felt such a rush going in to each episode, looking forward to the amount of screentime a particular character could get and how they interact with others. This character is Hikari, the fun-loving vampire, whose personality is very similar to one Kyoko from Yuru Yuri!. Her energy and enthusiasm is adorable, with her penchant for driving most of the humor and zany situations to be a nice touch to the pedantic nature of the anime. What’s more is that she’s not just a ball of enthusiasm, as her reserved side comes out around topics of romance or intimate details. Her well-rounded character effectively makes Demi-chan much brighter, growing stronger as she interacts with the rest of the cast.
Thankfully, the rest of the cast are no pushovers. Despite some varying degrees of importance, each character gets enough attention to feel as though they matter to the series. Their development is predicated on whether or not they really feel they need to be developed, with Machi, the dullahan, receiving less genuine development due to her already mature and calm demeanor. Yuki, the snow woman (whatever that is), actually changes based on her first appearance and the end of the show. Her development is a little more “triumphant” in tone, with a lot of screentime dedicated to making her a welcomed member of the group of Demis. Finally, Sakie, who is not a student, but a teacher, is among the more one-dimensional of the Demi-humans. Her humor is predicated on her timid approach to romance, contrasting the stereotypical nature of a succubus, and development with her comes with a more reserved force. Her general behavior doesn’t change much, and her importance to the plot is only slightly higher than sexual fan service bait. I still found her cute.
So we come now to the male lead. Personally, I thought he was tolerable, and did more to deserve the affection he received from the Demi-humans than others in a more Harem-like setting. His blandness is alleviated only by his fascination with Demi-humans, something he’s prone to droning on and on about. I feel his distance and lack of a personality is somewhat justified by his position amongst the cast, in which he serves as a superior and, in a sense, “father figure” to the teenage girls (despite the romantic attentions). Almost like he were a guidance counselor, in which he feels close to them and wishes to help them, but can’t bring himself to relax around them, as the difference in age is a slight disconnect. Again, he’s tolerable, though that doesn’t excuse that blank, dot-pupil stare of his from populating the screen at every turn with hardly a twitch of anything different. This being said, I liked his inner fights against Sakie’s sexual pheromones.
Many have criticized this series’s approach to “monster girls,” normalizing them to the point where they basically have nothing special about them (aside from Machi). With this mindset, there’s nothing really all that special about Demi-chan, which is a valid perspective to have. The essence of Demi-chan is to look at it from the viewpoint of the male lead, intrigued with the prospect of learning about these new creatures and figuring out their kinks and quirks. But aside from that, these characters are more than test subjects, showing the same sort of insecurities as normal folk, with an added layer of discrepancies. This stigma of “Being different” is lightly addressed, and, as stated above, feels more like conflict for the sake of conflict the way it’s handled. The true beauty of the anime is simply getting to know what these different people think and feel, depending on their nature, their differences, and their perspectives. It’s a shame they shy away from that later on.
I suppose in a more objective sense, Kobayashi-san is a better series due to the lack of obstructions in its flow and narrative. However, Demi-chan turned out to be a lot more emotionally resonant experience. It appealed tremendously to my own preferences for how a slice-of-life should play out, adding a more “scientific” vibe that I really felt was unique. My only regret is that it could’ve been more. More controlled, more bold in its direction, and less perturbed by having to place unnecessary drama to liven up the circumstances. Imagine what it would be like if they made it an actual drama!
I’m getting ahead of myself.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.