How do you encompass youth in one word? There are a wide variety of answers that are all correct in their own right, but the one that sums it up for me is Growth. Youth is a time of development, finding yourself and still trying to fit in. Seemingly endless days with friends and making every attempt at creating memories with them, youth is a wonderful thing and is one of the most effective themes presented in anime. Demi-chan wa Kataritai perfectly encompasses this concept through its innovative characters, spectacular narrative pacing and beautiful visuals. It really has been a long time since a show this effortlessly enjoyable and engaging has come along.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai
ENDEARING AND WELL WRITTEN CHARACTERS COMBINE COMEDY AND DRAMA
SLICE OF LIFE, COMEDY, FANTASY | ANIMATED BY A-1 PICTURES | DIR: ANDOU, RYOU
The Premise of Demi-chan wa Kataritai
Despite centuries of discrimination and misjudgement, species known as Demi-Humans have lived among humans for as long as history itself has been documented. This species consists of four major families: Vampires, Dullahans, Snow Women and Succubi. For the majority of people in this world, the stories of these species have been mere fairy tales. However, for Biology Teacher and Demi-Human Enthusiast, Tetsuo Takahashi, their existence is about to make a grand appearance.
Now accompanied by a new succubus colleague and not only one, but three demi-humans enrolled in the school, it seems like Tetsuo will be able to interview them firsthand. Learning about the true lives of these girls both regular and not, Demi-Chan provides a window into an engaging cast of characters like no other. By the way, apparently Demi-Human sounds too “clinical” so they prefer to be called Demi-Chan.
Demi-Chan quirks played both for comedy and drama
One of the most talked about aspects of this show is its enjoyably unique style of humour. Indicative of such a surreal narrative, the writing and comedic moments within Demi-Chan are reason enough to give it a chance. Although its visual direction is somewhat standard for the show as a whole, there are plenty of sequences where the viewer is allowed to revel in each character’s quirks. This show doesn’t take its time in presenting these moments either.
Protagonist Tetsuo is initially presented as a flawless character who seems like this perfect teacher and all around human being. However, when first encountering the abstract nature of some of his new students watching him lose his cool is incredibly satisfying. He’s blunt and to the point while still maintaining a certain level of dignity and respect as their teacher. Despite that, his apparent cockiness at times does lend itself nicely to compliment the wide variety of unexplored aspects when it comes to Demi-Humans.
This show’s engaging use of comedy can be seen analysed on the majority of reviews on the internet, what I personally want to focus on is Demi-Chan‘s surprisingly effective use of drama. From its bubbly previews, bouncy soundtrack and ever-smiling characters, the genre of drama was definitely not something that was widely expected. Myself included, the majority of viewers expected nothing more than a collection of lighthearted episodes following the lives of four eccentric characters.
Exploration of social isolation and breaking stereotypes
Depending on which of the two reviews get released first, this point is somewhat connected to what I had to say in my Gabriel Dropout Review. Both shows share the common theme of human variants spending time in a normalised highschool and having to adjust accordingly. What I personally admire about Demi-Chan’stake on this theme in comparison is its fearless presentation of how cruel kids can be. This is where the show’s pseudo genre of drama comes into play.
Demi-Chan takes on a much slower pace in its narrative and dialogue in comparison to Gabriel Dropout. Allowing time to flesh out each of these abnormal characters, they are then thrown into an uncomfortable situation which can provoke a variety of responses from spectators. For Yuki, it’s the concept of gossiping. As a Snow Woman, it is very tough to take part in physical activity and she fears that her ability to lower the temperature to her surroundings is a danger to her classmates. Yuki then encounters rude students who are badmouthing her, misunderstanding her thought process and basing their opinions on social stereotypes.
These episodic formats that take place during the majority of the first half of the season are especially effective in establishing character personalities and immediately allowing for growth. High school is hard enough as it is for the most ordinary of people, let alone having to handle the barriers that come with physical differences. Thematically, the show does focus heavily on the emotional effect this inherent gap has on these three demis and the show isn’t all sugar and rainbows. However, it is these moments of self questioning and exploration into the minds of hardened individuals that really display the high level of entertainment that can come from this show.
Fresh and charming take on the “monster girl” format
Just as a side note, the term “monster girl” is being used reluctantly here for lack of a more general and less opinionated one. Demi-Chan isn’t a typical harem show of supernatural girls fawning over a single brain-dead male character. While there are remnants of this format within the show through the relationships that arise in the character of their teacher Tetsuo, that is clearly not the aim of the show. Most often related to the show Monster Musume, the two are about as far from each other when it comes to their themes and format. Demi-chan takes a formula that would seemingly crumble without its key components and proves to the world that with a small substitution of charm and feeling, the result can be just as effective.
While both focus on the elements of comedy and lighthearted gags, Demi-chan does it without the features that inherently come with a rated R+ show. Depending on your personal taste in anime, this could be a positive or a negative – each show is good in their own right but I personally applaud Demi-chan for avoiding these ideas. These demis aren’t just used as fetish fuel where other shows have been more than keen to do so. Obviously that all comes down to the source material where the manga had always been the mixture of lighthearted sequences connected by its narrative heavy elements. Embracing your own personality and the aspects that you can’t control is a vital part of growing up and to convey this theme in the structure that Demi-chan does is a beautiful slice of life show that perfectly reflects its source material.
Calming atmosphere through its mellow visual direction
Demi-Chan’s visual direction is absolutely incredible and yet it is something that I have rarely seen touched upon even slightly. Understandably, the key principles of the show’s visuals are quite basic: displaying an appealing colour pallette that either compliments or contrasts the current demi on screen. Although this seems trivial and “of course, that’s the case for every show”, Demi-Chan’s balance between the two is what really drives this point home. For lack of a better explanation, to me it feels like they have somehow created backdrops that are both vibrant and muted at the same time.
The colour choices in some of the shots are akin to very early Simpsons episodes where they would use irregular colours to contrast with the unusually yellow colours of the characters. While this show doesn’t go as far as painting trees blue or anything, there have been scenes so visual breathtaking that, as a viewer, I have paused the episode to fully grasp what’s being displayed on screen. Not in a visually bombarding way like Hand Shakers was trying to accomplish by the way, this show has a firm grip on how to effectively convey emotion though its pallette choices while keeping the main focus on the girls themselves.
The four screenshots above are ones that I’ve talked about extensively on social media and are a pretty good demonstration of the point I’m trying to make here. Taking place on a university campus, the episode takes time away from the industrial and man-made structures, escaping to a more scenic background. Here is where Machi can finally take time to process all of the information she receives. Noticeably wearing a new outfit focusing mainly on greens and yellows, the scenery takes on a similar range of colours allowing her to blend in easily. While this itself gives a feeling of belonging, it also enables her blue eyes and pale skin to “pop out” and bring emphasis to this sense of wonder that she’s feeling. Accompanied by the planes crossing and the skies literally being cleared behind her, this is a key sequence in the development of Machi feeling comfortable with her identity as a dullahan.
Lovably well-written and utterly relatable characters
At Demi-chan’s core is an effortlessly lovable show with characters that become the reason viewers tune in every week. Somewhat arguable for the majority of shows within the Slice of Life genre, the main cast has to be enjoyable to watch in the scenarios that are presented. Some of the biggest downfalls for other shows attempting this are: a lack of varied scenarios or a weak cast of main characters. Thankfully, neither of these are true for Demi-chan as each episode hosts a variety of ‘skits’ without fail which also aid in developing the characters within them.
Not to mention the consistency in their writing, characters don’t completely change their motivations from episode to episode that has been apparent in other shows this season. Their dialogue is engaging and heavily stylised depending on who is speaking, most notably in the conversations between the three/four demis. Although somewhat weaker in the character of Satou from my viewing experience, the way that these characters act is akin to a steady line graph slowly rising from its origin. As an example, Yuki’s transformation is simply wonderful to watch as she breaks from her shell that she was trapped in the first few episodes.
Demi-chan simply wouldn’t be the same show without these exact characters taking full reign. Of course, Tetsuo is the perfect compliment to the four of them – enabling them to really shine in their own unique way. It’s a shame that this title is often titled as “another generic moe show” when its character development is more powerful and concise than a large majority of shows that span the length of multiple seasons.
All in all, this show has been a real pleasure to watch and has been the most enjoyable series of episodes I’ve seen in a while. Although I stand by my viewpoint of Konosuba S2 being my favourite show of the season, Demi-Chan has been the most calming and simply wonderful show so far. There’s a special feeling that comes with such innocently good shows that you can’t find anywhere else (and they come out few and far between). Especially with my personal love for clever writing, this show does not fall short of its initial promise of fleshing out a true cast of exceptional characters. I cannot recommend this show enough, although there are more comedic shows out there right now, this is without a doubt the most satisfying one to watch.