Review: Demi-chan wa Kataritai

In recent years, demi-humans, also known as demis, have begun integrating into society. Takahashi Tetsuo, a school biology teacher who has always been fascinated with demis, finally gets his chance to encounter and interact with them upon learning that one of his fellow teachers is a succubus. Shortly afterwards, he discovers that he will be teaching 3 demi students – a vampire, a dullahan, and a yuki-onna. By spending time with each of the girls, Takahashi passionately endeavors to learn more about them while helping them manage their differences.

In a medium where countless comedy shows revolve around a small cast of cute girls attending school, the immediate obstacle which Demi-chan faces is whether or not it’s able to distinguish itself from the crowd. Can it become distinct and memorable despite its stereotypical setting and comedy dynamic? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Through its focus on world-building, Demi-chan manages to set itself apart, attempting to engage the viewer with thoughtful character details and societal implications alongside its charming cast and comedy.

Each episode unfolds as one might expect of a slice of life comedy however the core of the show is the way in which it handles its characters and builds them into the setting. Demi-chan is all about how the extraordinary traits of the girls manifest in surprisingly mundane, every day situations. How does a dullahan eat dinner? How does a Succubus manage relationships? The show combines a charming cast of characters in comedic situations with an engaging investigation into the implications of what makes them different as Takahashi helps each of the girls through a variety of social challenges and every day dilemmas.

What stood out to me more than anything about the design of the show was that it could have easily focused each and every one of its comedic scenarios and sequences around the girl’s extraordinary traits. However, there was just as much of an emphasis on what made them special as there was on what made them human and this worked far better for the show’s style of realistic, character integration. It’s what transforms the show from a gimmick-centric comedy into something actually thoughtful and unique.

From the first episode there is a genuine sense of history to the wold. We briefly learn of the past persecution of demis and the recent attempts to integrate them into society. The show isn’t as shallow as to simply introduce a handful of demis into the school system without any context – they have a functioning welfare system which helps all demi-humans conduct themselves normally in society.

The characters themselves are pretty fun. Hikari is a lively and energetic vampire. She’s attracted to cold places and avoids the sun though walking into broad daylight is more of a discomfort than a lethal development. There are a handful of these kinds of subversions which keep the show feeling refreshing both comically and in its depiction of demis. Hikari does have the desire to drink blood though she’s able to control the impulse without much effort and instead settles for tomato juice as a makeshift proxy. She also loves garlic.

Machi, the dullahan, is far and away the most visually interesting and well-executed of the demi girls due to the many inventive ways in which the show can display the relationship between her head and body. She has tons of physical quirks and casual movements that seem second-nature to her which really bring her extraordinary trait to life in a realistic way. She’ll rest her head on a pillow while her body does chores and maneuver her head from side to side in order to follow the flow of a conversation. It’s all incredibly natural to her and it’s the authenticity of her portrayal which makes her so captivating.

One of the key issues with the cast is that each of the demis aren’t necessarily as interesting as one another. Hikari’s boisterous attitude and playful tendencies make her standout in practically every scene she’s in and Machi’s demi trait is by far the most visually arresting of their differences because of the logistics of her body. Characters like Yuki, the yuki-onna, feel far less interesting by comparison and after her initial concerns about her demi-nature are alleviated, she doesn’t bring much to the show. Takahashi’s co-teacher, Sakie, does present a lot of interesting, contextual details concerning her succubus abilities, however her role in the show felt a little uninspired despite this.

Demi-chan‘s comedy is pretty good and some great expression work combined with the extraordinary antics of its demi cast allows for the show to be just as cute, funny, and endearing as it is engaging with its world-building. One of the drawbacks of Demi-chan‘s dual focus on the exceptional and mundane elements of its characters is that some of its episodes end up feeling unimaginative by comparison. While it’s great that the entirety of the show doesn’t revolve around the special traits of its characters, some scenes which try to emphasize their normality such as studying and talking to classmates aren’t nearly as captivating as when they are done well which isn’t always the case.

Demi-chan is at its best when its able to present interesting character details alongside the thoughtful, comedy and social dilemmas of its cast and as the show progresses it isn’t able to balance each of these things as well as it did in its initial episodes. The primary issue is that the show doesn’t integrate its exposition nearly as well. Demi-chan has a lot to say about its characters, their place in society, and what it means to be different. Early on, these details would manifest through the fun and natural dialogue shared between Takahashi and the girls however the latter episodes didn’t layer this exposition to the same degree.

Instead, conversations with the sole purpose of delivering world-building information would drag on for minutes on end while diagrams and intricate, visual explanations of demi biology and social mindsets would break immersion. Demi-chan has a ton to say and it never fails to be inventive however it doesn’t always find the best way to communicate this to the viewer. Another unfortunate element of the show is that it hardly ventures beyond the context of the school setting. For all of the verisimilitude surrounding the demis and the societal discussions, you don’t really see any other demis apart from the main characters which renders the wide scope of the show’s commentary a little awkward in places. There is also a very light romantic element to the show which more often than not feels a little typical given that most of Demi-chan‘s appeal is grounded in the ways that it differs from other similar shows.

[Rating: 6]

Despite a handful of minor issues, Demi-chan is an enjoyable watch and its thoughtfulness and comedy give it a very distinct feeling. It’s cast is great fun and though characters like Yuki never really come into proper appeal, their chemistry with each other is quite entertaining. Demi-chan stumbles at times in regards to its exposition but what it’s actually saying about the girls’ various demi attributes, their place in society, and how they overcome their everyday problems is endlessly refreshing and interesting.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Demi-chan wa Kataritai

  1. This show definitely had good moments but as a whole didn’t really appeal to me being slice of life and comedy focussed. I was amazed I stuck with it as long as I did, but those thought provoking moments were good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems like this was a lot more than I gave it credit for. The Slice of Life series I went for this season was Dragon Maid, and I felt validated when I saw a lot of Demi-chan reviews finding the characterization lacking (though Maid Dragon’s supporting characters are nothing to laud either).

    In any case, this was a very helpful review. I think I have a pretty good impression of what to really expect from this show now, and might give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think Demi-chan brought a bid more to the table than I was expecting, especially given the most recent examples of other Monster Girl shows. In a comparison, I’d definitely give the edge to Kobayashi this season by a good margin but this one was fun enough.

      Liked by 1 person

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