Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: The Demon Girl Next Door
Anime Studio: JC Staff
Genre: Comedy / Supernatural
When Yuko Yoshida wakes up one morning to discover that she’s sprouted horns and a tail, she learns something that her mother has been meaning to tell her. You know that battle between the Light and Dark that’s been going on since the dawn of time? Well, Yuko’s family are the bad guys. So now, Yuko has to defeat a local magical girl to win back some of her family’s vanquished power so they can afford to go to the all-you-can-eat pancake restaurant. And, of course, it turns out that the Magical Girl goes to Yuko’s school, but Momo’s really nice and keeps rescuing Yuko, which is pretty embarrassing and leaves Yuko rather conflicted… but… all you can eat pancakes? Sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when you’re THE DEMON GIRL NEXT DOOR!
Based on the four-panel manga by Izumo Ito, The Demon Girl Next Door is a supernatural comedy from JC Staff. JC Staff has, of course, been around since the 1980s, and have worked on a bunch of well-known series, including Toradora!, A Certain Scientific Railgun, and Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon Season 1, season 2, and season 3. That pedigree is definitely on show here insofar as the series remains visually consistent throughout. It isn’t as standout as the best out there, but it isn’t going to be appearing on any ‘worst animation’ lists any time soon either.
The character designs are pretty good. In many ways, they simply tick the boxes for ‘typically cute anime girls’. At the same time, it’s quite clear how they’re designed to spoof the magical girl genre. From Momo’s cutesy pink hero outfit to Yuko’s more scanty demon outfit, it’s all intentionally derivative of things you’ll have seen many times before.
The show’s humour is strong too and does a good job of playing into that spoofing. For example, the first time we see Momo transform, we’re given the visual aid of a timer to show how quick the transformation really is when compared to how long it lasts on screen. It actually does a great job of answering the question of why the monsters never seem to attack the heroes while they transform.
That’s not to say that you need to be a big magical fan to get some laughs out of the show though. While the parody work is very good, for the most part, The Demon Girl Next Door plays out like a whacky slice of life series. Part of the reason that works so well is that Yuko and Momo have some real chemistry together on screen. The characters play off each well throughout, and their personalities make them more than a match for each other. Watching them grow closer too is an absolute delight, and it never grows dull watching them forge a close relationship by the end of the season.
This is all aided by there being an actual, ongoing story playing out alongside the silliness. It never takes the focus so much that it forces the series into being something more serious than it is, but rather acts as a useful tool to allow the comedy to shine. For example, the curse placed on Yuko’s family adds a nice wrinkle to the dark vs light story, but also gives a logical reason for Yuko being such a life-klutz.
The soundtrack is also decent, though, like the animation, it isn’t going to do well when compared to the best out there. On the flip side, the voice cast does a great job with some excellent material in both the subbed and dubbed version. The one downside to this is that the short extra episodes that form the bonus material are the only ones not to get the dub treatment. So, if you either prefer the English cast or simply don’t have the opportunity for subs, you’ll miss out on those.
Overall though, I really do recommend The Demon Girl Next Door. It knows what it’s spoofing, and does so well. While not standout, the technical work is consistently decent, and the characters are really endearing. This is a fun, silly series that should provide plenty of entertainment for most. It’s an easy 4 out of 5 for me.