Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Hello everyone, and welcome the heck back to Wrong Every Time. Y’all ready for some Demon Girl Next Door? After two episodes of ineffectually stalking her magical girl prey, our last episode saw Yuko discovering that her family has never, ever won against a magical girl, at any point in history. Yuko isn’t just a scrappy weakling: she is the inheritor of a perpetual weakling legacy, with her weakling ancestors stretching back into prehistory. For untold centuries, Yuko’s people have been bravely sallying forth to fight magical girls, and have gotten their shit kicked in every single time.

Yuko’s ancestral uselessness is a fine joke in its own right, but also serves as a natural continuation of Demon Girl’s interrogation of the magic/demon girl binary. Purely because of the conditions of her birth, Yuko has been destined for poverty, devilry, and failure from the start. Though her ancestor urges her to succeed where others failed, it’s clear that this system is designed to produce specific winners and losers; self-determination is simply a lie that demons tell themselves, in order to cope with the underlying hopelessness of their situation. When given a chance to truly express her own wishes, Yuko’s feelings don’t seem particularly demonic at all: her main wish is “I hope we can all be friends.” But society demands heroes and villains, and so Yuko is forced to play a role she’s unsuited for, destined for a failure that’s been predetermined all along.

Meanwhile, the last episode also got terrific mileage out of brilliant concepts like Yuko is Short, or Momo is Bad at Cooking. With the show’s comedic and thematic layers each shining in their own way, let’s return to The Demon Girl Next Door!

Episode 4

“Salutations, everyone.” Yuko greets the audience herself, as if this were a children’s magical girl show, except of course she’s a demon. She is very bad at playing to her part

“It’s me, Shami-… I mean, Shadow Mistress Yuko.” Aw shit, she’s saying the name herself now. It’s all over for you, Yuko

This inclusion of a full recap by Yuko really does seem like a nod towards your standard children’s anime. Late-night anime tend to assume a more entrenched audience, and thus recaps are rarely necessary (unless you’re padding for time), whereas children’s daytime anime assumes an inconsistent viewer who might be catching just one scattered episode, thus any continuity demands an intro explanation

All of Shamiko’s friends offer some sacrificial offerings to her dark god. “Demonic rituals portrayed with the lighthearted framing of an after-school club show” will never get old

Momo discovers Shamiko’s Dark God has an off-on switch on the bottom

The Little Match Girl framing in the OP feels more appropriate all the time. The initial dichotomy of magical girls and demons/witches/what have you is designed as a simple morality tale – “grow up to be a good girl and credit to society, not a bad one.” Of course, as this show has emphasized, these designations are not reflections of what you do – they are assigned arbitrarily, with specific girls chosen by society to be winners or losers. This maps neatly enough to society’s actual methods of demonizing and ostracizing women, which was essentially the point of Madoka Magica – but here we’re going a step further, with the girl who was assigned society’s blessings doing her best to share that wealth, and save the girl who was assigned society’s scorn. Demon Girl’s plot is essentially one grand expression of feminist solidarity

Great contrast here, with Shamiko terrified by her own potential weapon while Momo tries to reassure her

Oh god, they killed Shamiko

Shamiko’s ancestor is just lounging in her subconscious now, munching on snacks from Shamiko’s memories. I am desperately intrigued by whatever movie she’s watching, where it appears a shark is firing a minigun in a jungle

Also need to see the rest of her lounge t-shirt, I can only catch “My Blood Sugar Level”

“What is that gaudy thing you’ve put my statue in?” “It came free with a bottle of tea.” This show is just overflowing with great incidental gags like this. The image of her statue in its snug branded tea-holder is just so damn funny

“B-but it’s my absolute favorite bag and the softest one I own!” Oh my god Shamiko, you are a poor abandoned puppy, it’s no wonder Momo adopted you. Her life is just so genuinely sad, and Demon Girl is more than willing to be mean to her for hilarity’s sake

Shamiko is so pathetic that her ancestor actually retracts the complaint

Apparently, this “ritual” allows Shamiko’s ancestor to take over her body and fight in her place. Momo is not going to like this

Shamiko’s friends are taking her death in stride

Interesting! Shamiko’s ancestor says her name is Lilith, a figure who is alternately known as Adam’s first wife, an ancient demon, or both. She’s also frequently associated with sexual liberation, often characterized as a succubus or whatnot. All of this fits neatly into Demon Girl’s themes and worldbuilding – we’d already received some indications that Shamiko is a succubus specifically, and the dichotomy of magical girls versus demons frequently reflects societal stigmas regarding “pure” versus “fallen” women. Yet another way women are stripped of agency, set against each other, and defined by external forces

Lilith says she’ll make Momo pay for hurting her descendant, at which point Shamiko’s friends butt in to say Momo has actually been rather pleasant, all things considered

Lilith and Momo build their own fun dynamic pretty much instantly. Momo can’t take Lilith’s angry speeches seriously, and is mostly just concerned that Shamiko will fall off a chair, making Lilith even more furious in the process

This show gets so much damn mileage out of “Shamiko is Short,” and it all works largely because the show isn’t actually drawing attention to it. Gags like Shamiko in Momo’s dress-length uniform don’t need to be emphasized, and here, there’s a natural comedic contrast in Lilith offering this confident speech with one leg dangling off the desk, as she tries and fails to get back to her seat

“I barely even move and it feels like my balance is thrown off!” Lilith quickly realizes that Shamiko’s body is absolutely useless

“Why is it coming back at…” Also an excellent reprise of last episode’s final joke, using our understanding of the coming punchline to tighten the overall delivery. Demon Girl just demolishes most of its anime comedy competition through its snappy comedic timing, and its trust in the audience to pick up incidental gags. It feels like most anime comedies spend the majority of their runtime explaining their own jokes

Of course, it also helps that Konomi Kohara is such a phenomenal comedic actress. Her line reads are as punchy and dynamic as the jokes themselves

“Oh, Momo is still alive. Does that mean my ancestor lost? Did she put up an awesome fight?” Oh Shamiko, what an innocent demon you are

Lilith borrows money from Momo to go to a spa, thus quadrupling Shamiko’s debt. Well, she at least now hopefully understands why Shamiko’s having so much trouble

Shamiko’s friend suggests she get a part-time job to pay Momo back

“At this rate, I’ll be snowballistic for life!” They’ve coined a funny term for it, but “poverty begets poverty” is a genuine truth of the world. People living on the edge of bankruptcy don’t have the spare cash or time necessary to make the kind of investments that might lift them out of that situation. Being poor is, in itself, a very expensive state of affairs, and escaping it often requires substantial external support. Of course, to those who see capitalism as just and wealth as righteousness, the idea that poor people are essentially being enslaved by poverty is an inherent refutation of the system – and thus they must reframe poor people as “lazy,” in order to justify the terrible circumstances of the poor, and their own relative wealth. Shamiko being buried under “snowballistic” debt is actually a realistic proposition, and further ties in with this show’s exploration of how people are culturally defined by arbitrary labels, which society then works hard to prove right

“Any money we make over $400 a month is fated to slip out of our hands.” Her mother has a bunch of goofy examples, but the real world has a whole bunch of significantly less amusing ones. When you’re living on the poverty line, one medical bill or car problem can destroy you. It’s not fun living one accident away from financial ruin!

“When a huge bird snapped a paycheck out of my hand, I had to admit I laughed a little. I sobbed afterwards.” Yeah, that’s it, that’s the feeling

Even Shamiko’s new boss calls her that. Yeah, it’s stuck now

“You’re such a sillybilly, Shamiko!” Excellent translation choice

“For now, I’ll work hard to repay my debt, then challenge Momo and undo the seal on my ancestor!” She’s so damn earnest, it’s hard not to root for evil to conquer all

Shamiko is briefly concerned that she has no plans beyond beating a magical girl, then decides she’s happy just selling wieners and taking some home forever

Momo stops by the shop, in a nice new casual outfit. I appreciate that the characters in this show have fashion senses, not just default costumes

Momo has an incredibly convincing “god Shamiko’s stupid, and I love it” look

“Doing proper work in order to pay back your debt, it’s almost too pure.”

Incredibly charming exchange between the two of them, filtered through Demon Girl’s unique dramatic sensibilities. For Shamiko, paying Momo back and battling her again are essentially the way she makes good on Momo’s support, and proves she was worth helping. She’s so proud of making progress on this journey that she outright knocks over the display wieners in her enthusiasm – and Momo, understanding how much this job means to her, immediately transforms to rescue the display. In her own way, Shamiko is working as hard as she can for Momo’s sake, and Momo refuses to let that effort go to waste

“To be honest… I don’t have fond memories of my time as a magical girl. So I’ve been avoiding transforming as much as possible.” So Momo generally avoids transforming to remain distant from her trauma, but is willing to do it in order to protect Shamiko’s happiness. THESE TWO

Their personalities and this show’s perspective make for such a charming riff on these genre conceits. A girl who’s “goodness” brings her no happiness and a girl who’s been told she’s no good, finding support in each other

And Done

This show is such a good time! What a wonderful episode that was, absolutely brimming with effective comedy beats, but also just impressing with its charming portrayal of Momo and Shamiko’s evolving friendship. The two possessed a dynamic rapport right from the start, but the comedy of their earlier interactions has swiftly evolved into an utterly convincing friendship. In spite of the show’s clear thematic arguments, its cast never feel like they’re being maneuvered to make an intellectual point: their actions feel natural at all times, making for a well-rounded mix of warm fuzzies, mean-spirited cackles, and thoughtful ponderings. This is one of the most effective anime comedies I’ve seen, and it’s got so much going for it beyond the comedy!

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By admin