anime

The Demon Girl Next Door – Episode 9


Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be checking back in on The Demon Girl Next Door, where we most recently met an old friend of Momo’s, the luckless Mikan. Though Mikan is also a magical girl, she suffers from some sort of curse that brings calamity whenever she’s in emotional distress. And given the actual nature of a magical girl’s day-to-day activities, that presumably means she’s more or less constantly showering her companions in garbage and other variable debris.

In terms of the overall comedy dynamic, Mikan has already proven herself a welcome addition to the cast, and gotten in some truly ferocious dunks at Shamiko’s expense. Additionally, her prior relationship with Momo is serving to clarify our understanding of Momo’s own character. Rather than just feeling sorry for Shamiko in particular, it’s clear that Momo is someone who strives to judge others by their intentions – Mikan’s curse might create complications, but Momo would never condemn her for something outside her control. And with Momo’s weakened condition revealing her own vulnerability, we are now seeing Shamiko motivated by something much more meaningful than her arbitrary assignment as a demon girl, as she seeks to become the kind of person Momo can rely on. Let’s see how that journey fares as we return to The Demon Girl Next Door!

Episode 9

We open on Shamiko desperately asking her ancestor for a more neighborhood-appropriate battle form. Seriously Ancestor, it won’t do any good to have her reported for public indecency

“I’d prefer to just use my gym clothes! They’re easy to move in and plenty warm!” Oh my god, please let her do that. And I appreciate this general skewering of magical girl outfits that clearly aren’t the sort of thing the characters themselves would want to wear, and are rather being forced upon them by a horny third party

This argument also underlines how proud sexuality and villainy are often framed as complementary, or even inseparably paired. A woman in control of her sexuality is, in the worldview of the Madonna-whore paradigm, an inherently “fallen” woman, and thus must be framed as evil. And on the flipside, we’ve got Shamiko here, who because she has been assigned an “evil hat” must necessarily dress herself in a way she’s uncomfortable with

Ultimately, it’s all just a series of ways to control and define women. Whether you choose to embrace your sexuality in your personal style or not should be an entirely personal choice with no moral baggage attached, but female agency (sexual or otherwise) is precisely what this system is designed to prevent, and so every choice you make will incur some sort of social judgment

Meanwhile, Ancestor herself is lounging in an absolutely perfect “My Blood Sugar Level Is Dangerous” t-shirt

Aw shit, it’s final exams

“Shamiko! Is something on your mind?” No, not usually

Shamiko is “thinking of ways she can get Momo to acknowledge her as a strong ally,” which is definitely putting the cart before the horse to some extent

Anri states that Shamiko has plenty of room to improve “up here” while pointing to her head, and Shamiko assumes that implies she should grow out her horns like some kind of demon stag beetle. Your optimism may be misplaced, Anri

And Shamiko’s duel proclamation is of course undercut by Anri explaining how she mostly just feels unappreciated. Anri is precisely the terrible friend Shamiko needs

“It’s weird because you’re normally such a huge mess all the time.” We’ve at last reached the point where Shamiko can return some digs at Momo

“I can’t believe Momo has good grades… I never would have guessed.” It certainly fits in with this show’s general themes, though! While we’d like to think academic performance is entirely a result of talent and effort, in truth, the material conditions of our lives have a dramatic effect on our ability to succeed academically. Malnutrition, vast familial responsibilities, or an otherwise disruptive home life can undercut the potential of any student, making academic performance one more arena in which our results are to a large extent tethered to our existing position within society

Very good gag in having Ancestor be a big Mesopotamia buff, since that was right around her glory days. Demonstrating how even joke characters like Ancestor should be have some substance to their identity beyond one specific gag, as that leaves them far more ability to harvest future gags

Shamiko’s base posture is just inherently funny. She’s always sort of cowering, and her clothes always seem too big for her

Incredible gremlin noises as Shamiko angrily stuffs her face while studying

A montage shows us just how hard she’s working, revealing in turn just how much she wants Momo to respect her

As with the blood theft, Ancestor once again uses guilt tripping to push Shamiko into cheating on the test. Shamiko’s natural tendency is to be totally honest in all matters, but her influences and powers keep pushing her towards villainy, serving as another demonstration of how society directs us towards the results it expects/desires from us

“I think you got the wrong impression. I have always taken you seriously. Also, I don’t like losing.” Momo can be kind of terrifying when she wants to

I love that Shamiko’s teacher now refers to her as “Shadow Mistress”

With her spirit rallied by Momo’s earnest competitiveness, Shamiko is strong enough to deny her ancestor and take the test alone

In the end, taking the test honestly is far more important than whether she wins or loses. Shamiko needs to realize she’s already valuable and competent, and relying on her ancestor would do nothing to prove that

“You really can’t bring yourself to be underhanded, can you?” A very warm smile from Momo at this realization, but Shamiko tragically sees it as an insult

Even Lilith seems to have suffered from the system they’re stuck in, as Shamiko seems to be the first person who’s genuinely valued her

Cicadas chirping in front of a blue sky serve as our transition to part two, meaning it’s time for some kind of summer-themed shenanigans. Nothing says “anime summer” like cicadas and the blue sky!

Oh my god, what is this tragic moment. Just Ancestor left alone, quietly sobbing to herself at being abandoned by “that forgetful scamp” Shamiko. This show can be so brutal to its poor cast

And that’s immediately followed by Shamiko’s mom getting excited about their new refrigerator arriving, only to be informed it can’t fit through their door. “For the rest of the day, all Mom did was cry”

Mikan has invited Shamiko out alone, in order to get a better handle on her curse

“Zombie Shark vs Sushi Shark.” Some incredible features currently running at their local theater

Another tragically funny background gag, as Ancestor quietly pleads “Shamiko” repeatedly from the ground while the others conduct their conversation. This show loves its cast, but my god is it willing to be mean to them

This is a good moment for Mikan though, demonstrating how in spite of Momo’s current acceptance of her, she’s still taking steps to improve for the sake of her friend

Another clever riff on Ancestor, as Shamiko gets a senior discount on her ticket

Also appreciate that from initially grabbing it to keep her from escaping, Mikan now seems to be treating Shamiko’s tail as her emotional support animal

“Why don’t any of the bullets HIT the heroes? It’s totally unfair!” Bless Shamiko still repping the side of villainy here

“I’m so moved. All of the zombies and ghosts, even though their guts were hanging out, they really tried their hardest to overcome the ridiculous strength of the heroes.” This is a very funny riff on a concept that anyone who’s been designated an “enemy” by mass media can undoubtedly relate to. To give one example, the base worldview of a great deal of American cinema is that American military action is an unqualified good, and that those who oppose such action are undoubtedly doing so for nefarious reasons. Anyone of middle eastern descent is well familiar with constantly being othered and treated as a villain by default in American media. And mass media is also where a great deal of that “sexually active woman = villain” programming comes from

“Are you in love with Tama Sakura?” “I wouldn’t say I love her romantically. I would just say I feel a strong sense of duty to support her financially.” Oh my god Momo

Momo’s dramatic reactions generally coming in the form of even more deadpan behavior is a tricky puzzle to solve in animation, as it’s hard to “overreact through underreaction.” At this point, they’ve developed a pretty robust gradation of Momo deadpans for her various states of annoyance

Ogura ambushes Shamiko after night classes with some ominous words about her science experiments

“Plus the main theme of that episode was cleaning up all the garbage and dealing with Mikan’s problem.” Shamiko, you don’t have to rationalize not following up on seeded dramatic threads within the same episode, don’t be so hard on the series composers

And Done

Goddamn is this show a full package. Every episode is simultaneously hilarious, charming, and quietly intelligent, mining all sorts of new jokes out of its premise while steadily progressing its thematic argument. As for this episode, it was delightful seeing Ancestor essentially join the main cast, as we learned of her own lonely history and got her to open up more in the group conversations. Clearly no one in this cast is actually happy with this magical girl/demon paradigm, but Lilith has been dealing with it for so long that she’s just accepted it as inevitable. Hopefully, a couple more outings with this new social group will help soften her perspective, and maybe even give her the courage to thank Shamiko for all these growth opportunities. As Demon Girl quietly yet urgently insists, our assigned roles do not have to be our destinies – with the support of people who love us, any of us can embrace any future we choose.

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