The Demon Girl Next Door, Machikado Mazoku in its home country, is something not many of the best anime airing this season are. Almost all of the best shows airing this season are some combination of high-stakes, fast-paced, or heavy in subject matter. The Demon Girl Next Door is none of these things. It is a notably slow, low-stakes affair.
Part of this is simply its genre, Demon Girl is a slice of life comedy. This means that by default, it is trying to do different things than many of its seasonal compatriots. The other side of that, though, is that it hits what it’s aiming for much more often. It may not be breaking any new ground, but Demon Girl does what it does well.
Penniless & Powerless
The story here is a simple one, if goofy. Miko, our protagonist, is the scion of a long line of demonic overlords. It is her destiny, as the daughter of the legendary Dark Clan, to conquer the world and rid it of heroes of justice, such as magical girls. Miko is also a highschool girl. One who lives with a poor family. You see, the Dark Clan has in fact been defeated enough times that their power has waned to the point where they are actually cursed. Financially, that is.
The original manga’s subtitle (dropped from the anime version) translates to something like “The curse of living on just $200 a month”, to give you an idea. The core conflict here is obvious. It’s hard to be a mighty demon lord when you’re just a broke highschool girl. This goes double given the fact that Miko’s “demonic powers” seem to be limited to having ram horns and a spaded tail.
This’d be enough on its own. However, The Demon Girl Next Door‘s other lead character is Miko’s ostensible rival, Momo. Momo is introduced to the series in quite dramatic fashion, saving Miko from being hit by a truck. I say “ostensible” here because despite the fact that Miko’s ultimate objective is to destroy the magical girl, Momo and Miko build a kind of friendship-in-all-but-name pretty quickly.
Highlights over the course of the season so far have included things like Momo tricking Miko into going running with her. A scene where she helps Miko practice magic, only to have just a tiny puffball exit Miko’s fingertips as the result, is another highlight.
Momo and Miko’s push and pull dynamic forms the core of the show. There are other characters, chiefly Miko’s schoolfriends, but they’re not as prominent.
The other chief character in Demon Girl is Miko’s ancestor, Lilith, who is trapped in a magic statue at series’ start. Lilith ostensibly is the model for the rampaging demon lord that she wants her descendant to be, but, as quickly becomes apparent, that’s not actually true. We get glimpses inside the statue and most of them paint Lilith as a perpetually-bored nerd, something that’s pretty funny in its own right.
All of this is helped along by some genuinely top-notch translation work from the show’s localization team. Changes like converting Yen to US Dollars have proven controversial. It’s nonetheless hard to argue that lightly peppered translations like this aren’t an improvement over what a straighter, drier translation would look like.
If it seems like there’d not be much else to talk about with The Demon Girl Next Door, well, you’re honestly not wrong. It is a by-design slow and simple show in a season that is otherwise bustling with activity. The title of “cooldown show” in the midst of thrillers like Symphogear XV, Fire Force, and Granbelm may not exactly be glamorous. The bottom line though is this; for the purpose of injecting a little quiet comedy into your week, there’s nothing doing it better than The Demon Girl Next Door right now.