Review/discussion about: Demi-chan wa Kataritai
Another day, another anecdote that I must repeat (to some extent) because it just fits too well to pass up.
One of my favorite film quotes of all time also happens to be said by my favorite Pokémon of all time, Mewtwo. In Pokémon: The First Movie, Mewtwo delivers the following line.
“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
It’s a relevant quote and a relevant series given Demi-chan wa Kataritai. An anime that channels both “monsters” and self-worth in wonderful fashion.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai’s structure is like that of most other slice-of-life anime. Lighthearted comedy, down-to-earth setting, cute girls. The works. However, it goes even further, delivering a worthwhile experience that the viewer can take to heart and apply in their own lives.
To get there, the anime creates a strong foundation. The main premise itself – the interviews – is a format that works very well. Takahashi-sensei sits down with Hikari, Satou-sensei, Machi, and Yuki one-on-one, asking them questions about themselves and, more importantly, about the origins of their demi traits. It’s exposition that feels natural because not only does the audience learn something new but also Takahashi-sensei himself also learns right along with them.
Their traits mostly derive from known legends in the real world. Vampires bite. Succubi seduce others. Dullahans carry their heads around. Snow women aren’t too fond of hot weather.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai doesn’t only explain away their traits with known ideas; it also takes some creative liberty to make them that much more interesting. Vampires use blood bags supplied by the government to satiate their hunger. Succubi inadvertently attract those around them due to an aphrodisiac effect. Dullahans’ head-to-body connection may represent a worm hole which allows for the transference of food and vocals. Snow women produce ice when under physical or emotional duress.
In bringing up these topics, the anime gets at the core of its content. More specifically, a mature brand of comedy comes through with ease. Hikari’s suggestive description of Takahashi-sensei’s arm during her “Arm I Want to Bite Championship” is hilarious, and his reaction to Satou-sensei’s accidental sexiness when zipping up her jacket strikes that funny bone hard.
These jokes and many others in the show are often sharp in timing and quick in wit, leading to a consistently funny anime. To be fair, this comedy is nothing next-level, but its simplistic yet varied nature provides a lot of laughs. Laughs that don’t make fun of their traits but instead demonstrate that they are nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.
In fact, this comedic direction gets at Demi-chan wa Kataritai’s most important message.
Life should be filled with laughs and smiles. To put it differently, everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Life can sometimes throw around its meanness.
In Demi-chan wa Kataritai, Hikari and the other girls are portrayed either as people with special circumstances, handicaps, or otherwise noticeable differences. I.e., they are demis. For them, they are the outsiders. The ones who are not the same as most other people.
As the anime depicts, their differences cause life’s meanness. Machi can’t make friends very easily due to her uniqueness. A couple of gossiping girls bully Yuki. Satou-sensei must meticulously form her life around her inadvertent effect. Essentially, they undergo societal hardships that prevent them from being happy.
These scenes are sad but meaningful. Meaningful because they reflect situations in real life. The audience has most likely encountered people at work, at school, or at a restaurant who have their own differences. Differences that have them being treated unfairly or in a way that isn’t right. By extension, it keeps them from obtaining the happiness that they deserve just as much as everyone else.
Indeed, Demi-chan wa Kataritai argues for such happiness. It’s in Hikari sticking up for Yuki by giving her two cents to those bullies. It’s in Takahashi-sensei taking the time to sit down with the girls and seriously listening to them. It’s in the support they receive from their family, friends, mentors, and each other.
Their demi status is fundamentally a part of them, but that doesn’t make them anything less. In fact, it makes them who they are. Takahashi-sensei puts it best in episode four: “It isn’t how you’re born that makes you ‘like’ something. It’s how you live with what you are.” Even better, he goes on to explain that that doesn’t mean one should “neglect” those differences, saying, “You can’t look at things in only one way. You should look from both angles.” Otherwise, one will “miss their individuality” and “won’t understand their troubles.”
When all is said and done, the person as a whole matters most. And again, the anime demonstrates this mindset – both with the demis and the non-demis. Himari, the younger of the two twins, looks out for her older sister Hikari however she can. Yuki and Satou-sensei connect over a bunch of silly manga. Takahashi-sensei’s professor friend inspires Machi to pursue her studies so she can further understand herself. And all the girls deliver a heartfelt video message to their sincere teacher to cheer him up as best they can.
Everyone involved proves that a person isn’t defined by words like “vampire” or “succubus.” That what makes people who they are isn’t about where they come from or their genetic foundation or the culture in which they were influenced. Rather, it’s about their moral fiber. Their strength of character. Their goodness of heart.
That’s Demi-chan wa Kataritai’s message: No matter if different or demi or somewhere in-between, people deserve to be happy in their own skin.
In all honesty, Demi-chan wa Kataritai shouldn’t be classified as deep or profound. It doesn’t have top-tier writing since it doesn’t explore all sides to the same degree, sticking mostly with a cheerful, optimistic tone and cutting back on the realism it strives for. In turn, its different instances of drama can feel somewhat stilted. It punctuates the drama with tears, but that tone and the surrounding comedy are around often enough to keep the show from landing its lows.
These issues don’t take anything away from the show’s beautiful message. The only issue that really does is the semi-harem approach. There’s no ecchi, what’s shown is nowhere near distasteful, and it can actually setup more laughs and extra opportunities to understand the girls and their feelings. However, the anime wants to be semi-serious, and, realistically, only one girl has a shot at romance with Takahashi-sensei (i.e., Satou-sensei). So, this approach of keeping his relationships with the girls on a kind of status quo comes off as slightly unnecessary in the long run.
Regardless, the climax of the anime’s drama happens in the second-to-last episode, leaving the final episode open for the show to deliver one last side story. It’s a wise decision because it ends the season not on an emotional level but rather on something simply happy and fun. A state that the show wants its audience to feel – regardless of creed or upbringing.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai supports its story with an expert set of visuals to say the least.
One of the more interesting choices in the show are the characters’ designs. For Hikari, Machi, and Yuki, the anime uses a clever technique. By having the girls wear white blouses and brown skirts, these very plain outfits accentuate the main features of each girl. Hikari’s yellow “horn” hairstyle and sharp fang. Machi’s shining flame and orange-haired (disembodied) head. Yuki’s teal-cool hair and glazed eyes.
These color choices are smart, too, aligning with the characters and their personalities. Yellow for joyful, orange for warmth, and teal for pleasantness.
Satou-sensei and Takahashi-sensei earn praise here as well. Satou-sensei’s red tracksuit, low, long ponytail, and glasses are an “unattractive” look designed to conceal her aphrodisiac effect, giving her a design that instantly characterizes her whole person.
As for Takahashi-sensei, his lab coat immediately signifies his teacher role, and his red undershirt complements the white of said coat and his black, spiky hair. But his look also does something similar: hiding his absolutely ripped bod. A bod kept hidden until the final episode so as to include even more comedy in the anime (thanks to Satou-sensei’s uncontained reaction).
Most interesting of all, though, is Demi-chan wa Kataritai’s visual storytelling. For many of its scenes, the anime will take full advantage of the medium, presenting ideas and developments through the art itself.
For example, in episode four, Satou-sensei runs into Takahashi-sensei in the cafeteria. As they talk, she apologizes for her assumptions about him after she realizes how hard he has been trying to understand the demi girls. Through dialogue, she insists on helping Takahashi-sensei. Visually, the foreground concrete pillar separates them both while her side contains red chairs and he sits among green ones. So, when she crosses over to his side of the screen, she both breaks the barrier between them and starts their newfound relationship.
Or take episode ten. Following Machi and Takahashi-sensei’s conversation with his professor-friend Souma, she sits down on the grass outside, thinking about what her future holds. Again, her words describe how she has a new path to take in life before her: researching her Dullahan nature. Visually, as she stares up at the sky, two airplanes fly overhead, their contrails crossing one another. A metaphor for that fork in the road, the diverging paths she has before her now as she moves into the future (and takes the one less travelled by, as Robert Frost would write).
These couple of examples only scratch the surface of Demi-chan wa Kataritai’s thoughtful artistry. On a more general level, the visuals perform just as swell. Camera angles shift away from common perceptions, and transitions between some scenes are dynamic rather than sudden. It’s a thoughtful, down-to-earth anime, but it does what it can to keep its visuals both varied and entertaining.
Beyond the designs and the attention to artistry, the anime provides even more to look at. Tons of reactions for extra comedy (and Hikari gets most of the thanks here). Fluid animation appears frequently. And the soft art style in general continues with the show’s lighthearted vibe.
Yes, quite the expert display from the show.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai hosts a cast of five main characters: Hikari, Satou-sensei, Machi, Yuki, and Takahashi-sensei.
Each girl has their quirky traits of course. Yuki loves gag comedy, silliness, and jokes of an uncouth manner. Machi likes to be coddled. Satou-sensei speaks the truth internally to herself. Takahashi-sensei gets lost in thought when seriously thinking about demis. Only the romantic, sexual connection to Hikari’s biting habits flusters her. While not extravagant, these quirks flesh out the girls’ personalities that much more.
Together, they carry the show’s strong sense of comedy and its worthwhile message with nothing but ease. However, their most important contribution comes from another meaningful idea: overcoming loneliness.
Yuki goes through loneliness as a snow woman. Her body temperature is lower than most others, and she can even produce ice depending on the situation. This last point causes her a great deal of stress. She feels that she can’t be near people for fear of harming them with her cold abilities. Combined with her new environment after moving away from home, she closes herself off from everyone around her.
Machi goes through loneliness as a Dullahan. With a body and a head separated at all times, she must make special arrangements for herself, like a harness for studying or eating and a small doggy house where her head sleeps at night. Sadly, her appearance sometimes makes people uncomfortable. Both because they have never seen someone like her before (she’s actually only one of the three of her kind in the world) and because they don’t want to touch on what they believe to be a sensitive topic of hers.
Satou-sensei goes through loneliness as a succubus. As if by magic, she exudes an aura of extreme sexuality that unwillingly makes people around her hormonal. Thus, she goes to large lengths to suppress her aphrodisiac effect. She gets up super early and leaves school super late to avoid as many subway passengers as possible. She wears an unassuming outfit. She makes doubly sure to keep her distance from everyone around her to prevent any accidental contact.
Thankfully, Takahashi-sensei is there to support every single one of them.
Takahashi-sensei investigates the legends surrounding Yuki’s snow-woman status. Many of the stories harbor harsh feelings and unfortunate ends often derived from longing. In short, they involve negative emotions of some kind.
Which leads him to conclude that Yuki’s ice isn’t something to be feared but rather a byproduct of the stress she has been feeling as of late. His insightful words ease her mind, allowing her to finally feel a sense of relief and granting her friends in Hikari, Machi, and even the male classmate whom she initially turned away.
Takahashi-sensei also investigates Dullahans. Of Irish origin, fairy tales often depict them in a more grueling manner. How they were harbingers of death that terrorized man both on and off the battlefield. It makes sense, then, why people would fear her.
After speaking with her, too, she becomes a lot more comfortable with herself. She takes part in an “experiment” with Takahashi-sensei. She thinks seriously about her condition and what she can do to contribute towards its research. She goes underwater for the first time ever. She’s never hated being a Dullahan, but she realizes now that life has a ton of exciting opportunities out there just for her.
And, as expected, Takahashi-sensei works to get to know Satou-sensei more as well. His differing opinions on her nature give her the chance to express her own thoughts, and his careful, subdued reactions to her oft overwhelming effect help to build her confidence.
Through his actions, she believes more in her romantic future. That she still has the chance to find a life partner (read: Takahashi-sensei) despite her peculiar circumstances. She may overestimate Takahashi-sensei’s power to fight back against her effect, but he no doubt has given her the confidence to be bolder in the nuanced ways of love.
Other people besides Takahashi-sensei do help the girls overcome loneliness. Satou-sensei’s police officer, father-figure friend watches over her. Satou-sensei herself befriends Yuki. And Himari’s dad even carries Machi’s head once. But they are most influenced and aided by Takahashi-sensei. His sincere passion for both wanting them to succeed as students and understanding their personal dilemmas.
Takahashi-sensei’s influence leaves one important question: Who looks out for him?
This situation is where Hikari comes in.
Hikari is bubbly, rambunctious, and outgoing. She is what most people would describe as “the life of the party.” She’s also a vampire. That means she burns easily under the sun, and she gets the urge to munch on the arms of those around her from time to time. That also means that Takahashi-sensei takes the time to learn more about her, too. Just as he does with the other girls.
More so than the other girls, though, Hikari goes out of her way to make their lives a happy one. She makes this trait of hers apparent right from her official introduction. She enlists the help of Takahashi-sensei to transport Machi’s body to the nurse’s office since she noticed the sickened state of the Dullahan.
Indeed, Hikari is this thoughtful all the time.
For Yuki, Hikari keeps her distance out of consideration for Yuki’s feelings when she notices that clinging to her was making her somewhat upset. And she stands up to Yuki’s bullies, declaring how she doesn’t want to do anything she’ll regret even if people say mean things behind her back.
For Machi, she’s the first to ask her about how tough it must be to always carry around her head. She also secretly suggests to Takahashi-sensei that Machi use a backpack rather than a duffle bag since it’s easier for Machi to handle. And she later allows those two to make up after they both messed up (giving a “heh heh” laugh and a few winks to boot).
For Satou-sensei, she doesn’t do anything directly as she does with Machi and Yuki. Instead, a lot of her actions lead to indirect benefits for the succubus teacher. Hikari’s trust in Takanashi-sensei leads to Satou-sensei’s own rethinking of the man she now loves. Hikari kissing him on the cheek makes Satou-sensei envious and urges her to pursue him a bit more with her aphrodisiac effect. And her pool idea gives Takahashi-sensei the thought of inviting Satou-sensei along which in turn gives her more chances to form the romance she wants so badly.
Takahashi-sensei is the rock that supports these girls, but Hikari is their pillow. A fluffy, soft, and easygoing person who doesn’t view them as a snow woman, Dullahan, or a succubus. Rather, she simply sees them as people precious to her.
She confirms this pillow analogy when Takahashi-sensei finds himself facing the same feeling of loneliness. The vice principal of the school doesn’t approve of how much Takahashi-sensei has been helping the demis. Both because he is neglecting the other students and coddling the girls too much. These thoughts put Takahashi-sensei down, himself believing that maybe he has been trying too hard.
Hikari has none of that. She notices his saddened state, so she rounds up all the girls to say a few words about how he has been such a positive influence in their lives. It’s a touching moment that Hikari caps off with a personalized message she delivers herself.
She tells him, “You can never take ‘trying’ too far.” Her words put into perspective exactly what the other girls have gone through. That, like Takahashi-sensei, Yuki, Machi, and Satou-sensei have themselves been trying hard to not only live with their conditions but also overcome the loneliness that seemed to plague them.
As she shouts out her heartfelt thanks for Takahashi-sensei over the ocean, it becomes undoubtedly clear that Hikari embodies the spirit of Demi-chan wa Kataritai. She’s an oddball and a vampire, but she understands that life is about overcoming loneliness and trying way too hard. Because only then can one be truly happy.
A fantastic set of voice-acting performances back up the awesome cast. Junichi Suwabe as Takahashi-sensei has the manly yet understanding voice down pat, and he can get quite “sultry” with his voice when he wants to. Yoko Hikasa as Satou-sensei deserves a shout out, too. Another veteran in the field, her calmness, mumbles, and internal thoughts demonstrate the range of her characters’ emotions.
But it’s Kaede Hondo as Hikari who (once again) takes the top spot. Her contagious happiness and outgoing, peppy speech elevate the character’s likability tenfold.
Much of the music within Demi-chan wa Kataritai also earns high marks. From emotional, orchestral ensembles to relaxing acoustic strings to lackadaisical, upbeat tunes, the show incorporates a lot of thoughtful tracks that support the anime almost as well as Takahashi-sensei supports the girls. They may not be as memorable as the story’s message or the characters’ quirks, but they hold strength all the same.
The opening track, “Original.,” combines piano keys, a backing beat, and a lot of chimes, bells, and other dainty instruments to give the track a welcoming tone. It’s not afraid to warp its sound, and the vocals provided with the piece are pleasant to listen to. Especially when they harmonize in the background.
The ending track, “Fairy Tale,” is another happy little tune. Moderately paced, more piano and chimes create a foundation that’s both light and charming. Soft vocals and a catchy composition round out the track as it starts off quiet, picks up in the middle, and finishes with a lot more passion. Leading it to a quiet end that mirrors the start.
What a wonderful anime.
It’s always an awesome feeling when I’m watching a show, I immediately love it, and I continue to throughout the rest of its run. That’s rare nowadays, so it makes the occasion that much more special.
For me, what really sold the anime were the characters. I like them all a ton. Machi was too cute with her stares and her body going bonkers whenever she took a daring chance. Yuki’s “Curse you!” acting and her stifled chortles had me smiling wide. And Takahashi-sensei teasing the girls and doing his best to help them made him into a pretty cool dude.
My two favorites, though, are undoubtedly Hikari and Satou-sensei.
Satou-sensei was amazing. As the romance aficionado that I am, her attempts at a romantic relationship with Takahashi-sensei made me oh so happy. She would get jealous of the other girls’ moments with him, she would get embarrassed at herself for going all out, and she would get extremely excited about her potential future or overly defensive should her father-figure try to say anything even remotely negative about her man.
As for Hikari, she is just way too much fun. Her happy-go-lucky attitude. Her silly actions. Her hilarious faces. She was such a treat to watch as she livened up whatever room she happened to enter. Best of all, she represents the show itself, making her my favorite of the bunch.
Even without the characters, this show presents something truly kind. There’s drama, sure. But the positivity it maintains – about the girls’ situations, the outlook on life, the care of everyone involved – means a lot to me.
Many anime aim for a similar sense of kindness. But they don’t always get there for a variety of reasons: trying to be too cute, the premise isn’t grounded enough. In other words, the whole package feels artificial in its kindness.
For this anime, it’s not artificial whatsoever. It nails that kindness and then some. It’s a good show that feels good and is good of heart. And I’m supremely glad to have had the chance to watch something so awesome.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai delivers a superb experience in anime form. A thoughtful narrative, thematically consistent characters, and a kindhearted presentation are supported by expert visual direction and a set of fantastic voice-acting performances. Looks like Mewtwo was right all along.
Story: Good, a strong slice-of-life narrative investigates the topic of societal differences with so-called demis, providing mature comedy and a sincere message on deserved happiness in one’s own skin, brought down slightly by not enough realistic exploration and a semi-harem approach
Art/Animation: Great, simplistic designs accentuate the characters’ traits, visual storytelling engages the audience, and small flourishes amplify its overall artistic merit
Characters: Great, Takahashi-sensei supports Yuki, Machi, and Satou-sensei, Hikari embodies the tenets of this tale, and heartfelt themes about overcoming loneliness and trying hard persist across the whole cast
Music/Sound: Great, fantastic VA performances and a large range of simplistic yet charming tracks from the OST fill the air, and both the OP and the ED keep the happy vibes going
Enjoyment: Great, a wonderfully comedic, positively heartwarming experience the whole way through
Final Score: 9/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3