In an episode titled “Succubus-san Is Inquisitive,” you’d think Demi-chan wa Kataritai (Interviews with Monster Girls) would develop Sakie’s character in a meaningful way. Instead, we learn about the broader instabilities that afflicted demi-humans in the past while getting an abrupt introduction to a couple new cast members.
The tension previewed last week is delivered upon only at the most basic level. Two new faces wander into the halls of Shibasaki High School this week.
One such hallway has every single lightbulb burned out for what I can only see as cinematic effect. Hikari reports to Takahashi that a suspicious figure is on campus, and when we finally meet him, he strides out of the darkness. Hikari’s tendency to exaggerate builds him up as a keen-eyed bear-man, and with Demi-chan’s magical realist setting, it’s easy to believe her. In actuality, the grizzly bear is just a grizzled detective, and an old father figure to Sakie.
Ugaki’s Gendo hand-clasping fits a demi detective well
His name is Ugaki, and he looks to be in his late 30s or 40s. His toe-tapping, cigarette-smoking, Gendo hand-clasping quirks lend themselves well to his role as an anti-demi detective, his affected killjoy-attitude plays off Sakie well.
In isolation, Ugaki’s walk around the corner, into an unexpected assault from his teenage assistant (the other interloper, a part-German blonde named Kurtz) looks great, and Takahashi and Sakie react abruptly enough to make the comedic effect of the introduction land. However, when compared to the wholistic stories that Demi-chan told in its earlier episodes, the out-of-nowhere attack comes across as poorly integrated, almost half-baked.
The shaky storytelling ground of scenes like this aren’t limited to the wall-running dropkick display, and it’s a good example of how hard it is to balance the entertainment value with the importance of a clear narrative that leaves you fulfilled in your understanding of the context.
Balancing entertainment value with clear narratives is hard
Another scene haphazardly plays with a trope as Kurtz instigates Yusuke into striding across a sorta-school-roof to make a sorta-confession of his feelings for Sakie. The scenario trope of the rooftop proclamation fits with the narrative context. From inside, Kurtz sees the the two students ogling a photo on their cell phone of the succubus who showed him kindness, so he climbs through the window to confront them.
In the jarring, but well-animated Ugaki introduction, the visual trope of an shadowy evil dude subdued in a flash of action comes out of nowhere understandable, and the state of the world (hallway lights) used to set it up just left me confused. Both situations are funny, but one advances a story smoothly, and the other just looks good for the sake of being cool.
Lost in this, we don’t get to learn a ton about Sakie. We do learn a bit more about her romantic feelings, though. In the standout moment of the episode for me, her voice actress, Yoko Hikasa, talks in circles for 40 seconds straight, trying to justify Sakie’s crush on Takahashi as the camera frame shakes, even though the reason she first fell for him turns out to be a misunderstanding. Egged on by her old friend, another piece of her personality is revealed.
Sakie talks in circles for 40 straight hilarious seconds
Kurtz looks like he’ll be a mainstay for a while, and his character seems righteous enough to fit into the mold of the cast — he also boast a funny quirk of being unable to tell a convincing lie with a straight face. However, other than his impressive martial arts ability, and willingness to stick up for good people, his persona struck me as a little flat.
Part of this could be due to what Demi-chan hides from us. Kurtz works with Ugaki to help suppress unruly succubi that are the norm to Sakie’s exception, but it’s unclear why he isn’t effected by a succubus’ aphrodisiac effect, or why Sakie’s scent lingers on him long after he touches her. It’s an alright narrative hook to keep us interested in the future of the show, but the hackneyed way Kurtz and Ugaki are introduced to the plot doesn’t engender much investment from my perspective.
At the very least, this episode succeeds in showing us a bit of the demi-infused reality that goes on outside the high school’s walls. Ugaki explains to Takahashi that he came to check on the concentration of four demis at the same school, but many of the conflicts in the world come from the difficult to prove cases of succubus luring.
The isolated and rare incidents he brings up significantly contrast with Sakie’s behaviour, and it presents a high-level conflict that may play a role in Demi-chan’s seasonal climax.
In another small stumble along the anime’s otherwise enjoyable path, this week’s episode still manages to give us something to look forward to.