This week’s Demi-chan wa Kataritai (Interviews with Monster Girls) takes a contemplative walk through the relationships of its characters, evaluating whether their actions resulted in the best emotional outcome. Though, you might not guess as much from the first moments of the episode.
The demis are still moping about the heat. It almost looks like the show is going to belabour one of its most inane story beats, but the vice principal steps in to shake things up.
Although, he doesn’t strike the nefariously evil figure that his leering from last week might have led you to project, his stern lecture injects some meaningful conflict into the plot and throws Takahashi’s mind into disarray.
“You’re trying to hard,” the vice principal chides. “Working too hard can cause a bit of a problem.” From his perspective, Takahashi’s doting approach to helping the demis solve their problems is too overbearing to let the students grow on their own.
Takahashi doting approach may stifle his students’ growth
I’d assumed that the vice principal was going to take umbrage with Takahashi’s emotional proximity to the students crossing into the romantic territory. Instead, the administrator is worried about his students’ growth. It’s a small dramatic let-down, but it’s also a trajectory that falls inline with the low-key style that Demi-chan espouses.
Rather than showing off salacious intentions, Takahashi’s enthusiasm is best shown when he happily fires up Microsoft Word to write a thesis on how to keep vampires and snow women cool in the summer — so the vice principal’s words hit him hard, and we get to see it when he next meets his students.
Other than the one hallway lighting blip in Ugaki’s introduction a few episodes ago, Demi-chan usually uses cinematic light really well. Here, after Takahashi had time to brood on the vice principals words, the three demis stride toward him, bathed in light from a window. At the same time opposite, Takahashi shrinks away from them with his face bathed in shadow thanks to his positioning in the scene.
Demi-chan usually uses cinematic light really well
This kind of visual language is an example of the lowest quality bar that needs to be hit in an effective drama, but when so many shows often get it wrong, it’s nice to see Demi-chan get it right in a nondescript way.
One device that the show does get wrong this week comes in one of its transitions. Demi-chan’s usually air-tight logic that moves its characters between each beat stumbles when Yuki predicts the motivation behind Takahashi’s cold shoulder. She doesn’t have anything to go on other than her teacher sadly saying he’s busy, so her logical leap feels like lazy writing. It doesn’t have a major impact on the episode, since the other transitions don’t blunder in the same way, but it did pull me out of the scene.
On the other hand, when Hikari is out searching for Satou to get advice, and she hears from Satake about the vice principal’s lecture towards Takahashi, the transition isn’t only logical, it artistically abridges the explanation with a shot of Satou pruning a branch. The snipping action can be read as a metaphor for several emotions Hikari might feel, setting up a great dramatic tension within the episode regarding her next action.
Takahashi second guesses all of the decisions he made as a teacher (would the girls have been better off solving the problems on their own?) and he heads out to sit by the sea with his thoughts. In the meantime, Hikari was busy orchestrating a pick-me-up to send him in the form of a video letter.
Kudos for Hikari for filming in landscape and not portrait. Her framing isn’t perfect, but her stable hands are a blessing, as the video letter lasts four and a half minutes without a single cut. I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t gone back to check, though. Each demi’s thank you message while seated on a school bench is sincere, impulsive, and reflective of their characters. At no point does their message come across as inappropriate to their experiences, so it’s no surprise to see Takahashi in tears when the video finally ends.
Demi-chan’s characters are sincere and impulsive
Takahashi has been interested in demis for years, and before he had to chance to help real demi-humans, he worked as a great teacher. That didn’t change when his demi-saturated school year began.
Countering the vice principal’s words from earlier, “You can never take trying too far,” Hikari shouts out to the sea when she tracks her teacher down. The clear affirmation of the demis’ appreciation towards his helpful nature reassures Takahashi (as well as us, the audience) that he’s doing the right thing.
As Hikari consoles him from his pensive seat on the beach sand in twilight, Demi-chan wraps a sturdy bow on the character growth from the majority of its season. And it’s a brilliantly wrapped bow, even if it’s not the most extravagant or pretty one.
Even the vice principal retracts his statements when he sees his regular students and the demis interacting enthusiastically. “As long as there are students who are inspired by your actions, disavowing your efforts would be wrong,” he says.
This would have been a more than passable finale for an above average show. Many of the emotional threads would have stood resolved, with an optimistic outlook for the characters’ futures. But this isn’t the finale, and the resolution of a few plot lines (like Ugaki and Kurtz’s) can be generously described as ambiguous.
So it’s shocking that after such a swelling episode, we’re getting “Demi-chans Want to Swim” next week. If it’s a fan-service episode, I can’t imagine it being anything but a disappointment. Assuming Demi-chan will end this cour, it’s hard to fathom the show starting another arc that will resolve in any meaningful way before the season ends. There’s more good than bad in this week’s episode, but the future doesn’t look fantastic.