Oh hello there, are you perhaps looking for the perfect anime?

Then I have news for you, Machikado Mazoku is most definitely... not that. But it is very close!

Let's back off a little and go through this step by step. Machikado Mazoku (eng.: The Demon Girl Next Door) is a slice of life comedy created by Izumo Itou, serialized in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat . I am sure for a lot of people that name will already evoke certain ideas about the direction this work will take, but let's not get hasty. The anime adaptation was produced by J.C.Staff, famous for half the things you have probably watched if you are really into anime and also infamous for the other half of things you were warned about. While I, just as the average watcher, have my reservations towards this studio, I can say with full confidence that MachiMazo is not one of their more questionable adaptations.

Why would I lay my hand into the fire for this inocuous little comedy show? That is entirely because I am smitten with it to a dangerous degree! I will explain why in the following sections.

Story:
Yoshida Yuuko is just your average high-school girl living a normal life - and that is where you would already have lost me in the average generic summary. In truth nothing about Yuuko's life was normal even before the start of the story, but what follows is even more surreal. She wakes up one morning (after an odd dream involving a mysterious young girl) changed in peculiar ways. She has grown horns and a tail. Quickly it becomes clear that the blissfully unaware girl had been part of a family belonging to the Dark Clan, which had been defeated countless times by the Light Clan in the past. She is in fact a demon and has a great destiny to fulfill: Defeat a Magical Girl (the warriors of the Light Clan) and take her blood to undo a Seal that was put on her family for generations. The extent of that curse is interesting in itself, but for now all you need to know is that it keeps them slightly unfortunate and forces them to live with a monthly income of ~400$(~40000 Yen).

Yuuko is ready to fight for her family's finances, fortune and better future and sets out to find and defeat Magical Girls. However Yuuko is incredibly incompetent in both battle and at being evil. As fate would have it her first encounter with a Magical Girl also immediately complicates her plans, because the peach-colored girl called Chiyoda Momo saves her life from an early death via Truck-sama, the deliverer of Isekai protagoniss.

The story centers around the conflict and blooming friendship between these two lovable characters and their daily antics in pursuit of their goals.

Characters:
Which naturally brings us to the greatest strength of this story: The cast.
This is not unusual for a CGDCT show of course, but MachiMazo's cast is certainly one of the stronger in recent memory.

First comes our protagonist, Yuuko, also affectionately called "Shamiko" by the rest of the cast (based on her demon title "Shadow Mistress Yuuko"). Her personality and attitude are entirely unfit for a demon and that is perhaps the greatest thing about her. She has a big heart, is incredibly adorable and generally tries her hardest - to a reasonable extent. Born weak and generally not too smart, she constantly fails at her job to cause evil and defeat the much too strong Momo, but her fighting spirit and will to better herself can make anyone cheer for her. Thanks to her nice nature she is unable to commit any deeds that would make her a target of retaliation by her enemy and even seems to have greater morals than the Magical Girl herself at times.
Shamiko is easy to read and sway, but she also has her strengths. She is good at housework and compassionate and wants to be a great example to her little sister Ryo who adores her. She often overcompensates for her weakness with boasting and evil dialogue straight from a villainess out of a kids TV show, which only makes her reactions all the cuter. Her catchphrase is the rather tsundere sounding "Don't think this means you've won!" every time she messes up or loses.

But what would a protagonist be without an antagonist? Probably much the same in this case, as the Magical Girl (retired by her own words), Chiyoda Momo is far from a true enemy to Shamiko. Right away she realizes the absolute inferiority of her opponent and uses her wit to trick Shamiko into all kinds of ways to avoid battle. There is no denying that Momo seems to have a great interest in the klutzy demoness right from the very first episode and it only gets more obvious from there. Momo is what most would call a kuudere, calm and collected and with a rather quiet voice most of the time. But through interactions it soon becomes clear that she has her cute side and is very kind in her own way, although she does have a mischievous streak for teasing Shamiko and others (especially the Dark Clan's sealed Ancestor). There are many oddities about her and the mysterious past she hides gives off the same vibes as many more modern takes on Magical Girls, whose lives are not all peachy and sparkles (e.g. Lyrical Nanoha or Madoka Magica).

They each bring out sides of each other that they would usually not openly show and as they get closer it seems that their rivalry is more akin to friendship (and perhaps even more? Hehe).

The supporting cast also gives the show many additional flavors and keeps the world fleshed out and varied. Shamiko's family is a treat, with the somewhat ditzy, but ever positive mother and the extremely intelligent and adoring little sister. There are also Shamiko's classmates who are incredibly okay with pretty much any of the weird stuff that transpires in the city and keep teasing/cheering on Shamiko at every turn.
One of the most prevalent side-characters however is the Dark Clan's sealed Ancestor, Lilith. She is an ancient demon from the Mesopotamian era who had been sealed in a demonic statue by the Light Clan and constantly prods Shamiko to fulfill her destiny. However, it soon turns out that she is not much more competent than Shamiko herself and becomes the butt of the joke a lot of the time. Even when you feel bad for her, she does bring the punishment on herself most of the time, so we can all laugh at her with a clean conscience! It is rather incredible how her basic statue design can show off so many emotions.

The town has far more odd characters that get introduced across the episodes and later on in the manga, but that is enough for this section already.

Animation:
I know I have spent a lot of time on the characters section, but they are the heart of this show. The other aspects are not too important in comparison in my opinion. Now as I mentioned before J.C.Staff is somewhat diverse in their quality and I would be lying through my teeth if I said MachiMazo has great animation. But that is not to say it is bad either. Motions are exaggerated, character expressions are hilarious and the artstyle is just as cute as Izumo Itou's drawings in the manga. The color schemes are vibrant and give the world an incredible warmth and emotional width. There is the occasional off face, especially for background characters, but each focused shot and quick exchange always looks nice. There is not a whole lot of action in this anime, so there is also no need for mindblowing motion animation. They really put the effort in the few visual spectacles the show has, like the transformation sequences (which happen in incredibly fast time, but still last several seconds to the audience haha).
Overall it was competently done for the genre and material.

Voice-acting:
Do I even have to say anything? Konomi Kohara (Chika from Kaguya-sama Love is War), Akari Kito (Nezuko from the recent Kimetsu no Yaiba) and Minami Takahashi (Lucoa from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid) are all voice acting legends and they bring their absolute A-game to this anime. That is also absolutely necessary, as the show has a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of dialogue. The pace of conversations is nothing to sneeze at and yet they deliver it believably, concise and emotionally all at the same time. There is not a single miscast character here and while Momo may sound a bit too quiet at times, her occasional outbursts are all the more effective for it. It is hard to believe that Akari Kito also voices chipper characters like Aru Honshou from Hitoribocchi after hearing this performance. Her range is massive.
Aside from the voice acting the sound design is also nice. The sound effects play well with the comedy and the music never overpowers the dialogue. Opening & Ending are a delight to the ears and sung by the cast itself (as seems to be tradition for CGDCT anime).

Listen for yourself (no spoilers):

Pacing:
When talking about the incredibly fast dialogue, pace is unavoidable. The anime boasts sadly only 12 episodes, but do they ever make the best of that alotted time! Even veteran sub readers will perhaps be forced to pause sometimes to read a quickfire sentence or the background expression and noises. The plot does never stagnate or stay still, it is a story that will always develop and keep the characters evolving. This anime does not fall in the usual trap of CGDCT shows where the setting and events only exist to facilitate the comedy. Instead the plot is very much there and the driving force behind the characters actions, while the comedy is mostly reactionary to these events that would even be entertaining on their own.

There are emotional moments and even sometimes allusions ot darker things in the background (as the setting outside of a comedy would certainly be rather bleak), but they never linger too much or leave a bad aftertaste. The fast pace allows both for a fluid plot as well as a density that would put most drama shows to shame. One episode could be said to be worth two sometimes and that may even feel daunting for some viewers. I personally believe that this is a great way to have more content, but your milage may vary.

Conclusion:
Without a doubt in my mind Machikado Mazoku is one of the best recent anime in the genre, for its colorful and easily likeable characters, actually relevant plot and overall ever entertaining interactions. The anime naturally ends mid-story, so do not expect a real conclusion, but there is always hope for a season 2 (and the manga is being translated rather quickly). What is here however is faithful to the manga and endlessly entertaining. It is one of those rare Kirara stories that is just good in all aspects and cannot be overlooked.

And if I haven't already implied it enough, there is plenty of Yuri subtext between the main pair, so for whoever is into that, this series is basically a must. They will only grow closer after all~

88 /100
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