Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun – Mid Series Anime Review
Synopsis: Suzuki Iruma, human, 14, one day finds himself taken against his will into the world of demons. To add to his predicament, his doting owner and self-appointed “Grandpa” is the chair-demon at his new school. In order to survive, Iruma must deal with a haughty student who challenges him to a duel, a girl with adjustment issues, and so many more scary beings! Can this ultimate pacifist dodge the slings and arrows that are flung his way? As he struggles frantically, Iruma’s innate kindness begins to win over enemies. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Series (12 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun has proven itself to be, what I’m choosing to call, Fall’s ‘safe watch.’ Don’t get me wrong, Iruma-kun is generally amusing, often charming, and sometimes produces incredible hilarity. But that charm, and periodic bursts of stellar gags, are wrapped up in a presentation that isn’t always top of the class. The series frequently suffers from lukewarm art that undermines the comedy on screen with stilted and dull animation. For background characters we’re treated to uninspired designs that feel a full step down from the quirky, endearing visual portrayal of the mainstay characters, making any sequence focused on what’s happening at the school on a macro level feel visually bland and underwhelming. Typical shonen, lengthy recaps open each episode, more so as we get further in and a few fizzled, dull and plodding storylines all come together to hinder the aspects that make Iruma-kun such fun, leaving the series as something still to be recommended, but difficult to laud praise upon.
Linny: Besides the lukewarm designs, the personalities and characteristics of a lot of the cast also end up feeling very one note. It’s because of this one note comedy each character offers that jokes revolving around them end up feeling very predictable. You know Saburok, the muscle head Demon King wannabe, is going to react violently to just about everything; or that Iruma’s inability to say no will get him sucked into easily avoidable situations. The show does little to put new twists on these basic gags, making them feel increasingly repetitive and overused. Even the show’s big sell point, the danger of Iruma being discovered as human by his demon school mates and teachers, quickly loses its bite. The show constantly bails him out of any actual danger. This is compounded by the identity of the very principal of the school, who also happens to be a ridiculously powerful demon, Sullivan, his doting, demon, grandfather and protector. Iruma-kun might fall into forgettable if not for one particular character: Clara. Clara Valac, an utter force of chaos, helps to offset the show from feeling too predictable. Her chaotic personality provides avenue for random humour and gags or silly moments that will keep the average comedy lover entertained even when everyone and everything else isn’t quite as engaging. She actively makes other characters more interesting when they’re forced to react to her increasingly absurd antics. The more Clara is allowed to take center stage, the more comedy Iruma-kun becomes flushed with. In fact, the episode where Clara decides to join a class on how to be a Succubus by raising your feminine charm and appeal is definitely one of the most hilarious episodes of the series so far.
Tom: Despite the cast’s tendency to produce one type of gag each, I think it actually works once you’ve got everyone together. The series shines when Iruma’s class of misfits are presented with the next lesson in the demon school’s curriculum, allowing these characters to bounce off each other in fun and sometimes unexpected ways. Characters like Clara certainly do keep things interesting, especially when everyone else has to handle her and her absurdity. My personal favorite though might be the running gag of Iruma-kun and the Student Council President, Amelie, who knows Iruma-kun is actually a human, but consistently puts that aside in favor of having him secretly read her Japanese Shoujo manga. But even that, while my favorite, grows old because the joke doesn’t extend much beyond its initial punchline. And unfortunately Iruma himself hasn’t been allowed too many one on ones like this with other characters, almost always flagged by Asmodeus and Clara wherever he goes. This hinders Iruma’s opportunities to have one on ones with other characters, making it difficult to develop new dynamics. It’s the same sort of disappointment I have with the character of Sullivan, Iruma’s adoptive demon grandfather. He’s a joy when he appears, but he’s typically used for the same type of gags, and because the series is so focused on daily school life there’s little room for him to appear in other ways.
Linny: Despite the troubles we’ve discussed, I think what also really helps the show is its unique premise. Because of the magical and fantastical setting, Iruma-kun can get creative and have fun taking the very popular and well explored topic of high school life and giving it the most over the top demonic spin it can. It’s fun to see how the show makes the human and demon world collide through various and even unexpected mediums like manga itself and the whole school club rush week taking a completely different and scary twist in the demon world. While this show isn’t the first to place a human boy in a demon school, it’s definitely one of the first/few that puts such an emphasis on surviving daily classes, forming friendships and the more ‘mundane’ aspects of school life and this helps the show to feel refreshing even if there are areas where it fails to be innovative and unique.
Tom: While Iruma-kun might not be the top comedy of the Fall season, that honor really belongs to Cautious Hero (at least as of this writing), it’s still a worthwhile watch, one that manages to produce decent comedy, a few heartwarming moments, and never strays into offensive or sexual territory. It’s my pick for this season’s ‘safe’ watch because it’s reliably decent. That’s not a bad spot to be, as reliably decent shows can be awesome to fall back on when a season turns out to be a bit underwhelming.
Linny: What I really appreciate about Iruma-kun is how Iruma himself isn’t given ridiculously powerful skills from the get-go. Yes, the show gives him the insane ability to dodge anything but as the show continues that ability quickly becomes useless or new obstacles appear that can’t so simply be dodged away. When he has to participate in a dodge-ball match at school, the show takes its time showing how much time and effort it takes him just to be able to grasp the bare minimum skill to survive the match without suspicion. Yes, his hurdle is self-imposed as he wishes to grow using only his own actual abilities but this is how the show avoids using predictable, easy fixes and keeps the audience wondering and invested in how Iruma is going to get himself out of the next pickle he finds himself in. All in all though, I agree with Tom that Iruma-kun is the season’s ‘safe pick’. If you enjoy comedic shows and want a few laughs, Iruma-kun should be entertaining even if it never becomes your most favourite show by any measure. There’s just enough jokes and quirky content to please the average fan but don’t pick it up expecting anything revolutionary.
Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.