*The article may contain spoilers.*
For those you follow me for my anime articles, you probably know me as the guy that reviewed Redo of Healer or is reviewing the Shaman King anime. However, whenever I am not either analyzing whether a series can go to the extremes and still come away with a compelling story or watching the remake of an old manga series I love, I check out other manga and anime.
Much of the other stuff I read or watch is pretty forgettable. You have the run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter isekai anime that tends to happen every season. And there are series like Kanojo, Okarishimasu that are incredibly frustrating to read because of the author's constant jebaiting and an unlikable, stereotypically wimpy protagonist. Needless to say, since there are so many manga and anime out there, you will more often than not run into series that roll with the same old tropes and archetypes.
This what I initially felt with Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun (or Mairimashita! Iruma-kun). It looked to be another of those series where the protagonist transfers to a new school, turns out to the OP, and all the girls end up fawning over him. However, it turned out that I unjustifiably slept on the series and my prejudices were flipped on their head.
For a short synopsis, Iruma Suzuki is sold to a demon, Lord Sullivan, by his irresponsible parents. Surprisingly, Sullivan buys Iruma because he always wanted a grandson, so Iruma reluctantly obliges. His adoptive grandfather enrolls Iruma to the Babyls Demon School where he tries his best to conceal his human identity and not stand out. At school, he goes through some crazy things, makes unlikely friends, and acclimates his life in the Demon World. And I have to say, reading the manga and watching the anime are a fun ride.
The series does a good job molding out Iruma's character. As the lone human in the Demon World, Iruma serves as a good foil to the demons and plays a major role in his classmates' character development. While he does have some OP abilities, like the Ring of Gluttony and his "Overwhelming Crisis Evasion Capability", he also has his fair share of flaws. In fact, at one point of the series, his "Overwhelming Crisis Evasion Capability" was actually a weakness and he trained with Opera, Sullivan's security devil, to overcome his auto-dodge habits. Further down the line, it is revealed that he still have insecurities regarding his old life on Earth with his parents.
Iruma traumatized by an illusion of his parents.
The secondary main characters and side characters are also a strength of the series. Each one has his/her distinct personality and does not fall into the cookie cutter archetypes. Sabnock, for instance, appears to be a meathead jock, but you'll learn that he is among the smartest students and he even joins a club full of nerdy bookworms. Clara, one of Iruma's best friends, is an adorable ball of chaos and a pretty funny character. Ameri, the student council president, complements Iruma's character extremely well and they push each other forward in a compelling fashion.
In addition, the series pays really good attention to the little details. What may seem to be a one-time minor event in one arc ends up playing a major role a few arcs down the line and it does not come off as contrived. At the beginning, one of Iruma's classmates, Purson, appears to be depicted as a joke character never to be seen again. However, he receives a big arc starting from Chapter 147 and the amount of character growth he goes through is astounding.
The shy Purson is actually quite a chatterbox.
As for the anime adaptation specifically, the art matches or exceeds the quality of the already well-done drawings from the manga. While Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is not particularly an action-packed series, the anime can pull out some really impressive and beautiful animation like the dodgeball and fireworks scenes below:
However, the biggest draw behind the manga and anime, in my opinion, is the humor. The jokes are very funny and well-timed. Very impressively, the anime is able to make some liberal additions without ruining the faithfulness to the manga. For instance, whenever Clara's family makes an appearance, the show will suddenly turn into a Disney musical and break the 4th wall:
"Why the heck are we even singing?" (@0:48). I have had the same question ever since Episode 8 of Season 1.
Other times, it's the voice acting that adds to the experience that manga cannot replicate:
The most deliberate and impressive "Asdfjajdfaik!" ever (@2:04). As one commenter said, "Only a truly talented voice actress, [Nao Toyama], could make gibberish sound that coherent".
Overall, Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is fun to read and watch. While the story is not its strong suit, the series has several strengths that easily outweigh its arc-to-arc structure. From the distinct characters to the strong character development to the funny humor, the series is definitely high up on my recommendation list. The anime is currently going through its 2nd season whereas the manga is much more ahead and ongoing (fan translations are up to Chapter 212).