In a dystopian world in the near future, a young boy’s humanity has its interest piqued when he comes across an adorable little daemon—a creature that was born from a contaminating particle that was released when nuclear activity causes the earth to briefly overlap with hell. Kento is determined to prove that daemons and humans can live in harmony, but the entire world believes otherwise. Specifically, in Japan, there’s a “peace organization” that experiments on and “exterminates” these daemons if they’re deemed too dangerous. There’s one more thing, though: Kento is on a journey to revive his dead mother with the help of his daemon friend. Will he be able to do it?
My Daemon is a Netflix original animated series created by Igloo Studio of Thailand. The series is animated in an old-school, almost 2D style, which reminded me much of the old Barbie films mixed with a tinge of Cartoon Network shows like Recess. Even the tiny little movements and sounds the daemons make resemble those of the little dogs and pets that we’ve seen many times in the Barbie cinematic universe (looking at you, Bibble). At the same time, there’s a Pokémon-like fantastical charm to the creatures that are magnificently designed, each with their own quirk and charm. While My Daemon does not bring anything new to the world of anime or entertainment in general, there’s a lot to admire about it. The story is fairly simple, but the fantastic beasts are more than enough reason to watch the 13-episode first season. Each episode is about 20 minutes, minus the intro song and outro.
My Daemon is deliberately simple in its message yet determinedly effective. There are many tropes here: the found family bond, the darkness within humanity, kindness is always victorious, etc., but that doesn’t make it tedious at all. In fact, in usual anime fashion, the show is very fast-paced, and every episode ends with a massive cliffhanger that will leave your jaw on the floor. Of course, what keeps us interested is that the show provides allegories visually rather than shoving them in our faces through sheer dialogue. As you can imagine, when it’s a story about humanity and unknown creatures, it’s always about the monstrosity we hide within ourselves and the monumental hate that brews within us as a species. Yeah, I’m being dramatic, but this is a fantasy-sci-fi-thriller; I’m sure I’m allowed some hyperbole.
Kento’s journey from the start is a marvelous one. We see him go from a scared young boy with a kind heart and love for his daemon to a strong and very intelligent leader figure. Whoever Kento comes across, he tends to help, whether it be human or daemon, good or evil. There’s not a second in the series when we doubt Kento’s ability to make everyone around him feel at ease and fall in love with him. Additionally, the bond between him and his little daemon, Anna, is absolutely adorable. Every time he makes a joke about how cute she is and how he’d stick her on the Japanese currency or build statues of her in the museum, you can really feel his bubbling emotions. Talking about Anna, we can’t go without appreciating her “kawaii” appearance, which then transforms somewhere in the series into something magnificent. These creatures are made from anything: rocks, scissors, papers, spiders, frogs, and carnivorous flowers. You will see them all in these creature designs. Having said that, there’s definitely a feeling of “a lot of thought went into designing these things” throughout the series.
Don’t fret; the world-building, although very quick and sometimes hard to pick up on, is perfectly carried out through the series as things fall into place piece by piece until the last episode. Never do you feel the need to look up what happened in the past or understand anything outside of what is given to us on a silver platter by the series itself, which is quite fantastic if you ask me. Now, I’ve spoken enough about the show visually and its fantastical elements, but underneath the facade of these whimsical creatures lies heart and strong emotions. The show really plays with your heartstrings right from the start, and if you get emotional easily, this show is going to make you shed some tears. Visually, the show starts off a little dull, but as the story gains momentum, so does the action within it. The background score did transport me into Doctor Who at some point; I’m not quite sure why, but possibly the use of the word “exterminate” had some influence on me there. The show is well made, and all the characters are memorable and have interesting, unique features that make it easy to differentiate between them.
With unscrupulous villains, the kindhearted underdog child hero, his pet monster, and a dozen people they meet on the way, the show keeps throwing multiple interesting characters at you, all of whom you want to know more about. Picture Sweet Home or The Last of Us but in 2D and much less “monster” or ”zombie,” more “adorable creatures”. At the end of the day, My Daemon is a fantastic dystopian animated show that can be enjoyed in one sitting. All 13 episodes have been released at once by Netflix and can be binge-watched in a day. While at first I did find the animation a little bit underwhelming, it really grew on me, specifically Anna’s design, as the show progressed. With every passing scene, there’s a lot new that happens, so visually, it gets better as well. If you’re into apocalyptic shows and have a day to spare, give this one a go. I’d give My Daemon 4 out of 5 stars.