Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera is a Spring 2011 comedy-supposedly horror anime based on a 1973 manga by Go Nagai. Above all it is retro.
Immediately you’re thrust into the classic Go Nagai style, which, depending on the thickness of your nostalgia glasses, will seem either refreshing or derivative. Opening in a small bath house we’re introduced to young Harumi and a bit of the local color. She’s told by eldritch horror Granny Gossip that demons inhabit the nearby school. Harumi is sceptical. How could a creature more terrifying than Granny Gossip exist? None do. Our girl doesn’t seem to notice that Granny is a nightmare from beyond the stars though so on she carries.
Running into some buddies looking to go Scooby Doo on the demon mystery, poor, dimwitted Harumi is roped into the adventure. Fortunately for her the demon you knew was real without me having to say so gets to her friends first. Intent on keeping the evening’s Scooby Doo theme alive her possessed friends put on some upbeat folk music for the comedic life or death chase scene.
With nowhere to run Harumi finds herself drowning. Saved by a kappa who offers to take her to the freaking Underworld to dry off she accepts. Being a comedy anime heroine she has more plot luck than brains so it works out okay. Instead of being taken to Hell and spending eternity at the end of a demon’s pitchfork she meets the cast proper at Halloween Town’s take on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
The Demon Patrol, our heroes, consist of nopan yukionna Yukiko, hotblooded dimwit Enma, a talking hat and the aforementioned kappa guy. Too stupid to live Harumi volunteers as bait, gets caught by a demon with a ding-dong sword and The Demon Patrol save the day. Hooray.
Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera is distinctly Go Nagai and thus, distinctly ’70s. Everything from the character designs to the archetypes will be familiar to Cutie Honey fans and Nagai enthusiasts. To reiterate an earlier point; If your nostalgia glasses are thick enough there’s nothing here not to like.
However, this isn’t the ’70s and tastes have changed. What’s here for the uninitiated? A lot, I think, though perhaps not enough if your plate is already full. The comedy ranges from slapstick to perverted innocence. The story is basic enough to carry the action. The characters feel familiar, comfortable. The animation is solid. Unfortunately, so much has taken inspiration from ol’ Nagai’s work that even his originals can feel derivative.
Overall, I dug it. If you have an open comedy slot or a hankering for some light, old school fun give this a watch. If time is hard to come by, maybe pick something a bit more filling.