I've spent the last couple of years hunting "adult" cartoons, by which I mean ones that show an element of complexity, a decent long-arc structure and content that aligns reasonably with what you might see in anime, of which I watch a staggering amount. There's been a few good examples recently, such as Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Gravity Falls (though that's a while ago now) and the ongoing Steven Universe, but it's definitely a more limited market than real people. Which is why I was quite pleased to discover Gary and His Demons (and a bit annoyed to have burned through it in an evening).
Gary is the Chosen One, as per Buffy, and this means he has to spend his life fighting demons. He doesn't really enjoy it anymore, given that most of his life has been spent, and all he really wants to do is retire. Demon hunting has more or less ruined his life, leaving him with a dead fiancee, a general loathing for humanity and a chronic case of cynicism. But he keeps slugging along, firstly because he's technically "employed" by the shadowy organisation protecting Earth from evil, and because he would feel bad leaving innocents without any form of defense. The next Chosen One is less summoned and more found through a lot of searching.
Of course, being forced into any job is going to keep you a little depressed, and when that job is persistent murder, it's only going to get worse. Gary is a horribly miserable guy, which sets the tone for the whole series. He's got a full on Spider-Man responsibility complex, and keeps slogging through in an unexpectedly heroic manner even when everything is grim.
He's helped along by a worryingly cheerful (but incompetent) sidekick, Hanley, and Leslie, his boss, who has problems of her own (which get their own side story episodes, which is a nice insight). While he is stronger than the average person, he can also undergo a magical-girl style transformation into a superhero, with armour and a sword, putting for cutting through demons, monsters, ghosts and occasionally small children.
Unfortunately, he's not the most effective superhero out there. Gary's overwhelming negativity means, as you might guess from the title, that the monster of the week is sometimes his own personal demon, rather than Fleshler the Almighty (or so on). He's often his own worst enemy, doing idiotic things such as summoning a demon to impress his family, treating a ferocious animal like a dog, and getting "involved" with a tentacle monster. This is a series that takes a very powerful look at how people survive in difficult situations, while still retaining a sense of fun.
That fun is helped along by a few dips into the reference well, with Bloody Mary making an appearance in the supporting cast, and the traditional hook handed villain popping in for a brief surprise. This can get a bit zany, but it works because the people involved are aware it is ridiculous, and the bubble of silliness often gets popped to drop in a hint of reality. Some of the high points are these twists on old classics, such as a "trapped in the game" episode.
It's a rather crude style, but that fits the shabby nature of Gary's life. It allows us to have demons that are both grim and slightly rubbish, but does get given a few tweaks for moments of more power. For example, travelling through Mary's mirror-verse throws up a few neat freeze-frames.
The episodes are only about ten minutes each, and with the series being short, you'll kill it off in just over a couple of hours. I can highly recommend it, though my fellow Brits will need to work out a VPN, as it's currently only on VRV. I'm hoping we'll see it on Crunchy or Netflix soon enough.
In the meantime though, the first episode is here.