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She's just like you and me, only Creepy Cute
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Erma is an online comic by Brandon Santiago about a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl trying to live in mundane society. It takes a lot of inspiration and aspects from horror movies and adds a humorous and cute twist to them.

It can be found at Tapas Comics.

On Halloween 2017, Brandon revealed a special surprise for the fans: an animated short based off the comic. You can see it here.


Tropes:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Erma was born on October 13th, with the comic showing this coming out Friday the 13th October 2017. As for why it's unlucky, well Erma is an Apocalypse Maiden.
  • Absurd Phobia: Santa Claus of all things is one of the few things that frightens Erma.
  • Adorable Abomination: Erma is a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl with various powers usually seen on much more evil characters (including Body Horror shapeshifting and Mind Control) and enjoys all kinds of things relating to horror. She's also incredibly cute and charming.
    • Biologically, Erma is half Japanese yōkai from her mother, Emiko's, side. There is no immediate indication whether this affects her abilities against a full yōkai of the same age, as she puts up a fight against her yōkai twin cousins Mitsu and Momo when they steal her doll not knowing that they are related.
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  • Affectionate Parody: Of just about anything related to the horror genre.
  • Animals Hate Him: Save for Siris, Erma doesn't seem to have much luck with animals since they're freaked out by her presence alone. Turns out, Siris is also undead.
    • Rats seem to like her though, as seen at the beginning of "Rats in the School Walls".
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Erma's human cousin, Emily Williams. She is a hyperactive Genki Girl who loves to play with Erma and messes with her things. Her boundless energy annoys Erma and finds her a handful. Erma still gets along with her though, because Emily is still genuinely a nice kid.
    • Erma's cousins from her mother's side of the family, on the other hand, are much worse. Mitsu and Momo Yureimoto are twin troublemaking brats who antagonize Erma upon thinking of her just as a normal human. Furthermore, they have similar powers, but none of her positive traits.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Sam is married to, and has a child who is, a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl with horrifying powers out the wazoo. But he can't believe her dog is undead.
  • Artistic License – Sports: In Super Bowl, the announcer declares the quarterback needs to make a long pass to win the game, and the screen does indeed show a player dropping back to pass, but his number is 78. NFL rules require quarterbacks to have numbers between 1 and 19.
  • Ascended Extra:
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    • Wallace was originally just used for a one off comic and a slapstick gag in the Cousin Arc, In the Secrets Arc, however, he's the Big Bad, and plots to steal Erma's body to take over the world.
    • Remember Erma's old babysitter? The one Erma scared to the point of insanity? Well, she's going to be a future Big Bad given how she was released, but shows sinister signs of obsession. Furthermore, she's Connor's (the boy who has a crush on Erma) older sister!
  • Ax-Crazy: Erma's old babysitter, as revealed at the end of the Secrets Arc.
  • Badass Normal: Erma's father, doctor, and current babysitter can handle anything Erma throws at them, unlike the majority of adults in Erma's life.
    • Special points to Erma's cousin Emily, whose excitable nature allows her to shrug off or not even be affected by what Erma does. When Erma attempted to spook her, Emily just laughed and imitated her.
    • Felicia (Erma's current babysitter) shrugs off Wittle Wallace pulling a Grand Theft Me on her rather quickly, even managing to pull the same trick Wittle Wallace used on her to get her body back.
    • Erma's dentist and dental assistants for dealing with her, doubly so since Erma fears going to the dentist (she is improving though.)
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: The babysitter before her current one did not respond well to Erma's pranks and suffered a psychological breakdown to the point her parents were forced to pay for the damages. Possibly deconstructed soon. She has since been released from the asylum, but now has shown a dangerous obsession toward Erma.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
  • Benevolent Monsters: Harmless mischief and odd tendencies aside, neither Erma nor her mother have a malicious spectral bone in their bodies. Averted for Wittle Wallace, as he's the Big Bad of the Secrets arc.
  • Berserk Button: Erma actually has a couple, although you have to push her buttons really hard for her to get truly angry:
    • DON'T make fun of her if you find out she's a fan of the (acutally surprisingly dark) stereotypically-girly looking show Warrior Unicorn Princess. Along with that, don't say that her friends won't think she's scary anymore because of that. She nearly killed Wittle Wallace in Felicia's body because he kept saying this to hurt her. It worked.
    • Do not harm her friends. She fought through the Rat Men army nearly untouched until the principal showed that her friends were unharmed to calm her down.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sure Erma's pretty tame compared to the source material, but god help you if you're her opponent in dodgeball or snowball/water balloon wars where it'll most likely become a Curb-Stomp Battle, or harassing her past the breaking point, causing her to freak out and attack you.
  • Big Bad:
    • Wittle Wallace the dummy in the Secrets arc, who swaps bodies with Felicia, and wants to steal Erma's body.
    • Erma's old babysitter, who was put in the mental institution due to Erma's pranks, will star as one, as revealed at the end of the Secrets arc.
    • Spirit's Bloom introduces Emiko's father (Erma's Grandfather) and a mysterious invisible man in a top hat and cloak. Grandpa is really not happy about his daughter running off to the living world, and the man in the top hat apparently wants to use Erma to destroy the world.
  • Big Brother Bully: Downplayed. Connor, the buck-toothed boy who's crushing on Erma, has an older sister who refuses to loan him her walkie-talkies when he asks to borrow them and tells him off in a rather caustic way, only to change her mind moments later, Oh yeah, she's also Erma's former babysitter who returned from being institutionalized.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Erma is good friends with Bigfoot, the two playing and taking pictures together.
  • Black Comedy: Inevitable, given the comic's premise.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Subverted with Erma, as mostly she enjoys some harmless mischief. She will lash out when pushed too far, granted she didn't happen to have good memories with the one who did it.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: In "Unicorn Aftermath", we see that one of Warrior Unicorn Princess' allies has two of these, one on each arm.
  • Blinding Bangs: Both Erma and her mom, Emiko, have them. They can't be removed by mundane means (attempting to cut them only results in the hair growing back in moments), and a bear trap can barely hold it at bay for a time before failing.
    • Emiko owns a pair of empowered squeeze scissors that prevent their hair from immediately growing back. (She tried to tell Erma about them after finding her after a failed hair trimming episode, but the girl stalked out of the bathroom without listening.)
  • Bookends: The beginning and end of "The Rats in the School Walls" begins with a rat stealing Terry's lunch.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The prequel comic Spirit's Bloom actually features a body count thanks to the strange invisible man visiting a newborn Erma at the hospital and nonchalantly killing three bystanders (a nurse he disintegrated, then two doctors he exploded in an elevator only leaving their bloody skeletons splatted against the walls) while the regular series mostly feature Non-Malicious Monsters and resolve its conflicts in a family-friendly way.
  • A Boy and His X: Erma has a pet dog named Siris she got from a woman dressed like a stereotypical gypsy who lives in a wagon.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: The budding romance between Erma's parents in Spirit's Bloom, though her father doesn't realize it until much later. Connor and Erma's interactions have shades of this as well.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Wittle Wallace in Felicia's body realizes too late that bullying Erma is an incredibly stupid idea.
  • The Cameo:
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The Secrets arc starts off innocently enough, Felicia is babysitting Erma as usual and, while going to check on her, finds out she likes the My Little Pony-esque show Warrior Unicorn Princess (abbreviated as WUP). While they're eating dinner, she teases her a little about it but Erma overreacts a tad to the discovery and runs off. Felica tries to find her and calm her down, but ends up in her room and runs across the possessed dummy Wittle Wallace, which proceeds to attack her and switch bodies with her before going after Erma. The comic's arc takes a more tense mood afterwards. Oh, and the final panels of the arc, despite it having a happy ending, reveals the next Big Bad, Erma's old babysitter, now Ax-Crazy and planning to do.... SOMETHING to Erma.
    • Rats in the School Walls gets a few really tense segments towards then end, with Erma having to defend her friends against a horde of attacking rats and rat people. We also learn that there's much more to the school principal than initially suggested.
    • Spirit's Bloom takes this even further. See Darker and Edgier below.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played With. Erma enjoys the dark and macabre and also scaring people for fun, but she's mostly a sweet, well-behaved girl who wants to make friends with the other kids and will use her powers to help them out. She also loves a My Little Pony-type show. The latter is Subverted, however as the show's is surprisingly dark and pretty violent at times.
    • Meanwhile, other children tend to accept Erma as just another kid like them — it's the adults around her who are usually terrified of or mean to her. The children are also quick to accept the Rat Children who join the school in a step to have humans and Rat Men accept one another at the end of the "Rats in the School Walls" arc.
  • Cliffhanger: The Secrets arc was chock-full of them, but one stand-out example occurs at the very end of the arc: We see a future Big Bad exit the mental asylum, Erma's old babysitter, now Ax-Crazy and plotting to do.... SOMETHING to our favorite little half-ghost girl.
  • Closet Geek: Erma, being a walking horror movie villain, is terrified of anyone finding out she's a Warrior Unicorn Princess fan.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Having grown used to the various horrifying things that Erma either does or attracts, many of the characters present (her classmates, her neighbors, her babysitter, etc.) usually shrug off the many unnatural things that occur without incident. This is even used as a plot-point when the existence of rat-people is revealed to the school, everyone having been inoculated to the weirdness of the situation.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The dentist Erma goes to. In the first visit, they got a really bad taste of Erma's powers when trying to clean her teeth. The next time she visits, they're more then ready for her by having her strapped down and having a priest on hand to ward off the supernatural attacks.
  • Creepy Child: Erma is this to her teachers, though her classmates generally aren't fazed by Erma and (most) of her ghostly antics. Though they DO draw the line at stunts like Erma pulling her heart out of her chest on Valentine's Day or snapping her head 180°.
  • Creepy Doll: Erma's room is full of them, some missing their heads. And one of them is even possessed by an evil spirit, though Erma likely didn't know about it considering it stole her babysitter's body and planned to steal Erma's next.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When Erma's playing dodgeball, Erma's team is guaranteed the win. Even if it's just her vs. the rest of the gym students (and even teacher) as one team, Erma will always wipe the floor with them. Hell, the Dodgeball arc ends its second part with Erma joining the other team captain and abandoning everyone who chose to be on her side just to make things fair. This also applies to water balloon and snowball fights.
    • In fact, ANY sport Erma tries also qualifies: being able to instantly get home runs (albeit losing the ball in space) and being able to shoot baskets perfectly dozens of times in a row.
    • If Erma gets pushed too far, and you're the cause of it and don't have a good past with her, let's just say you might want to run.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Erma as well as her mother.
  • Darker and Edgier: Though the series has been dabbling in drama for a while, Spirit's Bloom is quite a bit darker than the rest. Most notably, three innocent extras die very gruesomely toward the end, and Erma is revealed to be a key piece of a plot to destroy the world.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Erma and her mother are creepy as hell, but they're genuinely nice, ordinary people.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Some arcs focus on specific characters:
    • The Cousin arc focuses on Emily, Erma's cousin.
      • Its accompanying arc, the Hunting arc, focuses on Erma's dad, Emily's dad and Siris.
    • The Secrets arc, outside of Erma's secret and Erma's reaction to being pushed too far, mainly focuses on Felicia and Wittle Wallace.
    • A future arc will focus on Erma's old babysitter, who was confirmed to be a Big Bad.
    • The Spirit's Bloom comic focuses on how Erma's parents met.
  • Defanged Horrors: This comic plays a lot of common horror movie themes for laughs.
  • Disability Immunity: The children use an invisibility spell to sneak inside the school but the blind principal of course isn't fooled and pretends not to notice until he reveals their location to the Rat Men as part of his plan to begin the acclimation of Rat Men and humans.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: One short arc has Erma's P.E. class play dodgeball. When Erma is picked as a captain, almost everyone instantly tries to be on her team, only for her to join the other captain's team in a sense of "fairness". Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Or rather, dropped into a hole dug into Hell, but yes this was Wittle Wallace's fate at the end of the Secrets arc.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Erma and her mother.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Erma attempted this on her father once early on in the comic, but he's more than familiar with her tricks that he doesn't even turn to know she's there.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Emiko, Erma's mother, is first shown climbing out of a television which scares the crap out of a man. However, just when he thinks she's about to get him, she instead runs right past him to give Erma her forgotten lunch. It sums up Emiko nicely - a creepy as hell woman with similarly creepy power, but is actually very nice and sweet.
    • Sam, Erma's father, is first shown when Erma attempts to spook him, but he only boredly says that if she does that, he won't take her to the toy store, which also sums up Sam nicely - a Badass Normal who has Seen It All and isn't scared of anything.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: One comic had Erma have to do homework on division. She becomes frustrated when she can't seem to get it and her kitchen winds up suffering for it until the answer finally comes to her.
  • Expy: Erma's mother is based heavily on Kayako Saeki and Sadako Yamamura.
  • Exact Words: The kids playing not-Pokemon Go wonder how Erma intends to play since she doesn't have a phone. Cue Erma dragging a bunch of wild animals she lassoed with a land phone cord.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Rocks, live cats... Pretty much anything can be consumed by Erma.
  • Family Theme Naming: Sam's side of the family, the Williams, are all named after various horror icons, humorously enough:
    • There's Sam's brothers, Freddy and Micheal, named after Freddy Kreuger and Micheal Myers respactably. Micheal appears to be the younger and thus Freddy may be the older one.
    • There's Micheal's wife, Regan, named after Regan MacNeil.
    • There's their child and Erma's cousin, Emily, named after Emily Rose.
    • Sam, Freddy and Micheal's mother and Erma's grandmother, Pamela, after Pamela Voorhees.
    • Speaking of which, Sam's best friend Jason (who can't swim) is named after Jason Voorhees (who's close enough to the Williams to be invited to Thanksgiving.)
    • Sam himself may be named after the horror character of the same name from TrickRTreat (who was named after the pagan holiday Samhaim, what Halloween was based on.)
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the Hunting arc, Siris getting shot 3 times and ran over without dying foreshadows the twist that Siris is undead.
      • On a much earlier note for the same plot twist, you can tell something's different about Siris when he's the only one to be attracted to a child who is half ghost.
    • The Cousin arc episode Snoop has Wittle Wallace attempt to make Erma's cousin Emily "his plaything" and later attack her. Emily also discovers that Erma has Warrior Unicorn Princess dolls. Both of these events later play a part in the Secrets arc, the former when Wallace pulls a Grand Theft Me on Felicia, and the latter being what Erma's trying to hide.
  • Genki Girl: Erma's cousin Emily. It makes Erma nervous.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Before having her body stolen by Wittle Wallace the dummy, Felicia's eyes are normal and human with filled-in pupils. After the Grand Theft Me, however, her (body's) eyes are suddenly less filled-in and seem more demonic, even appearing drunk on occasion.
  • Grand Theft Me: Felicia, Erma's current babysitter, has this pulled on her by Wittle Wallace, the creepy dummy in Erma's room in the Secrets arc.
  • Hair Reboot: Erma's hair seems determined to stay in its Peek A Bangs position. She has to resort to using a bear trap for a hairpin to pin it back for a Halloween costume.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Erma, though she seems to take more after her mother than her father.
    • Sidney the Hall Monitor, who is half human and half Rat Men, which allows her to control small, non-sapient rats and shift between human and Rat Man form.
  • Happily Married: Erma's parents.
  • Hates Baths: As seen in The Inevitable, Erma hates baths. And considering her ghostly powers, getting her in the tub is a battle.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Erma accidentally causes this to a rude old lady on Halloween after Erma's babysitter suggests she try asking for candy again after the woman is extremely rude to her and her friends the first time.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Unsurprisingly, Erma has voodoo dolls and it's implied she can make them. Why she made one of Connor though raises some eyebrows...
  • Horrifying the Horror: Monsters under the bed are scared of Erma, and Freddy Krueger has nightmares about her. Jason doesn't seem to have problem getting a hug and The Babadook enjoys reading his book with her though.
    • A Mall Santa does this to Erma herself, resulting in her cocooning him in cloth from fear. She also appears to have gotten a fear of Santa in general from the incident as she grabbed a knife when she thought she heard him.
    • Erma is freaked out by the aggressive outbursts her parents make when they're watching an American Football game.
    • Erma's cousin Emily notably makes her nervous with her hyperactive behavior.
    • The Big Bad in Felicia's body is also fond of doing this to poor Erma, and it backfires HARD.
  • Human Dad Non Human Mom: Erma's dad, Sam Williams is a human while her mother, Emiko Williams is a yokai.
  • Human Mom, Non-Human Dad: Sidney's father is the leader of the Rat Men living under the school and her mom was a human.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Given her increasingly freakish abilities, some of which include Body Horror, it isn't a stretch to say Erma is this.
    • Her mother as well, though she's better at functioning in society than her daughter.
  • Implacable Man: Erma's undead dog Siris pretty much ignores being shot in the head three times and then run over.
  • In Name Only: Sam's family are all named after movie killers... but are very nice people.
  • Intangibility: Erma (and presumably her mother as well) can become intangible to go through walls or allow things to go through them.
  • Irony: Erma can manage to freak out a lot of people 24/7 without really trying most of the time. But when she goes in "costume" (really just a normal dress with her hair done in a ponytail) on one Halloween and tries to scare people, no one takes her seriously.
  • Jump Scare: Erma is pretty fond of these, but never goes any further beyond that.
  • Killer Rabbit: The puppy Erma's family finds in The Vet seems adorable at first (especially compared to the other "pets"). That is, until it's revealed that it's going through a "teething phase", showing a massive pile of bones from various creatures behind it.
  • Klatchian Coffee: In “Weekly Grind”, Erma sneaks in a sip of her babysitter’s coffee. Cut to her telekinetically stirring up a storm in the kitchen.
    Felicia: Aaand there goes my allowance for the week…
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In the final chapter of the Dodgeball arc, after Erma faces off against the entire gym, minus one teammate, we see that Coach greatly enjoys watching kids get violently pummeled with dodgeballs (even eating popcorn as it's happening, somehow). Cue Erma's teammate accidentally causing the dodgeball to bounce around the gym and eventually hit the Coach in the head.
    • The old hag in the Halloween arc aggressively screams at children and hides the candy from them because she wants it all to herself. Shortly afterwards, Erma scares her so much that she has a heart attack, allowing Erma's group to steal all of the old hag's candy.
    • The Big Bad of the Secrets arc (Wittle Wallace, now in Felicia's body) spends around 2 pages harassing poor Erma about her secret. Cue Erma going from a cute little ghost girl to a hot-blooded being of pure, unadulterated rage, grabbing the possessed babysitter with her hair and ready to tear him/her to pieces.
      • Also, after Wittle Wallace (in Felica's body) realizes that the powder he planned to use to pull a Grand Theft Me on Erma was washed away after she dropped the possessed babysitter in the lake, Felica (in Wittle Wallace's body) pulls the very same trick Wittle Wallace used on her that kicked off the tense parts of the arc.
      • Remember how Wallace was bullying Erma for being a WUPer. Guess what kills him: WUP dolls controlled by Erma's telekinesis, who dogpile him, chain him to a rock, and throw him into a hole so deep it lands him in hell.
  • Mind over Matter: Erma and her mother have telekinesis and mind control as part of their ghostly powers. Erma in particular almost never carries anything in her hands as opposed to telekinetically. Something the fans even caught onto.
  • Misaimed Marketing: In-Universe, Warrior Unicorn Princess is often portrayed as a fun, action fantasy show similar to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (it's even confirmed that men are WUPers). When in reality, however, it's extremely dark and violent.
  • Mundane Utility: Erma uses her powers to terrify a football player so her dad's team can win. And that's just one of her many (ab)uses of her powers, like taking a ghost bus to get to school on time or using her poltergeist to hurl dozens of dodgeballs around.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Erma is this for normal people. She enjoys scaring people for fun, although she's not malicious about it.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The blind principal is blind, but he's got quite a perceptive awareness, to the point of realizing Erma and her friends were following him to the underground Rat Men civilization beneath the school while under an invisibility spell.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The blind principal who was a one-off gag on how anyone would accept Erma into the school is one of the few individuals responsible in keeping the school's underground Rat Men civilization a secret.
  • Off with His Head!: Erma likes to rip the heads off all her dolls. She also did this to herself while dancing, although the crowd was less than enthused by it.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Erma occasionally will do this, though she's usually more fond of through-screen teleportation.
  • Oh, Crap!: Erma's father and paternal uncle's entire trip becomes this upon finding out Siris is actually undead. When Erma does find out by way of Contrived Coincidence caused by Tempting Fate, the men are understandably worried.
    • Erma has this reaction after her babysitter Felicia reveals she knows that Erma is a WUPer, a fan of Warrior Unicorn Princess, something Erma doesn't want anyone but her mom and dad to know.
    • In "Pathetic", Wittle Wallace in Felicia's body has this realization after his taunting of Erma causes her to go from mortification to pure rage.
    • Erma's mother, Emiko, has one when she goes to get a gift during Erma's birthday and sees one from someone with a tag in Japanese. She burns the gift before grabbing another one and heading back. The tag is revealed to say "grandfather", indicating that Emiko's family is not only aware of Erma's existence, but where they live. Considering they kidnapped Emiko after her marriage with Sam, Emiko is understandably frightened at her family, especially her father, coming for her and her family.
  • One-Man Army: When it comes to snow fights, water-balloon fights, dodgeball, and even regular fights, Erma's in a league all her own.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Erma and her mom have various ghostly powers, such as shape-shifting, levitation, telekinesis, phasing through walls, using televisions as portals to other places, mind control, and removing their body parts. They also have some physical elements - Erma requires sleep, both eat, and given the baby pictures on her family's walls, Erma was born the same way as an ordinary human child.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Erma, though her eyes are shown now and then. Her mother has it as well, and the one time Erma is shown trying to cut her hair it instantly grows back to its normal length. Heck, when she wanted to go into costume one Halloween and tried to put it up in a clip, the clip snapped off instantly. So she ended up resorting to a bear trap which just barely holds her hair into place.
  • Periphery Demographic: In-Universe; Erma is a big fan of Warrior Unicorn Princess and initially tries to keep it a secret. Kinda mitigated by the fact that the show is actually rather darker than what advertisements portray it as.
  • Pest Controller: Sidney can control small, non-sapient rats mentally.
  • Prehensile Hair: Erma and her mother can control their long, stringy black hair to ensnare and squeeze people or items like an anaconda. Emiko can also condense her hair, like compressing the tips into deadly spikes.
  • Puppy Love: There's a good bit of Ship Tease between Erma and her buck-toothed classmate named Connor. To date, he's given her a flower (and she kissed him on the cheek to cheer him up when she made it wilt accidentally), comforted her when she was worried she wasn't scary during Halloween, kissed her on the cheek under mistletoe (she ends up fully blushing and slightly spazzing) and tends to turn to Erma when he's scared, such as when he leapt into her arms when he got spooked or holding her hand for reassurance. Erma hasn't quite shown how much she likes him back, but she does tend to smile whenever these happen (minus when he kissed her, since she was too shocked to process it), so she's definitely fond of Connor in return.
  • Putting the "Pal" in Principal: While the Creepy Cute Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl/Half-Human Hybrid title character unnerves most of the teachers, Principle Phibes is blind, and thus 'Everyone is the same in his eyes'. He means it. - He's a Secret Keeper for a society of Rat Men living underneath the school, and Erma is not the only Half-Human Hybrid to attend his school.
  • Random Species Offspring: There doesn't seem to be much cohesion in what type of Youkai Emiko's family members are. Emiko herself, and Erma by default seems to be an onryo, her sister is a Rokurokubi, which her twin daughters don't seem to have inherited (they seem to be some kind of nature spirits given how they transform into leaves), their father is apparently some kind of Oni, one member seen in silhouette seems to be a Kappa, another seems to be a Cephalothorax of some kind, and her uncle is an Invisible Man-type character that can render people down to the bone and effectively hit the mute button on a nurse.
  • Rat Men: Turns out there's a civilization of these living underneath the school. They have plans to move due to the noise from above, but decide to send their children to the school to begin the acclimation of humans to Rat Men.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Sam is a famous horror novelist with at least four published works, and working on another. It's assumed by fans that this has made him well off, yet his family lives in a comfortably modest suburban home. Others point out that being wealthy would be the only way they can pay for Erma's more destructive episodes; a wealthy lifestyle would mean replacing things would be much more expensive. It would also explain why such expenses haven't put the Williams in the poor house.
    • This is reinforced by a comment made by Erma's aunt about it.
    • Turns out Emiko herself is this. Her family has plenty of prestige and servents with them, something Sam did not too much about based on his surprise about learning it. However, it's unlikely Emiko gets any money from them seeing how she wants little to do with her family (or at the least, her dad.)
  • Seen It All: Erma's doctor. Likewise Felicia, Erma's latest babysitter, who isn't fazed by Erma's attempts to scare her and takes swapping bodies with an evil dummy surprisingly well.
    • Yori is able to recognize Sam as Emiko's husband by the sheer fact that he doesn't seem really phased by the supernatural going on at the airport. Japan in general also seems to be less easily phased by the supernatural than much of the rest of the world, if Yori's comments are correct.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Erma and her mother were obviously inspired by Kayako Saeki and Sadako Yamamura in appearance and powers.
    • "Erma" just happens to rhyme with "Alma" and both feature a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl.
    • Some of the titles in the library in "Ancient Relic" include Let the Right One In, The Call of Cthulhu, Carrie, Cuckoo Clock of Doom and The Monkey's Paw. The title panel has the Necronomicon in it.
    • The end of the Dodgeball arc seems to be one toward The Wonder Years episode, "Loosiers" (Though in that case it was a basketball game. The outcome was still the same: the sadistic coach getting beaned by a stray ball).
    • One comic has a classmate use a Bloody Mary-esque summoning ritual to contact Erma and get notes for class.
    • On Thanksgiving, we find out the family and friends of Erma's father consists of his prankster brother Freddy whom he describes as a "nightmare", his other brother Michael who sneaks around and scares people on Halloween, his friend Jason whom he had fun at summer camp with despite being a poor swimmer, and his mother Pamela. There's also Regan (Michael's wife and ergo Erma's aunt), who got sick last time.
    • In the comic Noise! Noise! Noise!, Erma's methods of keeping her dad and his friends during a football game quiet might remind you of a certain nightmare demon and one of his kills in the third film he appears in. Bonus points for the "Prime Time" on the TV screen.
    • The town Erma's family lives in is Blairwood.
    • Several from "Invasion of Privacy", from the title panel having Erma hugging a Facehugger, a reporter asking if they're among us, a cowboy fighting a vampire, and one of the items in Erma's closet is the Number 2 Journal.
    • In one Halloween story arc, Erma and her friends take a break to see what candy they got. Naturally when it's her turn, she pulls out a rock... which she proceeds to eat.
    • The name of one of the comic's arcs is titled "The Rats in the School Walls".
    • Erma's principal is called Mr. Phibes, referencing The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
    • "Discover" has Felicia asking about Erma about her Warrior Unicorn Princess fandom in the same matter as Panty asking Stocking if she's on a diet.
  • Show Within a Show: Warrior Unicorn Princess.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Siris is revealed to be a Type IV, considering he's healed three gunshot wounds to the face and is healing from having been run over, which left a VERY noticeable divot through him horizontally, and it was only these wounds that revealed him to be undead in the first place.
  • The Speechless: Erma doesn't talk at all. Well, she whispers to her friends a couple of times offscreen, but we've never seen her speak normally. Whenever she tries, something happens to keep her from talking.
    • Her aunt Mayumi also has never uttered a word, but this is justified due to the fact that she's a Noppera-bo Youkai with no facial features.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Erma looks nothing like her dad Sam, but is basically a smaller version of her mom Emiko, from their looks to the way they dress. This is lampshaded a lot by her maternal relatives, especially her aunts - Yori and Ena.
    • And when it comes to Emiko's family, all female members look alike, with the same eyes and facial features, the differences only being their hairstyles and clothes. Mayumi averts this, though, not like she even has a face to begin with anyway.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Erma and her mother. Considering what they're based on, it's to be expected.
  • Switch to English: Apparently all of Erma's yokai relatives are fully bilingual in English. Once it is understood who Erma is (their half-yokai American relative) they will confirm her identity with her in English, and then stick with English around her.
  • Take a Third Option: During the Dodgeball arc, Erma is picked as one of the captains, which results in all of the class trying to be on her side since, thanks to her powers, she's virtually impossible to play against. Of course, that leaves the opposing side without any players and someone at least needs to be on the other captain's side to have a game. While the kids argue over who's going to do it, Erma decides to join the other team so there can be a proper match. Great for the other captain, not so much for the other team.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Erma and her mother can travel through TVs (much like their inspiration), as well as anything with a screen (computers, Gameboys, etc.), though they can also warp with sinks/water, and comic books seem to work too. It's even proven that this is how they get around (Game Time having Erma get on the field of a football game just by entering a TV that's showing it)
  • Television Portal: A favorite method of transport for Erma and her mom, though something as small as a portable console works too. They mostly use it for transport and the occasional prank, although Yori states that Emiko can also bring others with her.
  • Tempting Fate: Wittle Wallace brags that people have tried to destroy or otherwise get rid of him in various ways and it's never worked, so he'll just come back no matter what Erma does. Cue his being chained to a rock and prepared to be dropped into a seemingly bottomless pit, which he admits has never happened before. On top of that, the pit turns out to be so deep it leads to Hell. Yeah, he's probably not coming back.
    • After the Secrets arc Felicia hopes to not got another night like that again, only to be followed by a strip of Erma's first babysitter getting released from the mental hospital, still obsessed with Erma and with a creepy smile while drawing her.
  • There's No "B" in "Movie": Erma watches a lot of horror movies, though she finds them hilarious (presumably because she's innately scarier than any of them). She actually considers it embarrassing to be caught watching "Warrior Unicorn Princess" and switches to a slasher film when her babysitter walks in. Most of them are made up, though one of the color strips shows her watching Maniac!.
  • Thermal Dissonance: Being half youkai, Erma seems to be completely immune to cold temperatures, as seen here and here.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Lampooned like crazy! Being a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, Erma is prone to the typical self-dismemberment and demonic possession, she keeps a knife in-case Santa Claus ever visits, she tears the heads off of all of her dolls, she is prone to the occasional Horror movie marathon and she is still in grade-school. This has generally been accepted as normal and she is still just a normal girl at heart.
  • Unnamed Parent: Erma's parents weren't name until the release of the special Spirit's Bloom oneshot. Their names are revealed to be Sam and Emiko, with the family name being Williams. The names would later be used within the main comic itself, especially with the focus on Emiko's side of the family.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The first true villain of the series, Wittle Wallace is noticeably more cruel and antagonistic than minor villains like the old hag, who are just petty jerks, especially since he steals Felicia's body and uses it as a vessel to bully Erma and attempt to take her body.
  • Voodoo Doll: Erma has a few voodoo dolls, including one of Connor. Unfortunately for Erma (and later Connor), Erma's female friends find it and immediately start having fun with it.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Invasion of Privacy houses the aforementioned Grand Theft Me scene with Felicia, and reveals Wittle Wallace (the creepy dummy) as the Big Bad of the Secrets arc. The rest of the arc's comics are less comical and more dramatic and tense.
    • At the end of the Secrets arc, it's revealed Erma's old babysitter, now somehow even creepier-looking than possessed Felicia, and drawing disturbing pictures of Erma, has been released from the mental hospital.
  • Wham Shot: A mid-story one during "The Rats in the School Walls" arc. Connor, Erma's friend with a huge crush on her, has an older sister and said sister was Erma's former babysitter.
  • Youkai: Emiko's family (and by extension Erma) are this, confirmed by Emiko herself in the 'Family Reunion' arc. Each of her siblings is a different type of youkai.

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