Thursday, April 21, 2016

MIXED BAG! ANIME CO-PILOT #1 HIMOUTO! UMARU-CHAN!



New Mixed Bag? New format! (Maybe videos later. For now I'm just glad to be back in this horse and pony show.)

Anime Co-Pilot is a new fun little article series I plan to use as a means to share my thoughts on animes as I discover them. And I plan to watch a lot of anime this year. So, in Anime Co-Pilot I'll be describing my opinion on the first episode of the anime and give a simple review with a rating of Continue! or Pass!

"Continue!" implies that you should check it out and I am gonna watch more. "Pass!" implies that you can probably skip it and I won't be watching more.

I hope that is simple enough and I hope that these articles are interesting to you guys.



himono/干物 [hee-moh-noh]
noun
1. Japanese. Literally "dried fish" but also used as slang to describe a woman who is lively and proper in public, while being a lazy slob in private.

imouto/ [ee-moh-toh]
noun
1. Japanese. Little sister.

"Himouto!" / 干物妹 is a portmanteau of the Japanese slang himono and the Japanese word for little sister. I've mentioned before that the Japanese are fond of their portmanteaus, such as Pokemon being a combination of "pocket" and "monster", and this play on words is an apt description of the main female character of Himouto! Umaru-Chan.

I hesitate to call Umaru Doma the protagonist because of her estranged relationship with her brother Taihei (who may also be the protagonist). Himouto! Umaru-Chan is a comedy that starts by defying genre conventions. 


The meta humor reflects a modern trope: typically, in the animes that the introduction parodies, a perfect teenage girl moves into the big city to live with her older brother and the anime suggests or even outright delivers romantic and/or sexual tensions between the older brother, his sister and her friends. An offensive trope, especially for Western sensibilities, but a popular genre nonetheless in the last couple decades. But...

Himouto! Umaru-Chan isn't really that kind of anime.


In public, Umaru is perfect. Taihei tells us that she is the popular, pretty and talented. She is an A-student and everyone loves Umaru. They do not know that Umaru lives a double life: in public, she is perfect. In private, she is anything but! 

The moment Umaru crosses the threshold into her apartment she transforms into an obnoxious (but cute) chibi caricature of herself, Umaru-chan. Umaru-Chan is a bratty, obnoxious, lazy, slob of a female otaku who spends all of her free time indulging herself by eating junk food, watching anime, playing video games, drinking cola, and pestering her brother into waiting on her hand and foot.

This is not anybody's fantasy. It is a hilarious nightmare where we find ourselves rooting for and against both characters. Sometimes we want to indulge Umaru-chan in her ridiculous pursuits and interests. I mean, even when she is at her worst, she is one of the cutest anime characters I've watched in recent memory. The fact that she is a little annoying honestly adds a little bit more to her likeability! But when she pushes Taihei too far and acts like a spoiled toddler, we begin to root for poor Taihei! This dynamic is great and I can't wait to see whether or not Taihei can save his sister from becoming a loser or whether she'll drag her friends down in the process!

The slice of life comedy, mixed with over the top cute visuals and otaku references, is addictive fun that manages to hook me from the get-go.

And I'll admit that I have watched a few more episodes and getting to meet her friends and rivals, who are all equally obnoxious and cute in their own ways, is enough of a reason to keep watching the rest of the season!

That's why it is so easy to give Umaru-Chan a rating of...

CONTINUE!

What anime should I check out next? What do you think of Umaru?

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