I’ll admit that this one was a show that I passed over early in the season mostly due to time constraints with my job at the time. As the season progressed and the acclimation for this comedy anime grew, it became impossible for me to continue my disregard for the show. About half way through the season I binge watched all the episodes I had missed, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a genuinely funny show that I looked forward to every subsequent week. It became something of a comfort show like “Non Non Biyori” that I could watch and simply enjoy. I think it will be for my fellow BrOtaku as well, so allow me to introduce…
From the start of the opening theme (“Kakushinteki☆Metamaruphose!”) you know that this is going to be a fun show. It’s doesn’t bring a new premise to anime, but it presents its premise in a way that is new and interesting. Every character brings their own elements to the show, including one character with a dialect complex that I wasn’t aware existed in Japan. This is another show like my last review (Monster Musume) that was huge in popularity this season, and for that people debated whether or not it deserved as much attention as it got. I would argue that it’s acclaim was well deserved for the reprieve it gave us from other some of the heavier shows in the lineup this season.
This story (much like “Lucky Star”) revolves around an otaku girl named Umaru Doma, who lives with her brother Taihei. When she’s in public this junk food fanatic of a girl becomes a picturesque young lady, who seems to excel at everything she does. When she’s with Taihei however, she (literally) becomes a chibi version of herself who’s more interested in video games, junk food, and anime. Taihei, being a responsible adult, constantly tries to correct his sisters lazy and erratic behavior to varying degrees of effectiveness. It’s “the odd couple” formula in an anime, but this old storyline lends itself well here and provides us with some excellent comedy.
Over the course of this 12 episode romp, we’re introduced to Umaru and Taihei’s small social circles. There’s Nana Ebina, Umaru’s good friend, who has a complex about her country dialect. Kirie Motoba is an introverted girl who makes friends with Umaru, though she thinks that Umaru and her chibi self are two different people. Last of Umaru’s social circle is her friend/self-imposed rival Sylphynford Tachibana, a girl who seeks to be number one at everything she does… literally everything. Taihei has his own social circle of coworkers, but we rarely see all but one of them. That one is nicknamed “Bomber” by Taihei, but he’s Kirie’s older brother Takeshi. Together with their friends, Umaru and Taihei windup in various comical predicaments usually caused by misunderstandings and Umaru’s constant need for attention.
Umaru-chan’s story doesn’t really have a set goal, so in that way it is very episodic in nature. The show does progress in terms of slight character development though, with Ebina reveling her dialect and Kirie becoming more comfortable around Taihei. This show’s biggest draw is Umaru’s hidden otaku proclivities, as was the draw with “Lucky Star’s” Konata character though she wasn’t closeted. After all who among the otaku community doesn’t want to believe the most popular girl/guy in school/work is a closet nerd? It speaks to the fanbase, and does so in a way that’s both entertaining and fun. Every episode comes at you with new stories of the life of this sibling duo, and this dynamic of storytelling in a comedy anime gives it a tremendous amount of rewatchability!
“Himouto! Umaru-chan” probably isn’t going to win most “Best of Summer 2015” polls, but it’s a still a very funny 12 episodes. Some people weren’t big fans of the ridiculous nature of Umaru’s chibi self, or the fact that when she was in that form she was indistinguishable from her normal self. My normal stance on opinion is “to each their own”, but I do wonder what they were expecting from a comedy of this variety. I personally would recommend this anime to anyone looking for some laughs, and who enjoys the absurd from time to time. You can assuredly count me among the fans of this one, hell I even pre-ordered some Umaru merchandise because I liked it so much. If you do end up watching this show, and enjoying it there’s possibly another season in the works as well! Until then this anime is an adaptation of a manga, so there’s that avenue to find more Umaru. If you haven’t seen this one yet pull up a chair, grab some cola and chips, and get ready for a good time.
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!