Himouto! Umaru-chan Review

Himouto! Umaru-chan Review
干物妹!うまるちゃん

***SPOILERS***

I like a good comedy anime series. I like a good parody anime series, which are usually comedic in nature. Throw in a super deformed (SD) characterization of a character like the image below (which was taken from an episode in the series), and it is bound to get my interest. Thus it is with Himouto! Umaru-chan.

Himouto! Umaru-chan Review

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewFor those who don’t know, Himouto! Umaru-chan centers around DOMA Umaru, a teenage girl who moved in with her salaryman brother to attend high school. At school, Umaru has the looks of an idol, has perfect grades, and is seen as the perfect student. At home, her true self comes out, where she dresses down, wearing a hooded, hamster cape, eating junk food, and basically being a closet otaku by watching anime, reading manga, and playing games. While like this, she’s shown in chibi, SD form. She has a bit of a brother complex as she enjoys those rare times when he plays games with her. She also manipulates her oniichan greatly, getting him to buy her more anime, manga, and games.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewThere are a few others in Umaru’s life. Umaru’s best friend is EBINA Nana, who lives alone in the apartment below Umaru’s. She transferred from the northern country areas to attend high school, thus she’s afraid of letting her country self slip out. She doesn’t have much confidence and has a huge chest, but when Umaru’s brother, Taihei, didn’t take notice of it, Nana fell in love with him. Umaru’s self-proclaimed rival is the half-gaijin ojousama Sylphynford, who comes in second to Umaru and befriends Umaru’s “UMR” arcade persona. Finally, there’s MOTOBA Kirie, who’s shyness makes her give off an angry aura. She greatly admires Umaru and when she surprises Umaru with an unannounced visit at home, Kirie doesn’t recognize her, so Umaru becomes Komaru, the fictitious little sister of Umaru.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewThe anime episodes made me think that the source manga material may have been of the 4-koma variety. This is because most of the episodes aren’t telling a story, but rather are giving slice of life glimpses into Umaru’s life (with the occasional odd trip into one of her friend’s life). As such, a single episode might have three or four different stories in it. As I have now discovered, the source manga isn’t a 4-koma one, but is a short one, each chapter clocking in at only eight pages. Since most of the manga chapters are a self-contained story, that explains why in the anime, most of the episodes contained multiple stories.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewThe episodes are more amusing than funny. That’s not to say I didn’t have some good laughs, ’cause I did. Umaru in her chibi form helps add to the amusement of scenarios that happen, as does her “magical” switch to her prim and proper public form. It is amusing to think that the school’s perfect idol is actually a closet otaku who lets nobody from school know. Some of the parody stuff that came up was also amusing. So while I may not have had as many laughs as I thought I might, I was mostly smiling through the episodes, save for the moments that were a little more poignant. As such, the episodes were highly enjoyable.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewI think the thing I liked most about the series is Umaru and her serious dedication to her leisure time and snacks. Indeed, in the first episode, we get a proper lesson on the joys of potato chips (sour cream and onion flavored), eaten with cone-shaped. chocolate dipped cookies (a parody of the Takenoko no Sato and Kinoko no Yama cookies in Japan), and polished off with cola (Coke). That is then followed by cheese tara (a processed cheese with a tin rind made from codfish) and dried squid tentacles snack, which is also polished off with cola. I think the fact that Umaru drinks Coke like some folks drink beer (or other adult beverages) made me laugh pretty good.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewThe think I disliked most (and it is a minor thing) had nothing really to do with the series. Instead, it had to do with one adaptation choice. Considering that Crunchyroll made full use of the main honorifics and even onii-chan, onii-san, and onii-sama, I’m almost hesitant to mention this. However, Umaru speaks proper Japanese in class and in public. She does not refer to herself in the third person. However, when she’s at home, she refers to herself in the third person. So she might say, “Oniichan — Umaru is very hungry. Also, you should buy Umaru a new game!” However, the adaptation decided to remove the childish element and go with, “Oniichan — I am very hungry. Also, you should buy me a new game!” I think the adaptation should have had Umaru refer to herself in the third person when in chibi form, and in first person form when normal.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewI was trying to think if there’s an underlying theme to this series. Initially, I thought it might be the hiding of one’s true self. After all, Umaru is a closet otaku, but she hides this from everyone she knows. When Kirie discovers her like this, Umaru invents a little sister character (Komaru) to play in order to preserve the “Umaru is the perfect girl” persona everyone knows. Of course Kirie wants to be friends with Umaru, but settles for “Komaru” for now. Then there’s Nana, who’s desperate to hide the fact that she’s from the country, going so far as to take elocution lessons prior to coming to the city so that she would speak proper Japanese. Sylphynford’s bluster and showmanship hide the fact that she’s lonely and desperately wants to make Japanese friends since she’s part gaijin, part Japanese, and she grew up in Japan.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewHowever, while this might be part of the underlying theme to this series, a bigger theme would be about being oblivious. For example, both Umaru and Taihei are oblivious that Nana is in love with Taihei. Kirie is oblivious that the one she calls “shishou” (Komaru) is in fact Umaru. Sylphynford is oblivious to the fact that her first friend, UMR-san from the arcade, is actually her self-proclaimed rival Umaru. On a trip to the beach, Taihei’s childhood friend and coworker Takeshi has no clue that that his own little sister, Kirei, has come along and doesn’t recognize her. Taihei’s boss, and female childhood friend Kano has a crush on him and has had since at least high school, but Taihei has no clue.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewI don’t know if this was intended or not, but I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness and longing running through the series as it progressed. Because characters are hiding their true selves and are oblivious to things going on around them, there’s also a sense of loneliness that hides in the background. For Umaru, it is usually when her oniichan is not around. For Nana, who lacks self-confidence, it is the fact that most people just stare at her chest. For Kirie, who’s shy but menacing, it is the fact that she has great difficulty getting close or communicating with others. For Sylphynford, it is the fact that despite being an ojousama, she desperately wants real (Japanese) friends with whom she won’t have to put up an act for.

Himouto! Umaru-chan ReviewOne of the things that I liked about the series is that even though there was a randomness to the stories told in the episodes, there was a slow feeling of character growth, though all still have a long way to go. Nana got a little better around Taihei. Sylphynford got to make a friend (even if it was Umaru in disguise). Kirie got to make a friend (again, Umaru as another persona). Despite Umaru’s lie, all four girls end up together, as themselves, at the beach to have some fun together. There was a moment when Umaru was about to confess to Kirie that she is in fact Komaru, but unfortunately, she got interrupted and so it never came about. Since the manga is still ongoing, I hope that Umaru comes clean with all her friends.

In the end, Himouto! Umaru-chan is a very fun series that I would gladly watch again. I wouldn’t mind seeing the manga get licensed too (assuming the adaptation was ANB-approved).

Himouto! Umaru-chan Review

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3 Responses to “Himouto! Umaru-chan Review”

  1. Sylphynford is my favorite character after Umaru herself and her chips and cola. I liked how she casually reveals her true name so nonchalantly in the arcade match wherein even the announcer was scolding her for not using TSF.

    Taihei is also a great character. It’s nice to see someone who looks like a nerd stereotype, but is actually pretty capable.

    I didn’t think too deeply into this series, but now that you’ve mentioned it, there’s definitely a lot of room for growth for all characters. It would be nice to see Umaru eventually come out with her true self to her friends and perhaps to everyone in general… sorta like how mai waifu on my avatar doesn’t hide her otaku self at all :).

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Initially, I didn’t like Sylphynford, but she grew on me over time, once I realized she was just desperate to make Japanese friends, but was going about it in a terrible way.

      It is too bad the manga isn’t out in print form.

  2. […] Hey gang! Since I’m not watching anything new for the fall anime season, I thought I’d try to pull at least one item off the shelf. The one thing that tempted me over and over and over from the previous anime season was Himouto! Umaru-chan, so I’m taking a gander now. (My review is here.) […]

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