Anime Review: Himouto! Umaru-chan

himouto umaru-chan

Anyone who enjoys anime, manga, or video games can probably see a little bit of themselves in Umaru-chan. We’ve all had those moments when watching our favorite anime, reading our favorite manga, or playing our favorite game was the most important thing in the world to us, but I’d wager that none of us can quite hold a candle to Umaru in that regard. If you think this sounds like an interesting idea for an anime, we’re of a like mind~

Beautiful, smart, and athletic, Umaru is loved by all. But what no one knows is that behind closed doors, Umaru is a very different person. Other than study or apply herself, she’d rather play video games, read manga, watch anime, and eat snacks to her heart’s delight. Living with her brother, Umaru’s challenge lies in keeping her true identity a secret, and that’s made more difficult by her eccentric group of new friends.

Year: 2015
Length: 12 Episodes
Genre: Comedy, School, Slice of Life

All right, considering I’m one myself, I thoroughly enjoy it when an anime features a character that is an otaku as well. I just think it’s relatable, and if other people are watching the show, I’d guess that they’re also one and might feel the same way. Now, this isn’t a new concept, the exaggerated otaku stereotype has been seen many times before, but I think it’s handled pretty well in this anime. You have plenty of references to all sorts of anime, manga, and video games, which is something that I always like seeing, and since this is a slice of life, don’t expect much more than Umaru’s daily challenge of wasting away the day in the most nerdy way possible.

From a comedic standpoint, I didn’t find a lack of things to find funny, so I think the creators know the audience well and did a good job of catering to them. One thing that I could see becoming a problem for others is Umaru’s schtick growing repetitive, but for me at least, there was enough variety in the situations, so those instances ended up being pretty rare. At the end of the day, Himouto! Umaru-chan doesn’t really tell a new or profound story, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining, especially for those of us who like cute girls doing cute things and also share Umaru’s interests.

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Moving on to the characters, everything starts and ends with Umaru. Yeah, yeah, you read the synposis about how she’s essentially perfect, but it’s when she transforms into gremlin Umaru that she becomes a great character. Equal parts annoying and adorable, she’s garnered a pretty big online following, and you can find tons of crossover images of anime characters sporting her signature hamster hoodie with ease. I’m sure some people hate her due to how much she acts like a petulant child, but that’s part of her appeal. She’s just this cute and incredibly irritating little munchkin that’s a little like us, but to the nth degree.

She may steal the spotlight, but Umaru isn’t the only character that makes this show worth watching. Taihei is Umaru’s onii-chan who she lives with. A young salaryman, he’s responsible, hard-working, and unselfish, so in other words, he’s the exact opposite of Umaru. As the main guy in a show mostly featuring girls, he’s surprisingly not annoying, and in fact, he counterbalances Umaru’s annoyance quite well—even if he does encourage it by giving in to her demands.

As Umaru’s best friend, Ebina is a shy, large-breasted girl who lives in the same apartment complex as her. Ebina’s adorably sweet, and that’s compounded by her Akita dialect that occasionally rears its head. She develops a bit of a crush on Umaru’s brother, Taihei, so seeing her become timid and nervous around him is very cute and endearing. And did I mention that she has huge boobs? I did? Okay, just making sure.

Speaking of awkward, I can’t recall seeing a more awkward yuri character than Kirie. When I say awkward, I mean socially awkward, to the point that it’s both adorable and cringeworthy. Around everyone else, Kirie’s quiet and menacing, but around Umaru, she transforms into a completely different person. Actually, it’s not just Umaru that Kirie’s a different person around, it’s also her nonexistent younger sister, Komaru (Umaru in her gremlin form).

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After inadvertently finding Umaru in her chibi form, Kirie thinks being close with Komaru will help her befriend Umaru, who she secretly has feelings for. This leads to Kirie calling Komaru “master”—and for someone who doesn’t otherwise have any—gaining a friend. It’s a strange yet interesting situation that doesn’t ultimately amount to as many yuri moments as I’d like, but I always looked forward to seeing Kirie and Umaru/Komaru together, so their relationship was a highlight of the series for me. The Valentine’s Day episode was particularly nice, mostly because that’s when we see the most of Kirie and her strange (yet cute) behavior that’s aimed at Umaru/Komaru. All in all, the comedic twist on unrequited feelings was something that was a bit unexpected, yet was very enjoyable for me.

Last but not least, there’s Sylphin. A whimsical girl that calls herself Umaru’s rival and feels the need to compete with her at every opportunity, she, too, becomes friends with Umaru, albeit in the form of Umaru’s other alter ego, pro gamer UMR. So like everyone else, Sylphin actually does admire Umaru, she just shows it in a different and adversarial way.

These five form the core group of characters of this anime, and they all bring something different and appealing to the table. It’s easy to find at least one character to love, and for some people, perhaps several more. Well-developed, interesting, and perfect fits for a comedic slice of life, in my eyes, the characters are definitely the best reason for watching this anime.

Coming to us from Doga Kobo, this is an anime that, visually, is nothing out of the ordinary. You might get an idea from the slideshow above, but you have your standard moe characters that get even cuter with the addition of chibi Umaru, and generally, the visuals of this anime fall squarely in the middle of what you’d expect of the genre. So what I’m trying to say is, as long as you don’t mind seeing some cute characters, you won’t have a problem with this show (are there really people that dislike that?!).

The playful tone of the anime is reflected in the background music, which to my untrained ears, was a little more memorable than some other slice of life shows I’ve seen. The casting of the voice actors was superb, as all of the characters sound just like you’d imagine them to sound, even Kirie’s stumbling, awkward way of speaking is very well done. And then, there’s the OP. After hearing it once or twice, I usually end up skipping the OP for every episode of other anime, but not this one. Add in small, memorable touches like Umaru’s “Umaruun” catchphrase and you have a good overall level of audio… for a slice of life.

Himouto! Umaru-chan seems tailor-made to appeal to otaku, but I think it’s the memorable characters that helped make this stand out from the glut of cute girls doing cute things anime currently inundating the market. I don’t think I’d quite put this in KinMoza/GochiUsa/Yuru Yuri territory (in terms of overall quality), but for those who enjoy the same things as Umaru, this could be well worth your time~

Story: 7
Characters: 9
Animation: 7
Sound: 7.5
Yuri: 4
Total Enjoyment: 8

himouto umaru-chan

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