Review of Himouto! Umaru-chan

himouto

Forget about fake news, what about fake people? You know the ones, folks who pretend to be someone else to fit in with the cool crowd. I am useless at hiding my geeky credentials (what with my stereotypical specs, acne encrusted skin and poor social skills) but the same isn’t true for everyone else. Your strict boss could be a closet brony for example! Umaru Doma, the star of Himouto Umaru-chan, happens to be one of those social chameleons. In public she portrays the role of model student – beautiful, great at sports and top of the class when it comes to grades. Away from prying eyes however she is a hardcore otaku who loves games, manga and unhealthy snacks.

SIBLING RIVALRY

The only person privy to Umaru’s secret identity is her long-suffering elder brother Taihei Doma. Anime fans know that parents do not exist, in the wacky world of Japanese cartoons, so the aforementioned siblings cohabitate alone in a modest studio apartment. Life at home is filled with feuds over Umaru’s refusal to do chores or anything else constructive for that matter. Taihei tries to lay down the law, but more often than not capitulates to Umaru’s tantrums. A few tears and some guilt tripping is all that’s required to coerce bro into buying her hamsters, the latest comic or a new console game.

On paper I should despise Umaru, for being a selfish brat, but somehow the series manages to make her likable. It’s tough to hate the protagonist, as her egoistic personality is the catalyst for much of the show’s hilarity. I also have a soft spot for the lead as her hobbies mirror my own. We look nothing alike though. She might be able to maintain a slim figure by guzzling carbonated beverages and sitting in front of a PC all day, but I certainly can’t. Perhaps her trim waist is the result of shape shifting powers? Whenever Umaru reaches home she transforms from a regular girl to a hoodie wearing chibi cutie.

CHARACTERS

Normally when an anime character shifts into an ultra deformed look no one acknowledges the change, but in Umaru’s case it appears that she genuinely does morph into a midget. Case in point – the time her shy classmate Kirie Motoba turned up at the Doma abode. When Kirie spotted the diminutive Umaru she was easily convinced into believing that Chibi Umaru is a made up little sister named Komaru. Then again none of the cast are sharp when it comes to identification. Umaru’s academic rival Sylphyn Tachibana for example doesn’t suspect that the buddy she hangs out with, at the local arcade, is Umaru sporting an eye mask!

Speaking of buddies, Umaru’s best friend is a buxom gal named Nana Ebina. Nana has a crush on Umaru’s brother, stemming from the time she migrated over from Akita to the big city. Taihei garnered her admiration, as he was the only person to make eye contact with her. Miss Ebina is oblivious to the fact that the locals aren’t mean; they just weren’t making eye contact as their gaze was squarely focused on her knockers! Other characters of note include Taihei’s trio of office co-workers. Takeshi the slacker with an Afro, German born Alex who browses for anime girls on work computers and Kanau the flirtatious manager.

VERDICT

My rating for Himouto Umaru-chan is a three and a half out of five. I wasn’t too impressed with the first episode, but the series gradually grew on me. Each instalment introduces a new character to the mix and it was fun watching them bounce off each other. In terms of structure the anime reminds me of The Comic Artist & His Assistants. Each episode is a chain of skits, which are low on story and high on amusement. I dug the funny anime references and could relate to the Doma brother/sister dynamic. Like most siblings they bicker a lot, but occasionally you’ll glimpse moments that show how much they value each other’s company. Their animated relationship is more genuine than the fake news CNN peddles.

24 thoughts on “Review of Himouto! Umaru-chan

  1. I got pretty much the same feeling as you did on this. On paper I shouldn’t enjoy this. I have yet to finish Gabriel Dropout for a lot of the same flaws this show has, but Umaru-chan show somehow managed to make its ridiculous title character fun to watch.

    I like how you pointed out that the characters seem unnaturally bad at identifying people, but I feel like that’s how I am sometimes. Live action actors change their hair and then I can’t recognize them.

    • A funny geek character can really elevate a show . As an example, I would have enjoyed Lucky Star a lot less if it weren’t for Konata. Don’t feel bad about actors tricking you with a simple change of their hairstyles. Just wearing glasses is sufficient to fool someone like Lois Lane after all.

  2. Komaru’s initial tantrums annoyed many but I didn’t mind them. The many references and comedy more than made up for it. Also the cast was very delightful with Kaede and Sylphynford being my top two. I look forward to everyone’s return very soon in the upcoming 2nd season.

    • She is adorable, although I wouldn’t want to live with her. The anime reminded me a bit of Dragon Maid. It improves as it goes along thanks to the introduction of new characters. Had the show just been Umaru and her brother the charm would have worn off after a few episodes (let alone two seasons, as I hear a new series is in the works.)

    • Comedy is a subjective thing. Although I found Umaru’s antics to be funny other viewers may find them annoying. I suspect this series is one of those Marmite shows that people will either love or hate. Apart from her hobbies I could also relate to Umaru’s choice of pets. I used to own three hamsters during my younger years.

    • Work can be stressful enough without having to deal with managers who wax lyrical about their pony collection. I wonder who in my office is secretly a Brony. One of these days I may place a plastic horse, in a bear trap, beside the coffee machine to find out.

  3. I’ve heard so much praise about this show locally. Easily more praise than I’ve heard for One Piece, Naruto, and Ruroni Kenshin combined. I had zero idea of what the show was actually about though. So I appreciate the level-headed break down as always. It seems like something that I would both get some entertainment out of, and also get a ton of heel heat for not calling it the greatest anime not called Cowboy Bebop. Would you say the humor goes more toward the No More Heroes route (Minus the R-rated stuff) or more toward the Crayon Shin-Chan route (just geekier.)?

    • I’m surprised that people in your area would rate this series above mainstream shows like Naruto and One Piece, given how popular those anime are. Himouto Umaru-chan’s episodes are a fun way of spending twenty-minutes, but nowhere near the quality of something like Cowboy Bebop. I’m not well acquainted with NMH or Crayon Shin. So you have some idea of what the comedy is like feel free to check out this clip.

  4. NEO Mag gave it 4 stars although I don’t think the reviewer actually watched that show properly because she reviewed it like it was a drama with some funny bits in it. I honestly didn’t recognise the show from the review, it was written from such an odd perspective… :/

    • I let my NEO subscription lapse because several of their reviews were questionable. Sometimes they would only dedicate two paragraphs to a new release and the text would just comment on how a series is unrealistic instead of describing the plot, characters etc.

      Although it is nice to get a printed magazine I find amateur bloggers often do a better job assessing anime when compared to professionals. Compare the summaries that NEO do compared to the posts of TPAB or yourself and there is no contest over who does a more comprehensive write up.

      • Thanks!

        To play Devil;s Advocate, NEO, do offer more than reviews and feature a lot more titles, which are shared in one hit too, whilst websites have the luxury of putting up their reviews over the space of the month.

        Every magazine is guilty of providing short reviews but I do agree that sometimes a few paragraphs is nowhere near sufficient in relaying the best and worst of a series.

    • The reputation of your cool ultra ego could be shattered if people you know discover your anime blog haha. Back when I had a video game Youtube channel I worried about that sort of thing. These days I don’t care and have no qualms about linking my reviews on Facebook.

  5. When pictures and memes of the series first started being plastered all over the Internet, I assumed Umaru was some sort of animal hybrid. For a long time, I just assumed she was part bear or something.

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