Anime Review: Himouto! Umaru-chan Complete Season Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 09.07.2017

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Himouto! Umaru-chan Complete Season Collection (UK Rating: 12)

The tale of the long-suffering older brother with the nightmare younger sister has been not just a regularly used aspect of anime but has been the very premise for numerous anime already. The most well known is likely to be Oreimo and there are big similarities between that and Umaru-Chan. This tale sees the titular Umaru Doma as the most popular girl at school, hard-working, talented, good looking and always friendly, but behind closed doors her brother Taihei sees the real Umaru-chan. A lazy, nagging girl obsessed with her manga, anime, gaming, junk food and, of course, her beloved cola. This light-hearted comedy romp comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and is out on 10th July.

Compared to Oreimo and the other such brother/sister series, this is a much more light-hearted tale, the type of slice of life that lives episode to episode and revels in its simplicity. Also worth noting from the start, there is no "Siscon" style element to the show… at all. The episodes catalogue the everyday lives of Taihei and Umaru as they go to work and school, respectively, hang out with their friends, and spend time together in their little one bedroom apartment. The stories themselves are easily forgettable, but there are some genuinely funny moments, at least.

The comedy through the series plays massively off parodies of various other gaming and anime references. The opening credits alone throw shout-outs to Pokemon, Mario Kart and Monster Hunter. There are many episodes that feature a Street Fighter-inspired game, entitled Space Stream Fighter 4, for instance. At one point, the siblings pair off in a Phoenix Wright-style deposition to establish who ate the last pudding, and Umara embarks on a Metal Gear-style mission in the middle of the night to buy her beloved cola.


 
Outside of the brother/sister duo, the stories also centre round an extended cast of friends made up of girls from Umaru's school who end up befriending her, but there's an extra inclusion of "Bomber" - one of Taihei's colleagues at work - who is definitely worth mentioning. He's an often drunk idiot who fawns over his little sister, a sister that doesn't have the time of day for him and regularly smacks him around. This sister, Kirie, is one of the three girls in the extended cast; she is introduced as a dark and menacing figure but she's actually rather bashful, and sweet. She wants to befriend Umaru and follows her home, but when she arrives and sees Umaru bundled up in her hamster onesie, she thinks it must be Umaru's little sister, leading to a confused and charming friendship. The next friend, Sylphynford Tachibana, is the classic foreign princess trope - a foreign exchange student with a real love of Japan. Sylph is determined to surpass Umaru and the two develop quite the rivalry. Leaving the best until last! Next up is Nana Ebina, a country bumpkin that tries desperately to hide her background in fear of being singled out.

The comedy and the characters make the show watchable even with the mediocre stories. Strangely, the best aspects of this collection are the extra features that are bundled up with it. While it has the usual expected extras like trailers, it also contains the bonus features from the original Japanese releases; for example, even though this is a dual audio release, the episode commentaries aren't with the English cast but instead the original audio commentaries with the Japanese cast. Similarly, another bonus feature from the original releases is here; there are also three "Banquet Mondays" or "Daranama" episodes. These are special featurettes with the voice actors of the four main girls of Aimi "Airu" Tanaka, Akari "Rikarin" Kageyama, Haruka "Harunyan" Shiraishi, and Yurina "Yurinchi" Furukawa. These are surprisingly long, the first clocking in at a little under 40 minutes and the other two over an hour each. They consist of the girls sitting around, drinking cola, laughing and joking, drawing pictures and trying to figure out what each is drawing. It's a bunch of fun segments that actually have more comedy than most of the series. It's a real rarity to get these sorts of features as part of Western releases and it's fantastic to see them here.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Himouto! Umaru-chan Complete Season Collection is very much the type of series that is just something to mindlessly watch and enjoy the gags. There's no big storyline, there's no drama, no romance. It's just a bit of fun, and that's enough. It's a good series to just throw on while doing other things. Don't expect anything special here and don't expect to remember any of the stories as it ends up being utterly forgettable. However, do expect some satire, a bit of slapstick, and some good laughs.

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