Himouto! Umaruchan

Good

Himouto! is a fairly solid comedy suitable for easy viewing.  The humor is fairly varied, and has its ups and downs.   Unfortunately, some gags end up being belabored a little too much, taking them from funny to obnoxious.  Even though this is a comedy-genre anime, there is actually a surprising amount of depth going on in the background, when the other characters take the spotlight.  Overall, it’s a good watch, but not a must-see.

Purpose: Good.  Himouto! is a little difficult to classify.   About 70%  of the anime is gag-oriented pure comedy.  The other 30% is more of a blended slice of life comedy.   The pure comedy portion is further split between sister-brother gags and sister-everyone else gags.  The oddest thing about this anime is that it’s at its weakest for most of the sister-brother gags.  They become generally predictable because they all involve the same subject matter.  In a lot of ways, the anime is about every character other than its namesake.  Most interesting is that Himouto! actually seems to use the older brother as its center-point, around which almost everything revolves.  He’s also the viewer’s point of entry into the anime.  While not the main character, he ends up becoming something like the star of the show, not to mention a strong candidate for brother of the year award.

Characters: Good.  Again, this is mixed.  Most of the characters had strong potential, but in unexpected ways.  The viewer’s understanding of just about every other character grows throughout the anime.  For most of the main girl cast, they all had some sort of issue or hangup that prevented them from being normal.  Not that that’s a bad thing – they ended up becoming endearing in uniquely different ways.   Oddly, only one character remained mostly static – Umaru, the show’s namesake.  We saw little bits of perspective on her only through her interactions with two of the other characters.  The entirety of Umaru’s character is dependent on the dichotomy between her “outside” and her “at-home” lives.  This resulted in a fairly shallow character, especially in comparison to the rest.  Moving beyond the girls, the brother ended up being a really well done character, so much so that he kind of steals the show.  He’s a strong counterpoint to his sister’s character, or lack thereof.  He demonstrates a powerful balance of serious and silly that the other characters can work off of to great effect.

World: Decent. While generally plain and uninteresting as a backdrop, it’s used in an odd way.  For much of the anime, it’s almost done to compartmentalize and isolate character pairs into situations.   In other words, the create several worlds that really only exist between combinations of characters.  As the anime goes on, they slowly start to blend these separate worlds together, which starts to add some life into the world as a whole.  Unfortunately, they added the history and depth to the world at too late of a point – had it been much earlier, the world would be rated more highly.

Plot: Decent.  Frankly, there isn’t too much plot to be found.  The plot can be separated into the Umaru gags and character building categories, although character building is few and far in between.  Normally, I wouldn’t really even be talking character development in a comedy genre, but they decided to use some plot time to develop characters, in addition to making it funny.  The main problem with the plot comes from the complete dependence on the “Umaru personality” for much of the comedy’s plot, stifling the variety of comedy.  While entertaining at first, it slowly loses its flavor through over-use.  Putting Umaru aside, they do a solid job of providing steps and situations for the viewer’s understanding of the other characters to grow.

Storytelling: Good.  In spite of the weaknesses belabored above, the storytelling manages to mitigate some of the weaker points.  The humor’s a little bit hit-and-miss, with the misses coming mostly in the middle.  The brother-sister gags were more than enough to carry the early stories, but it wore thin.  They started to pick up the humor again when they started playing with other characters and characters’ relationships.

Pace: Good. Basically, the comedy was selected in such a way that it ultimately mitigated the Umaru gags, preventing them from becoming completely tiresome.  Aside from that, the pacing felt somewhat on the slower side.

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