26 Dec 2010

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Anime) Review

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (2010)
Format: TV Series, 12 X 24 minutes
Studio: Diomedea
Score: 3 stars
Summary: Thoroughly enjoyable and funny series by a relatively unknown studio. The jokes are fresh and the characters are lovable (especially Ika-chan!), but the plot is a little on the shallow side.

At its core, Ika Musume is an episodic comedy series akin to many TV sitcoms. Each episode we see Ika-chan in various cute and funny situations which are quite diverse and not as cliche as one would expect. But don't expect much plot here, even at the end. The show just goes on and on with different situations to make us laugh and d'awww~ at Ika-chan's cuteness.

Speaking of which, Ika-chan doesn't seem to fall into any moe stereotypes. K-ON! redefined the moe genre by making the characteristics subtle and, in a way, more realistic. This series on the other hand pushes things further by making Ika simply funny and cute to watch due to her inability to understand. Not that she is stupid in any way. Just weird. All the supporting characters on the other hand do not have much depth. It's rather disappointing to see them as one dimensional plot devices, but I guess I can forgive the producers as they have used these characters well to bring about various situational comedy moments.

Diomedea, the studio that produced this series, are relatively unknown. Before this, they had only produced Polyphonica crimson S and helped in 2nd key animation for several others. Ika Musume was nicely drawn and very well animated (for a comedy series anyway) with hardly any notable names EXCEPT the director. Mizushima Tsutomu also directed Big Windup! and xxxHolic among several other stuff, so I guess he brought with him a certain consistency and quality.

I always felt that even comedy series like these could do with a nice overarching plot. Just look at other episodic shows like Cardcaptor Sakura, Shugo Chara, Tatami Galaxy, xxxHolic, and.... well, most episodic shows actually. Drop a few occasional hints, hook the audience, and produce a strong conclusion at the end of the season with that buildup.

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