Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Anime Review : Himouto! Umaru-chan R review

Himouto! Umaru-chan R

“A cozy ride which allows us to look deep at this satisfying series.”

What is Himouto! Umaru-chan R?

Himouto! Umaru-chan R is the sequel to the commercially-succesfull, yet less appreciated series Himouto! Umaru-chan which originally premiered in 2015. The story depicts Umaru and again, her lazy outlook in life, but this time, she wants to change, as a sister and a human being.
So, how does it fare?

The season 2 of Umaru was announced fairly later, which 2 months after the announcement that NEW GAME was receiving a second season. This little insight proves on how much Doga Kobo values these two series, but leaning far more towards NEW GAME as the series is more critically received than Umaru, simply because NEW GAME is far better than Umaru in every aspects. While the announcement of Umaru season 2 did get many people hyped up to see the chibi Umaru wreak havoc again, few may have predicted that this could be this good. I think that not only the audiences, but also the critics, were baffled by the improvement made in the Umaru season 2, much like what NEW GAME gave us a season earlier.

We all know how this anime thrives in the eyes of it’s audience, capturing the viewer’s attention via it’s cute and chibi style of Umaru, as well as how she would approach thing in her own way, such as eating chips and cola, and make fun at things her way, which ironically what makes another half of the audience got turned off by it and makes several critics displeased by the series. Despite the status of main character is held by Umaru, the true star of the first season was Kirie and Ebina, and in this season, Umaru seeks to regain that status as a true star of the show and prove her critics wrong.
And boy, she did manage to do just that.

Gone was the overbearing and annoying Umaru and in comes the Umaru that knows the value of friendship, the burden of others, and knows the pain she has been causing last season, especially to her brother. In this season, Umaru looks like a former of her own self and a character reborn thanks to a well-written characterization, which allows the audience to truly endear to her as a main character.
The main comedic routines still remained within the show, but it was greatly, and I mean greatly, reduced and would turn in favor to developing the character of each cast that appeared throughout the show, particularly Umaru and Sylphinford, oh we’ll get to that later.

Umaru interacts more and more with other characters in the sequel.

Allowing her character to develop properly.

As I stated before, Umaru was like a character reborn. This is partly because of her newfound belief that she too is a human being, and wants to socialize with others properly, not just be worshipped all day by people around her just because she is too perfect at everything. The anxiety she felt when she was about to ask out all her friends to go home with her was real, something she has never felt before as she has never come to this realization, which makes her truly alive. And when she does get over her anxiety and fear, and finally asks her friend to walk home with her, the sense of accomplishment is felt to both the viewer and Umaru herself, especially that last shot where she walks home happily with her friends, although that light she continually radiates that other people saw from her completely defeats the purpose of her innocence and charm in my opinion though.

And of course, by the end of that episode, now the norm is having each episode serve at least one interaction between Umaru and friends, whether it’s watching movie, going to the amusement park, or even studying together. It has become the norm, and I enjoyed every single of their hanging out moments.

In each episode, there will be a hang-out session between Umaru and her friends.

Don’t get me wrong though, as despite this fact, Umaru is still Umaru, and she is still as lazy as a sloth. There are still several routines of her either lazing around all day, or just play video games and still lazes around. However, the show found the way on how to properly utilize it, and while it still appears on daily basis, most of them works both comedically or to further characterize Umaru. Lastly, her self-awareness of how selfish she was previously and the fact that she loves her brother so much that she cries upon his return from a long trip is the result of her development as a character which was phenomenally done.

 All in all, Umaru was like a new person, someone never seen before in the previous incarnation.
However, aside from Umaru, there is also a character who was reborn in this show. Her name is Tachibana Sylphinford. Sylphinford was used atrociously in the first season, as a person who gratuitously challenges Umaru at any given corner in hopes of being her friend, yet never succeeded at becoming her friend, simply because the writing of her character was bad. She was unlikable and jarring in her first appearance, which I branded her as a misfit if I recalled correctly, but all that immediately changes upon her appearance in the new season of this show.

She is gaining more and more time to appear and showcase her characteristics properly to the audience, while slowly building her characters that allows the audience to appeal to her. Gone was that someone who constantly boast to no end, and in comes a person who wants to enjoy her time with her friends and value the friendship she has with other. This was highlighted when she received a gift from Taihei and gladly accepted it with no disappointment or anything despite the fact that she received the same gift from her brother. Sylphinford’s development as a character totally made her stood out from her friends, and most of her flaws that we see from the first season properly explained to make us truly endear to her as a character.

Of course, let us not forget the star of the last season, Motoba Kirie. Kirie remains the strongest character in the show in my opinion, due to the fact that she gained more characterization than both Umaru and Sylphinford, and definitely Ebina, and she also gained more screen time to appear in the show. Her character was still the same, someone who could not properly get her message across yet loves her friends with everything she has. 

Her character still oozes that special aura which makes her likable, especially when she shows that she wanted to be a picture-book writer in the future, which had her base the main character of Umaru chibi form. Though it was not shown in the anime, there was an important scene of her progression as a picture book writer in the manga that was definitely must be seen to see her character as a whole. In addition to that, she improved upon Bomber, her brother, when the two of them interact with each other properly for the first time in ages. That scene was quite the sight in my opinion.

While Kirie remains a powerful character in the series.

Sylphinford has finally received the spotlight she fully deserved.

Also, as a side note, it is worth note that Kirie might have ascended to a main character status, due to her new role in the show, as well as her more frequent appearances in the show, much more than the rest of the cast, and almost on par with Umaru. And of course, given the fact that Umaru’s later appearance was just to have fun with her friends, while Kirie was being focused solely, it makes the statement I made earlier all more intriguing.

Anyway, with the three characters done, now let’s move on to Ebina Nana. Unfortunately for Ebina, this season was not kind to her. She suffered the same role that Sylphinford was trusted in the first season, as a scapegoat. Ebina was a highlight last season due to her characters and her bombastic figure, as well as her awkwardness. However, in this season, she appears less important and constantly blushes randomly and got all tongue-tied whenever there’s Taihei due to her apparent crush on Umaru’s older brother, which was repeated numerous times. In my opinion, this undermined her character’s importance to the show.

Especially when her brother’s debuted. Her brother only appeared once, and Ebina has mentioned throughout the show that she is looking for her brother, but that’s it. She makes no effort in trying to actually find her brother and that reasoning has instead become an excuse in my opinion.
Perhaps this is the case of the writers thinking that Ebina is already far more established and decided to left her out of most of the writing since she is already appealing to the audience. At any rate, it was a shame to see such a powerful and endearing character from the first season got relegated into a background figure. True enough, she had several episodes focusing on her, but that’s not enough to showcase her unique characteristics she had.

Everyone is treated in the right way, except for Ebina.

With the four main girls done, let us move on to the rest of the characters. Is this becoming character reviews? This is supposed to be a whole anime review, yet all I’ve been doing was reviewing each character. Well, what can I do? Character development was the main focus of this new season of Himouto! Umaru-chan.

Anyway, I’ll keep it short so I can talk about things other than characters.

Taihei remains largely unchanged from last season. He still constantly scolds Umaru when she gets too lazy and reminds Umaru of the things she needed to do. However, Taihei has shown more genuine feelings in this new season, largely thanks to Umaru’s newfound characteristics, which was also thanks to Taihei half of the time.

Bomber, or Takeshi Motoba, or Kirie’s brother, shows that his appearance in this show is far more important than just goof around. There are several instances in which he played a integral role in developing the character of Taihei, as well as showing her love for Kirie implicitly. Her family talk with Kirie is also a sight to behold, something I mentioned earlier. Bomber has been unfortunate that he has been showing his bad sides to Kirie most of the time, which undermines his worth to Kirie, and that scene truly reinvest Kirie’s belief to Bomber as a brother, albeit only momentarily.

Alex was okay too, if only he appears more than just once every episode. There is something hidden beneath his character. However, given his lack of promotion, there was no need to be disappointed in him.

Bomber remains a largely important, although subtlely.

And Alex is finally receiving his share in screen time, much like his sister.

The biggest disappointment has to go to Hikari Kongou, the little sister of Kanau. She was promoted in many news outlet, and even got voiced by a popular voice actress in the form of Inori Minase, which was far more popular than any of the voice actors in this show in my opinion. However, her appearance was limited, her interactions was limited, and the only thing we knew is that she loved Taihei and treated him like her big brother since her childhood, but that’s it. Her interactions might be limited, but all of those was enough to showcase her prominence in the show, though it’s just that she did not appear enough to make her mark.

She suffered the Elma-problem I mentioned in the Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon earlier. Elma appeared much later in the anime, which is episode 8, and flounders after her brilliant debut episode, as just another dragon who loves to eat. Hikari almost do Elma, though she was a little bit better, since she got a better writing by the show. I sure hope this Elma-problem doesn’t appear anymore though, as it was sad to see character as important as Elma got relegated into a background duty.
But that’s enough of talking about the characters. Let’s talk about something else.

Hikari was unusually left out in the show and had limited appearance.

The overall theme remains largely the same, big brother and little sister. This theme is even more reinforced upon the single-episode debut of Ebina’s brother, Koichiro, and thanks to that, all of the main cast is now positioned properly as a little sister. The interaction between Umaru with Taihei, and Kirie with Bomber remains the strongest brother to sister interaction in the show, as Sylphinford and Ebina’s relationship with their brother are a little bit underwhelming.

The animation remains the same, colorful and vividly animated, with each character articulates their animation properly. Still, I think the studio goes all out when animating that ending scene, where the four main character are animated in a chibi form, much like the Umaru himouto form. Despite the fact that most of them looked out of place, they all still looked cute enough and the animation was top notch.

And speaking of the ending, really love the ending song and how catchy it was. I found myself watching the ending most of the time when I finished watching an episode, something I reservedly do only to Mahoutsukai no Yome, until it was replaced, given how powerful the ending and opening song was.

The ending song is very catchy in my opinion.

Lastly, allow me to talk about voice-acting. The voice acting remains good in the show, with Aimi Tanaka continues to show that she can do great as a voice actor, despite the fact that her voice is type-casted as a young girl, or the himouto version of Umaru voice. Her ability to deliver a proper voice is still good and she sounds relaxed with her role in my opinion. Hopefully other anime will cast her as someone other than character with the voice of Umaru all over again.

While the English dub of the second season is still not here, allow me to talk about the English dub that the show had in the first season. A month earlier, I was able to watch Umaru in the English dub, and that was very unique and captivating in my opinion. Sure, some sounded a bit strange or out of place, but I must give credits to the voice of Taihei and Umaru, Adam Noble and Emily Neves. While Emily was good in her ability to switch out her voice as the perfect Umaru and the himouto Umaru, Adam Noble’s performance as a Taihei truly steals the show for me. He was sarcastically comedic in his approach and performance as Taihei, and there’s just something about his voice that sounded very entertaining to me, in my opinion. When the English dub of the second season arrived, I will definitely watch it again, hoping that the cast remain the same.
All in all, Himouto! Umaru-chan R was a major improvement, as a whole, to the first season of the show. The second season directly focused on developing each and every character in the show, with it becoming the sole objective of this show all around. Every character is given a proper development that allowed the audience to endear to, either with their newfound characteristics, or their innate ability to just make them likable. 

It could not really best the second season of NEW GAME, but it managed to achieve it’s objective well enough, and I think this is far better than the first season, far far better.

A third season is both necessary and unnecessary as the show wraps everything up in the final episode. If there’s a third season, then that’s a good thing, but if there’s not, then that’s okay.

The Good: Character-development was top notch, with each character getting their major development. Kirie remains the star of the show. Sylphinford and Umaru is characterized properly. Catchy ending song. The pace is far better than before.

The Bad: Again, the jokes are toned down in favor of character development. Ebina suffered a lot of damage in her character. Hikari did not appear enough.

Highlight Moments: Umaru crying to her brother when he finally gets back. Kirie realizing the importance of her brother. The image of all four main cast walking home together.

Final Score : 4 out of 5. Far better than the original. Hopefully, the future is bright for both Umaru and Doga Kobo for animating this show.

A splendid show, and a magnificent continuation to it's original show.

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