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LONG BLOG

Ya Blew It, Umaru

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If you're on Japanator, you likely know something or two about Himouto! Umaru-chan. If not, here's the rundown: Umaru is your cliche anime girl who's good at everything in school, be it classes, sports, or just looking fine. However, Umaru has a terrible secret... She's actually a lazy, slovenly, good for nothing gamer and otaku when she gets home that throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way!

Honestly, this kind of character is in itself starting to become a new sort of trend, but if I get too much into that I'll be here all day.

For the most part, I found the show to be a good watch. The characters were enjoyable, their interactions were fun and quirky, and the references the show placed throughout were entertaining in themselves. It was good fun, and I quite liked it. On a nerdier note, Umaru's voice actress did a good enough job of switching between her two selves that a younger me would've found the show worth it just to get to listen to that back and forth performance.

So all in all, high marks for Umaru-chan, right?

Well, unfortunately, there was one exception to all of this.

It was not only just an exception, but it was an exception to the extent that it not only spoiled the whole thing in that it left a really questionable after taste as I look back, but makes me seriously question whether or not I would come back for another season despite how much I enjoyed the show otherwise.

The specific thing I'm referring to is when one of the cast members, a girl in Umaru's class named Kirie, would interact with Umaru. Sometimes, Umaru would be drawn in a super deformed style she is that signifies her to be in "lazy mode," while other times, a style more suited ot the rest of the show. See the first picture of the blog to get an idea for how that works.

In the series, Kirie could not see these two as the same person, and for a show so otherwise grounded in relative normalcy, this just sort of killed it for me. I know the show isn't supposed to be serious or anything, but it'd be nice if it could at least try for some level of internal consistency.

See, my problem stems from how what little "drama" the show has, and in fact the entire premise really, revolves around Umaru keeping her true self secret. This is to the point that multiple scenes involve Umaru accidentally slipping into this persona and having a tantrum in front of others, the idea being that "oh no! now they'll find out!" and that this is something she should not do and so on and so forth.

For the author to decide to just use this element and make it so that Umaru being drawn differently equates to her actually having a different appearance?

That's not only a huge contradiction to whenever this element is used outside of Kirie scenes, it just strikes me as... almost sort of lazy. It's a way to avoid having to deal with the fact that Umaru is lying to people, Kirie in particular. She tells Kirie her super deformed self is actually "Umaru's little sister," if you can believe it. It's a way to get some sort of cute scenes in, sure, but it's also a cheap way to avoid some actual, meaty storytelling and conflict.

Sure, maybe the audience of Umaru-chan isn't exactly the sort of audience that would go for that sort of thing in the first place. Perhaps this was done specifically because of this reason.

However, this sort of shortcut isn't unique to Umaru.

It's almost a style, I would say. It reminds me of when romance and harem shows end before even so much as a love confession, but just a "and their lives continued as they have from the very first chapter, but they're holding hands in the final panel, which is totally implying things!" for example. When an action show cuts off just as the two rivals decide it's finally time to settle the score.

And don't even get me started on when authors introduce last minute surprise bosses/new characters to settle ongoing conflicts without actually having to settle them.

These sort of tricks are all ways of avoiding things. They're open ended, they leave it to the imagination, but they also just begin to feel like a cop out. Worse still when it's such a widespread trend. 

Is it a cultural thing? There are so many examples of this not being the case that I feel like it shouldn't be, but I've been wondering for a while now.

Oh well.

Returning briefly to Umaru, I suppose the biggest disappointment for me was that this was front and center in the last episode. For the show to end not with Umaru telling Kirie the truth (and for Kirie's brother to not only be similarly thick but not recognize his own sister because she put her hair up) as it seemed like it was building up to, but for her to reinforce her lie... really sort of killed it for me even more than if it had just been a disappointing running joke. 

Instead, this lie was a somewhat relevant (dare I say major?) point of the show's finale, and the resolution Umaru decided on, after conveniently being distracted from maybe telling the truth, was to lie some more.

Hurray!

Though again, maybe it's on me for wishing for this sort of thing out of this sort of show. Strange things have happened. Maybe I should be watching drama instead of a show about a cute little otaku girl if that's what I want, huh?

... Or maybe just a Kamen Rider series, given Toshiki Inoue's penchant for misunderstandings, since at least those get resolved eventually, but I digress...

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About OverlordZettaone of us since 9:55 PM on 08.08.2015