What’s the show? Himouto! Umaru-Chan (2015).
And umm… what does all of that mean? Buckle up! You’re in for a Google search response! So first of all ‘Himouto’ is a pun of sorts, it’s a blending of the words ‘imouto’ which means ‘little sister’ and ‘himono’ which is ‘dried fish’. The himono part only makes sense if you’re familiar with Japanese slang, because ‘himono-onna’ is a term used to describe girls who are proper when out in the world but slobs when they’re at home.
I’m almost sorry I asked. It makes sense in context of the show but it’s a very specific reference I’m kind of surprised that some dumb Western producer didn’t try and make a bad translation title of it for the release over her.
Let’s not go down the ‘translated title’ wormhole again, yeah? Fine.
So what’s the show about? Well Umaru is the perfect high school girl, she’s smart, she’s popular, she’s sporty and she’s beautiful. Except that’s her outside persona, because as soon as she gets home she transforms into her real self, a selfish, slovenly otaku who loves video games, junk food, cola and anime more than anything else in the world.
‘Secret Otaku! Umaru-Chan’. What are you doing?
Oh just coming up with Western titles for the anime. Please don’t, you won’t like me when I’m rant-y.
Nobody like you when you’re rant-y. Also thank god this is a written format, I can’t imagine how many misunderstanding would come from saying ‘rant-y’ out loud. Let’s move on, shall we?
Indeed. So who are the other characters on the show? Well immediately there’s her long-suffering brother Taihei, he’s a 20-something salaryman who works hard, cooks all the meals and does all the chores around their apartment. He’s basically the opposite of Umaru in every way but he still loves his little sister very much.
Uh oh. No! Not like that, there’s no sister complex going on here… well not yet, here’s hoping that never eventuates because he can do so much better.
*incoming best girl alarm sounds* Ebina! Oh my sweet waifu, it’s not because you’ve got a massive rack that I love you so, it’s because you’re shy and sweet and honest and kind and also have a massive rack.
‘A Challenger Approaches!’ Oh but then there’s Kirie! Delicate, nervous, prone to bouts of rage. Oh, don’t make me choose!
And there’s another one? Right… *flicks through imaginary papers* Sylphynford? Sounds more like a sexually transmitted disease. All right, fess up, who let this one-dimensional character into the best girl contest?
Savage. Listen, without getting in to too much spoiler territory, I do like her character in Season 2 a lot more than in the first season, but basically she’s Umaru’s rival and she’s loud and obnoxious and one-note. Hmm, kind of like Umaru herself come to think of it.
What? You don’t like the protagonist? That seems like an awfully big obstacle. Indeed it is, and I suppose initially it comes down to how much you can identify with such a lazy, self-centred character and that will determine your mileage with this kind of show. But, even though I was cold towards her in the first half dozen episodes, she does have moments of redemption that grow in size and significance the further you go along. Just don’t go in expecting likability from the outset.
Fair enough. Anything else I should know? This show is really good at expanding its world, gradually but necessarily. Just when you think a set routine of characters is starting to grow repetitive they’ll introduce new characters like new friends for Umaru or co-workers of Taihei, all of which add complexity to the otherwise fairly simple slice of life format.
And? And it’s just funny, sure a lot of the comedy comes from obvious places but even in her ‘Himouto’ form, Umaru is an entertaining creature to witness even if more often than not it comes at the expense of her poor brother. Though it certainly helps if you’re an otaku too, because there are a lot of references to the culture that go by unexplained for the uninitiated.
So not a show for a filthy ‘normie’ like me then? Probably not!
But for the rest of your readers? Even if you find yourself initially turned off my Umaru’s overall attitude, give it a half dozen episodes and see if you don’t warm up to the show. Because while at the end of the day it is a show about Umaru, the characters that surround her all have such worth and are interesting and fun in their own right. It’s a rich tapestry that I’d gladly hang on my wall, even with all the creases. 86 out of 100.
“Tapestry”? What are you talking about? It’s an anime thing, don’t worry yourself about it.