Friday 8 July 2011

Anime REVIEW: Shinryaku! Ika Musume

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Invasion! Squid Girl, or simply Squid Girl) is a 2010 12-episode anime series based on the manga of the same name. It tells the story of a squid girl named Ika Musume, who vows to conquer humanity as revenge for its pollution of the ocean. Her first task is to make the Lemon beach house, a restaurant owned by the Aizawa sisters, her base of operations. However, when she accidentally breaks a hole in their wall, she is forced to work as a waitress to pay off the damages. As she continues her life on the surface, she also meets a lifeguard named Goro, an obsessive fan named Sanae and Cindy Campbell - the leader of an American scientific team who believe her to be an alien.

Ika Musume's episodes are split into 2 or 3 smaller episodes, which each focus on a different theme with very little connection to the last (although sometimes things might be brought over into future episodes). While most of these episodes are light hearted and comedic, some of them are actually quite touching. This is especially true of the "Aren't you Going to Keep It?" segment in episode 5, which really stood at to me as the highlight of the series. Episode 12's climax is also a very touching story, and a nice way to round off the series. The comedy in the series itself varies - some of it is excellent, other episodes kind of fall flat and are largely forgettable. Luckily there isn't an episode of wholly bad stories, so the bad is nicely interspaced between the good to make the series enjoyable on the whole.

The primary source of enjoyment for the series though is definitely from the characters itself. There are a few weak links in the cast (mainly the males), but otherwise each character serves a unique purpose in the series and they all work well together. The series is at its strongest when Squid girl herself is the focus - her naïvety at how easy the surface world is to conquer is a constant source of hilarity, and Squid Girl is a very unique character in both design and characterisation (particularly when you consider that she can actually be perceived as the 'villain' of the series). But even then a main character is only as strong as her supporting cast. From Sanae's unhealthy obsession with Squid Girl to Chizuru's hidden dark side, there's plenty from each character to appease whatever you might be looking for.

Finally I must make a note of the series' opening theme - which is perhaps one of the catchiest openings I've heard in a long time. Usually I skip openings after one or two episodes, but here I found myself listening to it all the way through for all 12 episodes. Judge for yourself.

Ika Musume is a very enjoyable series - and its especially nice to see a series made up of short stories that isn't overly kawaii, but on the whole it isn't anything particularly ground breaking. If you're looking simply for a short light hearted series to kill some time this is definitely recommendable, but it's not "must see viewing" by any stretch of the imagination.

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