Wednesday 3 July 2013

Anime REVIEW: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Mahiro Kuuko Hasuta Lovecraft

Calling upon H.P. Lovercraft's Cthulian mythos and injecting anime girl sexiness and multimedia references into it once again, Xebec have returned with a second season of light novel series Haiyore! Nyaruko-san! Continuing the story for a further 13 episodes, this season is entitled Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W, a sneaky parody/homage of Kamen Rider W while also making clear its position as a sequel series.

Life has become rather different for ordinary high-schooler Mahiro Yasaka since the arrival of his three new Cthulian alien deity lodgers - Nyaruko, Kuuko and Hasuta. When he isn't rejecting the constant romantic advances of Nyaruko, he's rejecting them from Hasuta or witnessing firsthand Kuuko's rather obsessive nature when it comes to Nyaruko. With all three aliens now working for the Space Defence Agency, they protect the planet from crimes of an extraterrestrial nature.

This season sees the gang visit the largest library in the universe, Nyaruko's pet Shantak-kun experience some unusual changes and Kuuko's cousin Kuune come knocking...leading Kuuko to have to pretend to be engaged to Mahiro, much to Nyaruko's dismay!

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Tamao
Old characters!

Not that much seems to have changed since the first season of Haiyore! Nyaruko-san. Nyaruko is still determined to live happily ever after with Mahiro (often to annoying levels), Mahiro is still surprisingly tolerant of the alien antics but prone to bursts of rage and Hatsuta still feels like the third (or fourth I guess) wheel that nobody really cares all that much about. While it's true any drastic change might break the series, here it feels like the characters are just working their way through stock anime plots being rather mundane for 13 episodes. That's not to say all 13 episodes are boring (the library episodes and the one where Nyaruko gets a cold are gems)  but it doesn't quite hold the same excitement the first season did.

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Kuune
New characters!

However that isn't to say there aren't any changes, and without a doubt the biggest one comes from Kuuko, who is in some ways the real focus of this season. When her cousin Kuune rolls into town with the intentions of marrying her (so much infatuation going on in this show), Kuuko is forced into the horribly repetitive anime trope story line of pretending to be engaged to Mahiro. While the episodes themselves aren't really a lot to write home about, it does emerge that Kuuko in fact has growing feels for Mahiro AS WELL as her insatiable lust for our title character. It's even hinted that maybe Mahiro himself has some underlying feelings for the fiery deity. What follows does sadly tone down the crazy obsession Kuuko has with Nyaruko (something particularly enjoyable about the first season), but also extends the love-shape-thing (its a love triangle, but BIGGER) even further.

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Shantak-kun
Oddly familiar characters!

I've already mentioned the one new recurring character of any importance in the show (Kuune), but this second season also opens up so we see a lot more of some other side characters. Mahiro's mother Yoriko and his classmate Tamao show up quite regularly, something accompanying the foursome on their various adventures and hi-jinks. Neither of them really get anything in the form of development, but at the very least its nice to see some other faces now and again.

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Kamen Rider Wizard Parody Reference Homage

Of course, there's going to be a portion of the audience that only watches Nyaruko for one thing - the references. Even with the show's (arguably) dwindling plot, these stay as strong and enjoyable as ever. The Kamen Rider ones are just a blatant and funny as ever, referencing series right up to the currently airing Kamen Rider Wizard. Following that there's all kinds of other references and parodies going on, from anime series like Gundam and Macross to Western films such as Men in Black. Nyaruko may have its own unique plot (well, somewhat anyway), but it's hard to deny the massive draw of this element of the show when it's both so important to the appeal and plays such a huge part on an episode-to-episode basis.

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W Xebec Parody Homage Reference Kamen Rider Double LunarTrigger Dragonball Z Oozaru
So many references, so little time

Haiyore Nyaruko-san W is noticeably weaker than its predecessor, but still very much more of the same and a reasonably enjoyable series nonetheless. The change in character for some might seem ill-fitting, but provides just enough interest in development for the show to hold its head above the "average" threshold. A fairly opening ended last episode always leaves the potential for more adventures (an OVA is probably more than likely at the very least), but it's going to take more than just constant referencing to bring Nyaruko back to its former glory.

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