Himouto! Umaru-chan

Himouto! Umaru-chan

imageUmaru Doma is a high school girl who lives with her hardworking older brother Taihei. At school, Umaru appears to be an ideal student: good looks, excellent grades, great at sports and smiling and being friendly to everyone. However, this ‘himouto’ has a secret that no one in the outside world knows. As soon as she gets home, she immediately transforms into a lazy layabout who spends her time sleeping, eating junk food, playing video games and emotionally blackmailing her older brother.

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Himouto! Umaru-chan is a sibling gag comedy based on the manga by Sankaku Head and is being animated by Doga Kobo. Many of the comedies I have been watching lately have been anime shorts, such as I Can’t Understand What my Husband is Saying and Orenchi no Furo Jijou. For a change, this anime gives it the full length approach. The added bonus here being that it allows for more screen time for the characters, develop the surroundings in a bit more detail and really make the most of the slapstick comedy moments.

imageThe visual representations of Umaru really work for this kind of show. When we first see her, she is the perfect schoolgirl, admired by students and teachers alike and even comes complete with anime sparkles. But as soon as she closes the door of her apartment, she reveals her true self. She instantly becomes a pint-sized chibi version and bounces on the bed, rolls around the floor and just generally enjoys the freedom and the slovenly, self-indulgent lifestyle that this persona allows her (I have to say, this is something I can identify with). However, when her school friends are near, she transforms back into her supposedly perfect self and pretends that she doesn’t know much about anime or online games at all.

Naturally, this lazy burden falls on the shoulders of Taihei. She throws tantrums to get him to buy her video games, never wants to eat the nutritious meals he makes her because she’s full of crisps and cola and forces him to go out of his way just to satisfy her impulsive whims. Taihei realises that Umaru is sixteen, and the clock is ticking to rectify her spoiled attitude and childish behaviour before she has to really grow up. He tries his best, suggesting that she doesn’t stay up all night playing video games or watching horror movies, but Umaru is a force to be reckoned with.

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The skits are quite short and episodic and show Umaru reaching new levels of laziness and increasing her skills at being able to take the easy way out when Taihei refuses her unnecessary demands. She takes to the idea of training her two hamsters to bring her things. She also enlists her brother’s help in winning a stuffed toy from a rock, paper, scissors competition and is forced to behave normally after running into a friend from school after following her brother into town to try and force him to buy her a video game.

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There’s a nice blend of stories coming together and the first episode does have a certain, immediate charm with the short form storytelling being blended into a bigger, overall picture of the siblings’ life together. The crazy differences between Umaru’s personalities are fun to watch, especially when she swings between them at the drop of a hat because they’re so strikingly different. What adds to Taihei’s frustration is that he can’t even yell at his sister about her schoolwork since she has naturally good grades and is popular with the other students.

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Himouto! Umaru-chan is the kind of anime that’s ideal for that once-a-week viewing. There’s a number of short and funny stories packed into each episode and they all contribute to painting a bigger picture which will continue to develop as the series progresses. All we see of Umaru at the moment is her playing around and snacking. Not only is this a fun and silly aspect, I’m beginning to see character development for her as she accidentally comes into contact with people from school when using her shut-in personality. I’l be interested to see where this one goes.