Ami KoshimizuKenji NojimaHimika AkaneyaAkari Kageyama
Himouto! Umaru-chan R
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Original creator: Sankaku Head
Actor: Aimi Tanaka, Akari Kageyama, Ami Koshimizu, Haruka Shiraishi, Hiroki Yasumoto, Inori Minase, Kenji Nojima, Tetsuya Kakihara, Yurina Furukawa, Himika Akaneya, Hiroki Maeda, Ikuto Kanemasa, Kikuko Inoue, Mark Ohkita, Masumi Asano, Misako Tomioka, Miyu Tomita, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Sho Nogami, Yuki Nakashima
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season 2: episodes 13-24
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20017
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 9 April 2018
himouto umaru chan
It's still great fun, but it's a bit more generic than Season 1. Umaru's less appalling these days, now that she's made some friends and is no longer surgically attached to her game console (with an intravenous drip of cola and junk food). This has made the show warmer and more likeable, but also a bit less distinctive. There's lots of anime where Girls Do Nice Things Together. In contrast the point of this show used to be "Umaru is a gleeful otaku parasite who leeches off her big brother while in public pretending to be Little Miss Perfect." This was very funny, whereas what we have here is character growth and increased self-awareness. I can support that.
Anyway, if nothing else, I'm impressed that the show's made that decision, when it could have just taken the easy option of endlessly churning out the same gags. Doing the same Umaru-thing again and again might have started getting old.
Anyway, I'll describe the premise. It's a Little Sister show, with almost the entire cast either being or having one. Almost no parents, either. They usually live hundreds of miles away, if they're mentioned at all. Fortunately, though, it's not another incest anime, instead having at its heart a much more normal brother-sister relationship. Umaru is a "himouto", which is Japanese wordplay on the words for "little sister" and "freeloader". She mooches off her big brother Taihei and badgers him to make her food, clean up after her and buy her everything she wants. (He's a saint, by the way, but not in the usual "faceless harem protagonist" sense. He's more like her mother. In this season's Christmas episode, Umaru and Ebina go shopping for a present for him and choose a new frying pan and an apron. You'd have to be blind to see Taihei as anything but a supporting character in the Umaru Show.)
Anyway, the self-absorbed troglodyte Umaru (Season 1) has opened up a lot. She was always adorable, mind you. Entirely focused on herself, but great fun to watch. Over time, though, she built up a supporting cast of people who actually wanted to spend time with her. This was a novelty for Umaru. She wasn't used to turning off her games console and hanging out with friends, but hey. She'd never been evil or anything. She'd just been devoted to being an otaku slob... but now she's discovering the alternatives, i.e. social interaction. Her new friends are:
(a) the cripplingly shy Ebina, although she's made great progress there and is now just easily flustered. Fancies Taihei. Big brother: a grumpy chef she hasn't seen for ten years.
(b) Kirie Motoba, who's a perfectly nice girl if you can overlook the scary intense face, menacing attitude and propensity for initiating near-fatal attacks on her brother (Takeshi) if he enters her bedroom. (You'd think Takeshi would learn to stop doing that, but he's not the world's brightest chap. Super-friendly, though.) Kirie fancies Umaru. She's probably doomed there. In her own very different way, incidentally, she's almost as shy as Ebina.
(c) Sylphynford Tachibana, half-German rich girl who used to be a super-competitive show-off in Season 1 before she got softened up by Umaru. She also has by far the most freakish character design in the show, having a sky blue hair-and-costume ensemble and flower-shaped pupils. Big brother (Alex): an even bigger nerd than Umaru, except that he's not a slob and holds down a regular job.
Oh, and there's also Kanau and her own little sister Hikari. Taihei, Takeshi and Alex all work at the same company, with Kanau being their boss. As for Hikari, she acts and looks like an eight-year-old, but apparently she's a high school student like Umaru, Ebina, Kirie and Sylphynford. I guess that officially makes the show's four sibling couples variations on a theme, since they're all nearly the same age, the older siblings all work together for the same company and so on.
It's a warm, nice show, not just a bunch of "Umaru is appalling" gags. (She's still pretty bad, but it's a much less prominent part of her personality and she now has a warmer relationship with her brother.) Everyone's lovely, even when they're behaving badly towards their brothers (Umaru, Kirie). The girls all used to have pretty bad problems, but they've made progress with them. Kirie can be prickly, but she's a sweetie underneath. (She's also arguably the second-lead girl, since her social issues make her a particularly rich source of gags and silly scenes.) Ebina would probably drop dead of stress if you tried to make her be mean to someone. Sylphynford is a lot like Umaru in many ways, except that being filthy rich and living in a mansion means that her every whim has always been granted for her and she wouldn't understand the parasitic aspect of Umaru's version of her lifestyle. She does actually have insecurities, though. They're just really well hidden.
I enjoyed it. I'd be very happy if they made a third season. If nothing else, Umaru might have stopped being funny if she'd kept on behaving as she did in Season 1 to her brother with no growth or self-awareness. I won't deny that in some ways it felt watered down from Season 1, but the show's earned enough of my goodwill that I'm comfortable with that as the way forward for the show and these characters.