Grab a cola and a copy of Jun-Piece; we’re about to run down our Himouto! Umaru-Chan Blu-ray Review. If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted anime comedy, it doesn’t get much better than Umaru. It features a lovable cast of varied characters, excellent performances from the English dub cast and it’s grounded in a world of obvious parodies that it plays with constantly. Before we get in to my opinions, let’s run down the facts of the Blu-ray release:
General Information: Himouto! Umaru-Chan Blu-ray
- 2 Discs, 12 episodes, approximately 25 minutes per episode
- English language dub, Japanese language dub with English subtitles
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
- Japanese Commentaries with English subtitles.
- Japanese Promos
- Home Video Release Commercials
- Song Commercials
- Himouto! Umaru-chanS
- Banquet Mondays “Daranama”,
In a nutshell, Umaru-chan is a story of a beautiful young girl that lives a secret life. That secret life being her over-indulgence in junk food and being lazy, being waited on hand-and-foot by her older brother Taihei. In an effort to keep up appearances, Umaru resists the urge to turn in to her trash-monster self in-front of anybody but her brother.
Himouto! Umaru-Chan is pure fun in a compact series of episodes. Though it has a few heartfelt character moments, there’s nothing heavy here. It follows the ordinary lives of these ordinary people and the animated emphasis of Umaru’s duality is the only fantastical thing.
Though character development occurs throughout the show, I think it’d be quite easy to pick up any episode in this twelve-part series and enjoy it. It’s not plot-heavy. The focus is on the comical efforts of Umaru to circumvent doing anything productive.
Animation (by Doga Kobo)
Though not an intensive, action anime, Doga Kobo do a great job of animating the show all-round. Some moments stand out more than others, such as one of Umaru’s early returns to home featuring her ricocheting off of furniture in to her most comfortable position.
At the very least, Umaru-chan is a joy to watch and stays consistent throughout the series. They deliver well on the physical comedy of Umaru, with her flips and slow-motion rescue of falling cola on a regular basis. Not to mention capturing the differing nervous natures of Ebina and Kirie; two of the shows recurring characters and friends of Umaru.
It’s not some grand spectacle of animation, for sure, but it does the job for the type of show it is and it’s hard to gauge that against, say, a fantastical action scene from Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. A struggle I always tend to have when judging a show’s animation quality.
Writing, Characters and Performances
Umaru-chan is well-written, exquisitely performed and features likable characters throughout. There’s not a single character I didn’t enjoy seeing and/or hearing in the show.
Whether it was Taihei’s straight-man to Umaru’s wacky antics or Nana Ebina’s obvious crush on Umaru’s older brother, each character is endearing in their own right. The scenes tend to be quite short and each episode is a snapshot in to Umaru’s daily life. This results in great pacing that never left me tired of the goings-on of Umaru and company.
What’s most impressive is that Umaru could have easily been an awful character. A bratty young girl with a two-faced personality. Instead, she comes across as having a heart of gold whilst being terribly mischievous. She so desperately doesn’t want to be seen in her tiny, trash-monster form by her friends that it’s cute. Her attacks on her brother come across as playful due to the visual transformation, instead of the outright assault it might seem like in her adult form.
To be clear, Umaru is an ordinary human being. Sure, she’s beautiful, intelligent and portrayed as flawless, but she doesn’t actually “transform”. It’s a visual cue to indicate her change of personality. That and people love chibi art. Umaru pulls off both forms effortlessly, mind you. Props to her.
Bringing Umaru to Life: Emily Neves
Performances in Himouto! Umaru-Chan are good across the board, but one stands out above the rest: the English Voice of Umaru herself; Emily Neves. Whilst Adam Noble plays the ever-exhausted but warm brother Taihei well, and Christina Kelly hits a home-run with her energetic Sylphynford Tachibana, Emily really is the star of the show.
In Umaru, Emily had a difficult role: capture two personality types in a single performance. At times, transitioning seamlessly between the two for comedic effect. No matter if Umaru is reaching out with kindness to her friends or demanding Taihei bring her snacks whilst she plays games, Emily is a huge part of what makes Umaru capture your heart. She plays the role perfectly, with the inflections on certain words like “Cola” and “Potato chips” that resonate with me even now, hours after finishing the series. Those speech patterns – usually in the tiny trash Umaru form – are a large part of her character and Emily executes them flawlessly. I think I’ve found a new favourite VA in a long list of greats.
Umaru-chan delivers on obvious but comical parodies of real-world counterparts. More than I know of, I’m sure. There are plenty of jokes that the home release kindly explains in subtitle notes that might have gone over the heads of people unfamiliar with Japanese culture. Still, there are universal parodies that gamers, anime and manga lovers are sure to appreciate.
Umaru gets boxes delivered from Zonama (Amazon). They have a Doll (Dell) computer in their single-room apartment. Our titular hero dabbles in Space Stream Fighter 4 (Street Fighter 4) and various other gaming parodies. Her favourite manga appears to be Jun-Piece.
The show doesn’t linger too long on the parodies, but they’re fairly easy to spot, and they’re a fun nod to the real world, further grounding the show in reality.
Himouto! Umaru-Chan is a joy to watch. It’s just fun. There’s nothing difficult to consider. The characters aren’t a minefield of puzzles to solve. They’re pure levity. Sure; there’s some depth to their relationships, but it’s the pleasant kind of depth.
Outside of that, it’s great to see how the cast play off of the side of Umaru that they know: the flawless high school girl with a heart of gold or the little mischief maker that runs on cola. If you’re looking for a genuinely heart-warming show with a fantastic English dub, Umaru is the show for you.
Anime Name: Himouto! Umaru-chan
Format: Blu-ray, provided by Manga UK
Release Date: 10th July 2017 (United Kingdom)