The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Title: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: SHAFT
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 14 Apr 2011 – 30 Jun 2011

Synopsis: Niwa Makoto moves to his energetic aunt’s house because his parents are away on a business trip. He meets his cousin, Touwa Erio, an unusual high schooler who wears a futon around her body and believes that she’s an alien. Makoto begins to unravel the mystery behind Erio’s behaviour while coping with the eccentric personalities that seem to surround him.

The Highlights
Dialogue: Witty.
Visuals: Surprisingly tame for Shinbo, though there are some artistic flourishes.
Characters: Endearingly eccentric at best, annoying at worst.

SHAFT seems to have created a genre for themselves with some of their recent comedies. In the same vein as Bakemonogatari’s quick-witted, pun-ridden dialogue and implausibly unusual characters, Denpa Onna adds to their repertoire of romantic comedies that should be boring but aren’t. Despite its bland premise, the show is anything but unoriginal: its offbeat characters and sharp dialogue draw attention away from the traditional boy-meets-girl plot. Unfortunately, the plot progression suffers from awkward arc-based pacing, and the main heroine—as well as what initially seems to be the main story—fades into the background early in the series.

Denpa Onna’s dialogue is worth singling out. The show is coincidentally reminiscent of Nisioisin’s sarcastic charm; wherever it is that novelist Iruma Hitoma drew inspiration from, his tone is visibly similar to Bakemonogatari and the Zaregoto books. The writing is distinctive enough to be noticeable in the first episode. Rather than feigning realism, conversations play out like a carefully scripted comedy, filled to the brim with sarcastic jabs and clever comebacks. This is made increasingly obvious as the viewer discovers that protagonist Makoto is the straight man in a cast full of the opposite. Every scene in the show offers him opportunities to jab at some impossibly bizarre scenario, be it the appearance of a futon-shelled girl or a mild-mannered tuna cosplayer.

This leads us to the plot, which is weak at heart but amusing everywhere else. Essentially, the story is identical to every other school romance light novel with a focus on eccentric characters, although this one is perhaps more eccentric than average. The show throws in just the right amount of ludicrousness to fuel a steady stream of sarcasm from Makoto. Admittedly, the characters can be offbeat to a fault (Ryuuko’s forced cutesiness will likely cause a face palm or two, though that might be the intention). Still, the show usually doesn’t fail to earn a smirk, especially since its humble one-cours air time doesn’t give room for the jokes to get stale. It can be exhausting to listen to the characters talk and follow the logic in their conversations (and in some cases it’s impossible because there is no logic), but it rarely goes overboard.

The only questionable aspect of the series is the core of the story. Thematically, it plays out as a standard school life anime with only slight traces of romance. It’s nothing to remark on, though there’s a little trick the staff pulled to tie in some of the middle arcs to a surprisingly conclusive finale dealing with the protagonist. The main issue is with the structure. While the arc structure makes sense for the light novel medium—splitting the series into stories that explore each of the characters’ motivation for their unusual behaviour—it comes across as somewhat jarring in the anime. The show shifts focus too many times for the viewer to really get a feel for any member of the cast, despite being introduced to all of them. Erio doesn’t get much screen time beyond the initial episodes, the romantic tension between Makoto and Ryuuko receives only a vague resolution, et cetera. The show draws to somewhat of a close if you look at it thematically, and that’s the best the anime staff can do given the situation, but the plot leaves much to be desired. A second season, perhaps.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Eternal

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