Title: Squid Girl S2 aka Shinryaku!? Ika Musume
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 27 Sep 1900 – 25 Dec 2011
Synopsis: The adventures of Ika Musume continue as the titular cephalopod keeps up her invasion of the land and remains baffled and intrigued by human culture and customs.
Characters: Still mined well for comedy.
Situations: More funny scenarios are explored beyond the basic fish out of water skits.
Ending: Continues the annoying tradition of comedies becoming “Serious Business”.
The second season is do-or-die time for most anime comedies. Will they develop their characters and situations and become funnier? Or will they stagnate and become stale and boring? Although Squid Girl’s second season does not bring anything new to the table, I feel confident in saying that it does just enough to keep its humor and charm fresh.
Characters are the bread and butter of most comedies. If writers do not have strongly-defined characters, or if they don’t know their characters well enough, then the comedy will flounder. The characters in Squid Girl are not different from many characters in anime comedies in that they mainly one joke: Sanae is obsessed with Squid Girl, Chizuru rules her world with an iron fist, the Three Stooges are goofy scientists, etc. However, they continue to work in season 2 because the writing has confidence in the characters and plays them off each other in funny ways.
I can think of two skits this season had me laughing hard. The first features Sanae declaring herself Ika Musume’s bodyguard and subsequently wrestling with her new job to protect Ika Musume at all hours and with her own desire to go after Ika Musume herself. The second is a simple game of House in which a little girl pulls in wandering characters to act out a convoluted soap opera. These skits work because the writers not only understand what makes the characters tick, but they also know how to make the characters interact in ways that keep the humor fresh and fun.
That’s Squid Girl at its best. The show’s characters don’t have much depth to them, but they are sharpened enough that they have clear points of view that are played well for comedic effect. What also helps is that Squid Girl remains well versed in character balance. Every character gets exactly the amount of time he or she needs. When watching the show, I never thought I was seeing too much Sanae or not enough Goro or whatever. Getting a good balance in ensemble comedy is tougher than it seems, so the series should be commended on that.
If there’s one place I must ding Squid Girl’s second season, it’s the ending. The final episode is largely made up of limp drama that saps all the humor from the series. I love these characters as part of a comedy, but they’re not strong enough to be tools for effective drama. The need to end on a dramatic, heartwarming note is a problem that continues to plague anime comedies. There’s nothing wrong with delivering laughs throughout.
Even with that disappointing finish, however, Squid Girl’s second season is nonetheless well worth watching if you’re in the mood for light comedy. Maybe the show would become stale if a third season were to happen (and I think it likely that there will be another season), but for now, at least, any Squid Girl invasion is fine by me.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Shinmaru