The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Squid Girl

Title: Squid Girl aka Shinryaku! Ika Musume aka Invasion! Squid Girl
Genre: Comedy
Company: Diomedea
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2010 – 21 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Humans have been polluting the sea for centuries, and a warrior of the ocean has come to invade land and exact righteous justice on civilization. But Ika Musume is naïve to the ways of land dwellers, and her plans of world domination are side-tracked when she damages a beach house restaurant and must work off the repair bill. Luckily, her cute appearance, curious abilities, and harmless nature endear her to the locals, and she makes many friends over the summer.

The Highlights
Ika Musume: A fun mascot character that is front and center.
Animation and music: Suitable, but unremarkable.
Comic delivery: Short, direct, and almost always on the mark.
Drama: Two dramatic moments, one surprising and sweet, the other forced and best forgotten.

What do cats, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Windows OS, and a synthesized singing program have in common? They are all things that have been anthropomorphized into doe-eyed anime mascot girls. Casualties to the Japanese culture of cute, where placating personalities and fetching character designs move merchandise as well as the products they purport to represent, mascot characters such as these have been woven into the fabric of pop-culture in the Far East. Invasion! Squid Girl continues this tradition by featuring a cute mascot squid girl in comic-strip adventures. Yet for this anime pushing character merchandise is secondary to providing honest entertainment, as Ika Musume’s inept attempts to understand (and eventually conquer) humanity is marked by easygoing charm and well-timed humor.

The main draw of Squid Girl is the magnetic main character herself, who drives all the action and draws all the attention. She has cute, child-like proportions and always wears her white squid dress and hat (in fact they are actually part of her body) and sports light blue tentacle-hair. Along with powerful tentacles, her squid-themed abilities include spitting ink, glowing in the dark, and calculating advanced mathematics (?); quirks that are utilized for lots of fun and gags (would you eat squid-vomit spaghetti?) but are carefully mixed to avoid overuse. However the character’s strongest appeal is her personality, a mix of misguided megalomania that her human friends find all too easy to topple, wide-eyed wonder for a strange new world, and “de geso” – a quirk of speech that always reminds us of her mascot character status. The childish naivety is especially delightful when we see her discover mundane human inventions and customs, like umbrellas, classrooms, and dolls, and her imagination turns them into whimsical adventures.

The world literally revolves around Ika Musume. She has the spotlight in every scene with a supporting cast, including the siblings that run the beach restaurant, goofy MIT scientists, a rabid fangirl stalker, and regular beach goers, designed to complement her. These secondary characters are simplistic and are mostly one-trick-ponies in the kinds of jokes they deliver, but like Ika Musume’s squid abilities they are varied often enough and placed in different situations to avoid repetition and maximize comic punch. The episode format helps variety: each one is divided into three segments, so these short stories never outstay their welcome.

In the world of anime comedies, Squid Girl’s consistent delivery is remarkable, yet that is the only thing about this anime that stands out. The art style utilizes clean lines and solid colors, and the animation always runs smooth and on model, but it looks stylistically average. The music adds pep and the occasional non-comical mood, but doesn’t remain in the memory beyond the scene it is used. The presentation puts a premium on consistency, content to leave the aesthetic qualities as “good enough”.

Squid Girl notably makes two sincere attempts at drama. The first is a mini-Squid Girl segment featuring no dialogue; a montage that works through subtle gestures and facial expressions. It is a segment that’s unexpected, adorable, and very heart-warming, maybe the single best segment in the series. The second dramatic segment comes right at the end of the show, which forces a dramatic tone at the series conclusion but quickly resolves it, and is best forgotten.

Invasion! Squid Girl has one goal in mind: to be light, charming entertainment. This mild ambition to makes content that won’t leave a strong impression, but excellent timing, attention to detail (every ED has a unique touch), and its easy, consistent pace makes this endeavor a success where it counts. For a light comedy pick-me-up, Squid Girl is sure to please. Those with greater expectations should look elsewhere.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: kadian1364

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