Umisho

Title: Umisho aka Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho
Genre: Comedy
Company: Artland
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 3 Jul 2007 – 25 Sep 2007

Synopsis: Okimura Kaname is the manager of the swimming club in Prefectoral Umineko Shougyou High, or ‘Umisho’ for short, who has a fear for drowning. His life gets more interesting upon the arrival of a clueless happy-go-lucky girl named Ninagawa Amuro all the way from Okinawa. She possesses strange traits both good and bad; good in a sense of her unbelievable swimming speed and bad in a sense that she likes swimming in the nude. Furthermore, she reminds him of a mermaid which results in Okimura’s hydrophobia.

The Highlights
Premise: More of a fanservice series with swimming as its theme.
Swimming Team: Every typical character found in any anime series and more.
Comedy: The single factor that is genuinely good.

Allow me to clear up one thing about Umisho – it is about a swimming club where the girls are predominant and managed by a lucky loser of a guy. With this in mind, what is your first impression on the series? Lots of fanservice? No plot? Plenty of comedy? If you guess all of them, then you are spot on, although it is a no-brainer in the first place. One good thing about Umisho is that it doesn’t try to mask itself as a series with real substance and simply passes itself off as a fun, fanservice-brimming summer show that adopts swimming as its theme.

Swimming is merely a device to help cater to what Umisho truly is: a comedy series that utilizes money shots and slapstick moments to induce laughter. There are some moments that are truthfully hilarious such as flashing moments by the club captain and amusing verbal exchanges that you don’t hear all the time in other comedies. However, they are enveloped in a horde of clich├ęd gags that have been done to death. Hot spring peeping? Getting zonked by a tomboy? Panty shots? Even I don’t spoil anything by mentioning these predictable scenarios. Moreover, two-thirds of the entire 13 episode series is focused on individual funny stories, while only the other third bothers dealing with the team’s actual progress to the prefectural tournament.

What’s a comedy without the swimming team comprising of mainly eccentric characters from different backgrounds. In my opinion, the team can be classified into two categories: the oddballs and the stereotypes. The stereotypes are just there to fill up the gap; in other words, they’re there to assist the true stars: the oddballs. The other category of the oddballs are there to truly stir up a hell of commotion in a comical way. How weird of a cast can it get when you have a club captain who cherishes speedos and baring himself in the public and a generously-busted meek girl who is best described as a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Umisho is your fanservice comedy series done right but a sports series done completely wrong. While it succeeds in inducing laugh-out-loud moments and cultivating kooky characters with their even kookier habits, the swimming premise can be ignored until the very end where it is finally highlighted on the grand stage in the pool. If you are seeking the anime that is light-hearted enough to watch during a summer afternoon, seek no further. I can at least guarantee lots of laughter… no more, no less. Seriously.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: AC

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