From the depth of the seas rises an evil monster, bent on taking over the human world: Ika Musume. She's ruthless. She's menacing. She's... an adorably non-threatening little girl who makes an awesome squid-ink spaghetti?
Ika Musume has come out of her home in the ocean on a quest to punish humanity for polluting her waters. With squid tentacles for hair and some pretty useful ink-spitting skills, Ika Musume is sure she'll have no trouble invading Earth. What she didn't account for were the Aizawa sisters, rough and tumble Eiko and deceptively mellow Chizuru, who immediately bully her into working as a waitress in their seafood restaurant by the shore.
Ika Musume decides to take this chance to learn more about the human world, having silly adventures, meeting lots of strange characters, and never once letting world domination out of her sights. Will Ika Musume be able to exact her revenge on the human race that had wronged her? Or will she learn to enjoy the company of these foolish air-breathers and let bygones be bygones?
The problem with the anime industry is the continuous failure to capitalise on titles that are actually good, and instead redirect time and resources to producing shows that leave you as empty as a tectonic bowel movement. Every genre has suffered this iniquity, but while most bounce back with other, much better offerings (comparatively speaking), comedy continues to prove the medium's "Achilles heel". Those of you who are fans of Gintama may disagree with that perception, but consider for a moment the number of anime released during the last year that have borne the "comedy" label.
Now have a think about whether they made you laugh,
or simply made you smile (or in the worst case scenario, made you want to punch the people who made it in alphabetical order).
Based on the manga by Anbe Masahiro, Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Invasion! Squid Girl), tells the story of Ika Musume, who has come from the sea to exact revenge on humanity for polluting the waters of Earth, and she plans to do this by conquering the world.
Unfortunately her first foray onto land doesn't go as planned ...
The series is presented in the style of a sketch show rather than as a continuous narrative, with each episode split into three independent stories. Normally this approach would present several problems where plot and character development are concerned, but thankfully that isn't the case here as each tale is well crafted and paced, with little time wasted on pointless trivialities (which is ironic as there are people who would consider the whole show to be trivial). In addition to this, there is an autonomy to each chapter that allows for a variety of themes over the course of one episode, and this makes for some decent storytelling and visual gags.
As an aside, one thing that should be pointed out is the rather obvious homage to the first ten minutes or so of Up! that occurs in episode five. The nice thing about this particular chapter is that there has been a conscious effort to follow Pixar's example and simply use music, sound effects and imagery to tell the story, and the result is something ... rare, especially in terms of audio/visual choreography.
Which brings up an interesting point.
On the surface Shinryaku! Ika Musume looks a lot like the common or garden moe based "comedies" that abound these days, but as everyone knows, one should never judge a book by it's cover. The design principle verges on the generic at times, and this rather simplistic approach to the characters is reflected in the backgrounds and settings as well. The animation is generally decent, with nice movements and some interesting ways to use tentacles (I never thought I would ever use that sentence in an anime review), but the initial perception may be that Diomedea simply didn't try hard enough to make the series look great.
There is something that should be taken in to account though, and that's the fact that Ika Musume wasn't only made to make you smile. The main purpose of the series is to make you laugh, and that it does. The "generic" look of the show allows for a number of well executed visual gags and parodies, as well as some creative moments like the Mini Ika Musume chapter. In addition to that, the style of humour actually works better when the viewer is comfortable with the imagery, which may be the reason why Diomedea opted for a look that many people will already be familiar with.
After all, it's reasonable to assume that the majority of viewers would find the slapstick comedy aspect out of place in a series series featured stunning scenery and beautiful characters, no matter how funny the show was.
One thing that is slightly annoying about Ika Musume is the devilishly catchy opening theme (Let's Invade by ULTRA PRISM featuring Kanemoto Hisako), which may have been designed to loiter in the viewers head, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. That doesn't mean it's a great song though, as it's a very typical example of the "cute" J-Pop anime introduction - with everything that entails.
On the other hand the ending theme, Metamerism by Ito Kanae, is a melodic ballad that's rather pleasant on the ears (even if it is a tad generic), but seems a little out of place in a comedy show. As for the incidental pieces, they range from slightly ditzy jazz styled jingles to the slow piano piece of the Mini Ika Musume chapter. Unlike many other shows though, the music is only pushed to the fore when the occasion demands, and one will generally hear it as a very subtle accompaniment to the on screen action (it should be pointed out though, that a good portion of the series features no music whatsoever).
As with any comedy, delivery is everything, and it's here where the seiyuu really shine. While the voice acting may sometimes be a little on the bland side, the characters really come alive when there's something quirky or funny going on. Kanemoto Hisako's performance as the precocious invader from the sea is actually pretty good, especially as her only other main roles are in Sora no Woto and Kore wa Zombie Desu ka. Her coordination with the other voice actors, especially Fujimura Ayumi and Tanaka Rie (the Aizawa sisters, Eiko and Chizuru), allows for some nice comedy set pieces.
Which brings up another point.
By its very nature, comedy isn't the greatest tool for characterisation or development, especially as the usual methods can seem out of place amongst all the slapstick. Ika Musume neatly sidesteps the issue by inserting a few choice tales that highlight a particular bond or personality trait, but it does this by creating a metaphor which can sometimes change the whole tone of the series. That said, any growth is sporadic, and there are occasions where viewers may find themselves wondering what the point of a particular chapter was.
There is a plus though, as the series creates comedy pairings between disparate, and sometimes unlikely, characters, which adds to the whimsical nature of the show. Eiko and Ika-Musume represent the primary straight and funny "men", but in truth there are multiple parings, trios and groups that form over the course of the series, all of which is only achievable because the characterisation is actually pretty decent for a comedy anime.
Now I will be honest here, as I didn't expect to like this series as much as I did. That's not to say it's a classic, as there are definitely better purebred comedies out there, but when compared to many of the more recent offerings in that genre, the charm, quirkiness and feelgood atmosphere of Shinryaku! Ika Musume is definitely a step in the right direction. The series bears a few similarities in terms of style, content and layout to such comedy worthies as Potemayo and Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu (but without as much insanity), whilst Mini Ika-Musume didn't simply remind me of Pixar's Up!, but also of Binchou-tan.
There is something to bear in mind if you decide to give this show a try though. Comedy is probably the most subjective genre in any medium as it requires far more investment from the viewer in order for it to work, and one of the things that we in the West often forget is that the vast majority of anime are made for the Japanese markets. Because of that it becomes difficult for Westerners to relate to certain aspects of the humour, but that doesn't automatically mean a series is bad just because we don't understand it.
Besides, after some of the debacles that have been produced over the last few years by an industry that's trying a bit too hard, it's a welcome change to watch something a little bit silly.
I would never imagine, in my lifetime, to see a squid this adorable!
Im telling ya, after years experiencing Squidward from SpongeBob Squarepants, I started to give up hope for all squids in the world...
That is until I met little Ika-Chan...
So what's so special about another failure invader anime? Don't we already have a frog for that?
How can you say that! Squid>Frog anytime!
Anyways, the story isn't very deep and there's no much of a plot buildup however the comedy and cuteness is enjoyable nevertheless. You'll have a drama episode, a horror episode (Oh damn that doll was scaaaaary) and also a tearjerker moment (I
love you Chibi Ika!)
The artwork was exceptional. It was able to portray the scenery of a beach perfectly to go along with little Ika's antics. The characters are well drawn especially in the expressions department.
Sound? Who doesn't like the sound of the beach! Great choice of background music to enhance the surrounding. I especially liked the squeeky sound you get when the tentacle rubbed against each other. (Reminds me of rubbing two pickles with each other)
Ika's character is developed nicely (Even though it's mostly appealing to lolicons). However she's still a kid at heart. But thats just the way we all like it. Coupled along with a "geso" at the end of every sentence, and WHAM! Try to resist that awesome cuteness! Other characters support her well (both her and her mischiefs)
This anime definitely has a considerable amount of re-watch value. The comedy doesn't get old easily. And I guess people would of course want to see my Chibi Ika! (But not those puppets.. That thing gave me nightmares!)
Overall, it's a must watch for all you who adores cute and lovable things! If you dont? Then the comedy would still entertain you nicely. Personally, my favorite part about this anime is Ika's assimilation into the human world. It's nice when an invader understand how not all humans like us are bad. What? You think you're good too? Heck no... If you're watching this anime, chances are you're a sick pervert like me who was expecting tentacle rape..
Nah.. Im just kidding..
I’m not going to lie, this show is a weird one to talk about. Not solely on the actual premise, although it does add a little to it, but on the way it’s structured. It reminded me of my own childhood shows that had three separate story arcs that had a basic theme to it. With an anime plot involving a cute squid girl trying to invade the entire planet by herself only to be undermined by a bunch of people who own a food court near a beach, you’d think that would speak of random hijinks that will only appeal to prepubescent girls. Fortunately
there can be some merits in here that could speak to any age group.
For starters, Squid Girl has a plot that is hardly focused or has any substance to the original goal that the squid character, named Ike, intended on doing. It mostly involves her trying to learn about humanity and the culture of Japan that she is settling in. It’s essentially a show based around culture shock and how foreigners try to adapt to a different country that they have no idea about. With the tone of the series being light-hearted and comedic, they handle it pretty well without hampering on the basic premise being in conflict with the comedy. It’s fairly entertaining to watch and at times funny to see Ike acting very holier than thou upon the people she meets, when in fact she has no power over the others whatsoever.
With a show like Squid Girl, you need to supply with great characters that are both funny and memorable to watch. While there are definitely some that garner a lot of entertainment, others are not fully realized and don’t add much depth with the comedy. The best ones that I ended up liking the most were Ike, Eiko, and Chizuru. They all have so much great chemistry together and make a lot of great gags work perfectly. Chizuru herself provides some of the best scenes involving her having a nice personality but once something bad happens to her or the workplace she turns menacing to the person doing the trouble-making. Ike herself, voiced by the always charming Hisako Kanemoto, gives the show a great sense of passion towards making this Slice of life atmosphere into an entertaining comedy with her constant alluring presence in every scene.
Unfortunately not all of the cast hits the level of greatness along with our three main characters. Sanae, Takeru, and Goro all don’t have the same great chemistry with Ike as she does with Eiko and Chizuru. That’s not to say they’re terrible, or even bad, they do have some funny moments but it’s essentially just them acting very googly eyed over Ike’s presence in the world that quickly doesn’t have much to go for in the grand scheme of things. For example, Sanae’s only gag for existing in the show is to be all lovey-dovey over Ike and nothing else. Sure it does get a few laughs but after a while the joke just falls flat and gets old quickly. If it wasn’t Kanae Itou’s adorable voice playing Sanae I would probably think lesser of Sanae to be honest.
Another problem I had with the show was how each of the plot arcs end so abruptly. There are times when a plot arc would end and it didn’t feel like that particular scene felt any kind of closure for it. It ends relatively quickly and we’re brought up into a different scene. The problem being that the way they interlude between a different arc is by showing a cut of arrows that are supposed tell us that we’re doing a different arc but it happens so fast that you barely even notice it because of the fact the arc beforehand had barely an ending. In turn, some of the arcs felt like they were rushed or they weren’t finished in the writing process during production.
In short, I thought there wasn’t really anything special to be found in Squid Girl. It might be something that you might show to your younger daughter to have some fun with, but on the other hand there are actually some nice humor for adults as well. It might be a stretch to say that this is Japan’s answer to Spongebob, the only difference is that Spongebob actually had a lot of great memorable characters while Squid Girl only had three that are even worth discussing over. It’s a harmless show for what it is, a decent entertaining show for older kids. Even with some of the adult innuendo thrown in, but hey that’s at least that's something that most kids shows are hardly about these days.
That's right de geso! I have come to tie you in my tentacles and make you my undersquid de geso! Don't even THINK of trying to escape from my wrath DE GESO!
Shinryaku! Ika Musume is quite a refreshing retake of the slice-of-life comedy scene. It was really nice to finally get one that didn't cop out and take the way-too-overused (high) school setting. The premise is actually quite creative and leads for some equally creative little stories and jokes as well. (Who knew the idea of a squid girl could be so interesting?)
The series is really the only thing I've
heard of to use tentacles so innocently. When most people think of tentacles, they obviously think of hentai, and all the various disturbing images that stirs up to go along with it. Well, this show is definitely PG-safe. Tentacles are used for USEFUL things--like serving half a dozen tables at once, or playing beach volleyball, or swatting your stalker away from you like a fly, or...
...Wait, what? Oh yeah. Slap stick. =D
On the note of PG-safeness, I'm happy to inform you that there is zero fan service, so you pedophiles lurking around looking for pervy loli-fests or mindless moeblobs should GTFO. Right now. Hell, if it weren't for a few instances of light profanity ("damn"), the show probably could garner a G rating. (I don't see what the point of even including any profanity at all was.)
When writers decide to incorporate moe into their works, they always have to be careful to observe the line between moe and moeblob--that is, if you overdo the moe, they lack any other definable traits--physically or character-wise. They become defined strictly as MOE. (Oh gawd K-On!) Well, I'm pleased to report that Ika Musume does not cross that line (although there are a few precarious instances when that line is flirted with far too intimately).
Ika is moe, yes, but moe mostly in terms of her personality. She is laughably curious about everyday things we don't think much of, like umbrellas, birthdays, and fireworks. She's afraid of inflatable killer whales and sharks, but thinks nothing of walking through cemetaries at night, nor is she even scared of ghosts. She came to "invade" the surface world, but her good nature keeps getting the better of her and pushing her goal farther away. She acts menacing, but it's obviously a bluff, as she obviously cares about the well-being of those around her. She even has a couple funny speech naunces to top it all off.
The show really IS all about Ika. She is, by far, the character with the most colorful personality, range of emotion, and variety of facial expression. The supporting cast isn't bad, though; some of them actually have some depth and undergo development, but equally as many are just flat in terms of personality. (This isn't to say they don't add anything or aren't entertaining, though; quite the contrary.)
Animation and art are quite crisp, clean, and clear: the show is quite pleasing to look at. Bright and vibrant colors make up the vast majority of the spectrum utilized, and scenes are mostly sunny and light-hearted. Animation is pretty well-done as well, with no real problems or corner-cutting I could see. Facial expressions--particularly those of Ika--are great. All in all, quite effective and above average.
The OP is alright, sung by Hisako Kanemoto (Ika's seiyuu) although it begins by chanting "Shinryaku!" over and over again, in the most annoying pitch possible, at a volume twice as loud as the rest of the show. (Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with her voice; that part is just really annoying.) And it starts as soon as the episode begins, so you'll have to be really fast to avoid getting your ears blasted. The ED is actually a pretty touching piece that I would call Ika's theme song, since the lyrics fit her so well. The voice acting is pretty great, but Kanemoto definitely steals the show: she acts the squidding INK out of her role. ;)
Shinryaku! Ika Musume is quite the enjoyable break from the hum drum stereotypical school comedy scene. It deserves a chance just for daring to be different and breaking from the mold. It even incorporates some pretty emotionally touching moments in there as well.
Now, I'm off to conquer the rest of this thing you humans call MAL de geso!
Some characters are funny because of all the crazy antics they get up to. But others just have the right kind of physiognomy, which make them prone to pulling off some funny anime faces - intentionally or unintentionally.