I don’t make it a point to write reviews, but I particularly enjoyed Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, and, upon seeing its subpar ratings, felt somewhat obligated to defend it, so, here goes:
Wonderful, wonderful artwork. I’m a stickler for art, having dropped numerous series simply because I couldn’t stand the way they were drawn, and Denpa Onna definitely wins in this category. Shaft has outdone itself – colorful, lively scenery, vibrant, multi-toned characters, and, in general, great color schemes, compositions, and dynamism in each frame. It’s not quite 5 cm/s, but I daresay it’s approaching that level.
I usually neglect this category, as I find it to be a relatively minor component to my viewing experience. However, Denpa Onna does provide some melancholic piano keys and nice ambience music that complement the pacing well. Can’t say I’m a fan of the OP or ED, but, then again, I was never into the high-pitched squeals that permeate much of anime JPop.
As many reviewers iterated before me, eccentricities abound in this motley crew of a cast. Honestly, it’s refreshing to see a show invent new personalities instead of rehashing the standard anime prototypes. (I especially enjoyed how Erio Touwa [E.T.] sat in Makoto’s bicycle basket as he pedaled her into the sky). Development is admittedly slow, but it’s definitely there. This is something I feel many reviewers don’t emphasize enough. Denpa Onna is a show about the gentle adolescence of our halcyon days, and, to that end, I think it’s nice that events and developments aren’t explosive or convoluted. The subtleties and gradual changes are meant to mirror the normalcy of our teenage years and, thus, offer a stark but welcome contrast to the eccentric personalities – that is, while the characters are themselves bizarre, their growth is relatable and meaningful.
Denpa Onna opened with an explosive start. Bracketing the rest of the show, I think the first 3 episodes could operate as a short, standalone OVA series. Really, I was hooked after watching a prologue so rife with meaning and mystery. Erio’s personality is fully emphasized here, and here, too, is where the show probes most philosophically at the deeper themes of life. Makoto’s rejection of Erio’s delusions is a deeper rejection of ontological relativism as a legitimate means to happiness – his actions nuance his convictions well, and we really get a sense of Makoto’s take on what it means to be human.
Sadly, I feel many casual viewers gloss over this last point and take Denpa Onna to be yet another mindless harem. Let me emphasize that it is not. Its insight is subtle, but present, and acutely profound.
So, what about the rest of the show, you ask? Well I can say that the first three episodes are somewhat anomalous when compared to the slow pace and slice-of-life themed events of the last 9 episodes. Critics charge that Denpa Onna lacks plot or hooks to keep viewers interested, and I’m not unsympathetic to this criticism. However, as mentioned above, I think the slow pacing works well with what this show takes itself to be: a chronicle of a boy’s adolescence. I find it far more realistic that schoolgirl crushes don’t blow up into soap operas and baseball games don’t become matters of life and death. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like the series never scratches below the surface – it really does, but, often, it does so almost imperceptibly. Take episode 8 (Tsiolkovsky’s Prayer), for example. It centers around Meme’s daily routine over a week, but the conclusion of the episode is nothing short of powerful, poignant, and profound, letting us really glimpse the depth beneath her skin. People are unique, change slowly, and offer interesting and poignant stories. This, I think Denpa Onna emphasizes very profoundly.
Moreover, among these events of every day life are the rare gemstones that move boys closer to manhood, and Denpa Onna doesn’t forget this. Conversations with characters often revolve around mundane occurrences like deep sea fish or basketball games, but are artfully and subtly infused with lessons on the importance of curiosity or the rate of human progress. It’s important, when watching, to pay attention to these moments – as they offer enlightening insight into the human experience.
So, what’s the final verdict on Denpa Onna?
If you’re looking for something explosive, convoluted, and plot-driven, then I advise you to turn away. If, however, you’re looking for something light-hearted yet penetrating, then I urge you to pick this up. By the end of it, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, with its subtle but philosophical messages, really offers you a novel and reflective outlook on that awkward phase between puberty and responsibility. And, after all, that’s how life is: subtle but profound.