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Himouto! Umaru-chan Season 1 Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Himouto! Umaru-chan Blu-ray Front CoverHiding who we are and letting it fly free at home.

What They Say:
To her classmates, Umaru Doma appears to be the perfect girl. She’s beautiful, friendly, and fashionable, earns top grades, and seems to be able to do any task asked of her with ease. She’s even humble and polite! However, if Umaru’s classmates could see her in the privacy of her home, they wouldn’t even recognize her.

Once she’s inside the door, the pretty clothes come off, the orange hamster hood goes on, and it’s time to pig-out on snack foods, binge-watch television, and play violent video games! This version of Umaru is everything that the public Umaru isn’t: she whines, rolls on the floor, leaves messes all over the apartment, and makes life miserable for her poor older brother, Taihei. Even the most guarded secrets have a way of being found out, and, as Umaru becomes even more obnoxious and outrageous, her two lives are bound to collide in disastrous fashion!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language mix, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that focuses on the dialogue to a good degree while also bringing in lots of sound effects and reaction shots, so it’s not one that works big or epic material for the most part. What the show does work with is something that comes across very well as the sound effects have a lot of directionality and movement across the forward soundstage, the dialogue has some great moments with how it’s designed in the same, and the whole thing just pulls it all together well with some solid music and silly music moments as well. Both tracks offer up a very clean and problem free result that helps to bring the material to life in a very silly and fun way.

Video:
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread out across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which is also where the bulk of the extras are. Animated by Doga Kobo, the show works a clean and bright but not garish color palette that has lots of familiar pieces to it but blends together well. Most of the time the main character is done in chibi form and that keeps things simpler (and smaller) to work with which for the encoding works well too. The backgrounds have a lot of detail to them and some of the busier sequences work things in a very good way so that it’s all solid and problem free. The colors work throughout, even the copious amount of orange in Umaru that doesn’t always work great, and the encoding brings it to life in a crisp and solid way.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that works the familiar key visual as its front cover with Umaru front and center while everyone else is ringed around her, along with toys, games, and lots of snacks. It’s a very busy piece but is the kind that works because of the chibi factor in the center and the cuteness of the rest of the characters in normal but smaller form as they straddle all the wackiness. The color combination may be a bit much but it definitely catches your attention. The back cover works a bit smoother with the mix of yellows and pinks with a few dashes of blue that has a nice selection of shots from the show and a clean listing of the disc and episode count. The premise is well covered in an easy to read black on yellow while the numerous extras are broken out well, though I think they should have been very up front about the running time of all the extras. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is a silly bit simpler piece in some ways, a little more sparse than I expected, where the static menu has the navigation along the right while the left has the character artwork. The first disc has just Umaru, albeit in both forms, with a lot of white space with orange widgets behind her. The second disc lets the other girls shine so it fills it out a bit more but it’s still got a lot of empty space that I don’t think blends too well with the background and orange borders along the top and bottom. Both look good and set the tone right but it’s almost just a little garish for my tastes. The navigation is an appropriate level of garish, however, as we get the strip with the selections going down where the episodes are listed by number and title. They’re done as white on blue with orange behind the numbers and it turns red when highlighted. It’s smooth and nicely functional and very useful when drilling down into the extras, though from a distance they can be a bit unreadable until you move the selector over it so that it’s highlighted. It works well both as a main menu and pop-up menu during playback in terms of functionality so it’s all solid there.

Extras:
This release is one that comes with a lot of extras overall and they’re something that makes this a very worthwhile release. Frankly, the inclusion of the Japanese episode commentaries by the original staff alone is huge as that’s just a really difficult thing to translate and the company and the translator deserve huge credit for allowing the big fans of the show to really enjoy all the dialogue about what went into the show through that. The release, in my mind, deserves an “A” grade for that alone.

In addition to that we get some other great pieces with the promos and Japanese release promos and a look at the commercials for the property as well. Add in the clean opening and closing and it would have been a great selection just from that. But the release goes a step further with the bonus shorts that were produced for it that are about two minutes each all told and add some silliness to the show with the gag comedy. This is a show that could pull that off as a regular series in this short form style as well. With twelve of them here it’s a pretty great addition. What takes things even further are the three “Banquet Daranama” pieces that are live-action roundtable pieces with the four main actresses. These are pure fluff pieces for me as I don’t follow the actresses in general but with the three sequences totally almost three hours of material, that had to be subtitled, it’s great for fans to be able to really enjoy and experience as it’s something we don’t always get.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Sankaku Head, Himout! Umaru-chan is a twelve-episode anime series that aired in the summer 2015 season and has another season coming out in the fall of 2017. The original manga kicked off in 2013 and has nine volumes out as of this writing and is doing pretty well by all accounts, hence the quickness in which a second season was commissioned as the first helped the manga sales. Running in WEekly Young Jump, it’s a fun seinen series that I think the animation side captured really well and brought to life in a very good way. It’s the kind of series that could have been done on the cheap and not resonated but it also couldn’t handle a higher end kind of adaptation either, forcing it to straddle the line a bit in some ways. Mostly, it’s the kind of series that I imagine fans delighted in on a weekly basis when it came out but may want to avoid marathoning it as it gets to be just a little too much in binge fashion.

The premise of the show is a familiar one, though it does tend to skew more toward male characters when it’s done, as we’re introduced to high school student Umaru. Umaru is an attractive young woman that’s the type that is good at most anything. That she’s playing this as a part is no surprise, another familiar refrain, as she knows it’s something that must be done to interact with others and survive in the world. It’s when she’s at home that she is her true self, which is a young woman that loves to eat snacks, play video games, read manga, and just enjoy the numerous pastimes that are available to people these days. Frankly, she sounds like a good percentage of my female friends who are able to be that way openly, though they put in professional lives as well. When at home in her natural state, Umaru is reduced to her chibi role with her hoodie pajama/blanket thing and is done in a pretty adorable way, though there’s a kind of crazy in her eyes as well that balances it. It’s not meant to be utterly adorable but more comical yet the style of it and the ways it’s presented, especially with the voice actors for both languages, it manages to straddle the line well as it needs to.

Umaru in this form gets into all kinds of situations, from accidentally destroying the cable modem and losing her internet connection to getting heavily into manga and video games all while snacking heavily. Over the course of the series we see her showing off her skills well, such as playing the crane games and other arcade delights, but also her intensity when it comes to getting the latest weekly manga magazine or new volumes of series, as well as video games and tchotchkes. That’s also balanced at times by showing how she has to hide how she knows this stuff from casual friends at school that don’t know the real her, which you can see must be almost maddening if not for the way that they would totally ostracize her for being into any of it. It’s a difficult balance for her to pull off, hence when she’s home she just lets her geek flag fly high and strong.

A show cannot survive with just one character, however, and Umaru has several others to play against. The best one for me is that of her brother Taihei. She lives with him in his one-room apartment as he works in systems support at some faceless company. The two have been living together for a year and there’s obvious frustration on his part in making it work since she’s so.. distinctive… but it does and provides for a lot of the comedy. He tries to understand her world but is often unable to while her laziness just sends him over the edge from time to time, such as her promise to clean up in the new year and how she then shows how her phrasing of it allows her a loophole out. Taihei’s a good guy overall and you feel for him as he’s trying to do right by his sister but there’s a lot of fun in watching the frustration both of them go through from time to time with each other and the banter and explosive silliness that ensues.

A few other girls make it into the picture so that Umaru has some friends and they’re pretty fun, though I think it takes a bit for them to be defined enough – and even then more superficial than anything else. Ebina’s an easy friend in that she’s in the same school and lives in the same building as Umaru. She’s a simple and nice girl but has the shyness complex going on because of the size of her chest. Kirie’s another classmate that’s shorter and slimmer that’s more outgoing and intense in a lot of ways, but mostly when it comes to the core group. With everyone else she’s shy so it makes it easy for this trio to feel at ease around each other and who they really are. We also get Sylphynford, another classmate that’s totally over competitive and challenges Umaru on everything. She naturally ends up becoming a part of the group but it’s a bit limited in this season and they spend more time going up against each other more than anything else.

The series works plenty of parody material along the way and familiar reworkings of known places, such as Anumate and some silliness with One Piece early on. There are a lot of references and nods with name changes to protect “the innocent” and all that so fans will have lots of fun in picking out the nods and twists. Some are familiar to be sure but they add that right kind of in-joke goofiness without going so far over the top (or so often in that manner) that it all just blurs. And much to my surprise, my favorite pieces were the Evangelion related ones, such as the group of Umaru’s chatting late into the season with the monoliths behind them with the Sound Only aspect. But it was seeing the Gendo hands being held by Umaru that just made me giggle far too much since it was just so cleverly done in how she’d achieve that look in chibi form.

In Summary:
With a second season on the way, Himouto! Umaru-chan is the kind of light and fun series that will gain many fans. While it may not get really deep and thoughtful it avoids being utterly superficial, allowing you to connect with the characters as presented and to see how they might grow over the course of it. What it really delivers is a lot of fun geek humor without it being the sum total of it as it’s more about Umaru’s ways more than anything else. She’s fun to watch throughout this – though I recommend against binge viewing it – and the cast as it grows to provide people for her to work off of helps to expand it nicely and naturally. Doga Kobo put together a solid looking show that Sentai Filmworks has brought out in a great way here with a clean and bright look and one very fun dub that captures the spirit of the Japanese mix in all the right ways.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Commentaries, Promos, Home Video Release, Song Commercials, Himouto Umaru-ChanS, Banquet Mondays “Daranama”, Clean Opening Animation and Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A++

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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