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Himouto! Umaru-chan Complete Season Collection UK Anime DVD/BD Collector’s Edition Revoew

11 min read

Himouto UKO.K…who put the drugs in my British cup of tea again?

What They Say:
Collector s Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo available for a limited time only includes: 2 x Blu-ray Discs, 4 x DVD discs, Episodes 1-12 packed inside 14 mm Blu-ray Case with a Plastic O-card and Rigid Collector s Box.

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:
Set up in Stereo 2.0 in both Japanese and English instead of a 5.1 release is still an acceptable quality but a bit of tinkering of the volume was needed to make it of an acceptable quality, though there weren’t any issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video, though the extras with the cast tend to come out a fair bit better.

Video:
The video is of a decent quality, with no noticeable issues with lag or video in poor resolution during viewing – being a more recent release and reviewing the DVD series it doesn’t suffer from the problem I do get sometimes with DVDs via the grainy pausing and with the show switching from glamour Umaru to hamster Umaru, the colours vary and it intertwines humorously but still well done – there are no delays with timing with subtitles with animation in either language or slowdown with normal rates or via pausing where the animation can become fuzzy so one of the better recent DVD releases.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
Each menu has one of the four main girls (Umaru disc 1, Ebina disc 2, Kirie disc 3 and Sylphy on disc 4) on the left hand side, with the episode selection on the right (no play all option) – each disc has a languages option, and a special features or episode commentaries option depending if there are additional extras or not. Standard menus which change quite quickly (with that catchy as hell opening tune in the background) and you can return to the main menu easily, it is standard but acceptable.

Extras:
Umaru-chan goes really overboard with the extras making it quite a full release. The major one is that there is a Japanese commentary for EVERY EPISODE. Each episode has a different duo for the most part, so episode 1 has Aimi Tanaka (Umaru) and Kenji Nojima (Taihei), but episode 2 has Akari Kageyama (Ebina) join Aimi, episode 3 has Haruka Shiraishi (Kirie) join Aimi, episode 4 has Yurina Furukawa (Sylph) join Aimi, but then episode 5 has Yurina and Haruka, episode 6 has Aimi return with Kenji, and also get in episode 8 Hiroki Yasumoto (Bomba) and episode 11 has Sankaku Head (the original author) chat with Aimi, whilst episode 12 has the four main girls. There are a lot of combinations of cast depending on the episodes, and the discussions are a lot of range, usually about the anime but also about themselves, ranging from Aimi drinking cola to get into character, Ebina’s running gag of her focus on her breasts, movement whilst voice acting, the change in Kirie’s character, the cast experience with crane games, a running gag where the cast of the previous commentary give a message to the people in the next one, trying hard not to mention the names of various anime and games that Umaru-chan is parodying, etc. There is a lot to go through, and there is one per episode…

Also once per episode is the Himouto Umaru-chan(s) sequence – 12 short episodes (about 3 to 5 minutes each) which somehow turns all the cast into the chibi-esque designs and allows the show to somehow become even sillier. From trying to market Ibana as a product for moe, being a sentai squad, getting trapped by temptation in prison, the zombie apocalypse, a Japanese samurai drama where Sylphie forgets the genre and becomes a ninja, the girls as doctors, detectives…there are a lot of tongue in cheek moments with tropes a plenty.

There are standard extras as well with Japanese promos, home release video commercials, song commercial, available from Sentai (No Game No Life, Girds und Panzer der Film, Long Horizon, School-Live!) but the final and massive extra is the Banquet Monday segments which are basically live shows that were streamed in Japan with Aimi Tanaka (Umaru), Akari Kageyama (Ebina), Haruka Shiraishi (Kirie) and Yurina Durukawa (Sylphynford) basically talking about anything and everything, usually in the form of cute drawings, cute nicknames and lots of silliness. It is pretty much the four girls as friends and just hanging out – the segments are half an hour to an hour long, so you definitely get your moneys’ worth when it comes to the extras especially for fans of the Japanese as usually it is dubs that get the commentaries so here, it’s all Japan.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I remember seeing the poster for Umaru-chan on Crunchyroll and I never gave it a shot. The super-deformed shows always seem to be rather standard, albeit with a winning formula – comic and cute. So when it came in my review pile, I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not…

…and after watching it, I’m still unsure. It’s not a good series in terms of storytelling…but it also has a lot of funny moments. The characters are entertaining, but also have some negative traits which I find annoying (usually with the leads). It’s a weird one to describe but will try…

The story is a classic perfect model student isn’t quite who they appear to be, harking back to series heroines like Yukino Miyazawa from Kare Kano…only taken even further. Our lead, Umaru is a gorgeous girl (complete with sparkle effects whenever she leaves the house), very popular, best student in class (much to her rival Sylphie’s annoyance) and seems like the perfect human being.

Then she heads home…and literally transforms into a chibi-hamster like human being, lazing about, eating snacks, drinking cola, playing video games, moaning when things don’t get her way to her work-aholic older brother Taihei (seriously, when the guy has a day off he doesn’t know what to do with it and even asks Umaru to make a mess so he has something to do) and generally being the comic relief, both in positive and annoying ways to say the least.

Good example is in episode 2 as one of her friends Ebina comes over to her house. When friends are over, Umaru acts like the model person, back in her beautiful girl mode and has even cleaned the room, (shocking Taihei) meaning she can do it, only she doesn’t want to unless it’s for her image which is the annoying part because by the end of the series, she doesn’t really change which is part of the problem with the character. This episode is a perfect example as Ebina has a crush on Taihei as she is rather well endowed, and when she came to Tokyo everyone’s eyes were practically on her chest – Taihei was the only person who looked her in the eyes and spoke, and the two definitely have a pleasant relationship (even if Taihei does suffer from idiot protagonist syndrome and not pick up on the signs)…the only problem is when the three meet up it was to buy Umaru a game after one of her temper tantrums, but meeting with Ebina allows him to strike conversation and have a bite to eat, with Umaru trying not to let the mask slip as she is getting more and more annoyed he is ignoring her. Eventually the mask slips which could be a moment to finally people to see who she is…

…only Ebina misses it as she had a bit of a food coma and reverts to her natural Kyoto accent means she is the one embarrassed…it’s one of those things you wish she is caught just to see what the aftermath is.

Another good example is episode 3 when another character, Kirie, who is very shy but appears to people like she is giving people death stares – she also seems to have a crush on Umaru which is actually really sweet but when she finds Umaru’s lost ID and goes to her house to give it her, Umaru is in her chibi form thinking it’s her brother. So when Kirie sees Umaru as she is at home, it has the potential again for some drama/comic combinations.

Instead, we get admittingly still funny, Umaru pretending that she is Komaru, Umaru’s little sister – and strangely, this works as Kirie’s shyness is gone around children. Unfortunately, she almost goes into slave territory in catering to Umaru’s needs, which again, can be quite annoying but it does lead to Umaru learnings about Kirie more, so as ‘Umaru’ the two become friends there as well.

My favourite of the girls though has to be Sylphynford, or Sylphie, a half Japanese, half German girl who is the rich girl of the group and Umaru’s self proclaimed rival. She two deals with another identity of Umaru as well and becomes friends, but this is Umaru as a gamer named UMR so in her normal persona…but under a mask. Sylphie of course doesn’t recognise her, but the two begin to bond over her gaming which is hilarious considering their relationship in school. Sylphie is the more over the top character but has some really fun and cute moments throughout meaning she is easily the character bar chibi-Umaru you recognise in the show as iconic I guess.

After the introductions of the main friends of Umaru, most of the episodes revolve around problems of the day intertwined with comedy and Umaru’s hamster form. They range from shopping, to sneaking out late to buy cola (and being scared of the town in darkness), more stuff with Taihei (which actually is intriguing as we learn about both Sylphie and Kirie’s brothers Alex and Bomba respectively, combined with the fact Taihei’s boss used to be in the same school as him and also has a crush on him), with some back-story on Umaru and Taihei’s relationship – there are some minor hints that Umaru is actually appreciative of her brother but they are very slim and she returns to her bratty self most of the time.

The comedy is pretty fun for the most part – the last episode also is rather sweet as the majority of it is Umaru actually being her more nicer self, you see how Kirie appreciates both versions of Umaru, Sylphie joining them and getting along more with Umaru due to her friendship with UMR, Ibina opening up more with her insecurities when with Umaru and Taihei…which of course is ruined when at the end of the episode she returns to her chibi style and is a lazy bum. This is part of the charm I know, because it is an iconic image and the comedy moments are bang on, but the problem is that the likability of the character changes depending on the episode meaning that I’m not sure how to feel about the series and to recommend it.

As you can tell, am torn between the Umaru character as she is rather too faced, and yet doesn’t really get called out on her actions because the few times she is caught, she gets away with it, falling very close to the dreaded Mary Sue archetype as everyone loves her, even her brother who suffers because of her doesn’t seem to mind. There are definite moments even in her chibi form that she clearly cares for her brother (the time when he is sick is a big one as she initially was planning revenge for getting her sick but his gets worse and she feels guilty) and same with Kirie despite her almost being a female version of Taihei, but she can get really grating as she never learns or wants to learn, instead playing video games in the middle of the night or asking her brother to help study on the last day before exams (which she then of course aces)…

…basically, the weakest part is, in fact, the leads, because the side characters are much more likable and entertaining at parts. Sylphie is the typical ojou-sama character with Umaru as the unknown rival, but her friendship with Umaru as UMR is genuinely sweet, nerdy, bonding and hilarious (the old school candy shop episode being my favourite) – Kirie’s shyness underlines her character as you see how comfortable she is with ‘Komaru’ and also she opens up better throughout the series (plus you see some hidden depths with her athleticism during a round of tennis as well as a swimming) whilst Ebina is the sweetheart of the girls – she is understandably self-conscious about her body and it is nice that at least with Taihei and Umaru she is comfortable around, albeit Taihei suffering from the oldest cliché of not noticing the pretty girls who likes him (his boss Kanau also is gorgeous and clearly likes him but again he never notices, almost like his focus is just on work and Umaru)…also the other brothers like Alex and Bomba, whilst not in it as much, have their funny moments (Alex with Sylphie running out of the fighting game tournament due to embarrassment, with Bomba is just the aloof older brother to Kirie).

In the end, the show is a comedy so it is not designed to be thought provoking, and on the comic side, it actually does succeed so in that respect I did enjoy the series – the problem was because the most focus was on the leads which I didn’t like as much, it hampered the enjoyment a tad. That said, it is a turn your brain off show so just do that, and you’ll get a laugh.

In Summary:
Himouto Umaru-chan is the hikkomori imouto we didn’t know we wanted…and am pretty glad about that. Whilst Umaru’s duel sides can bring amusement, the fact she is so selfish and gets away with it can grate on you at times and the few moments she does care in that form doesn’t really save her. Add a typical male lead and it actually hampers the enjoyment compared to the fun other cast members and their personalities. That aside, overall the experience is fun and enjoyable and I wouldn’t say not to see it, because the design of hamster Umaru is so iconic, just your take of the character might be quite different to mine.

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: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 10th, 2017
MSRP: £34.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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