The “slice of life” style of anime is a genre that thrives on the mundane. Rather than putting characters through tense, action-packed scenarios in which they have to fight for their lives and homes; the slice of life often asks a somewhat simple question like “what if there was no nuclear war in Fist of The North Star?” or “what if monsters were real and trying to live in harmony with us?” Himouto! Umaru-Chan simply asks “what if this perfect high school girl were secretly a lazy nerd?”
To the public, Umaru is the perfect high school girl; pretty, gets straight A’s, generally talented, and popular. However; when she gets home, she dons a hamster cloak from her Clark Kent closet and becomes a tiny, self-centered, nerdy imp of a girl. When out of her “outdoor mode,” Umaru spends all of her time playing video games, surfing the web, and binging on anime; all while milking her older brother for whatever she can take him for.
It is currently unknown if her transformation is literal or figurative, as her clothing changes sizes despite there being no supernatural themes in the anime, but nobody besides her brother can tell that she is the same person in both modes.
Umaru’s salaryman older brother, Taihei is mild-mannered and typically fails to be the voice of reason, giving in to Umaru’s incessant whining. Due to the slice-of-life nature of the show, not much is really known about him; he works in systems support, and he cares for Umaru, but he does little else and cannot even remember what he did with his free time prior to Umaru moving in with him one year ago.
Umaru’s best friend (more or less), Ebina is extremely shy and humble. She lives in the same apartment complex as the Domas and as the series progresses, spends more and more time with them. Though she spends a good deal of time with Umaru (mostly at school, and entirely in “outdoor mode”), she is completely unaware of her alter ego.
She also has a huge crush on Taihei.
Sylphynford is supremely competitive and proud of it, striving to be the best there is. As such, she has taken to being Umaru’s rival due to getting slightly worse grades than her. She is not really Umaru’s friend per se, as she befriended her arcade persona named UMR. Throughout the series she is unable to glean that Umaru and UMR are the same person despite there only being a difference in hairstyles and a small mask covering her eyes.
She also is very much into Otaku culture; loving anime, manga, and even playing fighting games at a top level. Despite this, she finds it embarrassing to be seen enjoying these things in front of her brother, even though their interest is mutual.
Takeshi “Bomber” Motoba
Bomber has been Taihei’s friend since high school and currently works with him (as well as Sylphynford’s brother Alex) as an IT professional. Kind, if not a bit on the dim side, Bomber is always on Taihei’s back about his constant proximity to cute young girls (mostly due to jealousy).
Though he and Kirie are siblings, and both tend to hang out with the Domas, each is unaware of the other’s involvement with them.
Himouto! Umaru-Chan has pleasing visuals, but nothing to really write home about. The style facilitates the light-hearted style of the series well, especially on Umaru herself when in her indoor mode; however, though I never found the animation to be lacking, I never considered it to be downright amazing.
As for audio, the voices all portray the characters in styles that are very distinct and fitting to their personalities, giving a bit more of a deep feel to them. With that said: the music was somewhat lacking; I never really noticed it within the anime itself, and I could never stomach the ED to the end, but the opening song is quite good.
You may notice that there is no section laid out for plot. This is because there really is none. Himouto! Umaru-Chan is a slice of life through and through, showing random new events each episode with no real conclusion to any plot threads that may have come up. For example: one day, Taihei gets lost on his way home from work and tries to remember the area he is lost in from this one time he was there before with Umaru. After much thought, it turns out that the last time he was in the area, he was with his mother, who happened to look exactly like Umaru. The moment seemed rather significant, but it is never explained why we never hear about her. Did she die? Is that why Umaru is currently living with Taihei? Nothing. Every thread we’re given: Ebina’s crush; Taihei’s supervisor liking him; any of Umaru’s friends finding out about her other personas; any explanation as to why Taihei has ¥300,000,000 to spend on a new car (not to mention anime merchandise and video games), yet chooses to continue living in a studio apartment wherein he sleeps on the floor while Umaru sleeps on the one bed; all untouched. All of these potential plots go without being expanded on throughout the anime.
So what is the point? Well, though she doesn’t change much, Umaru becomes more and more social as the series goes on, becoming better and better friends with each of her personas’ buddies. It may not be a monumental, but seeing her go from being upset that her brother doesn’t always have the time to play with her to having friends she can go to is mildly touching.
However, the characters are strong and do have entertaining exchanges with each other; mix this with Umaru’s comedic behavior and the show’s love for references makes it worth a watch if slice of life if your speed.
Kawaii in the streets, otaku in the... house...
A great little slice of life full of references and good times; though it can get a bit slow and there is no plot gratification. It’s also pretty neat that each of Umaru’s personas has a best friend.
- - 7.5/107.5/10
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