(Tatakawanai ka? / Pinchi Janai ka? / Motto Pinchi Janai ka?)
“Won’t You Compete? / Isn’t This a Pinch? / Isn’t This a Major Pinch?”
They may have broken practically every rule in the book when it comes to beach volleyball, but this final episode went all out in a tournament that saw Ika and Eiko as an unstoppable duo. Everyone got involved at some point as well, giving the sense that they were going to go out on a high. That is, until the last two mini episodes headed in a completely different direction with Ika’s return to the sea. They even pulled out the music from the mini Ika Musume to really tug on those emotional chords, continuing to surprise me with the subtle yet effective way this series pulls those scenes off until the very end. It was definitely a sweet finale to remember, and one where Diomedea left a lasting impression on how they deserve the green light on a second season.
Any team with Chizuru on it probably would’ve completely steamrolled the competition, so it was probably best that she sat out until Eiko sprained her ankle going for a ball and immediately “subbed in” for her in the middle of a rally. Just prior to that, she did get involved in the play when she distracted Gorou and gave Ika an opportunity to return the favor for nearly packing Eiko in the face though. We’ll just have to overlook how she made an assisted play by jumping off Ika’s tentacles before sending a meteor of a hit down at Gorou and fellow lifeguard Isozaki Tatsuo (Miyasaka Shunzou). That was some pretty cut-throat volleyball out there in the finals, which sort of made up for the lack of any sort of rallies for all the other pairings. Well, there was Minami Kaze’s team with a newly theme Ika Musume head.
The sudden loss of all of Ika’s abilities started off as just another lighthearted joke, but quickly changed into a little reflection on whether she should return to the sea in hopes of recovering the abilities that aren’t essential for living on the surface. While I question whether that was really the case when Eiko was making her use her tentacles day in and day out for free labor, the fact that no one stopped her because they thought it was a cry for attention — not even Sanae — was actually kind of sad to see. If only they know how a squid truly felt! Those heartless humans!
As touching as Ika’s return was, the loss of her “de geso” manner of speech in favor of “da wa” sounded just as forced as it was made out to be. The short hair look was cute, but her settlement on living like a normal human with the loss of her squid abilities just wasn’t the same. Takeru’s teary-eyed outburst said it all, even though Ika was doing really well without the use of her tentacles.
She resembles the Minami Kaze manager’s daughter a lot, but this soft-spoken girl who looks like she’s wearing an octopus hat is actually Tanabe Kozue (Kanda Akemi). All she did is cheer up Ika here and tell her that she isn’t alone, but also gave this odd impression that she may also be from the sea. I guess the only thing that would’ve made that plainly obvious is if she called herself “Tako Musume”. Mysterious girls are mysterious.
It wasn’t enough to invoke any sort of an emotional response, but it was very cute to see Ika back the way that everyone knows and loves her for. I actually felt sadder knowing that this is the last episode and seeing the new ending sequence with Ika waving goodbye at the end. For a comedy, I’m never quite sure what a good way of concluding an adaptation is, aside from leaving things open ended for a possible continuation. Naturally, they did just that considering there’s a lot of manga material that hasn’t been covered, but the writers also managed to work in a little bit of drama with the loss of Ika’s abilities. The short period of time when she was gone served as a really good setup to the eventual heartwarming reunion, giving a sense of completion without actually concluding anything. Not exactly the easiest thing to do.
[flv:Shinryaku_Ika_Musume_ED2.mp4 512 288]
I’ve already said my fair share about this series week in and week out about how it provides a clean comedy that just about anyone can enjoy, so there probably isn’t much that needs to be said now on why I enjoyed it so much. The short version is that the squid girl premise is unique, and opens the door to a lot of humorous possibilities with the quirky cast of characters who tend to prey on her naivety. It also focused on fairly simple things that we take completely for granted and made it into a bit of an adventure at times since Ika simply didn’t know any better. On paper, that may not sound like much, but it worked much better than even I originally thought with Kanemoto Hisako bringing all the cuteness in Ika Musume every episode.
As mentioned in the Fall 2010 Preview, I was already sold on this series after skimming through a few chapters of the manga. After the first episode had me thoroughly amused even when I knew what was coming, that sentiment quickly snowballed over the season and I found myself enjoying every moment of lighthearted squid goodness. As a comedy, this series wasn’t something I looked forward to every week, but by the time the next episode strolled around, it always felt like I had to watch it right away. It’s easy to get into and just gives twenty minutes of laid back goofy fun. In fact, I just showed this series to some friends a couple of weeks ago, and we got through eight episodes in one sitting pretty quickly. It’s easy to follow and enjoy, and the comedy speaks for itself.
At twelve episodes, this adaptation’s been short and sweet. Almost too short in fact, though I’m not opposed to comedies coming in one-cour doses to keep the premise fresh. Production-wise, Diomedea maintained a fairly consistent animation quality, similar to their work in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, which sort of leaves me wondering why they don’t get more projects. Hopefully there will be at least one in the near future though — a second season of Ika Musume.