Himouto! Umaru-Chan is one of those series that you either love or hate. To be quite honest, most of my real life otaku friends absolutely loathe this orange piece of trash. To them, the anime gods unfairly blessed this cancerous organism in every way imaginable, and her extraordinary talents are something they view as entirely undeserved. However, as someone who has a little sister, I can’t help but find myself adoring this half-chibi, half-hamster creature. Her antics are absolutely entertaining to me, and on a regular basis, I’m left in helpless fits of laughter. As I’ve slowly turned into boring adult, these shows capable of eliciting such a reaction are becoming harder to come by. And that is why Umaru S2 was my ultimate guilty pleasure for Fall 2017. It might not possess the depth of quality per se, but if you gave it a chance past the first season, you might be surprised to find the second season having more substance than you could possibly expect.
Admittedly, my personal experience might weigh into this, as follows. While my sibling relationship is quite different from Taihei and Umaru, many parallels exist.
To explain, my younger sister is quite a genius. As the glorious Nipponjins would say, ‘Kono tensai typu!’. Not the level that would earn her a spot on MENSA, but definitely enough to constitute the top 0.01% within the English education system. In order to give some perspective, she’s been predicted the highest grades possible in the revamped GCSE system, for all of her subjects. As such, she always brings home the highest grades, when all I see is a lazy slob who enjoys watching anime and playing games. Me? I’m nothing like Taihei, save for some similarities in appearance. In fact, I’d even say that I’m a lot more like the two other brothers who featured:
Bomba – an excitable dude who frequently checks up on Kirie, to her perpetual dismay.
Alex – a hardcore Otaku, who greatly inspires Sylphin’s current lifestyle.
Anyway, a series like Himouto! Umaru is something I’ve actually been wanting for a long time – a lighthearted anime earnestly exploring the bond between siblings, without any of that incestuous spiel. Sometimes, I’m amazed that brocon imoutos seem to have caught on like wildfire within the industry. Though I confess, that kind of degeneracy is not entirely devoid of charm.
My initial expectations for Umaru’s second season were informed by the manga. So I knew we had something more than just your regular gags week in and week out, with character progression chartered on the table. Suffice to say, I’m really satisfied with how it came out!
In addition to pulling off the same antics as before, Umaru begins to show a greater self-awareness for her own shortcomings, namely selfishness. Though she never manages to fully fix her himouto habits, she certainly softens up and shows some occasional consideration towards Taihei. Deep at heart, we know that she really loves her older brother, and understands her dependence on him. But the bulk of her growth comes from interactions with her friends, the bonus being that each and every one of them receive character development in their own right.
Ebina is my favourite character in this entire show. Sweet, gentle and kind to a fault, she starkly contrasts Umaru’s bratty attitude. She gets anxious really easily, and although the hurdle has yet to be overcome, she manages to confront a lot of her fears in S2. Despite constantly overheating from embarrassment, she’s currently working up some courage for confessing to Taihei, and I wish her all the best of luck! Plus, it was really nice of her to knit a hamster cap for Umaru, since it signified a lovely friendship between the two. Unlike Kanau, she’s already won many cookie points as a potential sister-in-law.
Sylphin is such an energetic personality (desu wa!), who walked a lonely path for many years, after her older brother moved away from home. However, her encounter with UMR changes everything. Without quite knowing that Umaru and UMR are one and the same, she is slowly transformed for the better, while remaining just as wonderfully weird and crazy. From swearing to do better in the next exam, to sincerely congratulating Umaru from the bottom of her heart, there’s no doubt that she’s made a lot of progress in nurturing a healthier rivalry. Oh, and making some real friends too!
Kirie has social anxiety and becomes the greatest example through which I can demonstrate why Umaru is such a fantastic friend. The Tanukichi shows a natural propensity for cheering up Kirie, reassuring her friend’s self-worth throughout the series, and encouraging her to chase dreams of becoming an author for children’s books. ‘Master and the Mysterious Fish‘ looks like such a cute book, and if it were to ever become a real thing, I would definitely read it to my future children!
Christmas came twice, quite literally, and I was rather confused by there being two separate Christmas episodes. But sometimes, you gotta stop asking questions and simply enjoy what you get. To sum it up, every character grew leaps and bounds, and successfully played off each other’s improvements. The result was a tight-knit group of friends, who have come a long way since the first season, without losing what made them so fun. While we never got closure on some plotlines (e.g. Ebina’s search for her older brother) or an outright solid conclusion, I was mostly pleased with how the story went. In fact, it leaves room for another season to be adapted! If Dogakobo release another yuri show or two, like they tend to do, they will surely acquire enough income to fund yet another season for our beloved Himouto.