Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos
The show centres around Nyarko, a formless Cthulhu-deity of chaos (Nyarlathotep) who can take on the shape of a seemingly ordinary silver-haired girl. Mahiro Yasaka is a normal high school boy who is being chased by a fearsome black alien one night, until Nyarko saves him. She explains that the creatures from H. P. Lovecraft's works are actually races of aliens, and that she has been sent to Earth to protect him from being kidnapped by an alien trafficker. Eventually, Nyarko and two other Lovecraft-creatures, Cthugha and Hastur, ends up being freeloaders at Mahiro's place.
You know, sometimes sheer will and energy can be appealing. Looking for something that breaks the mould, especially in anime, can often feel like a thankless task but sometimes a show just having overwhelming commitment to what it has, no matter how cliched, can tip the balance in its favour. I wish that I could say this about Nyarko-san. In all honesty, after the first couple of episodes, I actually did but then the gloss started to wear thin and things started going wrong.
The fact of the matter is that this show worked best as a laugh-a-minute pun and parody show. As a big fan of Lovecraft, the corny puns and cheeky references to the mythos were light, good fun. The silly stuff the series indulges in, like fighting Nightgaunts with a crowbar and the tongue-in-cheek brutality with which Nyarko fights them, were funny, even bordering on clever. The sly otaku pop culture parodies, such as references to the current crackdown on anime, game and manga content, were relevant and sharp. Even the sheer enthusiasm that the show approaches its action sequences makes up for any lack in quality or novelty. On top of all that, Nyarko as a character is utterly delightful. Her character design is cute and plaudits have to go to ever great Kana Asumi (known for Yuno in Hidamari Sketch, Poplar in Working! and the protagonist's scene-stealing sister Miya in Amagami SS) for delivering a character that is infectiously earnest, straightforward and adorably energetic with next to none of the obnoxious baggage that normally comes with such a character. In all honesty, if the show had maintained and concentrated on these aspects then my internal debate would be whether it could possibly scrape that fifth star or not. Ultimately I'm not though. Almost criminally, the show barely scrapes average.
The biggest problem is that the show works best as a parody but spends most of its time not being one. In fact, the show's default genre is that of the harem comedy and not a good one. actually, it's a shockingly bad one. Mahiro is the main reason for this. There aren't many characters out there that I want to punch in the face (I find it difficult to hate fictional things) but for Mahiro I will make an exception. Give me bland, passive harem leads any day rather than any more characters like Mahiro. Mahiro is obnoxious and uselessly violent towards Nyarko all the time and also horribly bland and shallow the rest of the time. Wanting to live a 'normal life' never has been nor never will be a good motivation for a character and it is all that Mahiro has to offer. Apparently he has no interests, no hobbies, interesting friends or anything in his life worth having. A normal life, he says! If anyone in real life lived like that then I would have them on suicide watch at the local hospital. Either that or have them under surveillance so the authorities can be on hand to arrest them when they inevitably go postal. To be honest, I can't help but feel that he should throw himself at Nyarko's feet and thank her for saving him from certain mental collapse. Instead he abuses her, shouts at her and is generally a whiny bitch about everything. He is so ungrateful to the person who saves his life multiple times across the series that I want to upgrade that punch in the face to a kick in the stones. However, I'm not suggesting that he should have necessarily accepted her advances but just have some good grace in refusing them. Would it have been hard to have Mahiro act like a worthwhile human being?
Even beside that glaring wart on this show's face, the harem comedy stuff just isn't funny. Nyarko is at her worst when trying to seduce Mahiro and Cthuga and Hastur's efforts to seduce Nyarko and Mahiro respectively are equally tired and uninteresting. The slight spark and flair that the show approaches its parody are entirely absent from its harem antics and even the enthusiasm is gone, feeling worn and cynical, as if they just didn't have enough good material to fill the show or were just trying to tick boxes with the otaku. In its parody, the show felt sincerely affectionate but its other aspects came across as incompetent and half-hearted.
In conclusion, I really thought I was going to like this. There is some disappointment in my tone that won't apply to those expecting nothing from his show but it doesn't change the fact that this should have been a whole better and could well have been. It is let down by just far too much pandering; there is a reason art exams don't have boxes to tick. A character as funny, as cute and as likeable as Nyarko deserved a better love interest, better side characters and a generally better show. It's a shame she didn't get it.
I'll be straight with you, this is a two star show but the third star is solely for Nyarko. Remove that star if you don't like Nyarko as much as I do and look for a different show. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: More than a little suggestive dialogue about homosexual and heterosexual relations as well as some light fanservice. There is some violence too but I dare say it is negligible compared to the sexual content.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos © 2012 Xebec, TV Tokyo
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