Squid Girl (season 1)
A short girl with a squid hat, blue, tentacle-like hair, and wearing a white dress one day appears on a Japanese beach. She says her name is Ika (Squid Girl), and she's planning to take over the land as part of an invasion scheme for revenge on those who polluted her ocean. She plans to use the Lemon beach house, run by sisters Eiko and Chizuru Aizawa, as her base of operations. However, when she smashes a wall, she's forced to work as a waitress to pay off the damages. In the process Ika will encounter quite a few interesting characters as she learns more and more about life on the surface.
Squid Girl is an unfortunate example of a series with a cast who can't match its lead's charm. What do I mean by this? Well, I'll get to that soon enough.
Before I do, I'll tell you that the series' self-titled lead is actually quite an amusing, cute character. Ika comes off less as a threat and more like a cute, innocuous Keroro from Sgt. Frog, and seeing her interact with human life/activities (making friends, going to school, playing volleyball, using an umbrella, using money) is when the series is at its best. I like how the series also remembers that she is a squid: she spews ink, glows in the dark, has tentacle hair that can grab objects in her reach, and has both a love of shrimp and a fear of bigger sea animals like whales. (Ika even ends her sentences with "degesu") The writers also use her abilities/fears in funny, amusing ways, such as her cheating in sports with her tentacles, claiming that they're a part of her body and thus okay to use. This is most highlighted in the final episode of the season, when Ika and Eiko compete in a volleyball contest to win a 3D TV for Eiko to play her video games in 3D on.
Squid Girl's other leads are sisters Eiko, who's mainly Ika's foil/sometimes conscience, and older sister Chizuru, who's deceptively calm unless she gets angry. This results in a few funny jokes early on, but by the end of the series they use this joke way too often. They're okay characters, but that's all they are. Their little brother, Takeru, who refers to Ika as an older sister, is more in line with the cute slice-of-life humor I typically associate the series with. (Squid Girl also introduces later a best friend for Ika, but she rarely shows up after her debut, so I don't know why they bother.) I don't have strong opinions one way or the other on Eiko and Chizuru, but both have their moments.
As for Squid Girl's supporting cast...oh dear. This has one of the weakest supporting casts I've seen in anime in a long time. With two exceptions, one of them cute middle schooler Kiyomi who becomes Ika's best friend, most of the supporting cast are either annoying or very bland. (The other exception is Nagisa, a girl who joins Lemon Beach House as a part-time worker, and the series' only character actually scared by Ika, which results in a few quick laughs.) On the other hand, blonde American scientist Cyndi (of course she has blonde hair!), who wants to research Ika, and her 3 male American, Engrish-spewing scientists, add little to the series. But the entire supporting cast look as wonderful as Ika herself compared to Sanae Nagatsuki, who happens to really like Ika. She's a terrible character, and I got sick of her increasingly creepier behavior quickly.
So yeah, like I earlier said, Squid Girl is (usually) at its best when it's revolved around Ika herself. And with the exception of Sanae, every character is at their best when interacting with the series' lead. And despite some weak chains, I enjoyed Squid Girl for being a simple, straightforward slice-of-life comedy. The art and animation are good, the characters are cute, the voice casting is serviceable, and the series can be quite funny from time to time. (One of Ika's last lines to Eiko in the series had me laughing particularly.) I also like the beach setting, since it allows for a convenient way for the series to interject various stories into the series without changing the setting. And I was surprised that Squid Girl's season finale was able to come up with some genuinely sad moments. I won't spoil it, though.
At the end, I have very mixed opinions on Squid Girl. Part of me loves its simple premise, cute art, and namesake character, while the other finds annoyance (and in some cases disgust) over some of its supporting cast (though mainly Sanae). A lot of episodes end prematurely too, due to the episodes being divided into 3 small ones. Still, Squid Girl is a simple, fun series, and I recommend it to those who are looking for something simple, light, and good in spurts. (Do not marathon this series, if you can help it.)
A weak supporting cast are more than made up for by a funny, likable lead and good art and animation. Add a star if you can tolerate typical anime archetypes better than I can. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: This series mostly takes place on a beach, but the girls' attire/swimsuits are usually tasteful (though there is a recurring character with a large figure in a tight bikini). Sanae's character is plenty creepy, though, as are Cindy's assistants.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Squid Girl (season 1) © 2010 Masahiro Abe / Weekly Shonen Champion / Ocean House
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