Himouto! Umaru-Chan R
People change gradually over time- though it sometimes happens faster if you can get them out of the house, and among friends. Umaru Doma may still be a lazy, spoiled otaku at home, but there's a growing synergy between her and her friends Nana Ebina, Kirie Motoba, and Sylphynford Tachibana (aka Sylphyn); they're changing each other, and mostly for the better.
Yes, "chibi" Umaru, and her piggish manners, are still on display this season (particularly so when she's left alone for a long period of time), but this season gets her out of the apartment MUCH more often than First Season did- and her friends, their backstories, and the new story being weaved by their relationship with each other, finally take center stage. This one's much more a story of friends growing and learning from each other, and maybe a bit less of Umaru's self-centered slob mode. In other words, it's fewer jokes- but more heart.
For me the "breakout" character this season is Kirie. In the accepting environment of Umaru and Taihei's apartment, and under the tutelage of "Komaru" (Umaru in chibi mode), she's been gradually breaking out of her shell, and we find out that she secretly harbors a completely unexpected career ambition. She even offers to help someone she'd formerly considered a rival achieve their dream- though she has a MUCH lower opinion of "Alex", whose name got mentioned once in the episode previews of Season One, and who we actually SAW quite frequently in that season, though the show does not put the name and face together until this season. (I share Kirie's assessment here: I didn't like him that much either, especially when he tries to introduce Umaru to an unwholesome game genre.) Kirie and her brother "Bomber" (Takeshi) still quarrel with each other, though as we saw last season there are moments when you think they'll declare a truce (he's always been annoying out of stupidity rather than malice, after all); and we find out this season that the roots of their dispute don't really run THAT deep into their past, so maybe there's hope.
Ebina is still my favorite character in the show- and according to Wiki, Japanese viewers polled on the subject of which characters they liked the most also picked her, so she got her own spinoff manga. She remains as physically inept as ever, and as easily flustered as ever (especially in Taihei's presence.) My major complaint this season (aside from Alex's antics) is that the show sets up a situation involving Ebina that we never see it resolve. Yes, for an ongoing series, critical issues like who-gets-whom naturally tend to get postponed as long as possible, but THIS involved a lower-stakes issue whose resolution would have pleased the audience (OK, it would have pleased ME) while still keeping the "shipping" lane open. (I'm still rooting for Ebina with Taihei though, despite the age difference- they're two kind, gentle souls who both love to cook. I think we're missing a scene or two at the skating rink too, by the way.)
Sylphyn is- well, much the same as before, though we'll find out where much of THAT comes from. While she's still my least favorite of the girls, we find out she's returned to Japan after an absence of several years, and in what I thought some truly poignant storytelling, she and Umaru become the witnesses to both the disappearance of some beloved businesses over time- AND the persistence of others. This struck a chord with me, since I've witnessed such decline (and eventual disappearance) myself: I often eat lunch at a shopping mall that still has a good food court, and like to go to the movies at another mall that has an old-fashioned, but cozy, multiplex. The decline in foot traffic due to online sales has closed more and more shops in both malls- and at least one of the malls has been proposed for demolition.
New this season is a strange little girl named Hikari Kongo- I loved what the artist does with her eyes. Umaru and Taihei's little apartment seems to get viewed as a place of refuge by so many people, and Taihei's kindness seems to inspire so many of them to call him "big brother", but Umaru is not having that from just ANYBODY. I thought the background art was a bit more polished and detailed this time. The opening and closing animation both go the "chibi" route; I kind of miss the more realistic "girlfriends" closer from Season One, BUT since the girls' friendship has become an integral part of this season's storyline, I'm not really complaining; how can I, when it's been moved INTO the story rather than simply appended to its end?
Docked one star for Alex (who I thought was threatening to take this in an uncomfortable direction) and for the lack of resolution of an interesting subplot. As noted, we've fewer jokes this time per se, but since we're running out of plot variations on Umaru's selfish otaku behavior, it's great that the characters are being allowed to grow up a little- and be true comrades. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Ebina's well-known prominent anatomical features are used for some sight gags and mild fanservice. It's never actually unclothed, mind, but who knew her chest could nevertheless be so dangerous? Call it PG-13 (same as First Season.)
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Amazon Prime
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Himouto! Umaru-Chan R © 2017 Doga Kobo
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