Uncle from Another World
Yousuke Shibazaki ("Uncle") was in a coma from the year 2000 to 2017 (when our story is set.) When he awakens, the only family member to visit him in the hospital is his nephew, Takafumi Takaoka. "Uncle" tells Takafumi that he was a sorcerer in a magical land called Granbahamal during those missing years, but Takafumi would dismiss all this as Uncle's dream- except that Uncle can perform magic in OUR world too. What does one do with a magical uncle? Why, put him to work as a U Tuber! Takafumi, along with recently-rediscovered childhood "friend" Sumika Fujimiya, will also get an account of some of Uncle's experences in Granbahamal- though Uncle is not always that eager to talk about them.
I'm getting awfully tired of the Isekai ("In Another World") genre in general; it's been the dominant genre on Crunchy for several seasons, and so many of these follow the same formula: our hero (usually, though not always, a young male) is reincarnated in (or simply travels to) a different world (typically a medieval-style world), often with magical powers of some sort; and with minimal effort our hero will win all his battles and accumulate a harem of adoring females. It's fantasy wish-fulfillment for young male slackers, and unfortunately the current Crunchy season even includes the Second Season of what biologists might call the Type Specimen of this species, In Another World with My Smartphone.
Now in fairness, I've enjoyed some variants of this genre. I liked Ni no Kuni, though that one ultimately became about folks returning to the worlds they belonged in rather than living in a "new" world. I liked Saga of Tanya the Evil, which was about someone who was rotten in one world STILL being rotten (and with magical powers!) in a new world. I even sort of liked one with the more typical Isekai formula, I'm Standing on a Million Lives, because its main protagonist was such a morally tormented individual.
I like Uncle from Another World, too, but again because it's a new twist on the formula. Nurse Witch Komugi R was both a Magical Girl show AND a lampoon of Magical Girl shows. And Uncle from Another World is of an analogous sort, an Isekai show that is also a satire of Isekai shows.
The show's eccentricity starts with Uncle himself. He's a Sega game fanatic (he doesn't take it well when he finds out what happened about that while he was "gone".) Here on Earth, we'd say he was a little on the homely side, but since everyone in Granbahamal was really good-looking, they literally took him to be a monster (orc). He had a couple of other traits that gave him trouble on the other side, too. One was a tendency to act randomly and "go off script" a lot. (For example, his actions disappointed Takafumi's expectations by short-circuiting the perfect setup for a quest at one point.)
The other major problem Uncle faced in Granbahamal was that he's just not good with people, lacking social skills in general. (Even when he could get the people to understand that he was NOT an orc, he tended to keep to himself.) A few times, he used his magic to assume the appearance (and personality) of persons who had certain interpersonal skills that he lacked. (I was doubled over with laughter when he did this in the kingdom's throne room.) He DOES get better later on, though, and late in the series we find him even giving sincere compliments to the girls. (I'll answer your question, "WHAT girls???", later.)
One girl who is NOT in Granbahamal, and so can be discussed RIGHT NOW, is Fujimiya. Takafumi re-encounters her early in the series; she thinks of herself as his "childhood friend", but his OWN memory of her turns out to be of neither a "friendly" person, nor even a particularly feminine one. (Her brother STILL is pretty much what she ONCE was.) She doesn't like Uncle at first, but as Uncle shows her and Takafumi his Granbahamal memories, she becomes more sympathetic. (Uncle shows them on a magical "screen", complete with a slider for fast forwarding and rewinding. Sometimes Takafumi and Fujimiya insist on carefully looking at some spots that Uncle seems inclined to skip over.)
So now let's discuss the girls that Uncle becomes close to in Granbahamal despite looking orclike in their eyes:
"Tsundere Elf" was the first of the girls; in fact, she rescued him from some townspeople who wanted to slay the "orc". (Takafumi has to explain the concept of Tsunderes to Uncle, who was not here on Earth when they first appeared in manga/anime. The example Takafumi has to use with him is Asuka from Evangelion. The elf HAS an actual name, but when you hear it you'll know why she never uses it.) Uncle is forever trying to ditch her- while, on the other hand, sometimes taking advantage of her (whichever is most convenient for his current situation)- but she still manages to keep encountering him, though true tsundere that she is, she always makes a point of insulting him. As one might expect, she nevertheless manages to act jealous (sometimes violently so) when he's with another girl. (Uncle manages to get into physical clinches with all three girls, though never with the intention of sexual assault, apparently; remember, no social skills? He was, he tells us, only 20 at the time.) Despite his seeming indifference to Tsundere Elf, he seems to still have a fondness for her- and, occasionally, even assumes her physical form.
Girl #3 (I'm going out of order here) is Alicia Idelcia. Alicia travels with two guys who do the physical combat (her specialty is magical healing) as a little party of Adventurers. Uncle joins their group, but goes to great lengths to avoid taking credit for his own work- even in their minds.
I thought Alicia was a bit too much the Big Boobed But Brainless type, while Tsundere Elf was too possessive, so my favorite girl was #2, Mabel Rayveil. Mabel's main claim to fame is possessing a magical Ice Sword, but, with a little coaxing by Uncle, she becomes much as Uncle is himself- a free spirit, unbound by the expectations of others. The downside of this is that she sometimes winds up just LIKE Uncle- a mercenary who doesn't stay committed to any cause for too long. She doesn't even stay with the more lucrative ones, such as being a Knight (which, she notes, pays MUCH better than Adventuring.) Mabel's also the only one of the girls who actually expresses a desire to travel to Uncle's world, and I hoped she made it, even though if only one of the girls finally finds a way into our world, I'd expect the story would require it to be Tsundere Elf. (Uncle, by the way, goes through most of the show with no idea of the significance of giving a girl a valuable ring, but at the end of the show, as noted earlier, he's acting a little warmer toward the girls- and the story so far is supposedly only from the start of his time in Granbahamal. Maybe in later chapters we'll find out where this went...)
But, again, Uncle is mainly a comedy propelled by Uncle's cluelessness and his (at first) insensitivity, as well as his obsession with video games. (He thinks video game strategies should work well for battles in Granbahamal, but it ain't necessarily so.) There's a wonderful moment of revelation for Uncle (or, as Tsundere Elf calls him, "Orc Face"), when he realizes that, hey, most of the problems the folks in Granbamal have been experiencing are the result of his own carelessness with magic. There are great moments in "our" world, too, such as one involving a friend of Fujimiya's who thinks she needs rescue from a "cult" (Uncle's apartment.) And the show has a "meta" quality to it, ranging from Takafumi's earlier disappointment with Uncle going off script, to his delight in (and preparations for) the climactic battle in Uncle's story- which DIDN'T disappoint.
The show's character art is a little on the crude side (maybe the original manga is also done in this "gritty" style?), but the show's opening theme is very energetic, even danceable (and in fact, a Digital Uncle DOES dance in it.)
The show's uneven and chaotic, but so's its protagonist, so I guess it fits. Not all the moments are gems, and it starts a little slowly (until Uncle's "memories" kick in), but its curmudgeonly protagonist makes this at least an interesting variant on what is otherwise a tiresomely cliched genre. I'll also take exception to Takafumi's statement that the gods of Granbahamal "were rather shabby" toward Uncle; sure, they didn't improve his LOOKS, but magic powers (AND three girls) is not doing too badly. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Netflix rates TV-MA. I don't think there's actual nudity per se, but definitely fanservice (the bustiest girl gets REALLY wet), and some of Uncle's "clinches" with the girls are nearly as uncomfortable for the viewer as they are for the girls.
Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Uncle from Another World © 2022 Hotondoshindeiru/KADOKAWA/Uncle from Another World Production Committee
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