Anime Review: Himouto! Umaru-chan

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Fun fact: the title for this anime is written in Japanese hiragana ひもうと, which is a blend word, combining 干物 (“himono,” as in dried fish) and 妹 (“imōto,” as in little sister). The Japanese language loves puns like this, and what you get out of this is a “two-faced little sister!” Why? Because apparently, 干物女 (“himono onna,” as in dried fish woman) refers to women who are beautiful when they are in public, but let loose and act completely different when they’re at home!

So why am I starting this review off with useless trivia? I figured someone who’s reading this might relate to my level of madness in terms of looking for small details, and this series is choc full of tiny references like that! You see, the anime industry right now has been coming out with a lot of shows that relate to the otaku. And that means there are plenty more shows with hidden references to other anime, manga, video games, and other counter-culture stuffs. And whether you’re one to embrace the fandom or dread the idea that anime was a mistake, I will be here to give a more neutral perspective… by avoiding that conversation altogether!

Otaku

Oh God! Stop hitting so damned close to home!

Himouto! Umaru-chan is one of those over-the-top comedy shows about the Doma siblings, Taihei and Umaru (but mostly Umaru). Taihei is a young salaryman who just happens to be working with his friends from high school, and Umaru is that perfect girl next door with good grades whom you will never go out with!

Umaruun

Seriously. Not gonna happen.

That’s the story everyone sees of Umaru when she is out with her friends or seen anywhere by the general public. But ask big brother Taihei what she’s like at home, and you will probably think he’s talking about someone else!

I hate to break it to you, but that cute girl in that screen shot above is the same girl in the shot above it. Once Umaru goes home, she transforms into her true self: a self-centered, annoying little, hamster-onesie wearing otaku with a seemingly endless supply of chips and cola!

Kirie

It makes you wonder what her friends think of her.

Now I have to be honest. I actually would hate to live Umaru’s lifestyle. To have to put up with the public that sees me as some perfect poster child for whatever, only to come home and let loose and go full gamer/fanatic, lazing around all the time? Ugh! That’s pretty much how I live my life as it is! I’d rather just let people know that I’m a fan without people judging whether or not I am one, and that includes my face toward other fans!

One of the more positive things that I like about this series is that Umaru is a character that I think all anime fans can relate to at some level. Maybe it’s because she is caught between the “otaku life” and whatever the rest of society expects us to be. For me, I think it’s her honest, unrestrained personality that comes out of the hamster onesie Umaru that I relate to the most. That side of her can be pretty annoying toward others, especially her family. But it beats having to go incognito to places, pretending to be someone you’re not!

Modem

Of course, she’s also inept when it comes to technology. Sigh.

But what’s a two-faced little sister without a big brother around? Taihei Doma may be second billing in this sitcom, but he’s the reason we find amusement in Umaru most of the time. Taihei is the responsible worker that Umaru is not when she’s at home, with friends, or secretly going off to some video game tournament. And due to convenient family situations, Taihei and Umaru are stuck living together.

Now don’t get the wrong ideas. Taihei and Umaru’s relationship is actually very normal for siblings where I come from. Hell, my little sister and I are pretty much like the Domas: with very independent lifestyles, barely overlapping interests, and pretty much annoying each other whenever we can. Come to think of it, my sister may not be an otaku, but I do have the impression that her friends see a different side to her than me, as is natural for, well, anyone. And even though I’m not a salaryman, folks have told me that I’m pretty responsible most of the time.

Huh. Maybe I relate more to Taihei than I do to Umaru. That’s weird.

Bomber

Nah bro. I don’t do that!

But you’re not here to read about my thoughts about siblings as it relates to this show (or maybe you are, and that’s super creepy). But as an otaku sitcom like this one goes, there are plenty of moments where Himouto! Umaru-chan makes references to other works and pop culture!

Some of them are pretty obvious.

UMR

!

Others pertain to anime tropes solely to make fun of how ridiculous they are.

Sylphynford

Ah. So that’s where the sparkles and flowers come from.

Even Himouto! Umaru-chan‘s creator, SankakuHead, makes a cameo.

SankakuHead

What?

Okay, I won’t give away all the references. There are plenty of them. And some of you weirdos are still thinking about the sibling thing, huh? Fine. If this anime is going to make references to other anime, I will do the most meta thing I can and make references to shows I’ve reviewed that refer to siblings.

Himouto! Umaru-chan does a pretty accurate depiction of big brothers with little sisters and just how complicated things can get! This is true not only for the Domas, but also their friends Bomber and Kirie Motoba, and to some extent, Alex and Sylfynford Tachibana.

Ebina

And someone is bound to get mad at me for not mentioning the neighbor Nana Ebina, who has a massive crush on Taihei for some reason.

But what about the kind of relationship that I have with my big brother?

space-brothers-coverOkay, I already covered that. My brother and I share a few of the same interests, but for whatever reason we still stay out of each other’s way when it comes to living our present lives, much like Mutta and Hibito in Space Brothers.

But how about the kind of relationship that I might have as a middle child, caught between both of my siblings?

galilei-donna-featureOkay, looks like I covered that too. Maybe my siblings and I aren’t all girls, but I can totally see us being ever further apart as we grow up, much like the Ferrari sisters of Galilei Donna. And since Kazuki and I are middle children, I have a lot in common with her, personality-wise. Ugh! This is actually getting kind of depressing!

Look, there are a lot of examples of siblings in anime, and they aren’t all the same either! But I guess there is one area that I haven’t covered yet. For example, what would it be like for me to have a sibling that doesn’t exist? You know, the potentiality of a relationship as opposed to actually having one?

You know, like what would it be like to have an adopted little brother? You know… using my imagination?

Super Lovers

Oh. Oh boy. I have come to that point!

So if you want a sitcom about fairly accurate sibling relationships and plenty of Japanese pop culture references, watch Himouto! Umaru-chan! I do apologize if you thought this review was all over the place. But as I continue to marathon through these reviews, prepare for my review on a recent BL series. Next time!

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