Title: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Summary: The story revolves around a highschool boy named Niwa Makoto. He lives with his aunt’s family since his parents are away on business. It is there where he meets his mysterious cousin of the same age Touwa Erio — who happens to tie a futon mattress around her upper body and is a self-proclaimed alien. Her staple food is pizza. Erio had been missing for half a year and was found floating in the sea. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened during that period of time, but she began to think that it was the act of an alien and wanders the neighborhood wrapped in the futon.
Review: I’m not even sure how to introduce this review considering the anime was all over the place. Aliens, non-aliens, girls who think she is an alien but then isn’t… where do I even begin? I find series that border worth watching and not are one of the hardest to review. It is a strange balance between praise and bashing that makes it difficult to portray my complete thoughts. Everyone knows it is easier to remember the bad times than the good. Those who have been with us since the beginning of last season probably know the primary reason I kept this anime on watch was curiosity’s sake. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next or what the anime was even about. I’m sad to say, especially after praising SHAFT production so much, that my curiosity got the better of me and I was left pretty unsatisfied.
The art style is the typical SHAFT work. Beautiful colors and constant angle changes. The use of shadows weren’t a rare site and it stood out compared to everything else out during the spring. Any fan of SHAFT’s general art will probably love this one as well. Erio’s sparkly hair looked stunning as it waved in the wind under the moonlight. Her shy and weird character brought a certain appeal which was matched with the mystical art around her. The art kept you guessing whether or not she really is an alien. However, there was one thing that caught my attention during the series. Often times the series would zoom out and show the full figure of each character. Some times it was Erio standing gracefully on the bicycle seat or Makoto chatting it up with his strange group of girls. I felt that it was a swing and a miss though. It was as though every scene without Erio was a bit off. Something about the body structures caught my eye. I felt that the proportions weren’t quite right. It wasn’t inconstant so I’m certain it was done intentionally. I have faith in SHAFT productions that they wouldn’t release a half-assed project that didn’t check its art. Benefit of the doubt it was intentional, but still didn’t sit well with me. They also tried a new approach with fingernails. The tips of all the girls’ hands were colored red. Neat, but made me think that all of them got a sunburn only on their fingertips. It wasn’t something that ruined what little story there was though. I’m pretty sure the story killed the story.
The thing about Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is that you don’t know what you are getting into. The anime claims to be sci-fi and in later episodes you could debate that it is. It throws you into the life of a young boy who meets the most peculiar girl and her mother. The whole situation is a bit off from the get-go. Nothing is clearly explained and everything is really left to interpretation. The problem is I’m not sure if this was intended or not. It could be a simple case of an anime not clearly defining things. It happens often enough that I wouldn’t put it past a series. They gave Erio a pretty unique past of being kidnapped/missing for half a year then suddenly found washed up on shore. I can’t say I’ve seen many/any anime with such a strange past life. Her lack of memories seemed like the strong point of the anime, and from the first few episodes you get the feeling it is all about her. Well that doesn’t turn out to be 100% true. With so many characters being introduced afterwards, Erio kind of gets lost in the mix. Her special charms and cutesy attitude keep her in the game, but they sort of let everything slide. It seemed like the entire story was a series of minor sub-plots attempting to add up to one big plot. In other words, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko turned out to be an awkward slice of life. It’s just generally you get a moral message or a “that was nice” feeling after the series is over. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko ended with me scratching my head and wondering if it was really the ending or not. It seemed like climax wasn’t really a climax. There was no build up or resolution. Everything ended just like a normal episode. I’m still wondering what they were trying to accomplish with so many mysteries. The introduction of aliens that may or may not be in the city never really meant anything. Who knows, maybe I’m not getting the whole picture, but I felt that the series was cut short. Or maybe it just went on too long for its own good. The minor sub-plots were there. That’s all they were. There. All the characters and plots felt like backdrops even when they were the main focus in a scene. I suppose most of my enjoyment came from the occasional comedic scene and originality. It wasn’t the kind of original story I was hoping for, but it did provide a break from the anime norm. Each episode kept bringing up new questions without answering old ones. It kept me watching and coming back every week at least.
I would say that most of the anime was focused more on character development than anything else. The different characters were at least entertaining. The hyper eccentric Ryuuko and relaxed Maekawa was a pretty nice matchup. It gave the two extremes of girlfriend potential. The little bit of romance going on between the girls and Makoto was amusing to watch because they didn’t shove it into your face. A few episodes had some great scenes. It was these few powerful scenes that kept the anime going for me. It was as though everything was starting to come together for each character. Although the story wasn’t resolved because there really wasn’t one to begin with, a part of me thinks that each character had their own personal revelation. Whether it was to face your deepest fear of failing or just realizing that you’re nothing more than a human, each character seemed to come to an understanding about themselves. I liked that they came to such a realization in their own way. By centralizing the attention at key moments, I felt that Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko did have something going for it. It was just covered up and required some digging to see. To end on a semi-good note I will say that Makoto’s puberty points were interesting. I’m still mad that the last episode didn’t provide a final score. Seriously how can you do that? Not cool bro, not cool at all. The series as a whole seemed like it was something to “test the waters”, to see what a production studio can and cannot get away with. Needless to say this lab experiment was very disappointing. I hope that SHAFT picks up again soon.
The soundtrack for Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is a hit or miss with the audience. At times I wouldn’t mind listening to the indie sounds of the opening and ending, and others I skipped it faster than the file could load. I appreciate the voice actress of Erio singing the opening and surprised she doesn’t have more roles. Not because of the singing, the actual voice acting. I can see why she doesn’t have more roles because of the singing; it’s very group specific. The background was amazing for the opening and ending. It was entertaining to watch and a neat take on Erio’s world. The ending reminded me a lot of Arakawa Under the Bridge because the lyrics were pretty random and the art was cute and strange. The opening and ending lyrics really push me to say this was a slice of life anime more than anything else.
Final statements: For what it’s worth the anime kept me coming back each week. I’m not sure why, or how I didn’t think to drop it at any point. The fact I didn’t know WHY I was watching it, but did anyway gives it a low priority watch. It wasn’t bad. I’m sure if a season two comes out I will watch that as well. Though I’m not sure a season two is in order.