With its self-contained plot, small cast, and punchy finale, the first half of Denpa Onna to Seshun Otoko plays out like a clever OVA. After moving to the big city to live with his aunt, Makoto Niwa juggles a flirtation-filled school life with the thorny problem of his deluded cousin, Erio (she thinks she’s an alien and spends all her time wearing a futon). As he slowly forces her out of her self-imposed isolation and into the real world bit-by-bit, he treats the viewers to a pitch-perfect view of adolescence, where the realities of home life prevent him from doing what he wants. When this segment culminates in a fantastic ET homage designed to shatter his cousin's belief that she is an alien, the series appears positioned to follow the protagonists into the even sticker problem of how to integrate the young girl into society.
But that's not what happens. Instead, Denpa Onna quickly falls into a near-torpor as all the conflict evaporates and Niwa spends most of his time engaging in normal adolescent activity. The sparkling conversations he has with his two classmates, Ryuuko and Maekawa are the highlights of this portion, but even the cute girls barely lift the series above its pleasant atmosphere and meandering pacing. And then comes the ending.
The final two episodes see some small bits of magic come into Niwa's life which work together to transform the feeling and message of the anime. Recast as a parable, the previously charming-but-tedious buildup becomes important groundwork for the story's payload. Given the simplicity of the message and its understated delivery saying more would spoil, however viewers will walk out of the second half of the anime with a dramatically better opinion of it than when they entered.
The unnamed city doesn’t offer much in the way of compelling scenery since the characters remain the primary focus of the show. To this end, SHAFT lavishes attention on each girl using their recognizable combination of strange-angle stills and luscious motion. In addition, the show uses shared visual cues across all the girls to accentuate their commonalities. All the ladies have the same cryptic smile, for example, and the sparkling hair that Niwa first sees on Erio becomes a trait shared by more than one of the people populating his life.
While Niwa, and by extension Miyu Irino, talks the most throughout the series, most of the aural goodness comes from Erio, Meme, and Ryuushi going head-to-head in an all-out moe contest. None of the girls comes out the overall winner, but their healthy competition further enhances the characters' charm. As for the music, only the series clumsily sung OP really stands out. Its raw vocals evoke Erio's inherent vulnerability and drip with self-aware humor.
In the second half of the show, Niwa transforms from a typically bland harem protagonist into a realized character through a trick of self-awareness, and the result vastly improves the cast in retrospect. As his orbit accumulates girls like a collection of moe moons, he slowly comes to understand that his life must be made not experienced. Unlike many harem protagonists who don’t get the chance to show how this new wisdom would change their lives, our hero gets an opportunity to act on his new knowledge. These feats drive the final episodes and help trace a positive arc for Niwa heading into the finale.
Sadly, much of his supporting cast is about as sweet and fulfilling as cotton candy, with two exceptions. The undersexed and overenthusiastic Meme bubbles with an attractive joie de vivire that’s one part mask and one part comic relief. The other gem in the crowd, Ryuushi, bounces through every scene as a charming mash-up of moe traits (adorable bicycle helmet and snaggletooth, anyone?) and genuine insecurity. Like all good contradictions, these quirks add an important dose of realism, painting the picture of a teenage girl desperately trying to stake out a place for herself in high school and Niwa’s life. Erio and Maekawa, however, rarely rise beyond their initial impressions, no matter how cute they become (especially Erio, who grows more attractive with each episode). Erio’s antics and personal history, for example, offer a rich vein that could have been mined for interesting development. But instead of gaining complexity and nunance once liberated from her futon, she flattens into a fawning barnacle.
The initial premise was extremely intriguing and I thought that it would make a really good story that would easily last for 12 episodes. Unfortunately, the initial premise dwindled away after about the fourth episode, along with most of my intrigue in the series. I think that brought down it's score immensely, because once they lost focus of the creative and imaginative story it just became your average moe harem.
The animation was glorious, which says a lot because I normally don't notice the animation of shows much. The girls all had adorable designs and the art style was very suitable for the show. Makoto, unfortunately, ran into the same rut most guys do in harem anime with a mostly average and forgetable design.
The voices were good for their characters, however if you don't like cutesy high voices you might want to mute Ryuuko's scenes. The ED was adorable and I liked it from the start, the OP was less than pleasant and an earworm, but it grew on me (probably due to playing in a loop in my head for a week after I watched the series.)
Characters were... both creative and uncreative. Erio is adorably eccentric, but Maekawa's weirdness is kind of forced to me. Ryuuko is an adorably childish genki girl and my personal favourite of the three. I felt that the extra character added right at the end of the show was beyond useless and thusly my rating goes from 7 to 6 simply because of my irrational hate for her existence.
This anime was kind of a let down for me. I was hoping to get more out of the story than I got, and the ending left me wondering if they should make another season just to get it right. Overall I wasn't satisfied by this anime, but it's still worth a watch if you like cute girls and their moe-isms, just don't rely on it for a solid story.
i am writing this review from cell so i apologize for the sloppyness but i had to write something for this show bc i just finished the latest episode (8) and decided its time people know about this show. i will instantly say that the character development is right on par with the great clannad even. only 8 episodes in and i really feel a strong relationship with the characters and cant wait till each episode to see the different individual relationships blossom. the writing is excellent and you really get a sense of where the show is going while still being pulled along enough to the point of
The animation is great, the characters are nice. At the beginning, the story is full of potential. Well, for me, this is a good example of fiasco. By the third episode, it becomes a typical soft womanizer story for twelve years old viewers. There is so much kawaii scenes that it becomes boring and the girls can't barely speak correctly because they are so incredibly shy in a not-so-cute-anymore way. Still, the characters are interesting so thats why i gave a 5 on 10.
In the midst of all the atypical bif-baf that goes on in
this anime, there IS a plot, though it is so tightly woven into the mood, it IS
there. However it is greatly overcome by the mass use of backstories and also by
many, many mood enhancing moments, which is what really colors this anime. The
writers give you the 'here' and 'now' by using a fairly simplistic plot, but
create the dissonance that makes a story good (typically done with rising
action, climax, falling action ect.) by keeping you guessing about how we got
'here' and 'now'. So although the story is slightly simplistic, it is at the
same time hard hitting and very enjoyable.
The animation was also very, very good, especially the characters,
which seemed unique and well drawn. Erio's design was possibly the most well
matched to her character of all the characters designs I've ever seen. The
scenery was also adequate, not the best I've seen but defiantly not bad. There
was surly nothing lacking in animation.
The sound was mostly average, with two exceptions. First, the voice actors for all
of the main female characters did impressively well considering how challenging
their characters were. Second, the title and credits tracks were both very
interesting. They fit the show very well (probably because they were made
specifically for the show). At first I found the title track some what annoying
but oddly, I grew to love it.
I feel like the characters in this anime were so unique that I had no choice but to be
thrust into their eccentric personalities. You are really drawn in by how
different they are. It's not to the point where they are unnatural however,
their personalities sit perfectly on the border lines of what is socially
accepted (with the exception of Erio, who is not socially accepted what so
ever). Being a Harem (defiantly not the typical Harem though), there is a huge
emphasis on the characters and their compelling backstories aswell.
I most definitely, truly, positively explicitly recommend this anime for a break away from the typical anime that have worked such a deep groove of mainstream into the anime world. And even if you like watching the same anime over and over with different faces, I'm sure
you will still love this one, just be warned though, this one is like none