Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Alt title: Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl

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ThePatches's avatar
Jul 28, 2011

Story

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.


Animation

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.


Sound

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.


Characters

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.


Overall

Denpa Onna’s ending transforms it from an unfocused slice-of-life parable into a careful character study. The attractive art and charming cast help the time to pass quickly towards the show’s conclusion. For people looking to see what Shinbo can do when he lays off the insane editing and lets his characters work, this show is worth checking out.

7/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar
May 9, 2012

PROPER MINDSET 
It appears that SHAFT liked a lot what came out of Arakawa Under the Bridge (a show made by them just a year prior to this) and decided to make something similar. So once again we have a girl who claims to be an alien living under the same roof with a hapless idiot. 
- Unfortunately, the setting is hardly as interesting as it was in Arakawa and its band of numerous weirdoes living under a bridge. 
- Plus the lead male is not voiced by the one who did Sayonara Zetsubo’s teacher. 
- Plus there is no contrast between rich and poor people to offer some sort of social commentary. 
- Plus the whole alien thing is dropped almost immediately and then it just becomes a weird slice of life comedy.

PRODUCTION VALUES 
I consider Arakawa to be quite tame for a SHAFT comedy but Denpa Onna went to further lower depths with even lowered production values. Although SHAFT is always full of scrolling panels, it still had some sort of sporadic quality in its animation and here it is absent in anything other than moe girl motions. Meaning, it tried way too much to beautify the girls and neglected pretty much everything else. So yeah, the female characters are all the epitome of moe (crooked bare legs, baby face, dumb looks, retarded tone of voice, blockheads) and everything else is left as an almost average comedy. It is still rather artistic of course, with its trademark fast panel switches, weird use of colours and shapes, but the CGI looks so damn dated for the year the anime was made. There is no abundance in weird special effects (aside from that weird glow thing coming out of their hair) and it is simply less thrilling than the earlier SHAFT comedies. 

Something similar can be said about the music. The music score is unimpressive and the dialogues are to the most part not as complicating or smart. From a point on they even feel tedious and tiresome. They have enough text to laugh or get to know the characters but still of NOT of great heights. Other than that, the girls sound super moe and that is probably the only thing most viewers will care about. 

SCRIPT 
The story starts in an interesting way but soon heads nowhere. It is about people believing too much to all the modern conspiracy theories regarding aliens and some other new age nonsense. But don’t put too much thought into it; just like most ecchi/moe shows it starts with a bang and then just rehashes the same thing again and again, with far less context and spicy humour before ending in the middle of nowhere. As usual, the author refuses to stick to the initial girl’s development (or just end the series right there when it’s still nice) and simply keeps introducing more and more girls with similar coocoo problems in order to flavour the loli moe harem. Thus in overall no characters are really fleshed out much and are eventually thrown to the side for another ephemeral issue another moe loli has during its introduction. In all, there isn’t much of a plot and the bits it has are rehashed continually to the point of being bored of them. It would be far better if they were just making a movie out of the first arc with Erio. 

CAST 
The characters are the usual “unusual” bunch of misfits SHAFT is so famous of making all the time. Most of the humour is based on their total lack of common sense that helps the jokes to work better and the characters to be memorable. As usual, their appeal is mostly based on quirks and bizarre personality and not character development. Also, besides Erio the main moe loli, and her aunt (a middle aged woman who also looks and acts like a moe loli) nobody else is weird enough to be memorable. Yes, the protagonist is also unnoticed as usual. But that is what happens in all harems; you get a bland male lead and a bunch of cute girls who all need his help and are after his d**k.

Since the type of humour it implements starts to wear off rather fast and the succession of gags slows down more and more, I can’t say it is a successful comedy show. I also don’t give it much value (historical or rewatchability) because it lacks an overall tight and meaningful plot that heads somewhere. Bakemonogatari is a far better coocoo harem, and even Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai is far more serious about its theme of delutional girls. You see, after the main series there is also an OVA sequel that for no reason makes it seem like the delusions were real and there are aliens after all. They did the same in Arakawa and in both cases they were nothing but fillers to waste airtime. The problem is that this way not only they trash the sourse material but also ruin the overall purpose of the show. Arakawa and Denpa Onna were always about a man trying to help delusional girls, help them face reality, and then SCREW THEM! By throwing in aliens the whole progress he achieves is rendered pointless since he now seems like an asshole who tricked the girls to believe a lie instead of helping them face the truth. 

LEGACY 
Now, many of you are going to say that I am being too harsh on what is just a silly moe comedy. So what if there is no plot; the girls are cute and it is funny. Well I am sorry but I like my comedies following a theme and doing something with it. This comedy did very little and then ruined even that with alien fillers. If all you want is stupid moe lolis, SHAFT visuals, and just excuses for escapism, then you will like this show a lot more than I did. The same mangaka also did Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai desu, so in case you want even more comedy about lolis and a premise that seems interesting at first but heads nowhere after a few episodes, go check that one too. For all I care there is no depth in them. Other SHAFT comedies as well as Chuunibyou by KyoAni, are way better than this one. 

And now for some excused scorings. 

ART SECTION: 6/10 

<div>General Artwork 1/2 (typical setting)
Character Figures 2/2 (moemoe flood)
Backgrounds 1/2 (typical looking schools, apartments, with bad CGI)
Animation 1/2 (good only in the moemoe)
Visual Effects 1/2 (poor for a SHAFT comedy; only the sparking hair effect stands out) 

SOUND SECTION: 6/10 
Voice Acting 3/3 (great moemoe voices and weird dialogues)
Music Themes 1/4 (completely uninspiring and forgettable but not horrible) 
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 4/10 
Premise 1/2 (seems good at first but it is just a generic excuse for the lead to meet more lolis)
Pacing 1/2 (simple and rather slow)
Complexity 1/2 (no overall plot but individual focus on certain characters for a while)
Plausibility 1/2 (all the weird stuff are simply the result of the characters being mentally challenged)
Conclusion 0/2 (doesn’t exist; the OVA has some but it is a troll for all I care)

CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10 
Presence 2/2 (moe and sexy girls)
Personality 2/2 (coocoos)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (they do get colorization in the arc they appear in and then stay as such as they enter the main lead’s harem)
Catharsis 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 1/10 
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 1/4 (a watered down variation of older SHAFT comedies) 

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10 
Art 0/1 (looks almost typical) 
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 0/3 (what story?)
Characters 1/4 (the girls are moe and that is all)

VERDICT: 4/10
</div>

4/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
4/10 overall
V3nge's avatar
Jul 21, 2011

Story:

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.


Animation:


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.


Sound:

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.


Characters:

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.



Overall:

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
other.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
interregnum's avatar
Nov 22, 2016

For a show that treads almost no new ground, changes its premise a couple of times, and ends just as the character-driven story drama really kicks off, Psychoelectric Girl is remarkably endearing.

You see, the show wraps itself in the fluffy warmth of a dozen high-school-anime clichés, but at (or very near) its core is a meditation on what it means to care—about people, about things, about oneself—and how to balance that against the pressures of the world around you.

Which, in and of itself, I know, borders on cliché, because so much high school anime is, fundamentally, about the struggle (particularly of misfits) to connect. But, here, that struggle is unexpectedly personal, self-aware, and, unlike many of its contemporaries, tied by necessity to those dozen high-school-anime clichés—not because the show’s some hoity-toity deconstruction but, rather, because the story could only ever exist in this context. The cliché is as much Psychoelectric Girl’s playground as it is its security blanket, delivering all the fun and familiarity that implies.

So, of course, there is no more appropriate time to set an exploration of the desire to connect than when the desire to connect is at its rawest, the need to blend in (conversely) is paramount, and the ability to do either of those things is painfully undeveloped. But it is the payoff from this that makes the show so endearing: the characters—or, rather, these specific characters, which only this scenario could produce.

Now, sure, they're likable, in that they've each got an unsurprisingly wacky charm about them, but that's not what lets them burrow into your heart. Rather, it's the sincerity of their loneliness, the quiet longing that is right below the surface, which, no matter how deliberately they (as we all do) hide it, is always there: in Erio's furtive glances, in Ryuuko's exuberant bashfulness, in Meme’s incessant flirtations. No matter how bizarre or absurd (or, certainly in one case, distressing) the expression, it is emptiness looking to be filled or fullness looking for release—but always a half missing its partner.

That’s what sucks you in. We have all been Erio, acutely aware of the part of us that is missing and retreating further and further into it. We have all been Ryuuko, filled to bursting with love and despairing of never being able to share it. And we have all, in some way, made misfits of ourselves over it.

But for all its laughter and charm, Psychoelectric Girl still has those two potentially—and I stress potentially—fatal flaws I mentioned earlier: the quick abandonment of the uniquely weird premise for something more…mundanely weird, leaving us (though, somewhat incomprehensibly, not the characters) with a thousand unanswered questions and a sneaking suspicion we’ve been had; and, perhaps relatedly, where the show ends, which, if the dramatic elements it introduces—yes, introduces—are any indication, is clearly a long way away from a resolution for literally anything that had happened up to that point (…except the baseball stuff, which, with the exception of the Makoto/Ryuuko reciprocal cheerleading, is so head-scratchingly banal it’s, ironically, the one thing we didn’t care about resolving). Neither point is unique to this show, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. And, while I don’t think it’s anything close to a deal breaker, I also don’t think it’s something that should just be quietly brushed aside.

Of course…isn’t longing sort of the point?

Maybe not, in this case, but, given the way Psychoelectric Girl revels in anime typicality, it would be just cheeky enough to make that bit of disappointment, well, a little endearing.

...but not so endearing that I don’t still want more: of this show, of these characters, of the incomparable reassurance of the struggle to connect.

7/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
7/10 overall
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HasegawaTadayoshi's avatar
Aug 3, 2016

Spoilers, but I don't actually give you a summary of the whole story.

Well, I don't know why, but I seem oddly awttracted to this anime. However short and "bad" as some people say it is, I for some reason like it.

The story was a bit different from most anime that have these sort of characters. A guy who wants "seishun points" and is now living with a girl who's pent up in a futon who is delusional or has chūnibyō. It's not some random rom-com, especially since the girl is the guy's cousin (I still ship it). And, the "chūnibyō/delusions" isn't kept throughout the entirity of the series like "Love, Chuunibyou & Other Delusions." It's more like, Makoto (the MC) teaching Erio (the girl) how to cope with reality as it is after setting her free from her alien delusions. Other anime feature ecchi, harem, and a lot of other overused things

The animation seemed practical for a low-budget, one season-one OVA anime.

Sound... well no idea what that means, but it seemed good? I don't know if this fits in but the opening is probably my favorite song. No idea why it's just... I feel attracted to it.

I like this anime, and that's that :P

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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