Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl

Alt title: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

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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
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
May 10, 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.

4/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
4/10 overall
V3nge's avatar
Jul 22, 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
Bestanimeserie's avatar
May 7, 2013

Story 6.5/10 - This show has an enjoyable story altough they didn't explain some things (won't go into detail cause that would be spoilers). It's first half is very enjoyable we have our main character Makoto Niwa who is moving to a big city, when he arrives there and enters the house the first thing he sees is Erio a girl who thinks she's an alien and spends her time wearing a futon. Afer a certain point in this show Erio gets very little screen time and Niwa spends most of his time engaging in normal activity. Having conversations with his two classmates Ryuuko and Maekawa. Then you get the ending (wich are episode 12 AND the special, the ending is great it turned out more to be than I expected still the story in this show is a bit average.

Animation 7/10 - A normal animation for a show from 2011, altough I have to say almost every female character looks the same (atleast for me) the animation also has kinda strange angles wich I tough was pretty good. The only other thing in this animation is that almost all female characters have this sparkly hair that I haven't seen in other shows and I tought it was done really well. 

Sound 7.5/10 - The OP in this show really stand out, it is sung in a way that I haven't heard before and it was really good, the ED was catchy but it reminded me more of a child's song.
As for background music there wasn't any that I recognized.  The voice actors did a great job in this show there is mostly talk throughout the whole show and it was never boring nor bad so good job voice actors.

Characters 6.5/10 - some interactions with the characters where really great, I kinda got annoyed with the same sentence over and over again wich was: "And call me Ryuuko" it was said probablt three times every episode, well that was my only irritation in this part. the other characters are done really well and there's a bit of seriousness under every character wich I really like.

Enjoyment 7/10 - This was just a really funny 12 episode show to watch. and that was about it the ending wasn't what I expected but was still really enjoyable, overall this show did a good job on makin an entertaiming comedy / high school life show.

Overall 7/10 - This show has a few flaws but overall is done really well, it has enjoyable characters great shounds and the animation is good. So if you are looking for a comedy/ slice of life show you should try this show.

Thank you for reading this review if you have any tips or other things you want to say please leave them in the comment section below

6.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
7/10 overall
intoskylines's avatar
Jul 9, 2015

This anime had a lot of potential in my opinion with its pretty animation and its bubbly humor; yet with all of this potential, I couldn't actually finish it.

I thought that Erio had such a good setup for an interesting backround to really make the show great but she just ended up becoming less and less important. Makoto had some obvious character development throughout the part of the show that I watched (I made it to episode 8) and that was refreshing to see that he wouldn't end up as a completley bland character.

Now, really the entire reason that I couldn't watch the remaining episodes of this show had to be because of Ryoko. She annoyed me to no end with her obvious jelousy and outright rudeness to Erio. She seemed fake and it felt like she was way too desperate to gain the attention of Makoto Niwa which made her come off as clingy and a little concieted on some ends. 

Although the characters had flaws, the show itself wasn't bad at all. The animation was fairly well done. The humor is what really stuck out to me for I was almost always laughing at the ridiculousness of Meme and Niwa's reactions to everything. The sound wasn't bad either. The music felt light and fun and the characters voices weren't annoying at all. The story itself definitley fullfilled its role in being a slice of life and humor anime so I can't complain about that but the anime could have gone deeper into the characters pasts to make it a little more engaging. 

Overall, I wish I could finish this show but I can't watch it without wating to punch Ryoko in the face everytime she opens her mouth. If someone could tell me that she gets better throughout the remaining episodes and leaves Niwa alone for a little bit that would be great. I honestly don't know why I hate her so much. >_<

7/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
4/10 characters
7/10 overall