The first official premiere of Fall 2011 is actually the second initial bow for a sequel to one of my favorite 2010 comedies. Like Working, Shinryaku Ika Musume is back with a new director – and some new punctuation. What’s up with the lazy title ideas, anyway?
OP: “High Powered” by Sphere [Minako Kotobuki, Ayahi Takagaki, Haruka Tomatsu, and Aki Toyosaki]
Yamamoto Yasutaka is a new addition as director, series writer Yokote Michiko returns and S1 director Mizushima Tsutomu is back as a supervising director – I’ll forgive him for Blood-C in the belief that it was mostly CLAMP’s fault – which should in theory ensure continuity. As things rolled out in the second episode, I would judge they felt mostly the same. There’s no doubt in my mind that the animation quality has been ramped up from the attractive but low-rent style of the first season, Diomedea clearly recognizing this as their flagship property. OP is somewhat more conventional than S1 and a little more low-key, ED is another softer ballad style sung by Ika (Kanemoto Hisako) accompanied by a slow walk along the beach at sunset.
Now to the important question – is it still funny? Short answer is yes. But I would say that the first episode (each ep of Ika Musume is actually three mini-episodes) is a step down from most of the first season. It was fairly funny, especially the second skit, but on the whole wasn’t quite right. Not wrong, mind you – just a little flat. The timing seemed a bit off through much of the episode, for starters. And this is a show (like so many comedies) that relies heavily on successfully walking a fine line in terms of tone – in this case edgy and a bit mean sometimes, but still cute and occasionally heartwarming. It felt to me as if the balance was shifted a bit too heavily towards niceness in the first episode, and the punches were pulled just a bit too much. Not disastrously so, but more of a slightly off day. At least I hope.
There were undoubtedly some very funny bits. I didn’t take a whole lot from the first sketch about Ika going paranoid after watching a film in which the “good guy” invaders were destroyed by trickery. It had to do the heavy lifting of reintroduction and didn’t really pay off until Chizuru (Tanaka Rie) cowed Ika in full terror mode at the end. The second was the best of the episode, although it featured a character – Sanae (Ito Kanae) – I generally find creepy and the least likable and funny member of the regular cast. Watching Ika manipulate her with a yo-yo of emotions was a highlight, along with Eiko’s (Fujimura Ayumi) “relationship chart” punchline. Finally the jellyfish sketch was pretty humorous, especially with the completely baka idea by the three stooges to win the jellyfish catching contest by multiplying the one they actually caught. I also couldn’t help but laugh to see Ika stung in a very sensitive place. But did anyone besides me feel bad for the jellyfish?
First episodes of sequels can sometimes be pretty difficult, so I’m not at the stage where I’m worried about this season. If we see two or three eps in a row that aren’t quite the same, then I’ll worry. For now, I’ll look forward especially to “Shall We Swim to an Elementary School"?” because that’s a very good chapter and frankly, that’s about where Ika belongs. Plus, I’ve wondered if we might start to see a little osananajimi thing develop with Ika and Takeru (Ootani Miki). But is it me, or does it seem like Ika may be developing a little tsundere crush on Goro (Nakamura Yuichi)?
ED: "Kimi o Shirukoto" (君を知ること) by Hisako Kanemoto