Squid Girl

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2010-2014), also known as Shinryaku! Ika Musume. Based on the Manga by Masahiro Anbe. Diomedéa. Written by Michiko Yokote. Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima and Yasutaka Yamamoto. Voice cast includes Ayumi Fujimura, Hisako Kanemoto, Hitomi Nabatame, Miki Ōtani and Rie Tanaka. 24 24-minute episodes and five OVAs. Colour.

The routine of a beachfront cafe, the Lemon Beach House, is interrupted by the announcement that it's now the "base of operations for my ink-­vasion of mankind" (see Invasion); the staff and customers turn to see Squid Girl (Kanemoto). In her early teens with blue tentacles in place of hair, she has been sickened by the human race's Pollution of the sea and has come to the surface to bring retribution. The cafe is run by two young sisters: kindly but quick-to-anger Eiko Aizawa (Fujimura) and her laid-back elder sibling, Chizuru (Tanaka), who can intimidate anyone when so minded. To show her power Squid Girl punches a hole in a wall with her tentacles, but is cowed by Eiko into waitressing to pay for the repair, which will take 5-6 years, eliciting the response "exactly how little are you paying me?"

Squid Girl eventually moves into the sisters' house, becoming one of the family, which includes their kid brother Takeru (Ōtani). Other characters include Cindy Campbell (Nabatame), a Scientist who's convinced Squid Girl is an Alien and her three MIT graduates, whose research has done little to uncover aliens, but whose spin-offs have included a shrink/enlarge ray, an Invisibility suit, a copying ray, a Universal Translator and a Robot Squid Girl. Squid Girl's bracelets appear to feature Technology involving Gravity control, increasing her weight to anchor her when she uses her tentacles to lift or pull – a rare instance of the show displaying concern for practicalities.

Squid Girl is a cephalopod out of water: she has not done her research and is shocked to discover there are 6.4 billion humans, having expected there to be about a thousand; nor does she know what a "military" is. Furthermore, as world-conquering eco-warriors go, she is probably the most easily distracted. Episodes (each comprising three stories) are usually slice-of-life tales about her interactions with people and the world. They are often eccentric: in one story the main cast decide to speak with English accents (posh and cockney) and use the appropriate slang. Squid Girl's tentacles make her a formidable opponent (except to Chizuru) and a mean drummer; her conversation is peppered with very bad ocean-related puns.

The show is often self-aware: on being told about ghosts Squid Girl remarks "that's pretty unscientific", Eiko retorting "you're one to talk!" Criticism might be levelled for the trivialization of oceanic pollution, but that would be to treat the show with an inappropriate seriousness. Squid Girl is an entertaining light Anime – funny, pleasantly silly, with likeable characters. [SP]

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