Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is one of the most sparkly anime I’ve seen in recent times (perhaps second only to Star Driver). To save me the trouble of introducing it to anyone who hasn’t heard of it, here’s the plot summary from My Anime List:
The story revolves around a highschool boy named Niwa Makoto. He lives with his aunt’s family since his parents are away on business. It is there where he meets his mysterious cousin of the same age Touwa Erio — who happens to tie a futon mattress around her upper body and is a self-proclaimed alien. Her staple food is pizza. Erio had been missing for half a year and was found floating in the sea. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened during that period of time, but she began to think that it was the act of an alien and wanders the neighbourhood wrapped in the futon.
Erio is, in my opinion, the prettiest anime character from this season, followed closely by her eccentric milf mother, Meme. It was the attractive character designs and animation being done by Shaft that brought me to this anime. The wackiness of the characters contrasted with Niwa’s grounding in the world of common sense and reasoning kept me coming back for more.
The behaviour of all of the characters brings up the question of what is normal. From Erio’s futon wrapping to Ryuuko’s obsession with helmets and Maekawa’s nightly cosplaying activities, everyone has an oddity about them. Even our seemingly normal protagonist, Niwa, has an unhealthy habit of smelling pillows his aunt has sat on (though I don’t blame him) and keeping “adolescent points” as if life were some kind of game.
Everyone reading this right now has probably seen or experienced social isolation because of a strange habit or non-normal behaviour. So then why do many of the characters seem to get along with others just fine when their oddities are just as weird as or weirder than Erio’s? I think what Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is trying to teach here is that it’s not habits or behaviour that isolates people, but their attitude towards it. If you open up to people, they’ll open up to you, no matter how weird you are. Erio only starts to see this after Niwa convinces her to ditch the idea that she’s an alien and start interacting with people.
Besides the message of social acceptance, one of the other things I liked about Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko was its portrayal of Meme. Definitely one of the loudest characters, she likes to play around and toy with Niwa. She is by no means the mother of the year, but there are subtle hints that she does what she can. I can only imagine how tough it is for a single mother to raise a child, not to mention one that thinks she’s an alien and walks around in a futon.
Although Meme seems disinterested in her daughter at first, Niwa’s comment about the price of Erio’s chair got me thinking that perhaps under that smile of hers is a worried mother that doesn’t know how to get her daughter back. My belief is that the warning she gives Niwa to stay away was actually her way of keeping Erio from getting any new ideas that could make her condition worse. Meme’s motherly worries are more obvious when she ditches work (what does she do anyways?) to find a job for Erio, then watches her from afar while standing in the rain. Meme is my favourite character because underneath that silly personality is a caring mother that is always watching over her daughter.
Despite the excellent character interactions in Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, the ending left much to be desired. The build-up to the last episode consisted of losing several baseball games and having to win the last one in order to host a festival. The introduction of a new character, Yashiro, late in the series also seemed to throw off the pace. It certainly wasn’t the type of ending I was expecting, feeling more like something from a slice-of-life anime.
While there wasn’t really any plot, I thought the character interactions and the beautiful character designs were enough to carry this series. The ending could have used some work, but Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko was a joy to watch and offered quite a bit to think about.
Side note: the opening and ending songs are annoyingly catchy for some reason.