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Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko Review

July 11, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime

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.

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13 Comments to “Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko Review”

  1. I totally get what you mean when you say that the ending “left much to be desired”. Although the entire series didn’t have much of a plot to begin with, I’m glad it ended on at least a conclusive-feeling note. As well, I hear rumours of a second season planned. Don’t know if that’s a good thing, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ryuuko on a weekly basis again.

    And yes, the OP and ED are very, very annoying catchy. Especially the OP.

  2. Although this is introduced as a sci-fi, I like how it turned out to be a slice-of-life anime wherein aliens are actually meant by those who are outcast by the society. Most of all, I like the theme of redeeming oneself. Just like you, I also consider Erio as the cutest and find her character most ironic because she’s the prettiest yet she the most alienated. Meme is also my favourite character, because as mentioned, she may be a wacky and clumsy mother but then deep inside she’s very caring.

    Btw, I find Makoto’s number system or puberty point useless. It doesn’t really make a difference in the story.

  3. @bobbierob:
    I would’ve liked to see Erio interact with people without Niwa’s help, but if there’s a second season on the way, then I guess I can forgive the lackluster ending.

    The numbering system was a bit weird, I think it was a way for Niwa to cope with the struggles of being a teenager and the worry of not being able to acheive anything.

  4. I must confess, I’m not done watching the series, but I was tempted to come read the post anyway. I don’t mind that I got spoiled a wee bit because really where I left off I was starting to get bored. Guess I’ll watch the rest tomorrow ^^ I really loved it in the beginning, it had so much potential to be one of the best shows of the season. Erio is indeed beautiful and her character design is outstanding, I really loved the way she acted in the start. As the show progressed though I found it almost unbearably pointless. I was really hoping for some major development to happen and it just didn’t. I had high hopes and felt let down episode after episode, maybe I just wanted Erio to be a deeper character or maybe the other characters just weren’t as interesting to me. I will say that the OP and ED music were both awesome and I didn’t skip them when watching because I couldn’t get enough of the songs. I do like the message of accepting others and such though. Yeah, I’ll definitely finish this tomorrow, who knows it might change my opinion.

  5. @Persocom:
    The series really could have gone any way it wanted at the beginning, so I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t make full use of that potential. Making Erio deeper and more complex would definitely have been a plus.

  6. You’ve done a really nice review about this show, it was really nice how you’ve pointed out the message of the show.

    I liked the daily life plot and the interactions between all the characters.
    They were all slightly weird, but it was good for the show that they never were portrayed as weird like in other more comedy based shows from Shaft, like Pani Poni Dash or Arakawa under the Bridge.

    I also loved the detailed characterdesign, it looked so awesome.
    Erio was very cute but sometimes she acted a slow, because of that I prefered her hot and hyper mum Meme :)

  7. It was a nice watch, but far from what I was expecting. In some respects from what it is was at the start, I am slightly disappointed it went toward this direction. Hopefully, the OVA has some worth while content.

    Season 2 maybe on the way if sells are good:

  8. @Fabienne:
    I was actually expecting it to be more like Arakawa, but I’m glad that they made the characters more realistic with real-life problems and consequences. I love Meme too, best mom ever.

    There’s an OVA? That’s good news :)

    I hope there is a second season, if only to see more of Erio and Meme.

  9. I like it, it’s one of the few series last season that did not feel underwhelming to me. I started watching it late but it turned out to be one of the shows I liked the most. I particularly liked how all the different characters grew throughout the show.

  10. Just to clarify, it isn’t an OVA :D It’s the unaired 13th episode as it got pushed back a week due to the earthquake! So in a way it hasn’t even ended yet!

  11. @Miette-chan:
    I liked the development up until they introduced Yashiro, then it just seemed like it got side-tracked with the ending.

    Cool, maybe we’ll get a better ending this time.

  12. The premise reminds me a lot of Arakawa Under the Bridge in that we have a group of people, all with some sort of oddity/ delusions. I’m kind of disappointed to hear that the ending left something to be desired. And with something seemingly so serious (Erio is very very delusional!), a slice-of-life format sounds odd to me in that it doesn’t feel like the anime could quite address her issues. Anyway, love the futon!!

    p.s. Etsuko Yakushimaru makes the catchiest songs! Love her.

  13. @Yi:
    Both Arakawa Under the Bridge and Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko were done by JC Staff so I was hoping that the latter would be more like the former. It wasn’t quite there, but at least it had some funny moments and excellent character designs. I totally agree about the slice-of-life genre being out of place in this series, it should’ve had more drama.

    Catchy songs are good, but when they’re playing in your head all day, it’s a bit too much.


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