Monday, 27 February 2012

侵略!?イカ娘 / Shinryaku!? Ika Musume / Invade!? Squid Girl (season 2)

When Negima! got a question mark after its exclamation point for a new anime season (well, and strictly speaking also had its ‘Mahou Sensei’ cut away), it signified big changes: a new production studio, a reboot, new characters and a very different style. The added question mark here has no such effect: Ika Musume season 2 is very much more of the same. It continues right where the first season left off and in very much the same way. The title sequences change, but that often happens mid-season with 26-episode series anyway. But I must say, I haven’t been as grateful for a continuation since Chii’s New Address picked up from after Chii’s Sweet Home, again with almost nothing changing (but still more than changes here!).

A big part of the charm of Ika Musume is that nothing changes, though – Summer doesn’t end, the characters are never going to come to any real harm, and even if there seems to be real tension between characters, as we get at the very end for the big finale, on some level we all know it’s going to be alright in the end and things will go back to normal.

Because Squid Girl is light, silly, cute and fun, and that’s what it’s meant to be.

I predicted a few changes might happen at the end of my season 1 impressions, only a few days ago. Everything I predicted came true to an extent: the jellyfish girl returned, though in a similar role at the very end of the season. The action did not move away from the summer days on the beach – although a bit of cute variety was added by a snow machine letting the girls dress up in winter clothes. Thankfully, the fanservice remained at the ‘almost none, and even then almost coming across as innocent’, except that there’s one rather gratuitous shot in the opening animation that made me feel vindicated.

Like many other cute comedy shows about girls before it, like Azumanga Daioh and Ichigo Mashimaro, the attempts to take the characters new places start to feel like making them dress-up dolls – here, we get not only the winter clothes but the yukata of a matsuri, the characters deciding they want to ‘cosplay’ after Nagisa is made to look like a boy, and in one fantasy sequence Chizuru is dressed as an evil nun, which made me think very keenly of Clarice from Arcana Heart.

While it was business as usual and took no risks, that’s part of being based on an ongoing manga and frankly I’m still a long way from tiring of the concept, characters or jokes. I really enjoyed every episodes of Shinryaku!? Ika Musume and – carefully avoiding making a Simpsons reference about welcoming overlords – I would like to send the message to the creators that I would love to see more, so bring on whatever extra punctuation you like!

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