Himouto! Umaru-Chan Vol. 1 (Seven Seas)

Himouto

CREDIT: Seven Seas

Rating: 2/5 – Not Everything Works in Comic Book Form
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow

My issue with the manga version of the popular Himouto! Umaru-Chan series should be familiar for anyone else who picks it up – many of us saw the anime first. This is nothing new, of course. Often the anime is the gateway drug to the manga (or vice versa) and our experience with one form may taint our experience of the other. Whether we paperback faithful care to admit it to ourselves or not, the animated or live action version of something might actually be *the* way to experience it, even if the manga version came out first. Blasphemy, I know, but hear me out. That’s certainly the case with this series.

Taihei’s sister Umaru is the too-perfect example of the stereotypical anime good girl: beautiful, smart, poised, athletic, gracious, all the boys want to ask her out, and all the girls want to be her friend (or keep their envy at bay). Her public persona is just that…a mask she wears when others are watching. When she comes home, she immediately turns into a horrifying otaku obsessed with games, anime, junk food, and sponging off her older brother as much as possible. She’s a screeching, selfish, annoying pest exemplifying everything outsiders believe, some of it admittedly (uncomfortably) true, about the darker side of geek culture. Her brother puts up with it – she *is* his sister, after all – but even he gets pushed to his limits by her antics from time to time.

The anime is quite funny, and a lot of that is due to the kinetic nature of Umaru-Chan herself lending itself more to anime than to the printed page.  Her hamster-cloaked chibi alter-ego is a trip to watch, but she doesn’t come off nearly as manic in the manga. The voice acting also showcases the differences between “public” Umaru and “private” Umaru. Emotions are expressed to greater effect on a soundtrack than with letters on paper. This could be said of just about any anime/manga comparison, but in Himouto! Umaru-Chan’s case – because of the story it’s trying to tell – the difference holds a bit more weight. In the anime, Umaru comes off as an annoyance, but a lovable one. You’re laughing at her antics, even as you pity poor Taihei. In the manga, her shenanigans are just annoying, period, and you wonder why Taihei hasn’t just left her to fend for herself.

Himouto! Umaru-Chan is definitely a story worth experiencing if you like to laugh. Umaru is a particularly fun character if you have an otaku (no matter what side of the pond you live on) in your life. Also, it’s not my fault if you see a bit of yourself in her. That said, I think you’ll be more entertained by the animated take on the story than the printed version – much as it pains me to say so as a comic book enthusiast.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (al@comicspectrum.com)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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