It was quite the educational week on Shinryaku Ika Musume. Not only did we get a lesson on the origins of Tanabata, we also learned that the Three Stooges’ names are Harris, Clark and Martin.
With last week being a hiatus and another due next Monday, this is our only Ika fix for almost a month, ~degeso, and it didn’t disappoint. The trend was apparent already but I’m wholly convinced now – this second season has definitely tended towards the wistful, low-key side of the “Ika Musume” oeuvre. That element was definitely there last year too, but it’s become more of the norm this season, with more focus on relationships, concept humor and slice of life and less outright zaniness and edgy humor. It’s a definite trade-off, as there haven’t been as many big laughs, but I do enjoy the warm side of this as much as I do almost any pure comedy series. As the chapters are being adapted mostly out-of-order, I wonder if this was an intentional decision on the part of Diomedea or something more attributable to the director change.
It occurs to me that Ika-chan’s invasion has already succeeded in one respect – she’s completely won the local schoolboy population over to her corner. She better watch out because in a few years this could develop into a reverse harem of monstrous proportions, though I suspect Takeru would have something to say about that. He’s been more prominent this season and that’s fine with me, as he’s one of the more agreeable child characters in anime currently. He was certainly prominent in the first sketch, in which his new toy R/C car (bought with his own saved allowance money – Takeru is a responsible boy) is broken by Ika-chan in a fit of immaturity when she takes it outside when he’s off playing with Yuuta. This isn’t a hilarious bit but it does reveal Ika’s growing sense of personal responsibility and what an incredibly nice kid Takeru is – he contrives to lie that it’s no big deal so that Ika doesn’t feel bad, though neither Ika or Eiko is fooled. Fortunately it’s the Stooges to the rescue, as Eiko trades a day of experimentation on Ika for a remodel on the R/C car. The remodel comes with a few extras that prove ill suited for indoor play, however.
The second skit is the funniest, as has usually been the case this season for whatever reason. It’s Tanabata time, and that means wishes. Naturally Ika is smitten with the newfound knowledge of this wondrous holiday, but can’t narrow down her scope enough to choose a single wish. As you’d expect most of the humor comes from the wishes and what they reveal about their makers. The Stooges show up looking for the “bamboo wishin’ tree”, demand beer and wish to solve the mysteries of the universe – until they realize that might be a bit much for Lemon’s tree to handle. Kiyomi-chan shows up and makes a wish for her team, but tries to sneak a wish for bigger boobs in on the sly. Eiko wishes that she’ll pass her grade (wow – is she that bad a student?) And Ika’s problems seem to be solved when Takeru and his buddies offer her all their wishes, proving just how much of hit she’s become with the Digimon crowd. But alas, Ika fears their wishes for a successful squidvasion will be swamped by all the selfish wishes for world peace littering the tree. And when she sees what the Stooges and Cindy actually wished for, self-preservation mode kicks in for her wish.
Lastly we have another Ika-Takeru bonding story, this one centered around what to do on a summer’s day when there’s no one around to play with. Takeru’s posse are all busy with summer homework or cram school, not being as responsible as he is, but fortunately Ika is around as a safety net. While Takeru doesn’t share her innate ability to amuse herself with the trivia of everyday life, he does accompany her to the park where she shows her chops as Squidmeister of Playing Alone. It’s fitting that Ika, as a squid, is so fond of anthropomorphizing, and she does so here with an ant names “Ant-taro” who she quickly forgives after he (well, she) bites her. Much as the Mina-Ika finale to episode 4 this isn’t an outrageous bit – though as so often with this show, it does offer an odd and random note in the person of that guy crying by himself – but rather a pleasing slice-of-life with some clever visual humor and nice moments between squid and boy, who have a nice on-screen chemistry together.