As you know if you read my regular posts on Denpa Onna, I was very much in like with the show, but no more. It’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, especially Buriki’s character designs gloriously brought to life by SHAFT. The ED is superb and the OP is good, and there’s a definite irresistible charm to the show as a whole. On the other hand, the cuteness is so over the top that your teeth might fall out, and every time I felt like I was really getting wrapped up in the characters it seemed as if the writing pushed me away. Denpa Onna is a show that didn’t want to be taken seriously and in the end, I wasn’t able to.
The series ended in June and this extra episode is very, very late, but that’s hardly surprising given that SHAFT would probably be late to its own funeral – and the regular “finale” of the show was delayed anyway so why not keep up with the tradition? It was worth the wait if you’re a fan of the show, because the extra feels very much like an extra – a juiced-up version of a normal episode of the series. There aren’t a lot of conclusions here but it’s not as indefinite as the TV ending. Of note is that we get an awful lot of Ryuko, which is a mixed blessing for me as I think her shelf-life is pretty short. Most of the first half is spent with Makkie and Ryuushi wandering the stalls of the summer festival, and there are some very cute moments (shocking, I know) but the scene goes on about three minutes too long for my tastes.
Surprise you it won’t to hear that my favorite part of that sequence is the visit to the unagi stall, where the incomparable Maekawa – dressed in an eel costume, naturally – is hawking the family’s goods. Maekawa is appealing on every level but I especially like her in context because she’s the one character in this show who brings subtext with her – she doesn’t always say what she means, and her intentions are portrayed subtly rather than with cartoonish grandiloquence. The matsuri sequence segues into what starts out as a lovely scene at the shrine, where Makoto and Erio (whose sparkly qualities have been ramped up sharply in the BD version) are watching the Perseid meteor shower. The artwork here is some of the loveliest of the year – classic Buriki and SHAFT, a marriage made in the heavens.
Alas, like a bad summer cold, Yashiro descends on the scene and ruins everybody’s fun. Yashiro is a real problem for me with this series, because not only do I find her annoying and unlikeable as a character, but the direction in which she drives the plot is also among my least favorite. I like Denpa Onna when it’s focusing on the human relationships in its wry, ironic way. There’s plenty of pathos and emotion in Makoto’s odd relationship with Erio, and the romantic triangle (quadrangle, really) is plenty interesting. I think the whole alien stuff is best left as a weird mystery, a mystique to Erio’s character, rather than brought front in center by Yashiro. The whole business of “is she or isn’t she?” bores me, and the stuff with her calling down a meteor felt tacked-on and out of synch with the rest of the episode.
I don’t discount the chance that there could be more of Denpa Onna, as the BDs sold decently, and if so I sincerely hope that Yashiro has indeed disappeared for good. I’m not on pins and needles for a continuation but I’d be happy to see it, as the story is obviously open-ended as it’s left here and any excuse to spend time with Maekawa is good enough for me. I enjoy Makoto as a main character, and while I’m not 100% sold on Erio I do enjoy the mystical aura she projects, and she’s undeniably one of the most eye-catching character designs ever. And besides, we barely got a glimpse of Auntie Meme here, so it feels like SHAFT owes us a bigger dose of her cougar-AILF insanity…