I won’t lie – I’m biased when it comes to this series. I have a very special place in my heart for Shinryaku Ika Musume, though it does me no favors as a blogger. It’s never been easy to communicate just what makes this show work – for all the same reasons that tends to be true for comedies, and more besides. More so than for just about any top-tier anime comedy the magic of Shinryaku Ika Musume is in the characters and the overall feel – this show isn’t always about the gags themselves blowing you away (though they sometimes do) but about the mood it creates.
I think Shinryaku Ika Musume has found a perfect balance between edgy and warm, better so than any other anime comedy of recent years. This isn’s a sappy show and the characters are certainly the butt of the jokes a lot of time, but it’s undercut with such genuine affection and the core cast is so likeable that it never feels too mean-spirited. Neither the second season or the OVAs have delivered blockbuster laughs with the consistency the first season did, but the tone remains spot-on, and I love the characters – especially the irrepressible Ika and the wonderful Aizawa family – no less than I ever did.
The three shorts that makes up this OVA are much in the same vein as what we saw in the last – solid comedic successes that cater to the show’s strengths without reaching for the sheer brilliance of the show’s best mini-episodes. The first features Ika-chan getting a bee in her bonnet about having a wading pool of her very own (the sheer silliness of that notion is part of the gag, for certain. This one features Sanae, the one character in the cast whose humor sometimes feels out of balance to me, but she’s relatively under control here.
Next up is a relative rarity, a skit starring Gorou the lifeguard. We meet a new character this time – his Mom, a heavyset middle-aged woman whose sole purpose in life seems to be to embarrass the hell out of her son. The top moment here comes when she almost tells Chizuru that Gorou has pictures of her plastered all over his walls (technically new information, but it’s not as though anyone would be surprised to hear it). Gorou’s mother is a classic Ika Musume character – inappropriate and an irritant, but ultimately a good-hearted soul who does what she does for the right reasons.
Finally, there’s a message-in-a-bottle sketch – which seems like a long overdue development for this show, given its themes and setting. One of my favorite modes for Ika Musume is when it showcases Ika-chan and Takeru-kun – two innocents each in their own way – being innocent kids together, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The Three Stooges and Cindy Campbell are always good for a few laughs, though they – like Sanae – sometimes get a little over-the-top. Not so here, as they decide to “help” Ika-chan when her message-in-a-bottle (a threat of incoming invasion) keeps getting spat back by the ocean (pure-hearted Takeru’s has no such problems). The results are predictably disastrous, though they do lead to her message finding a recipient (who, depending on which theory about Ika’s origins you believe, might be a cousin).
Part of me wishes this OVA had come a bit later, as we might just have seen Diomedea insert a Suisei no Gargantia joke or two – but it’s always nice to have Ika Musume pay a visit. I have no idea whether we’ll see any further adventures for Ika in anime form – the second season didn’t sell like the first did but it was a modest success, and this series remains Diomeda’s most visible franchise. I won’t think about this being the last anime we see – that’s just too sad – but instead look forward to whatever comes next. I think there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see more OVAs at the very least, and in the meantime the manga continues to roll along – quite a different experience from the anime, but very enjoyable just the same.