Fed up with mankind polluting her precious ocean, a cute undersea squid known as Squid Girl decides to take measures into her own hands and invade those who would contaminate her home. Unfortunately for her, this task may be more than a little ambitious, even if her initial aims aren’t all that grandiose. The first target on her list is the Lemon Beach House which is owned by the Aizawa sisters, Chizuru and Eiko. Her intent is to convert it into her base of operations, but her plan ends badly when she damages part of the beach house’s wall. In order to pay off the damage she has caused, Squid Girl is “forced” to work there as a waitress while also taking up residence at the Aizawa house. Needless to say her plan of invading humanity has been put on hold and, worst of all, she can’t seem to overcome the two sisters who “forced” her to work for them in the first place! Will she ever get back to her plan of subjugating the human race for polluting the sea?
Squid Girl, or Shinryaku! Ika Musume, was originally a comedy manga that was first serialized in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Champion in 2007 and is still ongoing. So far there are two anime seasons and OVA that will be bundled with the limited edition 12th manga volume in Japan. Both seasons of the anime were simulcast by Crunchyroll, while AnimeWorks, Media Blaster’s anime label, licensed the first season and released it on DVD in two parts and later on Blu-ray. They’ve also confirmed they’re planning to release the second season but haven’t set a release date for it yet.
A show about a squid girl trying to invade the land of air breathers isn’t a premise one normally runs into, and I have to say I found the end result to be decently funny at times with its own special charm. This is especially true with regards to Squid Girl herself as the situations she finds herself in often translate into hilariously over exaggerated facial expressions, the types of which you will only ever find in anime series like this one. The humor may not be the laugh out loud kind but I still found myself laughing at certain scenes and was entertained overall. Some of the humor comes from Squid Girl’s misunderstanding of things. One example of this is when she first invites Kiyomi over to her house without asking permission and she worries that Chizuru will kill her as a punishment. The misunderstanding begins from the reaction and statement made by Chizuru. It all comes to a head when she misunderstands Eiko’s and Takeru’s comments, but it is blatantly clear to the audience that Chizuru is clearly happy that she made a friend and is trying to be encouraging.
While the comedy side may succeed for the most part, the plot never gets too deep or complex in nature. Also, out of all the characters in the show Sanae was the least “developed” out of all of them. Sanae is a neighborhood friend of Eiko who develops a crush on Squid Girl. While it could be said that most of the characters aren’t too deep either, I felt that she was just there to make the show sillier but it ended up being more creepy than silly. One recurring joke involves Sanae trying to hug Squid Girl at any given opportunity only for her to get attacked or slapped away by Squid Girl’s tentacles. I found this to be funny the first few times, after that it just became a bit too redundant. But, like most comedy shows it does what it sets out to do-- which is to give us a good laugh and to entertain, but that isn’t to say the story is completely forgettable; it’s just not a show I would recommend to someone looking for something more than that. Although the show is mostly lighthearted in nature and looking for laughs, there are a few moments of seriousness and drama, mostly near the end of the season that try to raise it above the rest of the fray.
Squid Girl’s main objective may be to invade and punish mankind but she’s so easily distracted by her curiosity about life on the surface world that she often loses sight over her true goal. Over the course of the show her relationship with the humans she meets continues to grow, especially with the Aizawa family who have taken her in and put her to work. She almost becomes like a part of the family as the series progresses. The episodes themselves are broken up into three short mini story arcs that tie into the overarching thrust of the show. Despite the diminutive length of the shorts, I never felt that the show languished by using this type of format.
One of the things they decided to do with the English dub was to make Squid Girl’s sentences heavily laden with squid and ocean life based puns. This may sound like a good idea because it would, in a way, preserve Squid Girl’s odd speech mannerisms from the Japanese version. Sadly the actual implementation ends up making her already silly dialogue sound even more ridiculous. And unfortunately there’s no bastion of safety for sub watchers here either, as the subtitles don’t really scale back on the various puns used for the dub. It’s a shame too because I really enjoyed how Crunchyroll did their subs for Squid Girl when they simulcast it. But on a somewhat positive note, Media Blasters included a raw version of the show without subtitles (if you have the ability to use that to your advantage anyway). The special features included in the first volume include: textless opening, textless endings for episodes 1-6, an interview with Hisako Kanemoto, and a hat folding video. The second volume includes 2 OVA “mini” episodes featuring mini Squid Girl.
The English dub was handled by Bang Zoom! Entertainment and they do an adequate job, although not their best. This was probably a result of most of the cast being voiced by either new voice actors or VA’s that have only done minor or background characters before. Some noteworthy performances include Christine Cabanos who does a good job as Squid Girl despite the show’s overuse of puns. Some may know Cabanos as the English voice of Azusa Nakano from K-ON! or Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Takeru, the Aizawa sister’s younger brother, is voiced by Amanda C. Miller who gives a believable performance by sounding very much like a young boy. As for the rest of the cast, the quality ranges from good to mediocre, with one particularly lackluster performance from Heather Pennington, who voices Eiko. Her voice sounds a little too casual compared to her Japanese counterpart Ayumi Fujimura, especially when the character is expressing any sort of emotions. Overall, the English dub is competent and still delivers a solid experience though I have to admit I prefer the Japanese seiyū in the end. I felt that the overall quality was better and the seiyū put more life into their characters. Hisako Kanemoto’s and Ayumi Fujimura’s performances were the highlights there.
Diomedea, formerly known as Studio Barcelona, animated the show and in the past has worked on Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu and Polyphonica Crimson S. The animation is fairly decent overall; it’s not going to blow any minds, but for a show like Squid Girl it gets the job done. Characters are designed in the typical moe style but most characters have their own distinct look with the exception of some of the background characters. Visually, the backgrounds look more detailed than the characters with suitable attention to detail.
What drew me into watching Squid Girl was its quirky and charming main character. After having finished, if there’s one thing for sure, this show wouldn’t nearly be as interesting without her. Overall, Squid Girl is a fun and lighthearted show that’s entertaining to watch but it won’t blow you away with any sort of depth or complexity.