Blu-ray Review: Himouto! Umaru-chan – The Complete Collection

It has been a long-time-coming but Himouto! Umaru-chan is finally coming to the UK on Blu-ray (and DVD) courtest of Animatsu Entertainment (and Manga Entertainment UK); so with the inital excitement out of the way what can one expect to receive from the Blu-ray discs bundled with the Collector’s Edition Combo Pack release of the series? Well let’s find out in our review of Himouto! Umaru-chan – The Complete Collection.

Synopsis:

To her classmates, Umaru Doma appears to be the perfect girl. She’s beautiful, friendly, and fashionable, earns top grades, and seems to be able to do any task asked of her with ease. She’s even humble and polite! However, if Umaru’s classmates could see her in the privacy of her home, they wouldn’t even recognize her.

Once she’s inside the door, the pretty clothes come off, the orange hamster hood goes on, and it’s time to pig-out on snack foods, binge-watch television, and play violent video games! This version of Umaru is everything that the public Umaru isn’t: she whines, rolls on the floor, leaves messes all over the apartment, and makes life miserable for her poor older brother, Taihei. Even the most guarded secrets have a way of being found out, and, as Umaru becomes even more obnoxious and outrageous, her two lives are bound to collide in disastrous fashion!

Our View:

Himouto! Umaru-Chan is a series you have probably never heard of and yet its main character, Umaru Doma, is someone you’ve probably seen countless times through social media in the form of gifs. How exactly? Well Umaru loves anime, manga and gaming – so much so that she spends majority of her ‘free time’ engaged in this activity – and as such these comical moments have been captured and turned into gifs by fans for use in expressing their own interest in the entertainment forms. This same concept also applies to me; I had no idea what Himouto! Umaru-Chan would entail before I sat down and watched the series but I do know it would involve some involvement with my favourite past-times; namely anime, manga and games.

Sadly however my initially expectation of what Himouto! Umaru-Chan would entail did not live-up the fictional hype the gifs managed to create within my mind. So with this being said; what exactly is Himouto! Umaru-Chan? Well it is a series that follows the daily antics of Umaru Doma a high-school student who, within school at least, is the model student with beauty and top marks; but outside of school she transforms into the self-indulging anime, manga and gamer addict and acts like a shut-in that refrains from outside activity. As a result of this life-style majority of the episodic content is focused on Umaru living out her life in her shared apartment by playing games, drinking cola, eating snacks and reading manga while bossing around her older brother.

From a story perspective it is a relatively stale series; as although each episode explores something different, such as a rival, summer vacation and new friends, an underlining story that connects these individual episodes is no-where to be found. Personally I was hoping for a story similar to Oreimo (without the brother-sister-love-interest taking place) whereby Umaru would try to hide her ‘otaku’ lifestyle from friends and over time open up about them; but in reality this rarely becomes an issue. Instead each episode indulges us in its own self-contained story that further explores the daily life of Umaru and although some episodes do ‘chain together’ to keep the continuity flowing, such as a rival in the form of class-mate Slyphynford Tachibana, it never delivers that complete story you would expect from your traditional anime.

From this aspect at least Himouto fails to impress; sure enough the daily episodic content is varied, with rivals and friends being introduced in episodic doses; but none of them are used to great effect so instead we just see Umaru in these said scenarios. For example Umaru’s close friend Ebina ‘obviously’ has a crush on Umaru’s older brother and yet nothing ever comes of it – other than some slightly burned cookies.  Another scenario sees Umaru befriend classmate Kirie, who is shy and arkward around other people, and although it would have been interesting to see her come out of her shell – which she does to an extent – she doesn’t.

Kirie’s introduction also brings the possibility of Umaru’s secret being revealed (as Umaru pretends to be someone else while at home); but alas this doesn’t come to fruition either. Like I mentioned; the series had potential to deliver a great story covering various areas, such as slice of life, romance and personal troubles; yet instead it just focuses on the comical antics of Umaru and her lifestyle.

That’s not to say that these comical antics are not fun, far from it; it is just such a shame that a series with so much promise failed to grasp a basic progressive story. This aside Himouto! Umaru-Chan has a rather important merit that other anime series do not have. It is pointless mindless fun that you can enjoy without thinking too much about the developing story. Umaru chan is both lazy and a superb character to watch and the supporting cast of characters help her ‘unique personality’ stand out even more; so although a progress story is no-where to be found it’s still fun to watch the series simply for the events that transpire on screen.

Extras:

Although the progressive nature of the anime can be considered questionable, in my eyes at least, the selection of bonus features included in this Blu-ray release is nothing short of impressive.

Not only are we treated to the usual selection of textless songs and trailers but fans are also treated to Japanese promotional materials, Animated shorts, live-action discussions with the cast and more surprisingly Japanese cast commentary for every episode. It’s an impressive selection of supplementary content and as far as I can tell easily one of the best offerings of bonus features on an anime release in a long time – especially for a TV anime such as this.

Naturally the highlights of these bonus features are the Animated shorts, which depict characters in chibi form through in three minute long episodes, the live-action cast discussions, which usually see the main voice-actors of the series sat around a table discussing their experience with the show and what to expect from future episodes, as well as the Japanese cast commentary which provides commentary on the events of each episode and their experience in the recording booth.

Of course those un-phased by this ‘informative’ selection of Japanese material will find promotional material in the form of Japanese commercials and trailers; with most trailers being for other Sentai Filmwork releases – with the odd title released in the UK by the same distributor(s) as this Blu-ray.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time:  3:45:18 (Disc 1), 1:14:49 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow & White for Translations)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Himouto! Umaru-Chan is the anime series that follows the daily antics of Umaru Doma; a high-school girl that operates a split lifestyle. At school she is the number one student and is often looked up to; but at home she transforms into the ultimate otaku that enjoys games, manga, anime and the finest snacks around. It’s a comical setup and one you’d expect a story to follow along suite; but alas that’s not the case. Each episode is a new activity within Umaru’s life and while some episodes present new challenges, such as the arrival of a friend, a rival at the local arcades and buying the latest issue of JUMP, there isn’t an underlining story that binds them together.

For me this is what brought Himouto down; the cameo references, the jokes and the comical presentation were superb, but the lack of a story binding the events of each episode together make it feel like simple ‘one-shot’ episodes. Obviously a progressive story is not needed to make an anime series better; but I feel like it would have made Himouto better. For instance the potential of a love interest between two characters, of the truth about Umaru’s life style, would’ve made great story oppurtunities for the episodes to tie themselves together – and to an extent they do – but alas nothing ever comes about and it ends just as it standard – with Umaru playing her games and her brother doing all the work.

Although the episodic content is fun to watch its story for each episode is mediocre at best; but alas to compensate for this an exceptional amount of supplementary content is bundled with this Blu-ray set; with Japanese cast commentaries and discussions with the cast being the highlights of the series. It’s not the usual standard of bonus features and it’s great to see them here on this western release of the series and its well worth exploring the content for those who remotely enjoyed the contents of the series. All of the bonus features are provided in Japanese with English subtitles; however the main episodic content does feature both English and Japanese audio but I would strongly suggest sticking with the Japanese audio due to the English Dub being relatively poor compared to other English dubbed projects.

Overall Animatsu Entertainment have provided us with another stellar release using assets produced by Sentai Filmworks within America and although its not the story that I had imagined; it is still good fun to watch.

Score: review-stars-3

Himouto! Umaru-chan – The Complete Collection will be available as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack from the 10th July 2017 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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