Reviewed by: Eeeper
Released by: Media Blasters
Age Rating: N/A
Region: 1 - North America
Length: 300 minutes
Foolish land-born air breathers! Behold the terror from the depths, the tentacled conqueror of humanity: Squid Girl! With your pollution and stuff you really deserve it, so prepare for menacing, inky doom!
Whether or not you agree with the idea, a lot of anime made today contains no weight or gravitas. It doesn't require anything for you to do. And while I'm not always a-OK with this as a concept, there are times when you just wanted to unplug and go with it. This is the right attitude to have going into Squid Girl Season 1 (or Shinryaku! Ika Musume! in Japanese) and it will serve you well.
From the moment Squid Girl, with her white bubble dress, white hat and blue hair tentacles, turns up on an unknown beach in Japan and makes her bold declaration that she will take over the surface world and all the humans on it, you don't take her seriously and we're not meant to. She thinks this will be an easy mission (we're never told if she came up with the idea or if she was ordered to it). But after putting a hole in one of the beaches restaurant, the Lemon Beach House, she incurs the ire and wrath of the Aizawa sisters, Eiko and Chizuru: the restaurants owners. Now she has to work off her debt in paying for the damage. That's it, expositions over. We will learn nothing else, plot wise, after this. From here on in, it's nothing but fun.
I love the wacky nature of how Squid Girl just decides to do something and applies her undersea sensibility to it. In one episode, we find Goro, the life guard on the beach who’s got a thing for Chizuru, trying to teach the girls younger brother, Takeru, how to swim. Of course, to Squid Girl, using your arms and legs to swim seems to be a pointless waste of time, so using her tentacles to teach Takeru seems to be a better idea. That is until Goro points out we don’t have tentacles to use as humans. So he challenges her to do it as humans do, and she fails. Miserably. When Squid Girl crosses Eiko she usually gets slapped, punched or dragged into line. But when Chizuru is riled, especially by Squid Girl, her normally closed eyes widen and she moves with supernatural speed and agility, dealing with the problem. But then she resumes her cheerful demeanour and nobody bats an eyelid. Plus we haven’t even touched off of Cindy Campbell, blonde beach goddess and UFO/Alien researcher and her three assistant researchers: Harris, Clark and Martin with their pidgin English despite coming from America. Or even, for that matter, Squid Girl’s obsessive fan-girl love interest, Sanae who at times is harmless and borderline psycho at the same time. All while she applies curious little turns of phrases in the Japanese language track that use the whole squid thing to finish off sentences (in the English dub she uses the word Ink i.e. Inkvade, Inktend).
As Squid Girl explores her new surface world home and makes inroads into making friends, the girls’, especially Eiko, attitude toward her softens and they invite her into their private worlds. This is nice and is as much drama as we need in a show where the lead character buys and then eats ¥10,000 worth of shrimp. As as we ramp up towards the ending of the season we get the drama and comedy blending together nicely.
For the dub, I was struck with fear when I saw Eric Sherman’s name in the credits because that’s usually a bad sign, drama wise. But this is a comedy for the most part so dub interpretations won’t be that bad. Luckily for us, Sherman hired Macross/Robotech stallworth Tony Oliver to direct the dub. I would have liked to hear a commentary track from him as an antidote to some of the truly dire Funimation English VA tracks that I’ve suffered through recently. As it is, Oliver brings in K-On!/Madoka alumni Cristina Vee and VA veteran Carrie Savage for a dub that works well without overstaying its welcome.
The blu ray from Media Blasters is excellent with a nice HD transfer and high-def audio in stereo in both the English and Japanese tracks. The subtitles are on par with Crunchyroll’s efforts with only cosmetic changes, that I saw, made to it. Also included is a so-so interview with the Japanese voice of Squid Girl which feels like it was chopped out of something larger in runtime and the mini OVA episodes are on the second blu ray disc. Media Blasters are having a rough time at the moment so you could do worse than supporting them by buying this. I’m told by fellow Tweetizens that there are stocking issues with the blu ray but if you hold out, it’s worth the wait and inconvenience. Squid Girl won’t win any awards but it’s nice, clean fun and great to laugh along with.
Crunchyroll is streaming the first and second seasons of Squid Girl so you can try before you buy. Media Blasters’ blu ray release is labelled Region A (only playable on US/Canadian players) but will play back on Region B (European players) while DVD owners can pick up the first season in two parts from Media Blasters or wait for Manga UK’s DVD.