Squid Girl Season One Review

I originally watched the simulcast of Squid Girl, in an attempt that was paired with The World God Only Knows and Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt, to get into modern anime.  Long story short, it didn’t work, and I ended up rewatching them because I want to start with things that I am familiar with, and I find dubs to be the more enjoyable option if I had to select between that or subs.  And I like the idea of voice actors, but I cannot find the energy to care about ones who do not speak English.  But like my previous review, it is not porn, although I am certain that there is some nasty Rule 34 out there, but I prefer simply to view this as the bubbly and light hearted romp that it is, so without further ado, let’s dive into this sucker!

Squid Girl Season One (Dub) Review:
The show begins with its title character rising out from the ocean on a planned inkvasion of the surface world, but she is inkompetent, and gilly dim at times, but in a cute way.  So it is the standard inkompetent inkader storyline that was done extremely well in shows like Invader Zim.  But our tentacular protagillist is a lot more passquid and has a much more nobel gill, to save the sea from pollution by careless humans.  But the messquid is more of an afterthought, and really all our heroine is here to do, is to observe human behavior, act cute, get groped, grope others with her tentacles, be adorable, and make squid puns, and I will stop with my own poorly done imitation.  The show does not follow what I call a narrative structure, and instead revolves around 3 short stories that fit into the standard 22 minute length.  So the actual plot has little to no weight, and I do not want to examine particular episodes, since there are technically 35 in the first season.  Instead, I will just examine major every character and the overall writing.
First we have Squid GIrl, the bubbly and cheerful emissary of the sea, who is not familiar with a very selected set of human tropes, she is in awe at the innovations and applications of an umbrella, but she adopted video games, mathematics, and the actual language very quickly.  Speaking of which, they claim that she picked up Japanese very quickly, even though the show is only very Japanese by the food and kanji that is bound to be in every anime, ever.  But I really like Squid Girls design, very simple, which is a theme common in this show, but her little squid cap, 10 tentacles as hair, and cute little dress that can apparently compress into a one piece swimsuit, all give her a very simple and recognizable looks.  But what makes her shine is the expressions, while Gokudo did have wonderful expressions, they were more sketchy than anything, often disobeying proportion laws, but Squid Girl is a lot more grounded, and just the eyes themselves are adorable when they are portraying nearly any extreme emotion.  There is a reason why I love having Squid Girl pictures as my internet avatar, and it is mostly due to just how expressive they are.
But I was originally very against the voice they chose for Squiddy, due to how the actress was simply not able to, or just not being directed to, use the extreme amount of emotion that the Japanese voice actress put into her lines.  But the voice actress, who is still somewhat new at the game of voicework, does improve by the end, and has the energy pouring through her.  But there is a certain shakiness to her voice that still bugs me after watching it.  Do not get me wrong, she did a great job, but she might have not been the best choice.  But upon doing research, I have discovered that only two characters really have well known voice actors, and they are both fairly minor roles, one who is a main character in two segments, and another who is part of a recurring trio, who I will get to later on.  I don’t know where to look for sales data regarding anime, so I can only assume that this dumb had a fairly lower than average budget, that only made enough returns to warrant a dubbing of the second season.  I’ll get to why later on during the writing portion, but now for a recap of a lot of the characters.
The first  people that Squid Girl meets are the Aizawa family at their beach based restaurant, the Lemon.  The eldest dark haired Chizuru, is the standard nice girl who lets a lot of things slide, but if you piss her off, she channels dark powers and is not afraid of breaking someone before going back to her kind self.  Oh, and she only opens her eyes to signify that you will be breathing from a tube if you do that one more time.  Following, is her red headed and somewhat ill tempered younger sister Eiko, who serves as the main character’s babysitter more than anything.  To be honest, her and her brother Takeru, are some pretty bland characters, especially Takeru, who the show admits to be lacking in terms of defining characteristics.  Even their designs are pretty bland, they are really just anime people with nothing that special to them.  Sure, Eiko has a hair flip thing, but Takeru is just a spikey haired 10-year-old.  Well, he acts 10 and is voiced by a man, something that should be avoided, since it rarely works.  And speaking of age, how old is Chizuru, she does not go to school, so is she a college student who starts later.  And the entire anime takes place in the summer, well 99.8% of it does, so why does Eiko go to school in one episode?
We never hear about their parents, are they dead?  Are they on vacation?  Are Eiko or Squid Girl allowed to serve beer in Japan?  I know, I know, do not question why it works this way, and just play along.  But there is something off about seeing a young girl deliver beer while working at a restaurant, and a family with no parents.  ANd while those do not directly affect the characters, we really do not learn a lot about them, other than Eiko likes video games and dislikes studying.
Moving on to the more supporting cast, we have Goro, the Lifesaver, because people do not use the term Lifeguard for whatever reason.  He is annoyed by Squid Girl, there is a scene that implies that he masturbated over pictures he took of Chizuru, and it is no secret that he wants to date her, but is too scared to ask.  He is also not very interesting, but Sanae sure is.  Sanae Nagatsuki wants to grope Squid Girl, pose her in costumes, be with her, and glomp the ever loving crap out of her as she gets massive nose bleeds.  She appears to be a bit into vore due to one scene where she dressed like a giant shrimp, and Squid Girl tried to eat her.  And I freaking love everything about her!  Now, I mentioned her relationship in one of my FMRs, and I really do not find the relationship sexual in anyway.  To me, that is the perfect way to get into humorous situations  that have a sexual undercurrent, but you can never imagine either characters engaging in the act of intercourse.  And she, without a doubt, has the best expressions in this show.  And while her design is a bit on the bland side, with just her short-ish brown hair, and revolving outfits signifying her, she is equally as pumped.  However I have an issue with her voice.  Let me just point out that any Voiceover I do not mention is perfectly fine, and saying that all the time would be repetitive.  And Sanae’s voice comes close, but if there were a sector of Sanae fanboys, I would most certainly be with them, so I have one main nit to pick.  She just sounds too mature.  I know that character interpretation can be up for grabs, and having the voice of a little girl would make her seem a bit more creepy than that of a more mature woman, but I feel like it lost a little something in translation by changing it from the more hyper and cuter sounding Japanese voice actress.  In fact, that is an apt way to put this dub, competent, but missing some of the energy and a bit of the cuteness factor.
Serving as Sanae’s opposite is a part time employee at the restaurant, name Nagisa.  She is a surfer who believe that Squid Girl is a threat to humanity and has brainwashed everyone around her, in the attempt for a slow and steady invasion.  Squid Girl realizes this, and does not want her to think otherwise, since after using her tentacles to break a wall with little effort, everyone found her to be more annoying than intimidating.  She has a neat dynamic going on, but it sadly never goes anywhere.  In fact, the show’s structure really prevents it from reaching any major character transitions, so why do they keep on teasing us.  The formula of interesting character alteration, near complete ruination of status quo by evolving characters, quick ploy to bring the character relations back to the status quo, is used way too often, meaning more than maybe once or twice.
The remaining characters that I feel like talking about are a team of scientists who think that Squid Girl is an alien, and in their attempts to find alien life, they cured cancer, made invisibility suits, and even created a disintegration ray!  They are considered to be the American characters, further complicating matters regarding where the hell we are, but the three scientist have a neat little Three Stooges dynamic, and they are fun to watch in their misguided attempt to use their MIT educated minds to find space peoples.  And there is a blonde woman who serves as a field agent, who is sadly overshadowed by the trio’s bumblings.
Moving onto the writing, it is indeed funny at times, and it is overall happy throughout, which is always nice to say.  But I think that they pulled a really dumb move with the localization.  Look, I know that getting anime on TV is very hard, and there are only a few niches, most of which need to be filled by Adult Swim’s reincarnation of Toonami.  But Squid Girl is in a very odd position, where it could be appealing to children, or it could be appealing to adults, if the scenarios were altered.  The editing for children would be the easiest, remove the few times they say ass or hell, change beer to soda, and remove the blood, most of it is in still frames, and you have something I’d show to 8-year-olds, and feel good about it. But even then, it is still very safe at what it does more often or not, so it just feel like an unedited Japanese show that would appeal to kids there, and not so much here.  I know it is okay to say the word shit in a kid’s show in Japan, but that’d probably be turned into crap, and lose little to no meaning.  And if you really want to see a show that fits the niche of cute, but with some more “adult” themes, Sgt. Frog nearly perfected it with its wonderful gag dub.
As for the animation, it is competent, but just standard animation of an art style that is the traditional anime look.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am a freaking snob when it comes to quality animation from large studios, and I demand a unique art direction before I am willing to praise it.  For what it is worth, it is average, but there are only so many ways I can use the word bland.
Overall, I still do enjoy Squid Girl quite a bit.  My memories are most likely rose-tinted, but I cannot help but think that this dub is merely a cheap adaptation, even though Media Blasters is considered to be pretty good from what I heard.  The characters, and animation can be bland, but the show does maintain the level of fun that I will praise until it becomes stagnant, which is unlikely to happen based on how grit makes money even though most people are sick of it.  I cannot recommend this dub, but the sub was more fun based on the single sub episode I watched again, and you can stream it legally from Crunchyroll.  It is worth your time, as long as you do not watch the dub, which I can safely say is overall inferior.  the sub is the kind of show I’ve loved since I was young, and it is well worth your time to watch both seasons, since season 2 was more of the same as I recall.

And if nothing here interested you, please just watch these adorable little shorts from the show, the last two of which are not in the actual series.  Sure the last two are RAW, but they are mostly silent or use gibberish:


I couldn’t find a clip of the second season short.  It is in the sixth episode, which can be seen right here

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