Netflix made an anime.
First thought: a dread-filled, “Oh boy.” But it turned out not so terribly as one might have feared. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but it’s not bad. (and not in the same way as Westley trying to say of the fire swamp, “The trees are really quite lovely.”)
The title is Uncle From Another World. Really, though, the uncle in question, one Yosuke Shibazaki, is actually from this world. He just happened to spend half his lifetime so far in another world, a fantasy world of magic and dragons, before making his return, is all. While he was there, it seems he was in a coma in this world, but the question of whether or not he is insane and dreamt the entirety of his adventures is answered fairly quickly: he still has his magic, with which he can do many wondrous things. Among these, he shows his nephew the record of his memories from the other world.
Having been gone for some seventeen years, Yosuke is picked up from the hospital by his college-student nephew, Takafumi Takaoka, and the two live together. They make their living by displaying Yosuke’s magic on YouTube, though the uncle also spends plenty of time playing SEGA, as he did before his otherworldly adventures. When they aren’t doing that, they spend a great deal of time viewing Yosuke’s memories, which Takafumi craves especially as a form of escapism after a troubled childhood with his family.
Joining them to complete the central trio is a young lady of Takafumi’s childhood acquaintance, Sumika Fujimiya. She sticks around mostly because of her feelings for Takafumi, who is somewhat oblivious, as guys in anime tend to be, but also seems to become more attracted to and protective of her as they spend more time together, so she may actually have a shot. He’s not alone in being oblivious, as Yosuke himself managed to be one of those overpowered protagonists with at least three beautiful, interested women surrounding him, and it seems he never realized it, much to their chagrin. That said, it wasn’t a happy life there, as his most unhandsome appearance had him labeled as an orc among most peoples, and they treated him very harshly for it. The humor gets a bit dark whenever it delves into that.
Speaking of, the humor was generally quite hilarious. The antics which the main trio get up to in Japan keep things light and happy, much as if all three of these souls are healing in some way, especially uncle and nephew. The drama of Yosuke’s harem in the other world is hilarious in a way that makes you feel a bit bad for the girls, always getting their hopes up, and always dashing said hopes against the merciless rocks of Yosuke never understanding their feelings. And then there was the dark humor of everything painful that happened to Yosuke, including mobs with pitchforks, heroes and knights always trying to kill him on sight for his looks, and cuddly creatures turning out to be ravenous monsters intent on eating him. They manage to make it funny, but the running commentary as the trio observes these memories makes it even funnier.
There’s a bit of action, but the main thrust of the show is the definitely the comedy.
And yet it also treats its subject matter with some due seriousness. One of the later episodes in the first season, for instance, deals with the tremendous invasion of privacy and identity which occurs when Yosuke meddles with people’s memories. He’s done it to himself a number of times, so he’s a bit prone to look to that as his go-to method for getting out of awkward situations. However, he learns that one of the people whose mind he meddled with, someone who trusted him, already has severe gaps in her memories, which makes the violation that much worse. At which moment he does not hesitate to confess his misdeed, undo what he has done, and promise never to do this to her again, ever. I can’t think of many other characters who would simply fess up like that without being forced, and the entire scene is conveyed with all the gravity it deserves.
Mind you, there remains a bit of an issue on the more ecchi side of things, with fan service and sexualizing the girls in the cast, and yet, this anime strikes a fairly enjoyable balance there, too. It pushes the boundary, but it doesn’t quite go too far, or at least it hasn’t yet, and it even makes it funny, too, in ways which are not entirely crude. Also, a distinction from most other anime which do that, all the girls in question are totally and completely of age.
If there is one outstanding criticism which I have, it’s how they aired several episodes in one season, and then had some sort of hiccup over which they waited until they were in sync with the next season to air the rest of the first season… and then they apparently ended that first season right in the middle of the action! It wasn’t even a proper cliffhanger, they just reached a random point and hit the pause button! And this was not helped by how they finally aired the next episode, the real season finale, some three months later! That is totally frustrating! And not in the good way that leaves us wanting more.
Well, ok, there was also how they kept telling the same jokes about Yosuke getting mobbed again and again, and about his obliviousness to the feelings of the girls around him, and how everything in his mind is rooted in SEGA games. It became a game of, “Ok, what’s going to go wrong and break the characters’ hearts this time?” Though I will say, they managed to reinvent the punchlines in new ways as they went along, which was not bad. They managed to repeat the joke while keeping it interesting.
Basically, this is an anime to watch if you want a lot of laughs. It’s not too serious, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s fun and funny.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.
I’ve read the first volume of the manga and enjoyed the humour. Need to make some time for the anime. The way he misread those girls in the fantasy world was too funny, but his nephew’s responses made them even funnier.
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