Review for The Squid Girl Complete Collection
The curse of the British anime scene is the unfinished series. So often, companies will release one part, or one season of a show, sales aren’t good enough, or the licensor changes, or one of a dozen other reasons, and we just don’t get to see the rest. Manga Entertainment released the first season of Squid Girl, a funny show about the eponymous invader from the oceans trying to stop humanity’s polluting ways, and being sidetracked as soon as she comes ashore. That show came via Madman from Media Blasters in the US. Media Blasters never got around to releasing the second season, and were then soon struck by some highly publicised problems. Squid Girl Season 2 eventually fell to Sentai Filmworks, who also picked up the first season as well, and they released the whole kit and caboodle as a complete series collection. After this much time, the whole Squid Girl thing had passed Manga by, and they never bothered releasing the rest. I gave them a good couple of years, but eventually wound up importing this set from the US. It turns out that Sentai have added even more in the way of extras to the release, but they’ve also taken the time to retranslate the show. If you’re used to the Media Blasters/Crunchyroll translation, that might not be a good thing.
Ika Musume is tired of the way that humanity treats the oceans, with exploitation and pollution despoiling her home. Ika decides to invade the land and take over humanity, which would serve them right. She hasn’t actually taken the nature of humans into account. For one thing, there are a whole lot more of them than she expected, and some of them are quite intimidating. Also the first thing she does when she comes ashore is look for a base of operations. The Lemon Beach House cafe looks like a likely HQ, except that the Aizawa sisters who run the place immediately put her to work waiting tables. She’ll have her work cut out taking over the world if she can’t handle a couple of pushy sisters, but at least she has her special powers, her ten prehensile tentacles masquerading as hair, her ability to glow in the dark, her gift for spewing ink...
The twelve episodes of Squid Girl: Season 1 are presented by Sentai Filmworks across three discs. Twelve episodes of Season 2 are presented across a further three discs, and finally the OVAs get a disc all to themselves. And Sentai have gone and re-localised the show again with a new translation, so the titles have changed.
01. Shall We Start a Squid-vasion?
Aren’t You My Fellow Squid?
I’m Squid-vincible, Don’t You Th-INK?
02. You’re Not My Squid-in-Arms?
Shall We Have an Ex-squids-ite Celebration?
Let’s Have a Grand, Squiddy Time, Shall We?
03. Who’s a Fraidy-Squid?
Aren’t You My Nemes-Squid?
Isn’t That The New Squid on the Block?
04. Th-INK-ing of Buying That?
Won’t You Come INK-side?
Aren’t You an INK-poster?
05. Aren’t You a Vi-squid-tor from Outer Space??
Shall We Squidaddle to School?
Don’t You Want a Squidtastic Pet?
06. An INK-credible Hero Stage Show?
Squidn’t You Be Studying?
Don’t You Th-INK it’s Love?
07. I Th-INK I’m Being Targeted?
How About Some Scien-squid-fic Research?
Will You Do a Squiddle Work Here?
08. Aren’t You Feeling a Squiddle Sick?
Isn’t That a New Squid-bility?
Can I Stand UnderYour Squid-brella
09. Want to Ding Dong Ditch and Squidaddle?
How About a Squids-treme Makeover?
A Squid-nificent Secret Weapon
10. Squidn’t That Be a Teru Teru Bozu?
Do You Th-INK I Could Be Loved?
Squid Me Out to the Ballgame, Won’t You?
11. Squidn’t That Just Be a Doll?
Don’t You Th-INK That’s Suspicious?
Shall We Climb a Squid-freshing Mountain Trail?
12. Shall We Squid-le This with a Fight?
Aren’t We in a Squid-icament Here?
Isn’t This a Worse Squid-icament?
1. Shall We Start a Squid-vasion!?
Aren’t You My Love Nemes-squid!?
Squidn’t That Be a Jellyfish!?
2. Want to Squidaddle to Elementary School!?
Won’t You Do Some Cosplay-INK!?
Squid You Just Get Lighter!?
3. Shall We Take a Squiddle Walk!?
Ready to Squid-ercise!?
Squidn’t You Help a Little!?
4. I Th-INK That’s English!?
You Th-INK You Can Stop It!?
Squid I Flow Too Far!?
5. Squidn’t That Be Radio Controlled!?
I Th-INK Today’s the Tanabata Star Festival!?
Want to INK-xperience Playing Alone!?
6. Wanna Do a Squiddle Jog!?
INKsn’t That My Bodyguard!?
Wanna Go on a Esquid-pade!?
7. Squidn’t You Welcome Your Guests!?
INKsn’t That Amnesia!?
Want to Be Squid-nitiated Into Our Club!?
8. Won’t You Be a House-Squidder!?
Quitting Cold Squid!?
Aren’t You INK-capacitated With Heat Stroke!?
9. Won’t You Try Play-INK House!?
INKsn’t That On Your Squid-dule!?
Want to go to a Squid-musement Park!?
10. Squid Meets Grill!?
Squidn’t You Defend Yourself!?
INKsn’t That Way Too Cold!?
11. Aren’t You Using Hypno-squidism on Me!?
Are they Join-INK Forces!?
Squidn’t the Two of Us Not Be Alone Together!?
12. Let’s Do Some Train-INK!?
INKsn’t That a Festival!? (Part 1)
INKsn’t That a Festival!? (Part 2)
OVA 1. Squid You Just Break That?
INKsn’t it Normal?
Hide and S-INK?
OVA 2. How About a Squiddie Pool?
I Th-INK Your Mom Is Here?
A Message INK a Bottle?
OVA 3. I Th-INK We Need a Helper?
How Squid You Find Out?
Squid I Break the Law?
Squid Girl gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer, which Sentai have given a progressive encode. It’s a very nice transfer, clean, sharp, and smooth, with bold and bright colours, bringing out the best in the simple yet appealing character designs and the vivid animation. There are moments when the line art seems oddly uneven, broken as if aliased but it seems to be an artefact of upscaling. Squid Girl is an anime aimed at the younger market, and that’s reflected in its visual style, which is a lot more cartoonish and energetic than anime aimed at more mature audiences. This really comes across well on this release, and the only improvement might have been a Blu-ray presentation. Alas Sentai’s is locked to Region A, while Media Blasters only ever released the first season on Blu.
You have the option here of DD 2.0 Stereo English or Japanese, with translated subtitles or a signs only track locked during playback. I went with the Japanese audio as always and found it to be quite enjoyable, if the voice performances were a little predictable for the genre. Ika is suitably cute, and as per cute-girl convention, she has a habit of adding random cute sounding syllables to the end of each pronunciation. Here said suffix is ‘-geso’, and it is quite charming. But...
The Media Blasters presentation went to town with the puns and squid jokes, but Sentai have given the show a new translation, and they’ve maxed out the pun level. You only get a flavour of how bad it is in the new episode titles. They also heard the complaints some fans had when ‘-geso’ wasn’t translated in the Media Blasters subtitles, so they’ve actually gone and translated a verbal tic for their release. Now, every Squid Girl utterance ends with ‘squid-squid’ which is not only unwieldy, it’s also downright stupid. It’s bad enough to have me swearing at the TV when I first see it, but thankfully it’s also so bad that by the third or fourth episode in, I’m tuning out the puns and ‘squid-squid’ like so much white noise. I’ve stopped seeing it for the most part, except for the odd time where I get reminded. Could you imagine Viz Media translating every single “Dattebayo!” in the Naruto DVDs?
You get seven discs in an Amaray brick, with six discs held either side of three centrally hinged panels. The discs present their content with static menus, jackets pictures and each episode is followed by translated English credits. The discs also autoplay with a promo for the HIDIVE service.
Disc 1 has the textless opening, four textless closings, and trailers for Himouto! Umaru-chan, Chihayafuru, Amagi Brilliant Park, and Flying Witch.
New to this release are the audio commentaries. On this disc you’ll find two, on episodes 1 and 3, with Hisako Kanemoto in character as Squid Girl commenting on the on screen action.
Disc 2 has four textless closings.
This time the commentaries are on episodes 5 and 8, and once again we get Squid Girl’s observations on the action, although when voice of Eiko, Ayumi Fujiwara joins the chat, it becomes a conventional commentary.
Disc 3 has four more textless endings.
The Mini-Squid Girl Short Stories which were presented as OVAs on the Manga release are here, two of them running to 9:27.
You get another Squid Girl commentary on episode 12.
Disc 4 has the second season textless opening, and four textless closings.
You’ll find plenty of Japanese Promos, including the creepy cannibalistic ones where Squid Girl is promoting pickled squid snacks. That’s so wrong. It’s like a weird version of the first Muppet movie, where Kermit signs on the dotted line to advertise fried frogs legs.
Finally on this disc is the “I Th-INK That’s English!?” Clean Version running to 7:05.
Disc 5 has four more textless closings, as does Disc 6.
Finally Disc 7 has two textless openings and two textless closings.
It looks like I’ll have to hold onto the Manga discs for the Hisako Kanemoto interview and Hat Folding featurette, and the less obnoxious subtitle translation for season 1.
Squid Girl is light and inconsequential fun, which is a surprisingly rare delight in anime. You’d think that anime is a disposable commodity at the best of times, but so much of it is serialised, relies on character development and back-story, and ties into other media, especially manga, that it’s hard to take even the most trivial of creations without a hint of weight. Squid Girl on the other hand has none of that. It’s the simplest of creations, twelve episodes crafted around one joke, and you can just watch and bask in its simplicity.
The joke is Squid Girl herself. Ika Musume is the unlikeliest of invaders, supremely sure of her superiority, but constantly defeated by her own inadequacies. She’s brash, loud and confident, and fortunately for the average anime fan, supremely cute and adorable too. The joke is in her attributes, as being a humanoid squid doesn’t exactly imbue you with superpowers. The most effective of her abilities are her prehensile tentacles, which make her a versatile waitress, and give her a wicked ability to deal with pesky flies, as well as fend off unwanted advances. Other than that, there’s not a lot of hope in conquering the world with the ability to glow in the dark, or spew ink. She can be mistaken for a ghost, and does provide an appetising topping for squid ink flavoured noodles (although you do not want to see the chef preparing them).
The comedy comes from the characters that she meets and interacts with. Her first encounter is with the Aizawa family, who run the Lemon Beach House. Eiko is outspoken, intimidating, and quickly puts Ika to work when her tentacles punch a hole in the side of the shack. Eiko’s sister Chizuru is soft spoken, gentle and kind, and more terrifying than anyone else. Only little brother Takeru is amenable to a squid invasion, and the two quickly become friends. It isn’t long before Ika moves in with the family.
More danger comes from Eiko’s friend Sanae, a girl with a cosplay fetish, who loves all things cute, and very quickly starts lusting after Ika, hence the need for tentacles to fend her off. Then there's Cindy Campbell and her back up crew of MIT graduates. She’s looking for an alien to study, and despite Ika’s protestations to the contrary, decides that the Squid Girl is actually an alien tentacle girl. Into this mayhem also arrives surfer Nagisa who also gets a job at the beach house. She thinks that an actual Squid Girl invading is really dangerous, and that everyone else is crazy for dealing with her so matter-of-fact-ly. Ika’s just glad to find one human who is actually intimidated by her. As the episodes progress, more and more characters are introduced, with their unique foibles and comic traits.
Each episode consist of three stories, simple set-up and punchline formats that are ideal for the simple nature of the comedy. There’s not a lot to Squid Girl, as it’s really just a show based on the humour that arises from culture shock, where an unlikely being is introduced to a strange situation, with the misunderstandings and mayhem that arises. Some of the stories are funnier than others, a few are downright hilarious, some not so much, but most offer a fair bit of mirth that had me quietly chuckling throughout. The characterisations are simplistic and clichéd, while the stories don’t tax the intellect. Some of it does get mildly saucy; particularly Sanae’s infatuation with Ika, but most of it is gentle, understated comedy that doesn’t really push any boundaries. Occasionally, enough of an emotional arc will develop in an episode to get you invested in a character or two, but most of it is of the quick giggle variety.
That’s what I wrote when I reviewed the first series, and it holds just as true for the second, twelve more episodes in the same short but sweet vein. It helps that with the premise firmly established, the second season gets to develop and play with the characters more, and you get more of a sense of running gags that flow through the series. It’s good, teatime aimed fun, cartoons that kids can enjoy, but with enough of an edge to them that adults can get the other dimension to the gags too. I would have marked this complete collection up, as with the second season and the OVAs, it just a funnier package as a whole. But I have to take a mark of for the subtitle translation, which seems like an expression of pun Tourettes topped off with a stomach churning portion of squid-squid.