13 Aug 2012
Rising from a suffering sea, Squid Girl (aka Ika Musume) seeks to wreak revenge against a callous and cruel humanity for their defilement of her home. Her first target? A beach hut closest to the waves which will serve as her base of operations. Her deadly tentacles ready for action, the fate of mankind rests in her inky protrusions...
At least, that's the plan. Truth is that Ika is a clueless ditz whose only real talent is using fishy puns and generating tasty ink for the diner's customers. Plans for her "inkvasion" are not going well.
The cafe in question is run by a group of siblings who take none of Ika's nonsense at all seriously. Fiery Eiko, the manager, takes full advantage of her from the start, and it's not long before the poor girl is being used as cheap labour. Even mild-mannered and softly spoken Chizuru can keep our invader quiet, with Ika's only real supporter being their enthusiastic younger brother Takeru, who is ready and willing to inkvade on command.
I was told by our hardy Squid Girl veteran Andy Hanley that this was a Marmite show, and I can see what he means. The puns are so teeth-grindingly awful that only a bucket-load of charm and some genuinely clever writing could hope to buffer the blow(fish) and make the whole thing endearing before you've haddock 'nuff. But cod help me, after a while it becomes inkfectious and you'll find yourself doing it too without realising it. (I think I need kelp).
The show splits each episode into three parts, all short stories. This is the genius of the show, as each ridiculous situation could outstay its welcome if stretched to a full half hour, but in bite-size chunks everything is as airtight as a crab's shell and helps to keep the show afloat where sloppier handling could have gilled it. (I'll stop that now, promise!)
The show is at its best when it centres on Ika herself; whether she's learning to adapt to human life, enacting one of her doomed plans or simply figuring out how an umbrella works she is undoubtedly the star of the show. The supporting cast can irritate in places, but all is forgiven as soon as Ika takes the stage.
The dub is solid if not spectacular. One irritation is that the cast never call Ika by name, always referring to her as Squid Girl. However, the overall work is perfectly watchable, and the puns are worked into the script very nicely, capturing the essence of the show perfectly.
Extras are plentiful and the menus are particularly pleasing, with some lovely artwork adorning each screen - hardly surprising when you consider that Squid Girl was a design without a story for two years, as reclusive artist Masahiro Anbe lacked the inspiration for a context that would do justice to the distinctive design of Ika herself.
All in, I can fully recommend Squid Girl. If you like bright, fast-paced and good-natured comedy, then this should do you nicely. The excessive punning is forgivable and even endearing. If only Squid Girl had been able to invade on Blu-Ray she would have been an overlord I'd happily bow to.