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Friday, January 31, 2014

Initial Thoughts: Pupa, Muromi-san

Pupa/ピューパ: Having seen the first two episodes of Pupa, I couldn't begin to tell you what's going on. A young girl on her way home from school is visited by a mysterious witch who tells her to go home before she sees the red butterflies. Naturally, she sees the red butterflies and bad stuff starts happening. Much to her brother's dismay, this young girl is transformed into something horrible that still carries her consciousness. And then more chaos and vague words of wisdom from the witch.

Aside from a flashback sequence that showed that the siblings come from a house of spousal and child abuse, there has been no real effort to bring any further depth to these characters. The story itself is non-existent at this point beyond "what is going on?". This was a highly hyped series so what's the deal? Why isn't this series better and more coherent?

Apparently, Pupa should have been a proper 22-minute episode kind of series. But it's not. An average episode barely brushes five minutes total running time. What gets lost in the crunch process is story development, characterization, and coherency. Each episode feels painfully in media res and more like a small scene than an actual episode. The shorter format does this show absolutely zero favors. But I'm still watching - because gosh darn it, I want to know what's happening!

Yes, I'm hopelessly lost with Pupa, but at five minutes per episode, it's not much of an investment on a psychological horror that hopefully will explain itself by series end. Plus, the art style is pretty interesting and the opening/ending sequences are good. I like the textured appearance on each scene, like the art itself has been splotched in blood.

Note: I hear it gets incest-y further into the series, so you have that to look out for. And no, that's not why I'm watching it! It can't always be incest roulette harem shows, okay?

Muromi-san/Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san

On the other hand, Muromi-san, a title from last spring, is thankfully much more straightforward. A young teenage boy named Takurou is relaxing at the docks and fishing when he hooks a most bizarre catch - a mermaid named Muromi. She's odd and hyper and annoying and won't stop texting him but much to Takurou's irritation, Muromi just won't go away. She is not the only mermaid in the sea, of course - apparently, all her mermaid friends are legendary beasts, although you couldn't tell from their outwardly moe appearance. Naturally, hijinks occur!

So far, two episodes in, that's all it has been - hijinks. We spend most of the time with Takurou and Muromi at the docks, watching them get into weird situations and learn more about each other - or really, have Takurou learn about Muromi and the truth of life under the sea. Oh, and apparently mermaids have shell-shaped cell phones and have had them before humans! Because why not, right? But seriously, the cell phone picture of Levia-san destroying a city was great.

Muromi is fun without being irritating, which in itself is a miracle. The only one genuinely annoyed by her actions is Takurou, who just wants to chill out and fish by himself. Of course, he has also started growing attached to the strange mermaid with the Hakata dialect. If he didn't, we wouldn't have much of a series. Her friends are pretty awesome, too, especially Leviathan Levia-san.

To be honest, the art style of Muromi-san seems a little off, especially in the character design area. But it's pretty effective for a show that is all about quick jokes, visual gags, and odd stories. I'm really looking forward to meeting more of Muromi's odd friends as well as hopefully seeing more interaction between humans and mermaids, as well as all the legendary action scenes hinted in the opening sequence.