Shinryaku! Ika Musume follows the squidly adventures of our favorite tentacle squid girl, Ika Musume, as she attempts to invade and enslave humanity. Armed with her random knowledge, unreliable common sense, and a childish mentality, Ika-chan successfully “infiltrates” a beach restaurant, where she eventually settles down with the Aizawa family. The anime illustrates the comical events surrounding Ika Musume and a cast of oddballs as Ika-chan lives her new life among humans.
As a straight comedy, Shinryaku! Ika Musume is composed of a series of sketches with absolutely no attempt to string them together. There is no overarching plot or parallel themes to run alongside the jokes. Sketches just happen because they might be funny; one sketch may be about Ika Musume’s first time with make-up and the next about Cindy’s hunt for aliens. Because the series focuses all its efforts and minutes into its comedy – most events and script go toward an immediate punch line – if the humor succeeds, then so does the anime. Of course, if the jokes fall flat, the series falls too as it lacks anything else substantial .
It is hard to evaluate comedy. Scholars have written myriads of literature over the centuries on what tickles us, and there is still no concrete answer in sight. I doubt I can add any meaningful insight to what appeals to our humor sense. What I can say is that Shinryaku! Ika Musume, for me, is a messy hit-or-miss.
The comedy uses a mixture of slapstick, exaggeration, and grotesque distortions in most of its sketches. The fast pace is appropriate for this kind of chaotic, haphazard humor. However, because of the randomness of each sketch, my enjoyment varied wildly depending on the particular joke and my mood. I found myself laughing at about one-third of the sketches, and rolling my eyes at the rest, particularly the ones that seem to try too hard at being funny and consequently result in bland distastes.
To exacerbate these failed sketches, most of the characters are quite boring. Their one-dimensional personalities rely on singular traits to be exploited for jokes. For example, Chizuru is the beautiful older sister whose kind façade belies her scary and fearsome powers. This is fresh in the first episode, but the anime really beats this set up to death. Ika Musume finds out about this early on; then the exact same revelation comes to Gorou; after that, the joke is repeated again with the Americans with very little variation. Chizuru’s character gets very tiring very quickly. Sanae suffers from this as well. Her entire role in this series can be reduced to a psychotic lesbian girl obsessed with Ika Musume. Like Sanae and Chizuru, most other characters only have one humorous motif that is pounded on repeatedly and exhaustively.
On the other hand, Ika Musume is, in contrast to the supporting cast, a very complex character. Each sketch reveals a little more of her super adorable personality. She is an invader, a genius, a child, and often just a weirdo. Ika-chan is incredibly delightful to watch. I especially love to watch her do all kinds of creative and unimaginable things with her tentacles. Indeed, I found most of the Ika Musume-centric sketches wonderful.
In particular, this short deserves special mention: 
The inclusion of this touching drama in an otherwise silly anime is brilliant. Though this sketch is far different from the rest of the series, it never feels awkward. It provides the perfect balance and variance to a single-minded show. Furthermore, the sketch itself is beautifully directed. The few narrations and the girls’ expressions portray such emotions.
- The one notable exception is the touching, bittersweet mini-Ika sketch.
- Even if the anime does not interest you, I would still highly recommend watching this one sketch. It can be just as beautiful as a standalone short animation. Be prepared with tissues though because this is an incredible tear-jerker.
Shinryaku!? Ika Musume Review (second season)
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