Himōto! Umaru-chan R Episode 7
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Himōto! Umaru-chan R ?
Just as Sylphyn's presence seemed to dominate this season's early episodes of Himouto! Umaru-chan R, this middle stretch of episodes has given Kirie much more room to make an impression and get some stories of her own, which is a wonderful development indeed. While Sylphyn remains the show's secret weapon of undying adorableness, Kirie has become the season's rising star. Her Komaru obsession has generated many more laughs this year than it did in season one, and she continues to provide unexpected emotional depth to a show that used to spend more time worshiping at the altar of hedonism and potato chips. After learning more about her passions and secret talents last week, “Umaru and Amusement Parks” uses the titular setting to dive headfirst in to Kirie's desire to grow closer to Umaru, with a surprising amount of pathos to go along with its laughs.
Things are rough for Kirie right from the start, as she begins the morning believing that the girls' trip to an amusement park will help realize her horoscope: that the day's events will bring her closer to her “special someone”. From tripping on her own shoelaces to getting kicked out of line for a roller coaster over being too short, Kirie just can't seem to catch a break, and her hapless misfortune is just silly enough to stay funny, while being relatable enough to make us feel bad for the poor girl. Her struggles hiding her secret writing project last episode were more peculiar than anything, but I imagine most of the teenagers and adults watching Himouto! Umaru-chan can relate to the embarrassment of trying (and failing) to get closer to your crush.
When Umaru finally steps in and throws Kirie a lifeline, their ferris wheel ride seems like the perfect opportunity to finally let Kirie catch a break, but the story remains honest to the character and doubles down on her anxiety. Finally being alone with Umaru isn't going to magically alleviate all of her doubts and self-loathing; if anything, it only puts her fears into even sharper focus. Not only does Umaru step up and provide the exact kind of loving support that Kirie's anxiety calls for in that moment, but she even transforms into her Komaru self to do so, which was just so unbearably sweet that I couldn't help tearing up a little alongside Kirie in that moment. This marks the second time now that Kirie has gotten closer than anyone else (except for Taihei) to seeing Umaru's most private version of herself, and the fact that Umaru would do that for a friend is a sure a sign of any of just how far she's come as a character.
Any segment following that is bound to feel a little underwhelming, but the back half of the episode works just fine to explore some other characters and introduce at least one new girl to the mix. Sylyphn gets a sweet scene that wraps up the lingering “Umaru is my rival, indeed!” plot with the satisfied shrug of friendship, and Ebina gets an extended flashback to her brother that doesn't do much but remind the audience of the season's least interesting ongoing plot thread. Of all the girls, Ebina is the one who still hasn't had many moments to shine, primarily because she just doesn't get much to do. When she isn't pining for Taihei, she's busy being the butt of boob jokes or gags about her klutziness as a country bumpkin. Sylphyn and Kirie have transcended their stock archetypes by being an adorable force of nature and Umaru's obvious soulmate respectively, but poor Ebina remains “the clumsy one”, even in this excellent second season. I can see how this plot regarding her estranged brother is trying to flesh out her character, but so far it's failing to come together in a satisfying manner.
There also isn't much yet to say about the new girl, Hikari Kongo, outside of the fact that her bushy eyelashes seem a little incongruous to the show's art style and that her sister is Taihei's boss/friend/love interest, Kanau. There is a scene that involves her listing off constellations that ties back into Umaru and Taihei's stargazing last week, but more details about Hikari will have to wait for next week's episode, “Umaru and Hikari”. Given how strong (most) of the cast has been this year, the new girl has some high expectations to reach.
Himōto! Umaru-chan R is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
James is an English teacher and freelance writer who has loved anime his entire life. You can find him ranting about how Kirie and Umaru need to just kiss already on Twitter.
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