Is it ironic that Ika Musume invaded the surface to liberate the oceans and topple mankind, yet, through inquiring and imitation, she is slowly becoming human herself? Or perhaps is it clever that she goes through this gradual transformation?
The three skits in this episode concentrated on Ika Musume discovering and attempting various human activities. From simple ones like walking a dog or doing morning exercises all the way to complex jobs like working as a lifeguard, Ika Musume spent her days learning about each activity and trying them out for herself, always accompanied with hilarious results. In fact, most segments in Ika Musume show our young, squid heroine learning about and emulating human life, about the complete opposite of her purpose of being here. Remember, she’s on the surface to make mankind pay for its sins on the ocean, not to join the unenlightened masses.
So is it ironic that Ika Musume is slowly becoming human while on her never-ending siege? It’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine her surviving without absorbing some of the human culture, so you can’t blame her for that. But this is more than just a little. Going back to the first season, she’s been to various schools, on mountain hikes, in volleyball tournaments, aided in extraterrestrial research, and made numerous friends with her theoretical enemies. She usually is open to trying out the various human activities and often times ends up having fun, too. It’s like her invasion has taken a backseat to experiencing the life of a human, like she’s alright with being a traitor to the ocean she dearly loves. That’s not to say she’s not conscious about saving the ocean but she seems more interested in living a human life rather than rescuing the ocean. So in that way, it is ironic that Ika Musume came to the surface only to become more human.
The other side of the argument, the one I toyed around with before writing this post, is that it is clever for Ika Musume to do these things. As we saw in the first episode of this season, she’s still nowhere near being ready to begin and maintain a full-scale invasion of mankind, especially since she keeps being thwarted by the unbeatable Chizuru. So why not explore the human world since she knows so little about it? Last week I wrote about how I believe Ika Musume is intelligent and that she explores the world to understand it better, something you can’t fault her on. Often times she imagines these various activities as some sort of militaristic drills or in some way tangentially related to her invasion, so you could say she’s trying to prepare still. It’s only later that she finds out these things are rather ordinary and non-threatening. Ika Musume frequently wants to participate in these activities to learn, not because she wants to be human, too. And it’d be hard for her to remain behind enemy lines without interacting with the humans and seeing what they do and how they have fun. You can’t blame her for thinking fireworks were some form of artillery and then end up with her having fun with them. Well, you can, but then you’re just being unfair. So in this respect, Ika Musume’s gentle adaptation to humanity is clever on her behalf.
Both sides have valid arguments looking at Ika Musume’s actions as being ironic or clever. The writers, however, are using this to their full advantage and have created some rather entertaining and hilarious scenarios. They know the strengths of their characters and the set-up they have and are able to make the most out of their skits. For example, in the lifeguard skit, Ika Musume tries to help out by being a lifeguard for a day but completely misunderstands the concept of her new job. One side of the skit shows that she’s trying out another human activity, this one happening to be the job that saves humans from the ocean which is completely counter to her initial objectives. But at the same time she’s curious about how humans help out the ocean and even helps clean up some of the trash. In fact, most skits have this duality to them, like they’re almost inseparable. So really, both ideas are correct, that Ika Musume is both ironic and clever. It’s just another piece of Ika Musume to consider while watching this hysterical and appreciated anime.
You often see Ika Musume protesting about how humans treat the ocean, often citing pollution as the biggest issue. Environmentalism like this is nothing new in anime and teaches a strong and moral message, especially to the younger and more impressionable crowd that watches this anime. But when watching her munch on some delicious shrimp in this episode, another idea sparked. What does Ika Musume think about overfishing? Does she advocate for sustainable seafood when she selects her cherished shrimp? Will it be one of her campaign points in future episodes?
I’m a little curious to see how this topic would fare in Japan since Japan is the world’s largest consumer of seafood in the world. They’re adopting more conservative and sustainable seafood measures but I’m not able to gauge how the population favors these actions or if they even feel strongly about it. It’d be interesting to see a character like Ika Musume, a champion for the ocean and beloved among anime fans, take on this subject, especially if it’s detested by the majority. I doubt the idea would ever come up in the anime but it’s something to think about when considering the moral and environmental message in this anime.