Shinryaku!? Ika Musume S2 – 12 (Finale)

The second season of Shinryaku!? Ika Musume retained the same charming, soothing, and above all amusing themes from the first season.  But unlike the first season which needed to build its world, mold its characters, and establish central themes, this anime had a foundation already completed and went from there, almost like a baton was passed from season one to season two for it to complete what was started.  And now that the second season has concluded, let’s evaluate how the continuation of Ika Musume performed.

If the goal of the first season was to introduce the zany cast of Ika Musume and form bonds between the characters, then the objective of the second season was to develop those bonds and extend them further than what the first season could’ve ever hoped for.  And that’s exactly what the second season delivered, not only between Ika Musume and all her friends but with other characters, too, but only to a minor degree.  We saw Ika Musume spend more time individually with characters for skits, especially with Kiyomi and her friends, rather than go on exploration adventures or get caught up in the wacky antics of some other character.  While the first half of the season catered to these skits, much like the end of the first season, the second half fixated on developing Ika Musume’s relationships with her friends.  We saw the creation of the Invasion Club with Kiyomi, some time spent with Takeru and his friends, appreciations from Ayumi and her father, and even some bonding with Chizuru.  Consider that goal accomplished.

What about the other side?  How was individual character development handled through the second season?  Well, comparing it to the first season, we can definitely say this is an area that dropped off.  While this sequel saw Ika Musume and friends build, strengthen, and test their relationships, all the characters failed to grow out of their initial stages as characters and remained as silly or gimmicky as when they were first drawn.  Besides Ika Musume who had several scenes which reflected her thoughts, presented the squid with some conflict, and generally showed character growth (otherwise used for gags), everyone else made marginal gains (or none at all) in this department and unfortunately as it is, you can’t use Ika Musume’s personal development as a cover for the lack thereof with everyone else.  I’d even make the argument that Sanae has declined as a character as all she has been used for recently is receiving a swift tentacle to the face and delighting in that agonizing pleasure.  As it pains me to type this, this is an area where the sequel squandered its opportunities and proved unsuccessful.  But to make things happily again, I won’t say anything that negative about Ika Musume during the rest of this post.

If Ika Musume is the heart of her own anime, then the humor, jokes, and gags are the muscles which give the anime almighty power.  The comedy in Ika Musume is its strength and the driving force behind each scene, skit, episode, and the entire series as a whole.  If the mission for this second season was to make us laugh, then we’d laugh at that mission since its way below the level of something like Ika Musume.  Something more challenging would be to compare it to the comedy during the first season and see how this stacks up.  Although I’ll definitely say that the comedy in the first season was largely better than the second, the difference is minimal so they end up being pretty equal with each other.  And considering the first season had dibs on all the good skits, I was worried about the material remaining for the second season and thought this would be the B-list after the A-list was used last year.  Considering that handicap and how well it performed, the goal for the comedy in Ika Musume passes with a satisfactory score.

Trailing behind the laughs in Ika Musume are all the touching and endearing scenes that light a gentle fire beneath our hearts and warm it ever so lovingly.  Yes, all those heartwarming moment is another key idea in Ika Musume with the constant reminder we are watching an outsider learning our cultures, customs, and oddities and is eagerly learning about them, participating in them, and generally wanting to have fun.  Just watching that is enough for me and that’s not even including the skits that try to leave your heart in a better place than when the skit started.  The second season had more meaningful and memorable moments that melted our hearts, such as when Ika Musume realize her shipwreck made it to the ocean (episode 4), when Ika Musume tried to hide the fact she broke Takeru’s RC car (episode 5), or when Ika Musume brought Kiyomi’s friends over to her home when she was ill to allow her to participate in their activities (episode 7 and my personal favorite).  Did I forget to mention mini Ika Musume or the finale, too?  Those would fall into this category, too, boosting it to be one of the best aspects of the show now.  Without a doubt, this area excelled beyond any of our imaginations.

Of course, this could keep going with relentless other categories but these were the main areas I focused on as the season aired.  I wanted to see Ika Musume bond with the entire cast and bring out their characters more than what we initially saw, to laugh wholeheartedly during each skit, and have a nice, warm, touching moment each episode.  Can’t say I was disappointed with any of that besides the characters emerging from their cocoons and growing before our eyes.  There really is no point in even evaluating the story (there is none), the setting (the snow episode was wonderfully executed though), the artwork (up to personal preference), or the music (up to personal preference) for an anime like this, but it can be done if you thought they were essential to your enjoyment.  Actually, I’d like to continue and hit every aspect but it’s about time I start wrapping things up and getting toward the conclusion.

In the end, the second season of Ika Musume performed well and turned out to be one of the better sequels of this past year in anime (placing second).  And while the anime did not match the same score as the first season, this sequel matched the original in countless respects and even surpassed it in a few.  Most importantly, it preserved the same atmosphere, charisma, and style of entertainment that made the first season such an enjoyable, energetic, and humorous anime.  You will be missed again, Shinryaku! Ika Musume, but let’s pray it’s not for long.

I’m glad I am able to allot enough time to return to this anime and give it one final episodic post before it was too late.  It really bummed me out having to drop the anime from my regular posting schedule when midterms and group presentations picked up and I kept falling behind on watching anime, writing anime, and generally staying up way to late and not getting enough sleep for school.  Dropping Ika Musume from posting schedule didn’t really change much of anything but it was one less thing to do and I could put the anime off to a later time when I could relax and enjoy it.  If anyone was following this anime regularly on my blog then I want to take this final moment to apologize for cutting it without warning and left it untouched for about three weeks before integrating it into my weekly reviews.  Hope you don’t have a squidding problem about it!

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