Matt Kamen on an invasion with a difference
Up from the depths, thirty stories high – no, wait, sorry, that’s Godzilla. While the mighty lizard has proven to be a legitimate threat to mankind on numerous occasions, we probably don’t have much to fear from Squid Girl, the eponymous would-be overlord who’s trying to take over the Earth.
Squid Girl’s cause is actually just, from an environmental view – tired of humanity dumping rubbish in the oceans, the (inexplicably humanoid) young cephalopod marches onto land to make things right. Fortunately for us, her invasion isn’t terribly well planned and she instead quickly gets conscripted into working for a beach house restaurant. Although the Aizawa sisters – feisty redhead Eiko and quiet but ridiculously strong Chizuru – try to keep Squid Girl under control, she learns more about life on the surface, always scheming to subjugate humanity. However, despite boasting all the bizarre powers a human-sized squid might possess (including impressively powerful and dextrous tentacles in place of hair and the frankly disgusting ability to vomit up ink), most people mistake Squid Girl for a cosplayer. Cue comedic misunderstandings in three, two, one….
Each episode typically offers three mini-stories that drop the characters into all sorts of mishaps. From Squid Girl trying to recruit an army on the surface world, to her running afoul of mistaken UFO researchers and finding the one human who’s actually scared with her, the varied and increasingly unhinged cast keep the laughs coming thick and fast.
Artist Masahiro Anbe created Squid Girl in 2005 and, liking the visual but having no story based around her at the time, inserted the character into his portfolio of self-published work. Eventually, publisher Akita Shoten took notice, and Squid Girl made the leap to her own manga series in 2007, in the pages of Shonen Champion magazine. It’s not the first comedy manga to feature inept invaders – Mine Yoshizaki’s Sgt Frog has launched a merchandising and media empire off the back of a handful of pop-culture obsessed alien frog-soldiers, while Rumiko Takahashi’s classic Urusei Yatsura remains for many the benchmark of such stories. Anbe’s take has more of an environmentally conscious edge to it, though remains first and foremost a rapid-fire laugh machine. The series’ reclusive creator is something of an enigma though – little is known of 29-year old Anbe except that he still lives and works in Kanagawa Prefecture, Squid Girl is his only major published work to date and his Twitter feed is replete with Call of Duty tweets!
Responsibility for shepherding Squid Girl from sea to screen fell to newcomer studio Diomedea. Originally an offshoot from the larger (but now defunct) Group TAC, the group honed talents in assistant animation roles on the likes of The Skull Man before tackling Anbe’s creation as one of their earliest in-house efforts. Established comedy director Tsutomu Mizushima helmed the series, bringing with him the same level of surreality that viewers of weird jungle farce Hale+Guu enjoyed. UK fans will have most recently seen Mizushima’s work on the macabre XXXHolic though, so Squid Girl should prove to be a keen example of the director’s versatility.
Squid Girl’s invasion has begun – prepare yourself with the complete first series.