Nyaruko is, at its core, a romantic comedy but with some action included. One night a young boy named Mahiro is attacked by a monster. He is quickly rescued by a silver-haired girl named Nyaruko. The girl claims she is from the planet Nyarlathotep and a member of the Planetary Defense Agency. As a PDA member, her job is to travel to Earth and hunt aliens who have an interest in Earth. Nyaruko falls for Mahiro rather quickly and declares herself his protector, leading to a series of adventures as new aliens, including Nyaruko’s rival, Kuko, invade Earth.
According to Nyaruko, all of the demons in the Cthulhu mythos are actually aliens, which is an incredibly interesting twist on the use of Lovecraft. The way the show manages to tie these elements into plotlines, even if just as an "alien of the week" deal, is really cool. However, they weren’t enough to pull me into the anime. Each new reference didn’t make me want to see the next episode; it just sparked another Internet scavenger hunt for more info on the reference. Though I love it when a show makes me want to look up more information on a subject, there’s a problem when it is to the detriment of me wanting to watch another episode.
Getting back to Nyaruko’s sense of humor, it is something you’re either going to love or hate, there isn’t much wiggle room either way. First, if you can’t catch the references, you simply won’t "get" what’s so funny about certain situations. Another problem is the characters, which are annoying to the point they are unlikable. Nearly all of the characters are incredibly over-the-top with their personality traits. Imagine the stereotypical "anime character" and you are most likely in the ballpark with how characters in Nyaruko act. Now imagine a show where nearly every character acts that way.
Nyaruko is not a complete disaster, nor is it a terrible show. Unlike the "Slice of Life" shows NIS has released as of late, there is always something happening in Nyaruko. Nearly every episode introduces some new alien or element to complicate the main plot. Granted, Nyaruko isn’t a necessarily deep show, but it is great to always have something happening. The problem is, each new plot element also introduces another "wacky" character into the mix, which can get incredibly annoying depending on your temperament.
The accompanying art book is, once again, a real highlight of the package. Entitled the "PDA Handbook," the book features double-page spreads with episode recaps, information on main characters, artwork, and even some supplemental images like storyboards or character studies. In fact, the spreads was one of the main reasons I decided to give Nyaruko a look rather than pass it off to someone else. It offers a better idea of the show than the cover. The monsters are some of the better parts of the show, so they should have been highlighted a little more than they are.
Nyarukovery focused on delivering a very specific brand of comedy to a very specific group. I am in no way a part of that select group, so the show clearly wasn't for me. Are you? Well, that’s for you to decide. If the Cthulhu elements sound interesting, Nyaruko might be worth a look, though know it comes in a super energetic, joke-filled candy shell.