It’s been 17 years since Takafumi’s uncle fell into a coma. The family has split over whether or not to continue to care for him, so when he awakens unexpectedly in 2017, it falls to Takafumi to tend to him. The young man is already struggling to make ends meet though and is ready to cut his uncle free, when he discovers that the man’s babbling about living in another world during his time asleep may not be just a crazy delusion after all.
When Takufumi sees that his uncle can ignite flames and use wind to move objects, he has a change of heart. After all, this discovery means that he can use his uncle to make money! Taking him in, the two partner together on a YouTube channel (of course) while Uncle gets used to the modern world, including the power of Wifi, eBay, and room sharing! From Takufumi’s perspective though, the wonder lies in his uncle’s powers and memories, which he can display in the form of a digital monitor of sorts. It’s too bad that all Uncle really wants to do is play his SEGA console again.
More than any title this season (even more than Made in Abyss), I’ve been anticipating Uncle from Another World. The manga on which it’s based is dry, peculiar, and over-the-top hilarious, though I worried about how such humor (and a purposely “ugly”-looking series) could be adapted into animation. Looks like those worries were unfounded, with episode one doing well in sharing bits of the odd but accessible humor from the series, as well as the warmth of Uncle’s character.
Covered in dull and sepia tones and with a wrinkly sort of look, the series has a throwback feel through and through, including in its “modern day” setting of 2017 and Uncle constantly looking back to his youth (2000 and earlier) as well as his journeys in the isekai world. But most importantly, the series is entirely founded on Uncle, who establishes himself from the get-go as one of this season’s most lovable characters. He’s suffered through so much—the coma itself seems to be secondary to his treatment as an orc (due to his ugly face) in the other world—but remains eternally optimistic, partly through his obliviousness to the world and relationships around him, including a beautiful tsundere girl who likes him (a final scene in the episode involving her is riotous), but mostly because of all his exceptional powers. The greatest of these powers may just be his ability to immediately pop back up from circumstances or attacks, whether he’s been knocked down by the likes of Internet trolls or the even scarier (?) ones from a fantasy world. The characters in this show are a bit depressed and quite longsuffering, and yet the tone of the series is ultimately hopeful, meaning that it speaks a bit of reality and loveliness into our real world, using a fantastic scenario and a most nerdy character to do so.
While I’m obviously bullish on the series, I should note that it’s not a “10” from the start. I enjoyed the humor but despite the approach, the jokes aren’t necessarily unique (other than Uncle’s face causing him to be hunted down), and the first episode wasn’t outright hilarious. However, the manga gets better, and I assume this series, already excellent in episode one, will as well. That makes this series one worth watching throughout the season.
Uncle from Another World can be streamed on Netflix, where the series airs two episodes behind the Japanese release calendar.