The days I seriously watched anime are long gone, and it often seems like there is a nostalgia component to it. Uncle from Another World – 異世界おじさん – fits that pattern pretty well.
The story starts with Takafumi picking up his uncle in some hospital after he woke up from a 17 years long coma after being hit by a truck in 2000. Takafumi quickly discovers that his uncle was in some magical world and is capable of magic. The uncle moves in with him, and Takafumi helps him adjust to the new world, and watches his uncle’s adventures in the magical world thanks to a visualisation spell.
While the theme sounds like typical fantasy, the tone is pretty off-beat and nostalgic: having a kid in the coma for so long divided the family and strained their financial resources, and Takafumi is the only one left to pick up the uncle, he is working part-time and poor. The uncle had no social skills to start with, and spent 17 years in a typical fantasy world, with the catch that everyone except him was beautiful, and so he was taken for an orc, given his poor communication skills, he got attacked, rejected and beaten up on a regular basis, so his time in the fantasy world is more a nightmare than a fantasy.
The time period the uncle lost is pretty interesting: basically the second half of the lost 30 Years – 失われた30年. It is also the period where lost a lot of its technological specificity and its edge. Internet replaced the various messaging systems, smart-phones replaces the various flip-phones, but also electronic dictionaries. The uncle was a die-hard Sega fan, and shocked to discover that his favourite company is not making gaming consoles anymore.
The time I lived in Japan (2005-2006) falls into this time-window, which certainly made the anime resonate with me.
As the story progresses, we discover the adventures of the uncle in the fantasy world through the perspective of the nephew and a female childhood friend of his, Sumika. In turn, the uncle has a different perspective on the relationship between Sumika and Takafumi, and their perception of their shared history. Misunderstandings are a central theme of Uncle from Another World. The bitter-sweet description of the working poor reminded me of NieA under 7 – domestic poor.
The anime is far from perfect, but it plays with the various clichés of anime, computer games, and particular RPGs in an interesting fashion. I would recommend it to anyone who would like a bitter sweet take on that.