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As you can tell from the header, this is a tricky series to summarize. Half the time, it falls under the 'wacky hijinks' category of anime. Aliens that look like people and who want to take the main character fishing all the time? Check. An international organization called DUCK that includes a duck as a member? Check. But it's more than that, as becomes evident around the 2/3rds mark, when the plot gets darker (those funny dances in the opening? Not funny any more). The main character has to learn how to deal with his crippling social anxiety (cleverly depicted from his point of view as drowning; hilariously shown as appearing to others like he's angry or constipated), make friends for the first time, and otherwise handle taking on more responsibility as a young adult. Even if you hate sci-fi stories, stop by for the fair handling of anxiety and realistic depiction of developing teenage friendships.
I also want to praise the animation. It is often several steps away from the common, and avoids being boring and flat. Rotoscoping is used deftly, and it makes the seaside town that is the primary setting gorgeous. The character movements are fluid (hah) and the lighting successfully conveys the time of day effortlessly. It is a joy to watch.
***Small note: some viewers have complained about a touch of orientalism/exoticism regarding the members of DUCK. Your mileage may vary; I let it go because it didn't seem like the anime was making their culture/ethnicity into a joke, and it's a nice change of pace to have a fictional international organization that isn't an excuse for American/European characters.
***Trigger warning: there is mind control in this story, used nonconsensually and repeatedly. At first, it's played for laughs, but eventually it's treated as the horror it is.
Clarifying my rating system: Obviously I am constrained by the reality that the typical SIMKL user doesn't rate below 8 if they liked the show. My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 7 and 8, 8 and 9, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization, the plot, the appearance of the animation and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. A show will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.
1-6: I would never rewatch/finish watching, or recommend. Further clarification: 1-3 is pure excrement, and I would rather be getting un-anesthetized surgery for the entire running time. 4-6 is the kind of thing where I would sincerely rather be doing chores, but could survive sitting through it if a friend begged me to. Differences within those ranges relate to non-plot details (ex. beauty of animation) or presence of specific deal-breaker tropes rather than general badness.
7: There are two types of 7s. 7A: I watched at least part of it, and may have stopped due to not liking the plot twists, character derailment, etc. In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time. 7B: I watched the whole show, but recognize deal-breaker tropes in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough to forgive its flaws. For both 7s, there would be huge caveats to any recommendation.
8: There are two types of 8s. 8A: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. 8B: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it to a 9 if I liked it more on reflection. I'd consider it mostly harmless to view, with the occasional caveat. For both 8s, I would recommend the show to the right audience.
9: I enjoyed very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences.
10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill to anyone.
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