Review: Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos (2012)
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
People have had over 8 years to tell me that HP Lovecraft's works have been adapted into an action sci-fi rom-com featuring schoolgirl aliens accosting a teen boy in inappropriate ways, and did I ever hear anything from ya'll? Deeply disappointed, that's all I can say.
Based off a series of light novels, this series is but one installment in a franchise that reimagines different figures from HP Lovecraft's works as aliens with a keen eye on Earth. The main protagonist is Space Defense Agency agent Nyaruko, one of the forms of the elder god Nyarlathotep. She's been tasked with protecting a young boy named Mahiro Yasaka who is being chased by a night-gaunt at the opening of the series. Nyaruko, being extremely powerful, literally rips the night-gaunt in half and forces herself into Mahiro's life.
Nyaruko falls in love with Mahiro and constantly obsesses over him in attempts to seduce and marry him, while Mahiro constantly threatens her with forks (which has an odd payoff when his mother is introduced).
One of the running jokes of the series is also that aliens are obsessed with Earth culture and entertainment, specifically video games and mature material.
Video games are specifically the passion of Kuuko, a Cthughan (from Cthugha) that's obsessed with Nyaruko and is possibly more lewd than Nyaruko in her attempts to seduce her. Eventually we also get introduced to Hasuta (from the planet Hastur), who is the son of the head of the Carcosa Computer Entertainment company (a rival of Cthulhu Corp.). Hasuta falls in love with Mahiro, so we get sort of a love square situation going (although incredibly unbalanced).
The series basically bounces from Lovecraftian reference/threat to reference/threat while playing with the rom-com dynamics and skirting but never fully barging into mature material (so that they can mostly make fun of the mature manga/anime market). And while it's chock full of Lovecraftian references, it's not really Lovecraftian in tone at all. In fact it's sort of an interesting inverse of most Western attempts to be Lovecraftian, where achieving the tone is essential because they shy away from ever using the actual names of Lovecraft creations. You might almost categorize this as just lip service or just using Lovecraft names and concepts as a skin for a distinctly Japanese anime product, but there is a heart to it and a unique love for the source material. As soon as you go along with that it's pretty enjoyable, and hey you still get a bunch of great creatures and monsters along the way.
Alan Moore's Providence played with the idea that the embrace of Lovecraftian material in modern society and media was sort of a memetic infection of reality setting the stages for our world to be consumed, and this franchise is kind of the embodiment of that concept. The difference being that it almost feels like it's gone so far off the scale that we don't really have to worry about the Great Old Ones invading, because if they do they'll just be very tsundere about the entire situation. Just show them some reality-tv and adult material and we should be ok.