The following contains spoilers for Episode 1 of Uncle from Another World, "I'm Finally Back From the Fantasy World Of Granbahamal After 17 Long Years!" now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Uncle Kousuke may have missed out on the past 17 years of his life, but nothing is more tragic than discovering who won the 90s console wars. Uncle From Another Worldisa comedic fantasy with a refreshing approach to the Isekai trope.
Based on Shindeiru Hotondo's comedic Manga, Uncle From Another World is a nostalgic Isekai fantasy adventure, with an intriguing twist. Uncle Kousuke Shibasaki has been in a coma for the past seventeen years but suddenly awakens when his nephew, Takafumi Takaoka, stops by to visit. It becomes apparent to Takafumi that his uncle has not simply been asleep all this time, but was in fact fighting for his life in an alternate dimension and appears to have inherited some supernatural abilities along the way. Uncle Kousuke and Takafumi team up to tackle modern society, while still prioritizing video gaming above all else of course.
Takafumi's Eccentric and Esoteric Uncle
After being hit by a truck at 17 years of age, poor Kousuke spent almost two decades in a comatose state, oblivious to the world until his sudden resurrection. The middle-aged man gives off a particularly deranged impression at first, speaking in tongues and claiming to be magical. However, when Japanese words fall from Kousuke's mouth, his claims are proven to be true, and the origin story behind these supernatural capabilities may not be as far-fetched as first assumed.
While in a coma, Kousuke's consciousness is transported into an alternate reality, where he is subsequently mistaken for an orc due to his unappealing visage. The poor boy is sold into slavery and has to fight for his life in a world full of monsters, with seemingly no allies, except for a rather persistent and sadistic Elf, who eloquently fulfills the tsundere role. Thankfully, Kousuke has some experience in such situations; not first hand, but through dedicating his childhood to all things SEGA. The young warrior's survival does not seem to be as much of an issue as his acceptance in Granbahamal, where the humans appear to be just as vicious as the sinister creatures.
After seventeen years of brutal hardship, Kousuke likely suffered extensive trauma but has relied heavily on his memory-erasing capabilities to manage the repercussions. Even though he may not appear to suffer from PTSD, Kousuke clearly does not have the mentality of a 34-year-old man and displays many impulsive characteristics typical of a teenager. He did not seem to get much time to socialize in Granbahamal but Takafumi is particularly shocked by his uncle's lady skills; which are entirely nonexistent. in terms of maturity level, Takafumi and his uncle may just be neck-and-neck.
Kousuke sums up his priorities quite nicely when his biggest question after returning to the land of the living is regarding how well SEGA is doing in the console wars. The news that the likes of Nintendo and Sony have taken over the game is completely devastating to the man, who compares his disappointment to the trauma he experienced in Granbahamal. Fortunately, his vast experience with technology way back in the 90s helps Kousuke significantly in adapting to the modern era, and he quickly cottons on to the joys of online content creation and "Wii-fii". His heart, however, is evidently still stuck in the 'good old days', and Kousuke is reluctant to convert to a smartphone, finding more pleasure in old-school flip-phones (that can spin now too)
Kousuke's passion for SEGA is relayed in the content of Uncle From Another World, as several nostalgic nods to classic gaming appear in the first episode alone. Not only does the animation technique jump between the anime aesthetic and a 16-bit style, but scenes from iconic SEGA games are referenced in the imagery, including:
- Joe Musashi from Shinobi (1987)
- Golden Axe (1989)
- Sonic The Hedgehog (1991)
- Street Fighter 2 (1991)
- Saint Sword (1991)
- Sega Saturn Japan boot-up screen (1994)
- Magic Knight Rayearth (1995)
- NIGHTS into Dreams (1996)
- Guardian Heroes (1996)
- Shinrei Jusatsushi Taroumaru (1997)
- Digital Dance Vol 1: Namie Amuro (1997)
- Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998)
As far as viewers can tell from their introduction to Uncle From Another World, Takafumi's family was not quite prepared for Kousuke's sudden hospitalization (although, who would be ready for such a thing). The details are not clear, but Takafumi reveals that his Uncle's coma caused a great rift in the family, and the young man seems to have taken up the responsibility of caring for the unconscious Kousuke. The family were likely strained by the financial burden of seventeen years worth of hospital bills, or possibly disagreed about whether or not to pull the plug, and it seems that Takafumi has distanced himself from his clan as a result.
Overall, Takafumi seems to be quite an independent young man, whose financial woes could all boil down to the fact that his previous roommate had moved out, leaving Takafumi with all the bills. He is clearly a resourceful youngster, with a keen eye constantly searching for the next hustle. Takafumi quickly puts his uncle to work the moment he realizes his magical abilities could make some viral-worthy YouTube clips, lining their pockets in the process. Eliminating the delivery fee for online orders is also a stroke of genius, and it took the innovative youngster just thirty minutes to find all the best deals within Kousuke's limitations. Like his uncle, Takafumi has some otaku qualities, as he constantly relates his life experiences to games or anime, however, he does not appear to be as obsessed as Kaouske is.
An Unconventional Isekai
Although the concept of Isekai is not new to Anime fans, Uncle From Another World puts a unique spin on this classic trope through how the narrative is portrayed. In terms of his experience in an another world (the backbone of Isekai) Kousuke's story begins at the end, once his travels are already over. So even though his adventures are a major factor in the anime, the entire Isekai storyline is set up almost as a prequel to Uncle From Another World, one which viewers only see through flashbacks.
Interestingly enough, the spectator is technically not even given the "first-person" perspective in this anime, as Takafumi substitutes as the audience surrogate for the most part. So, although fans are invested in Kousuke's comedic Isekai story, they are getting the full Takafumi experience, from his point of view. Maneuvering through Kousuke's memories is from a gaming frame of reference, alternating between viewpoints with ease. However, each time the audience begins to get invested in the Granbahamal storyline, they are pulled back into reality, subsequently sharing Takafumi's frustrations at wanting (no, needing) to know what exactly happened to his Uncle From Another World.