Episode 1 – Uncle From Another World

Uncle From Another World asks a simple question: what happens when, after truck-kun sends a young man to a fantasy world, he finally makes it back home 17 years later? The answer is some of the most painful comedy imaginable. (I mean that in a good way… I think?)

This tragicomedy is built around three core jokes. The first is the fact that, as the anime takes place in 2017, the titular uncle left Japan in the year 2000. (Since then, from our point of view, he has been in a coma.) Because of this, he views the world as the teenager he was when he left. He wants a cool new flip phone and is heavily invested in how Sega is doing in the current generation of console wars. It’s fish-out-of-water comedy pure and simple—and the otaku twist makes it even more enjoyable.

The second core joke is built around the fact that he still has access to all his magic powers. He can fly, create a sword of light, and use interdimensional storage. Yet, the way he and his nephew use his powers is to make YouTube vids, save on shipping fees, and watch memories from the other world on a magic TV screen for entertainment.

This brings us to the third core joke—that while tsundere did technically exist before he was whisked away to the fantasy world, the concept didn’t hit wide popularity in Japan until 2004. Because of this, the uncle had no way of knowing that the obviously tsundere elf girl that he kept running into in the other world wasn’t actually putting him down all the time. She was actually in love with him. Not knowing this, he constantly made romantic missteps—which he is eager to show his nephew as proof of her horribleness. I’m not going to lie here. These scenes hurt me right in my soul. It’s so sad for both of them yet you can’t help but laugh.

Simply put, this first episode is hilarious. The way it plays with otaku in-jokes and isekai tropes is fantastic. Honestly, the only thing I’m worried about is if I’ll be able to get through the whole season without cringing to death from seeing all those heartbreaking scenes of what he put that poor elf girl through in the fantasy world. Still, it won’t stop me from trying.


Random Thoughts:

• All the homages to classic Sega Games in that opening are fantastic.

• When I was a kid, I didn’t have the money for the newest game systems–but my next door neighbor did. I went over almost everyday to play games on first his SNES and later his Sega Saturn. I still remember the day that he traded the Sega Saturn in for a PlayStation. Truly, a man who chooses a Sega console cannot live an ordinary life.

• I love that, instead of becoming a superhero, Uncle just makes YouTube vids for easy cash.

• Uncle may not know the term “tsundere” but… surely he saw Evangelion right? It aired in 1995 after all.

• I agree about smartphones being boring. I always wanted a flip phone–preferably one that looked like a Star Trek communicator.

• The best gag in the whole episode? The silent film of Uncle “rescuing” the girl and her brothers.

• All humor aside, this episode raises an interesting question: if you could, would you erase your bad/traumatic memories? I feel like I would keep them. To quote Captain Kirk “You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away.

Uncle From Another World is currently streaming on Netflix.

Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.

Leave a Comment