"Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl" is a
Niwa Makoto moves in with his aunt, Touwa Meme, and takes up his dream life of going to school in the big city.
His hopes for a conventional school life don't last long. Meme's daughter and Makoto's cousin Erio is also living in the house. She's convinced she is an alien, here to observe earthly life. She wraps herself up in futons, refusing to reveal herself.
Makoto meets other girls at school, some of whom have a history with Erio. He learns more about the strange family he's come to live with.
The series teases a bit of harem-style romantic comedy, what with several girls (Erio, Meme, Ryuuko, Maekawa, and Yashiro) all interacting with him in their own way. Despite that, it's really more about how Makoto grapples with Erio's eccentric traits and his own preconceptions about what's normal.
Touwa Erio is a character that gets the viewer's attention. The animators did an amazing job of giving her an innocent, otherworldly look while still creating a family resemblance to Meme. It's easy to see why Makoto finds her distracting.
It's not just her appearance, though. Erio's experiences, her time away from home, and the reactions she got on her return have all taken a psychological toll. She isn't well, and maybe she never will be. The series shows us this girl, wounded and confused, and asks us to understand without judgement. At first Makoto thinks he wants to fix her, but he soon learns that the real challenge is simply to accept her.
No character in this series is "normal". Everyone has their own quirks, some small, some large. Even the "only sane man", Makoto, has his plus and minus system. Everyone is beautifully unique. Every character has quirks, problems, hobbies, and fascinating depths.
The character of Meme can be very unsympathetic to some viewers. She ignores or mistreats Erio at times. Even if you explain her behavior by saying she's not coping with Erio's personality problems, she still crosses the line a couple of times.
I found myself softening on Meme's character several episodes in, once she makes her wager with Makoto. It becomes clear that she really feels for Erio, but that raising her is possibly more of a challenge than she's up for. But it can be tough making it that far.
Some people might want more explanation for the events in the last episode. I hope that those people will look at how things turn out, and what we learn or don't learn is partially the point of the series.
I think the central message of the show is that some questions can't be answered, some problems can't be fixed, and some wishes can't come true. In the end, we wrap ourselves up in illusions to keep safe from a confusing, painful world. It takes effort and courage to admit you're wrong, and to reach out and really try to understand someone else.
The series uses "alien" mostly as a metaphor for "alienation". The mysteries of death, the possibility of the unknown, the strangeness of contact with someone wholly unlike you. If you look past the initial and superficial harem trappings, it's an entertaining look at some fractured but functional relationships.
If you want to see the Anime Music Video that got me to give this series a try, here it is: