Poyopoyo (2012)

poyopoyo

I’m back again with more winter anime for human beings. Poyopoyo is about a nearly perfectly spherical cat. It ran the entirety of 2012 for 52 episodes. Each episode is a smidgen under 3 minutes. So, if my arithmetic is correct it’ll take you 2 hours, 27 minutes and 20 seconds to watch them all.

It was director Akitaro Daichi’s second cat anime following the superior Kuruneko. The bad news is, you can’t watch Kuruneko in English. As second choices go though, Poyopoyo runs it close for quality, if not realism. The cat is generally cat like, but there are also just as many jokes about his unusual size and shape.

Rie Ooshima returns as animation director from Kuruneko bringing the visual charm she brought there, but with a wider colour palette. Plus, it’s got the quality page to screen gag conversion that we’ve come to expect from Daichi’s comedy shows.

It also has a number of voice actors who almost feel like a troupe nowadays given how regularly Daichi uses and reuses them. Suzuko Mimori, Akira Kamiya and Hidekazu Ichinose play the family who own Poyo. They since have appeared together, or alone in a number of other Daichi projects. These include in DD Fist of the North Star, Kamisama Kiss, and the post-Poyopoyo live action Edo Cafe.

Plus, it has top cartoon animal voice provider Ikue Otani (Pikachu, Chopper) as the voice of the titutlar cat.

Unfortunately we’ve not been delivered a second season, so the introduction of Poyo’s mother, sister and similarly spherical nephews remain tantalising out of reach.

You can see all the circular cat’s adventures at Crunchyroll.

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Bottom Biting Bug – Episodes 1 to 3

If you listen to my podcast or follow me on twitter, you will know that I was excited for this show. A show based on a 2007 Minna no Uta music video by Uruma Delvi, about bean headed bugs that bite bottoms. The show follows 10 year old Bottom Biting Bug XVIII and his family and friends in 5 minute bottom biting based adventures.

It is even better than I was expecting.

The mixed media look of the opening reminded me somewhat of Koji Nanke, and effectively sets the show’s tone in 15 seconds. The stories have a relentlessly logical approach to an absurd concept. In the world of Bottom Biting Bug, there are a bugs whose job is to bite bottoms. It is a service industry that provides a way to pep up the individual whose bottom is bit. Taking this as FACT, the show then explores that absurd concept. How do you market this service? How do you get better at it? What are the hazards involved? ALL THESE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED.

Furthermore they will find an excuse to segue into a sequence inspired by the original music video EVERY EPISODE. While your bottom won’t be bitten while watching it, your brain will not escape the earworm.

All in all a great addition to watching Poyopoyo on Crunchyroll when you wake up on a Sunday morning. And certainly better than any of the other new anime I have seen so far this autumn. 

Watch Bottom Biting Bug on Crunchyroll

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Gokujyo

Looking back at my review of Chu Bra, I can’t help think that the Brian who wrote that would be disgusted with the Brian who’s about to write this. But you know what, that Brian thinks Puni Puni Poemi is one of the best anime of the 2000s, so he can shut his goddamn mouth. That’s right, the so called past, I’m taking you down. With this following outrageous claim.

Gokujyo was one of the funniest anime shows I’ve seen.

Of course, I’m going to have to qualify that. It couldn’t actually manage to be one of the funniest anime shows throughout the hour’s worth of material in its 12 five minute episodes, but its highs ilicited some of the biggest (and guiltiest) laughs I’ve had from anime.

Based on a gag strip by Maya Miyazaki, the show had a troubled run. Various episodes were decreed unsuitable for television broadcast, leading to suggestions it was some sort of publicity stunt to encourage later sales of “uncensored” DVDs or push people to the DMM site where it was streaming.

Having watched it now, I’m not sure that was the case, as there’s less nudity than the comic version and there’s not really much censoring there. If you knew you were never going to be on the telly from the get go, why didn’t you do some of the strips where everyone’s naked? What the pulled episodes seem to have been censored for is exceptionally filthy jokes rather than anything erotic.

The show revolves around Aya Akabane, who is a rich teenager sent to an all girls high school, her classmates, her biker gang member sister and the school nurse (the other member of said biker gang). Rampaging hormones, teenage stupidity and convenient plot device personality disorders result in frequently lewd slapstick and farcical situations over twelve five minute episodes. It’s the Three Stooges if they were Japanese teenage girls and their shorts had been about masturbation and lesbians.

There’s been a number of these tales of horrible teenage girls, written by women, for men (is there some ludicrous conjunction that otaku use to describe them?) that have made their way from comic to television since the late night anime boom kicked off. I want to say the early Bob Shirohata show Momoiro Sisters (1998) was the first to do this on late night TV, but I might be wrong.

Gokujyo was the first show in recent memory that brought to mind those early days of the late night anime boom and the Wonderful slot (where Momoiro Sisters aired) in particular. Like Wonderful, Gokujyo sat inside an bigger entertainment programme (In this case SKE48 no Sekai Seifuku Joshi). And like the Wonderful shows, it was at its best when it showed a complete disregard to the idea of making the characters likeable.

Of course this is 2012, and sometimes it can’t resist the lure of the sentimentality. The final episode is the worst for this. The characters get all soppy over a character leaving who has barely been in the show, and when she has, the other characters didn’t really care for her all that much. Given how short the series running time is, they could have used this time better.

At its best though, it is full of cruel monsters engaging in the most ridiculous sexual slapstick. Maya Miyazaki made her name on erotic comics and while the anime won’t fully embrace the near gynaecological physicality of some of her punchlines, it does often make for a refreshingly physical farce. There’s some good character-based and verbal gags in there too, though some of that is lost through self-censoring, resulting a couple of the characters barely having personalities in the anime. Not that they are anywhere approaching nuanced from what I’ve seen of the comic, but a few missing visual gags would have helped differentiate what can seem very similar “straight man” characters in the anime.

By the end of the series you’re left with a filthy minded show that occasionally reached some great, grotesque, heights with its gags, but never quite managed to stay there.

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