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.