My Mental Multiple-Choice Power Is Completely Ruining My School Romantic Comedy (Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru)

(10 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series taking the piss out of dating sims.
(I believe the official nickname is “NouKome”.)

Trigger warning : there are some actual jokes in this. Do not drink while watching.


Kanade, our generic high-school protagonist, is afflicted with a very bizarre condition : he’ll randomly have seizures where multiple choices appear in front of him. (1) The choices are framed by over-the-top dramatic music and narrated by Jouji Nakata. (2) He MUST choose to avoid the pain. (3) The choices are most often between two equally silly and embarassing things.

Yukihira, the girl sitting behind him in class, is one of the few classmates of his that don’t recoil as soon as he freezes, about to be doing something very stupid. That’s mostly because she’s a complete troll, and finds him entertaining.

Ouka is another of those few people he’s on speaking terms with. Mostly because she’s always ridiculously cheerful and doesn’t seem to care about his antics. As the daughter of the CEO of some vast conglomerate, she’s always smuggling in various samples for her classmates to try out. Today’s batch includes blue pills for middle-aged women (why are you even bringing this to high school ?), an actual money-making machine (which looks even more illegal than improbable), and some bug-shaped candies (ingredient list not disclosed).

Most classmates refer to them as part of the “Reject Five”, which implies there are two more oddballs yet to be introduced (they show up in the OP/ED sequences).

Their pint-sized teacher knows about Kanade’s condition, but still takes every opportunity to troll him.

One more thing : those multiple choices aren’t delusions. When Kanade chooses that “a pretty girl falls out of the sky” (instead of “my fat neighbour falls out of the sky”), then you can be damn sure a pretty girl is going to fall out of the sky (and onto him), physics be damned.

Production Values

While this doesn’t have that much of a budget, there’s some flair in the direction, and it looks good enough to sell the jokes. I especially love Yukihira’s body language, as half her shtick wouldn’t work otherwise.

The fanservice is more than mild, as you’d expect from this kind of thing. Still nowhere too outrageous, and the OP sequence where all the female cast do backflips without actually showing anything has to be seen to be believed.

Overall Impression

What. The. Fuck. Was. That.

If the premise isn’t bizarre enough for you, then the early 4-minute TV reportage showing a montage of people endorsing the value of choice will probably do the job. (I was sold at “[famous Japanese historical figure] could have (1) assassinated [other famous Japanese historical figure] or (2) rolled around with a dolphin. He chose the first option, and history was made.”)

I haven’t laughed this hard while watching an anime series for a good long while. Some of the jokes will make you cringe, not all of them land, but there’s such a rapid-fire string of them that it doesn’t matter. Random absurdity with good comedic timing : it just works.

There’s always the risk it may run out of steam before ending, but so far, so good.

via [In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2013 – Page 13.

Winter 2013 capsules

First, let’s get a couple of shorts out of the way…

My Little Sister talks like an Osakan Mom (Boku no Imouto wa “Oosaka Okan”) surprisingly isn’t incest-bait, unlike the immense majority of series with “Imouto” in the (long-winded) title. Instead, it’s terrible in a completely different way : it features horrible cheap Flash animation and revolves around a “wow, the Kansai dialect as spoken by this girl is weird and kinda nonsensical” joke that’s mostly impenetrable to Western ears and doesn’t sound that funny to start with. Apparently it’s adapted from a language guidebook, which really shows (with “helpful” translation recaps explaining the jokes slowly all the time).

Inferno Cop is a weird little short series coming from Studio Trigger, aka the people behind Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and Redline. Alas, despite the pedigree this is objectively mindless garbage, with no budget whatsoever. Obviously this is part of the joke, but it’s not that funny. (Even P&Sw/G at its most poop-joke-obsessed lows had more depth and looked way better than this crap.)

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013.

Anime shorts are hard to review. In some lucky cases, they’re so terrible it’s easy to dismiss them immediately (see above ; although Inferno Cop‘s second episode had such gonzo charm that I’m starting to reconsider it). But in some case, there’s so little content it’s hard to judge how they’ll end up going.

Case in point : Encouragement of Climb (Yama no Susume). It’s about a high school girl who used to love mountain climbing but has been traumatized by a bad fall ; one of her elementary school friends tries to take her back to her old hobby… and won’t take no for an answer. It’s actually quite a promising start : it’s got some decent animation (including a slightly jarring CG-background shot at the beginning that isn’t half-bad), the plot progresses at a good clip, and it’s got more than one joke. Nothing earth-shattering, but good enough to be worth watching.

I’m more wary about Mangirl. It’s a comedy about young women setting up a new manga magazine. The problem is that it’s not really funny ; the basic joke is that they’re terrible at it, but the show features random bursts of offscreen competence so that they can be in business for more than one episode. And if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes of manga publishing, this looks much more superficial than, say, Bakuman (which is, you know, still airing).

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013.

Ai Mai Mi is yet another series of shorts adapting some comedy 4-panel manga. It’s notionally about a high school manga club, but really the three title characters spend most of their time or acting out terrible jokes. At least Mangirl had a plot ; this is just unfunny, horrible-looking crap. Avoid.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Nekomogatari (Black) somewhere, now that I’ve watched the whole of it (the four episodes aired just before the New Year, but took a bit to get translated).

For those who aren’t aware of it, this is a prequel to 2009’s Bakemonogatari, a very peculiar mix of harem romance, supernatural horror, self-indulgent dialogue and Akiyuki Shinbo being weird for the hell of it. That was a very good show indeed (if only for being a visual masterpiece), but it’s not for everybody. Nisemonogatari, its sequel last year, was basically more of the same, with even better technical quality but also even more self-indulgent.

The question with Nekomonogatari (Black), like any prequel, is whether there’s any point to watching it, considering how the events of “the Cat incident in Golden Week” have already amply been described in the main series in its “Tsubasa cat” arc. I’ve actually rewatched those four episodes to make sure, and yes indeed Nekomonogatari (Black) does cover a lot of (until now) relatively unexplored territory. It helps that this is a lean narrative (by -monogatari standards), making its point very efficiently at a pace that never feels idle. And the visuals are as striking as they’ve ever been.

This obviously whets my appetite for Kizumonogatari (the prequel people are actually looking for, describing “the Vampire incident on Spring Break” we’ve only very briefly flashbacked to until now), whenever that comes out ; and the “second season”, apparently slated for later this year.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 2.

Chihayafuru 2 was off to a good start, with the start of a new school year and the introduction of new club members feeling like a strong enough move forward to avoid repetition of what the first season did, and update the formula somewhat. (To say nothing of complicating the love dodecahedron a bit more.)

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 8.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Senyuu, a series of shorts parodying heroic-fantasy RPG games. Hilariously mean-spirited, and served by some impressive voice work from Yuuichi Nakamura. It’s got a shoe-string budget, but that doesn’t prevent it from being lots of fun.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 9.

I won’t bother with a full review for Straight Title Robot Anime (Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime). Notionally it’s supposed to be the first anime series fully animated with Vocaloid-type software, but that just makes it look cheap and generic. As for the story, it’s basically three “girl” androids failing to grasp the concept of humour for 12 minutes. I don’t just mean it’s tedious and unfunny (although it certainly is) : that’s really the plot. (They’re trying to recreate human humour long after humanity has vanished.)

I wouldn’t recommand watching this crap to anyone.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 11.


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

What is this I don’t even…


The titular Sasami, a recluse who never leaves home. She’s extensively cared for by her elder brother. When he’s off to work, she uses her computer network to spy on him possessively.

Said brother remains unnamed throughout the episode, and indeed goes to impressively bizarre lengths not to show his face to the camera at any point. Anyway, he’s a high school teacher, and probably well into his thirties.

Then there are the three sisters pursuing him to various degrees. Tsurugi is one of his colleagues, who does stuff like watching porn in the teachers’ office. The other two are students in the same high school : Kagami is the deadpan sarcastic one, Tama the loony one.

And then the plot goes completely insane : chocolate starts overtaking the world until the three sisters put a stop to it and save the world. (Oh, and and Kagami is apparently a cyborg.) It’s implied that this kind of stuff happens regularly.

It’s a SHAFT show, so there are absolutely no other characters around, with a cityscape entirely devoid of even a single extra.

Production Values

Typical Shinbo direction : artfully composed wide shots, random weird body language bits (such as the brother’s insistant avoidance of the camera), non-naturalistic backgrounds and colours. The animation for the action sequence is very impressive, which makes me wonder about the budget of this series.

What did I think of it ?

Hum. I had no worry that if anyone could make a brocon series watchable, it’d be SHAFT. Especially as the source material is said to be quirkily bizarre on its own right. And this is certainly an enthralling watch, even as alarms bell ring to warn that all of those characters are very creepy indeed.

But the big question is : where do you go from there ? A “bizarre menace of the week” structure could quickly become tediously repetitive, but I doubt this is really what the series is going for. On the other hand, there’s not that much room for character growth either : the characters’ quirks are overpowering and allow for little depth.

There’s definitely a lot of potential here, and on a technical level it’s definitely on SHAFT’s upper range, but I’m not convinced yet this is a show with legs beyond the shock-value façade.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2013 – Page 6.


(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Five girls talking about random stuff. Adapted from a manga written by the author of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei.


Hey, remember how the girls in SZS often devolved into a generic greek chorus sharing the same snarky personality ? It’s even worse here, where I’m utterly at a loss to remember distinguishing character traits between the five main characters.

Nominally they’re doing one-woman-show comedy routines, but the series focuses their idle talk in their break room.

Production Values

Unlike other adaptations of Kouji Kumeta’s work, this is NOT animated by Shaft, but by JC Staff. As such, it’s perfectly serviceable but utterly boringly directed.

Overall Impression

Duller than dull. Never mind all the barely translatable puns : most of the jokes are just very lame. Also, that they’re already resorting to “why would anyone animate us ?” jokes in the first episode doesn’t fill me with confidence.

I’ll give it one more episode to click, but I’m not hopeful.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012 – Page 12.

Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita)

(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The most cheerful post-apocalyptic series you’ll ever watch.


Our unnamed protagonist lives in a small rural village as a mediator to the fairies, on behalf of the UN. This basically makes her in charge of the female population here, mostly by virtue of having a clue and not being afraid of abusing her authority.

She lives with her grampa, a scientist also studying the fairies. And he’s very obviously calling the shots in the village, for about the same reasons.

The locals seem to suffer from a severe case of the stupids, and are barely able to function anymore. It’s funny until starvation because of their own incompetence becomes a plot point.

Fortunately there’s the fairies… and whoever’s running the mysterious FairyCo that’s been dropping free (awful-tasting) food recently.

Production Values

Well, that’s a good way to make a post-apocalyptic setting very creepy indeed : over-saturated bright colours everywhere, and the more pink the better. And that’s before the headless chicken start showing up, or the action moves to the utterly absurd FairyCo factory.

Overall Impression

Warning : this show doesn’t bother to explain anything about its setting : why has humanity declined ? Is this village typical of the world ? What state is the UN in ? (Our protagonists don’t seem to have access to any technology or outside help.) What’s with the fairies ? Indeed, it seems to revel in the explosive decompression of throwing the viewer into this strange land, even spending a lot of time on pointing out that our heroine just had her hair cut for undisclosed reasons and not being comfortable with it : is there any significance to it ?

Fortunately, we have a strongly-defined central character to latch onto, with enough shrewdness and cynicism to compensate for the braindead villagers. What prevents her from being obnoxious is that she doesn’t really get away with it, thanks to her grandfather’s vigilance.

But what really sets this series apart is the sharp contrast between the sugar-coated presentation and the very black humour at its core (the bleeding bread scene in particular has perfect comedic timing). There’s also a strong sense that it knows exactly where it’s going and the haphazard pacing is deliberate.

Somehow, this looks like one of the most original and refreshing shows of the summer. (Yes, more than that one with the talking yeast.) Very worth checking out.

via [In which I review] New anime, Summer 2012 – Page 6.

Le Portrait de Petite Cossette (Cossette no Shouzou)

(3 36-minute episodes, 2004)

My previous exposure

After the success of Bakemonogatari and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Akiyuki Shinbo barely needs any introduction, and his name should be reason enough to revisit his earlier works. Especially after stumbling onto The Soultaker last year in my half-joke “Spring 2001 in review”, which showed that his directing skills were already impressive more than a decade ago.

I’ve had mixed luck with Shinbo’s back catalog in the past (Soultaker was impressive, Negima!? okay, but I couldn’t get through more than a few episodes of Pani Poni Dash and Hidamari Sketch), but this is a short OVA series, so why not try it out ?

What’s it about ?

Our generic male protagonist mans his uncle’s antique shop while the latter gallivants the world. One day, he stumbles in his inventory onto a cupboard hiding the portrait of a girl. Also, one of the glasses inside allows him to see the image of said girl… and to talk with her.

From that point starts a very creepy relationship, to the increasing concern of his few friends and the local psychic. And that’s before the bodies start piling in.

What did I think of it ?

With the routine use of peculiar angles, the thoughtful composition of every shot, and the use of editing as punctuation, there’s an hypnotic quality to Shinbo’s directing… and by this I mean it often makes me drowse and lose focus if I’m not quite hooked by the story. In his good series, there’s usually a sudden jolt in the plot that forces me to pay attention (Bakemonogatari‘s sudden child abuse flashback, Soultaker‘s descent into insanity, Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei‘s social commentary, everything in PMMM). Here, it’s the twist about the portrait… but that’s in the third episode. So I’m left with two episodes of creepy atmosphere that I couldn’t make much emotional attachment to, and a very good ending that puts a completely different spin on the previous happenings but still makes perfect sense.

So I’m a bit conflicted about this one. The ending was very good indeed, and Shinbo’s craft shines throughout, but I can’t ignore I couldn’t quite care about the first two-thirds of it.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 13.

Gankutsuou – The Count of Monte Cristo

(24 episodes, 2004-2005)

My previous exposure

I first heard of this one through the president of my college anime club, who was a big fan of the artstyle. I think he even showed us the first episode. I never got around to actually watching the full thing it for ages, though, as I waited until I thought I’d be “ready”.

I’ve obviously heard of the basic plot through cultural osmosis, but I’ve never actually read the original doorstopper of a novel (or watched any of the numerous movie/TV adaptations). So I was mostly fresh on the actual plot twists the series had in reserve for me.

What’s it about ?

It’s the future, but conveniently society is basically the same as early-19th-century France (well, kinda, I’ll come back to it further down). Albert de Morcerf is the young naive heir of an up-and-coming politician, engaged to the daughter of a rich banker, and promised to a bright future… until he meets the eccentric Count of Monte-Cristo on the Moon. Little does he know that his newfound friend is actually out for a (very convoluted) revenge against the three men who wrong him 20 years ago… including Albert’s father.

Let’s be honest, the SF setting is just a parlour game, as one will try and guess how each element is transposed from the original context. But it’s also an excuse for the visuals to go marvellously insane. A duel will become a battle between giant armoured mecha… because why not, after all ? The show revels in its artificiality, using psychedelic images to make its story even more grandiose and baroque, as best exemplified by the use of unmoving elaborate textures to depict people’s clothes and hair. It will either burn your eyes or make you fawn over how pretty it is.

What did I think of it ?

I loved it, as you probably can tell by now. Not only is it gorgeous, but it never sacrifices the clarity of its storytelling. This is a very well-structured adaptation, with my only little qualm being that the Count’s plots take ages to actually go anywhere. But when they finally come to fruition, it makes all the build-up worth it.

It is interesting how little this adaptation cares about the Count’s past life as Edmond Dantès. He barely gets ten minutes of flashbacks very late on, as the strict minimum necessary to explain why he became the implacable vengeance machine known as the Count of Monte-Cristo. (Not the how, though, the series doesn’t care about that at all.) The Count himself is an antagonist throughout, with only token displays of hesitation while he tramples over the lives of innocents to get at his targets.

The focus here is clearly on Albert, which is a bit tiring at times given how much he’s a naive spoiled brat who takes a lot of time to distrust the dude who looks like a vampire. (Or heck, even be aware of how much many of the adults around him are scumbags.) But then, this is not a series for subtlety, and the core goal here is to display how the Count’s revenge wreaks havoc on innocents’ livelihood. Albert, as innocence personified, is the perfect incarnation of collateral damage. The storytelling choice of making the Count’s motives distant (and unrevealed until nearly the very end of the show) only adds to the monstrosity of his actions. Yes, those three assholes probably deserved punishment (not only for what they did to him, but also for their various other misdeeds later on), but the Count’s sweeping retaliatory action was always bound to provoke more future strife in an endless cycle of vengeance.

Perfectly illustrating the pointlessness of the Count’s actions, and looking great while doing so, this is a show well worth watching.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 11.

Tsuritama (“Fishing Bowl”)

(11 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Saving the world through fishing !

… Yeah, I haven’t a clue either.


Yuki, our point-of-view character. He’s a perpetual transfer student (his grandmother, with whom he lives, keeps moving around the country), and terrible at dealing with other people. His main problem is that his anxiety keeps building up until he’s suffocating… literally, which from an outside point of view looks like he’s getting angry and making weird faces for no reason. His other problem is that his self-pitying narration makes him very annoying.

Haru, the other transfer student. He’s very, very weird. For starters, he keeps claiming he’s an alien. He wanders around the city with a fishbowl on his head. This fish may or may not be his sister. He suddenly starts living at Yuki’s with no explanation. And he’s got a watergun that stops Yuki’s anxiety moments and makes the target lose consciousness and follow him for a bit.

Natsuki, a normal dude in their class that’s a bit irritated with those two bozos. Unfortunately, he works part-time at the fishing store Haru has now decided to patron. Poor guy, I pity him.

There’s also a mysterious foreign dude (and his MIB unit) stalking them and observing them from afar. He’s seen having a meal with a duck.

Production Values

Perfectly alright. It’s got an heavy metaphorical bent (water keeps invading the screen and drowning Yuki, for example) that helps the general weirdness blend in.

Also, I have no clue what that pre-credits sequence (a myth of a woman defeating a five-headed dragon) was about, but it certainly was pretty to look at.

Overall Impression

Well, that was certainly a bizarre watch. I think there may be too much emphasis on Yuki’s “normality”, because he’s way too obnoxious and only becomes tolerable once in presence of characters who won’t let him get away with so much mopping around.

Now, the alien/”saving the world” thing… I have no clue whether this is all Haru’s delusion, or there’s some actual SF elements to the show. The series does just enough to intrigue me. I’m not sure I care enough to see it to the end, but it gets at least another episode.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012 – Page 10.

Polar Bear Cafe (Shirokuma Cafe)

What’s it about ?

Gag series set in a world where animals live like (and coexist with) normal people.


Panda, our protagonist. Your typical teenage boy who spends his time loafing around (eating bamboo). He gets pestered by his mother into getting a part-time job, so off he goes, with little enthusiasm. No, scratch that, the main problem is that he’s too honest. (“Are you actually going to do any work once you’re hired ?” “Probably not.”)

Mr Polar Bear, owner of the next-door café. He’s looking for a part-time waiter ; believe it or not, Panda is the best of the five applicants he gets. He’s got a running gag where he’ll mishear an order and bring something ridiculous to fit a pun ; it just doesn’t work outside of Japanese, and the CR translator appear to have just given up on making sense of it.

Mr Penguin, a regular patron of the Polar Bear Cafe. He’s mostly there to be the straight man penguin in the jokes.

Production Values

Not very high, but it’s got a distinctive artstyle, with all the animals depicted realistically.

Overall Impression

Wait, this is actually quite funny ! It helps that it’s got an incredibly star-heavy cast (Jun Fukuyama, Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroshi Kamiya…) who can pull off deadpan insanity without breaking a sweat. Okay, I could do without the “mistaken order” running gag (which doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the series anyway), but the general setup is a great joke that is executed very well.

Now, the question is “how long can this sustain itself ?” This is a daytime show, so there’s always the possibility it’ll continue going way past its sell-by date. On the other hand, I doubt this kind of humour has more than a niche appeal, so I wouldn’t expect it to last too long before being cancelled.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012 – Page 6.

Lupin the IIIrd – The Woman called Fujiko Mine

(13 episodes)

What’s it about ?

The Lupin the IIIrd franchise has been around for decades (that’s where Miyazaki himself got his start), cranking out at least a new TV-movie a year ; this is the first new TV series in quite a while though.

Don’t let that history intimidate you, though ; not only is the franchise continuity-light to begin with, but this series goes back to basics, with the first meeting of Lupin the IIIrd & Fujiko.


Lupin the IIIrd, grandson of the original gentleman-thief. A thief himself, and so good at it that he’s getting a bit bored, to be honest. He’s now at the point where he’s warning the cops beforehand, because that’s more fun.

Fujiko Mine, Lupin’s sexy new rival. They collide on the same score, and it’s slightly irritated fascination at first sight.

Inspector Zenigata, the tireless policeman always on Lupin’s tail. This series makes a noble try at giving him some credibility, mostly by giving him a whiny sidekick (voiced by Yuki Kaji, of course ! Though he’s less annoying than usual, at least…) so that he’ll look better.

The score of the week involves a depraved cult leader trafficking rare narcotics on their private island… Oh, who cares, it’s just a backdrop for the Lupin/Fujiko interplay and an excuse for elaborate set pieces anyway.

Production Values

This clearly makes a bid for the best-looking show of the season. It’s got an impressive budget for the action set pieces, and a rough, artsy style that makes nearly every shot interesting to look at.

A word of warning : this is a sexy series, and Fujiko regularly gets topless and/or nearly naked over the course of the episode.

I really hope that ain’t the regular OP, because that pretentious voiceover sounds like it’s going to get annoying very quickly.

Overall Impression

Pretty !

But there’s something more beyond the mere dazzle. This is a series with a point to make : Fujiko uses her body as a weapon on every possible occasion, however degrading that may be ; and the OP monologue unsubtly points out she may well be a masochist, addicted to that thrill. I’m not quite sure whether this show is arguing it makes her inferior to Lupin (he outclasses her nearly every step on the way, mostly thanks to his “I can do offscreen whatever the plot needs me to” powers).

Still, they’ve got chemistry, the show is gorgeous, and heist anime are rare enough for me not to be picky. I’m in.

via [In which I review] New anime, Spring 2012 – Page 5.