2015 has been a good year for political anime. Not only has there been a good number of them, but there was also a lot of variation : court politics in Snow-White with the Red Hair, a civil war in Legend of Arslan (admittedly not a very good show), sexual politics in Maria the Virgin Witch, arcane sci-fi political coups and questionable leadership in the new Knights of Sidonia, the dog and pony show of Classroom Crisis, even the petty feuds inherent to a large school club in Sound! Euphonium… Heck, I may thoroughly disagree with the wrong-headed and ham-handed political message of Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace, but there’s no denying it’s the core of the show.
And on top of that, we got two series that were ALL about politics : Gatchaman CROWDS Insight, and Shimoneta – A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist.
Despite having more (spectacular) action sequences than its predecessor, Gatchaman CROWDS Insight isn’t really about the superheroics. It doesn’t even have a real villain ; the true antagonist are people as a dumb whole. Its central conflict can’t be resolved by the heroes just punching stuff… well, that’s actually how they do it eventually, but they had to be very creative about who they punch, and how they frame it to the public. Because really, that show is all about the vagaries of democracy, public opinion and the dangers of group-think in this age of the Internet and social media.
On the other hand, SHIMONETA went for a territory fraught with pitfalls : political satire. Being framed a sex comedy put it even more at risk. And sometimes it indeed didn’t quite land ; Anna quickly devolved from a brilliant statement about sheltered conservative upbringing to an unfunny and repetitive running gag about joke rape. But at its best, this is a show eager to make a point about the evils of “think of the children” prudishness, its hypocrisy and its pointlessness.
And it’s also very funny. The opening sequence in particular is a masterpiece of getting the viewer engaged and laugh with the show : from the protagonists framing themselves as sentai villains, to the enthusiastic narration detailing how the authorities destroyed all the symbols of lewdness, including this one innocuous-looking swimming pool. Because it’s not any random pool ; it’s That Pool. The one used in so many erotic photoshoots (presumably out of convenient location and versatility) that it’s become a running joke in the field. So of course the SHIMONETA villains establish themselves right from the beginning by blowing That Pool up. They could have just closed it down or have the building demolished in more conventional ways, but they had to make a statement : That Pool needed some exploding. And so it got it.
It’s a three-second shot in a very busy opening sequence, but it’s among the very reasons I was on board with this show from the very beginning. It was proof that this show knew what it was doing, and had fun while doing it.
(And of course, when there’s a whole episode about home-made fleshlights, the ending sequence reprising the tutorial instructions is shot in live-action in That Pool. No other location would be as funny.)