The one thing that attracted me to this series more than anything else, was the basis. Whatever synopsis you read for Rizelmine, it will always promise a high-paced comedy rollercoaster (which, at times, it delivers). Twelve year old genetically-engineered Rizel marries a fifteen year old boy, Tomonori Iwaki, much to his chagrin - and the fun starts there. Each episode sees Rizel attempting to get closer to an increasingly irritable Tomonori, and desperately trying to figure out what it means to be "a good wife."But let's talk technical for a minute: Rizelmine aired on Japanese television in 2002 with a run of 24 episodes, spanning two seasons, each episode roughly fifteen minutes long. When it first aired, it was met with controversy due to the nature of domestic violence it portrayed. Scenes where Tomonori physically abused Rizel were derided, even though they were intended to be comical. If you're looking for a nice family comedy, don't expect to find it here. Rizelmine constantly teeters along the tightrope of common decency, and there are subtle references to several lurid fetishes, including (but not limited to) paedophilia, beastiality and sado-masachism.And perhaps that's what I like about this series. It's not afraid to test boundaries and fondle taboos for the sake of a joke. Generally, it stays above board - I never felt like I was laughing at abuse victims, more that the comedy made fun of the characters, not their situation - and the unpredictability of the series means the punchlines are unexpected and hilarious.However, as with the majority of romantic comedies in anime, there is little plot to speak of, though because of the length of the episodes, this rarely becomes an issue. The only problem I had with the story itself, however, is its unwillingness to tell us the why of events. True, we get an explanation for Rizel's seemingly irrational love of Tomonori, but it's never established why she's important to the government. If it wasn't for her absurd naivety, she could easily be a normal, non-genetically-engineered girl.
I have to admit that it looks more stylish than other series released at the same time (like Kanon and Onegai Teacher), but it's nothing special. The setting is either in Tomonori's house or at school, with some minor setting changes. The saving grace is Rizel's super-moe character design - her costume, complete with huge discs that seem to be connected to her ears (another point never really explained) is one of the most interesting wardrobe choices I've seen in any series, period.My major gripe about the animation, however, is the disparity between the seasons. While the first season allows viewers a light spattering of fanservice, the second season becomes much more ecchi - nipples are added in bath scenes, where they were covered up before, and there seems to be double the amount of nudity and revealing costumes in the second season for no apparent reason. Call me a prude, but I don't particularly want to see naked twelve year olds on my computer screen.
Two words: annoyingly cute. That pretty much sums up the music and the voice acting. If Rizel's so-high-only-dogs-can-hear voice doesn't grate on you after the first few episodes, then the ultra-cutesy songs probably will. The opening is ridiculously cute considering the subject of the song is sex (the song's title Shimashou! translates as "let's do it!") and the ending, while quite catchy, would be more suited to a Saturday morning children's show. The unfortunate thing is that these songs do actually fit with Rizel amazingly well and almost serve as character development in themselves. The ending to the second season is more mature, tender and reflective, mirroring the change to Rizel's character at that point - it's just a shame it's such a boring song!
This is where Rizelmine really picks up the marks. This is not your average romantic comedy, as I've already said, but here's why: the characters reach a heightened sense of absurdity that accentuates their originality. At the beginning of the series, Rizel knows nothing about the world, and the progression of her character is a measured one, with a lot of hilarity arising from her misinterpretation of whatever source material she has to hand (in a number of cases, shoujo manga). Tomonori Iwaki also isn't your average romantic male lead. He actively rejects Rizel on nearly every occasion she tries to get close to him, instead fawning over his teacher.The support cast are also a delight. My favourite of these are Rizel's guardians, known as Papa A, Papa B and Papa C, who spend a large proportion of their onscreen time playing mahjong and drinking. But there are others worth noting: Kyouko Yachigusa, a girl whose personality changes when she takes her glasses off; Ryunosuke Hojoin who has an obsession for panties with bears on them; and Aoi Seimoto who has an interesting relationship with a local dog. The characters are all fairly memorable and each one provides nuggets of comedy when they're onscreen.
Rizelmine certainly has many flaws, and it's not the most viewer-friendly to fall into (to the extent where you surmise that only perverted Japanese men could create such a show) - yet, there's something special about it. Its brand of humour is undeniably original and if you can break through your own inhibitions, it will scrunch you up with laughter. Despite its lack of story, it does have a few plot-twists that come as a surprise, and its ending is fulfilling if somewhat easy.Despite its low score, I'd recommend everyone to at least give it a try, as it is definitely a series you either love, like I do, or hate with every fibre of your body. It allows you no middle ground, and I like a series that has the balls to do that.
In the present, the Japanese government has been conducting experiments to genetically engineer a human: a girl named Rizel. The experiment was a success -- sort of. While healthy and cheerful, 12-year-old Rizel also ended up possessing the uncanny need for “love” to further her development, as well as tears which were in fact volitile explosives! When sadness can end up destroying a city block, what's a girl to do except... get married?! For Iwari Tomori, the young man chosen as the most appropriate partner for Rizel, life is about to change, for better or for worse!