Animated by Toei, who are known for the quality work they do in children’s shows. This is actually quite unorthodox for their style, since it aims at an adult audience. Directed by Nakamura Kenji who makes nothing bizarre shows full of interesting themes and presentation (Mononoke, C, Tsuritama). The show was also scheduled to air on the NoitanimA timeslot, which was a sign for great aesthetics and (usually) great emotional rail coasters. The expectations for this show were quite high and I guess they managed to make something unorthodox out of it. There are still many details I didn’t like in it and they are mostly of aesthetic nature.
This show is definitely a hard watch, as it deals with a rather hard topic to tolerate: Mentally unstable patients who go to a shrink. Oh sure, having crazy characters in anime is fun, but these particular dudes are not having fun at all. They need help! Because they are crazy! So basically you need to tolerate a series where everybody has a very bad opinion about themselves and turn to a coocoo doctor to give them advises. This is not something most viewers would gladly sit down to watch.
Before I move on, I must mention a western comedy movie, starring Robert De Niro. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0122933/
The premise of Analyze This is quite similar; a mafia boss has psychological problems and his familia rush to fetch him a psychiatrist to help him deal with his issues before his rivals off him for the seat. It was an ok film, making fun of stereotypes in a light way.
Kuuchu Buranko though is not that easy to watch. In fact, it is very hard as the problems all the patients have are of deviant nature that makes them look pitiful and repulsive. You can of course like them for the problematic people they are (perfect people are extremely boring in fiction) but still they don’t escape the fact they are one-episode characters (aside from the doctor and his aids that is). That means, all the time you are given to get attached to them is approximately 20 minutes, thus once again it is very hard to get to understand and sympathize with their problems. And even if you do, you won’t be seeing them again so WHAT’S THE POINT? As for the doctor and his aids, a super sexy nurse and a weird narrator who pops up to explain disorders, you get ZERO exposition around their lives. They end up being static overseers so not even them manage to win you, apart from their quirky antiques.
Being episodic in plot, means that there barely is any story to go around. Each case is a stand-alone, and despite some tiny bits of each one affecting later characters, or each case being considered closed by the end of the episode, it is still a show where nothing interweaving and long-termed ever happens. Which was also the reason I wasn’t thrilled with the otherwise interesting premise. Psychological problems are topics that can last more episodes than a perpetual on-going shounen because of their perplexity and slow recovery, and instead I get 20 minutes? How can I possibly find the time to like it? Especially when some jokes are recurring and each case is handled with an almost identical storyboard. It is so easy to get bored.
What are definitely not boring though are the production values. Animation and artwork are extremely artistic and bizarre, and make the series to be standing out from any other anime ever made. That is not an easy thing to accomplish. Just like the patients, everything else in the show is also made to look weird. REALLY WEIRD. The characters transform to animals that is a depiction of their mentality, while live action scenes blend in with the 2D animation to make everything look trippy. The weirdest of them all is the doctor himself, who depending on the situation has no more than three different appearances. All that contribute into making you feel the madness each character has in his head, a thing which I liked a lot. Something similar can be said about the soundtrack and the voice acting, which are again very uplifting and quirky, fitting with the rest of the show perfectly.
Unfortunately, the show tends to bet too much on just its looks and sounds to win the audience, a thing which as I said earlier is a very hard thing to work for most. Most people tend to care about the characters being sympathetic and as much as this show tries, being episodic kinda ruins it. This is what makes the much older FLCL to feel superior; equally crazy visuals and weird psychological stuff all over the place but the main characters were the same all the way and by the end of the show you really felt a connection to them (good or bad) exactly because they didn’t switch every 20 minutes.
There is of course another audience who will definitely like it a lot. That would be the ones who love a show as long as they like its premise and presentation, and completely disregarding other elements, such as character presence, smooth pacing, or even directing. To the far more emotionally sensitive people, this will be a rail coaster of laughs, gasps, and nods; so sure it can work if it is shown to the proper audience. And since this is a NoitanimA title, it automatically means it has older teens and above women as its prime target audience. Since all us males know very well what a tsunami of emotions a woman’s psyche is, I am sure Trapeze is pressing all the proper buttons to be likable to them. As for me? Well, I am a cynical male bastard.
… and I have already watched Analyze This and FLCL.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 10/10
General Artwork 2/2 (artsy)
Character Figures 2/2 (bizarre)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 2/2 (smooth)
Visual Effects 2/2 (artsy)
SOUND SECTION: 10/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (trippy)
Music Themes 4/4 (great)
Sound Effects 3/3 (fitting)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (episodic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (simple)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 2/2 (crazy)
Personality 2/2 (well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (rushed)
Catharsis 0/2 (rushed)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 1/3 (still remembered by some as an interesting retro title)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely artsy to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10
Art 1/1 (looks artsy)
Sound 2/2 (sounds trippy)
Story 1/3 (good ideas, episodic structure)
Characters 2/4 (funny but nothing else than cardboards)
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