Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan is one of the strangest series I have ever covered, both in 2019 and in general. It's an interesting anthology anime where each episode can be divided up into 3 sections. The first is a 3-minute animated short. Each director is allowed to go in whatever stylistic direction they want and this results in most of the episodes taking a completely different visual approach from one another. The second and far longer section is a 20-minute interview with the episode director and the seiyuu of the main protagonist for said episode as they talk about the manga and the production of the episode. The last part is a showcase of an animator working on adding to one frame or storyboard that was given to them. In episode 1, you’ll see someone drawing on paper, but the episodes after that all have someone drawing on a tablet or working on the computer. This all results in a 26-minute episode that many did not seem to enjoy, which is probably a major factor in why its score is so low Even I struggled with this one at first. Its appeal is niche for sure, but honesty, this is a title I appreciate.
The skits themselves do a decent job about establishing and expanding on Ekoda-chan as a character. Each skit tackles the various sides of her down to earth yet longing personality, the modest living situation she is in, and the kinds of hijinks and circumstances her wandering and often nude lifestyle puts her through. While she’s not a character I find especially compelling in some of the less interesting skits, she’s a very relatable and tangible person that’s easy to gravitate towards. These 3-minute shorts do a very good job at making her earnest and likable. Also, for some reason you don’t quite understand why she’s doing certain things like having sex with a guy who doesn’t care about her, the interviews are more than eager to highlight her personality and tell you why. Take that as you will. There isn’t any real narrative cohesion here, as it’s just a disconnected series of snapshots of the character’s life not told in any chronological order. Still, they do their job effectively at presenting our protagonist and that’s all that matters.
The few other characters present here come and go as they please and all really serve to highlight Ekoda-chan anyway, so there’s no need to discuss them here, at least until episode 8. This one episode gives us a snapshot of the life of M-san instead of our main protagonist who has basically taken up all the focus in this anthology. In just this one episode, she shows off this moody and frank personality that seems to have not only some kind of slight baggage with Ekoda-san, but a real friendship with her that is sold perfectly through their chemistry in the last minute of the episode. After episode 5 showed me how much fun the skits could be, I started getting on board with this show, and this served as the second major shake-up in the series that I was blown away by.
Audiovisually, the show is also very vibrant and charming. Not every style is very appealing to me, but most of them are vivid and pleasing to the eyes. The sheer number of ambitious styles allows for fun variety you won’t see anywhere else. For instance, episode 4 attempts to give the human body a sense of luminescence that the director admits would be far too intensive for a 22-minute TV series. Episode 7 makes use of photorealistic yarn in all sorts of creative and visually pleasing ways when combined with its art style. Episodes 1 and 2 might have a rough, crude art style, while episode 3 might imagine the entire cast as a bunch of animals. Industry veterans such as Ryousuke Takahashi (Flag, Gasaraki, Votoms) and Yoshimoto Yonetani (Shokugeki no Souma, Brigadoon, Tiger & Bunny movies) are given complete creative freedom with whatever styles they decide to explore, with episode 5, 7, 8, and 11 being my personal favorites in terms of both its visual art style and animation. We even get skits like that of episode 9 where we go into a first-person perspective. The sky’s the limit here! Not every skit will gel with everyone on a visual level, but it’s nonetheless impressive to see some of these skits and how very much unlike most anime they are. Ascension, Zero-G, and Creators in Pack were listed as the 3 studios involved with this production, and I have to give them credit given that these are practically no-name studios as far as the west is concerned.
The music is also rather relaxing. There are even some pieces in here that served as wonderful background music for when I was working on this review. The tracks that play during the interviews are in a set order for every episode and are nice pieces on their own, while the music that plays during a drawing showcase changes with each episode. The music for the drawing in episode 6 is probably my favorite in the entire show. Jun Abe and Mutou Seiji did a nice job with the music composition for this show. The myriad of ending themes don’t interest me so I won’t make any further comments on them.
It's a shame that the reception for this anime has been so dismal since frankly, this is one of the more ambitious and admirable titles of the year. I certainly respect this title more than I enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it has no entertainment value. The skits are vivid and varied, with some of the funnier and crazier ones being especially captivating. It's nice to see a cavalcade of directors and voice actors plant their own signature fingerprints on this show, discuss the source material, and comment on their experiences of how this all came together. On top of that, the show feels ever evolving, as the stylistic flourishes and risks taken become more ambitious over time. Episodes 5 and 8 were particularly stunning for me. By the time I was ⅔ into this show, I was wondering how the hell I went from trudging through the first 4 episodes to thoroughly enjoying almost every skit that came after and finding myself actively invested in the interviews. For its insights and what I got out of the more interesting skits, this show deserves more respect than it has gotten. If you're only here for the comedic or more slice of life type skits about a usually naked 24-year-old girl dealing with romantic issues, her wandering lifestyle, and whatever else gets thrown her way, then you might want to stick to those sections exclusively. However, if you care about animation on more than just a consumer level, Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan deserves your time and respect. I just wish someone more recognizable and knowledgeable than this amateur pseudo-critic would shine a light onto it despite how niche its appeal might be.
Also, seriously, how come AniDB is the only anime site that has the composers for this anime listed and even then, only if you look on the anime’s page and not the pages for either composer?
Written and edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine