Nov 19, 2012

Anime Reviews: Papa-Kiki, Chuu-Bra!!, RecoRan

Instead of my usual droning thousand word essay I’ve bundled several shorter reviews this time. Mostly because these shows weren’t really deserving of a full review.

Papa-Kiki title logoPapa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai! (or, roughly, Listen To What Your Father Says!) is surprisingly decent given that on first look it seems to be yet another onerous fanservice-heavy dinky harem show. Which, it still is, mind you. It wants to be a meaningful story about family, too, and it does stick to its guns to tell that story. But it undermines itself with the gratuitous boobs, panties, and sexual fetishizing. Worse, the sisters are all cringingly underage (14 and 10). Thankfully the male lead is overwhelmingly kind and non-lecherous. The story it does tell is actually pretty good, but it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be, and in so doing kinda falls short on both.

The main character’s older sister has recently gotten married to a man with two girls of his own, both each from two past marriages, and she also has her own daughter. These newly weds go off on a trip/honeymoon and are presumed dead when the plane goes missing. To prevent the family from splitting the now parentless trio up, our lead steps up to take in the girls and be their guardian, despite being a poor college student living in a small apartment. It sounds better as a premise than the actual execution, given that I’ve left out all of the dinkier details, but to its credit it does follow this narrative with little side-tracking and even mostly concludes things on a positive note.

The animation is fairly good (particularly the backgrounds and scenery) although the characters and overall style can be a little iffy sometimes (and way too rosy). Intro/Outro are above average though, and the voice acting is generally fine, although the male lead is meh and Yui Horie is miscast as the monotone Raika. It takes a couple episodes to get going but manages to be enjoyable despite undermining its core drama every step of the way, but even so it’s far from bad. If you want a better and fanservice-less family story, I suggest Usagi Drop. If you want better harem/fanservice, take your pick ‘cuz there’s dozens and dozens without all of that “story junk” to get in the way. Speaking of fanservice…

Chuu-Bra!! title logoChuu-Bra!! is a bizarre hybrid of cheesecake and candid discussion. In a nutshell, main character girl is basically an underwear nerd: she loves learning about different kinds of panties/bras and seeing the new designs. Her grandmother was a professional designer and her step-brother has followed that path too. Of course, it’s a very odd hobby to have so get ready for lots of hijinks as everyone misunderstands why she wears such brazen styles (she’s testing her brother’s designs out) and keeps looking at other girls and wanting to critique them.

The fanservice is heavy, to say the least, with tons and tons of lurid groping and oops-I-tripped-pantyshots. And yet, despite the weird and obvious pandering premise, it spends a lot of time telling a serious story of her finding friends, starting an Underwear Club, and educating lots of women (and even a few guys) on the finer points of wearing bras, selecting styles, and so on. Realistically, even, lots of girls have never thought about it much, are too embarrassed to ask their moms, and so there’s a lot of talk about how to get a good fit for different bust sizes and when to start wearing a bra, etc. It’s surprising how they manage to pull off both ecchi and education, but, bafflingly so, it works.

The animation quality is inconsistent but mostly good, although in its favor it is colorful and dynamic with lots of movement, cartoonish comedy, and interesting angles (and not just the dozens of times they’re angling to show panties). It never quite manages to be impressive, though, and always feels a little too cheap and too limp in its execution. Still, I did enjoy it for what it was, and at only twelve episodes it doesn’t drag on or anything. But, like Papa-Kiki, the serious story it seems to want to tell so badly keeps getting undermined by the fanservice it seems obligated to produce, as if it doesn’t think anyone would stick around for the drama/story bits without a little loli-cakes every now and then. In retrospect, I think both shows might be just a tad insulting to the viewer in that way, or maybe they just see no problem with shamelessly mixing drama and cliché fanservice. Speaking of fanservice (yes, again)…

Recorder and Randsell title logoRecorder and Randsell is easy to digest given that each episode is a mere three minutes. This, coupled with its incredibly dumb plot/premise, means it will probably be a not-so-satisfying hour and a half or so should you decide to watch it. Basically, the two main characters are siblings. The girl is a high-schooler who looks like a ten year-old and her younger brother is a fifth-grader who looks like he’s in his twenties. And that is the entire joke, punctuated too often with pedophile/predator punch lines to end the episode.

The animation is passable with plenty of the usual fanservice, and it did occasionally elicit a chuckle from me. One of its [few] redeeming qualities is the all-star cast of veteran VAs. Rie Kugimiya (Shana, Louis, Taiga) is the sister, Aya Hirano (Haruhi, Konata, and others) plays her friend, and Takahiro Sakurai (Cloud Strife and tons others, including the step-brother in Chuu-Bra!! above) plays their creepy jobless neighbor. Don’t expect it to get anywhere, resolve anything, or amount to much more than a way to pass the time with some really dumb humor. Still, sometimes dumb humor can be funny and enjoyable. If it weren’t so short I’d say don’t waste your time.

As of this writing, Crunchyroll has Papa-Kiki, Chuu-Bra!!, and RecoRan streamable for free.

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