As an anime and weirdo Japanophile who’s a bit long in the tooth I’ve been around the JPop block long enough. Even so, while I have long had a cursory knowledge of its existence, I can’t say that I’ve ever shown any genuine interest in Morning Musume. I thought it was a TV show for the longest time and apparently it is closer to the more recently popular AKB48, though I’m almost certain I am probably oversimplifying things and making some Momusu nerd cry somewhere. That said, when a former member (or is it current? I have no idea, they’ve churned through more members than Jenna Jameson) does a weird comedy spin-off animated short thing, well… I’m not really sure what to think because any notoriety or novelty is largely lost on me.
Kaitou Reinya (Phantom Thief Reinya) is a cheaply produced gag short that doesn’t strive to be anything spectacular and, unsurprisingly, doesn’t accidentally manage to be either. It’s mostly a vehicle for lead voice actor Reina Tanaka playing a character based loosely, at least visually, on her idol persona. It’s full of a lot of dumb humor and repetitive gags, because if it was possibly funny the first time it’ll definitely be funny after the fifteenth time, right? The animation is chibi and simplistically done (appears to be Flash) but it’s colorful and bouncy enough. The story, what little exists, is that Reinya is a convenience store clerk by day and infamous cat burglar by night, and yes she actually wears a cat-themed outfit as the eponymous thief. There’s a police chief and detective on the case every time but their repeated jokes are to be forever getting nosebleeds around the young police cadet girl’s frequent “accidental” upskirts and infatuated with clerk Reinya, respectively. Neither, of course, ever figure out she’s the thief, natch. Lastly we’ve got Reinya’s mouse side-kick who exists solely for violent punishment gags.
Is it at least decent? Ehh… sort of? It’s colorful, fast-paced, and silly, but it’s also really dumb, goes nowhere, and is too short to matter. But hey, like most little mini-series like this, you can blow through it in no time I suppose. And really it’s not so bad, it’s stupid mild fun with a bubbly cute exterior so what the hell, yeah?
As of this writing, you can watch Kaitou Reinya for free on Crunchyroll, although honestly if you’re in the mood for a strange indie-ish animated short series you might be better off trying out Dark Side Cat. It’s certainly more confusing and weird but at least it is trying to do something interesting and stylish.