I have long been led to believe that the domain of the three-minute mini-series were for the adaptations and ideas that, well, to be charitable… couldn’t secure real funding. Maybe they’re too risky, maybe too niche (even by anime standards), or maybe it’s sometimes just all the money and talent is busy with other things. So for the rare gag series like Nichijou that lands a full cour with a top studio like KyoAni there’s bound to be dozens of others that fall to the wayside. Such is the nature of the biz, I suppose. But all this means that when I see a new series pop up and find that it has a running time of roughly 3 minutes per episode I’ve learned to scale back my expectations. It’s not that they can’t still be good but just that most tend to be only okay, relatively speaking.
Which is why I was floored by how good Plastic Nee-san was.
Before we get any further, why don’t you just watch this half-minute clip:
Plastic Nee-san (more properly +Tic Elder Sister) is about three girls at school and the weird antics they get into — stop me if you’ve heard this premise before. Yeah, it’s completely unoriginal in setting and even structure but it makes up for all of that by having the most pure and chaotic energy I’ve seen in a long time. To say it is wacky and weird is an understatement, but it never goes so far that it just ends up being nonsense. There is a careful and deliberate skill behind its insanity: the excellent timing, the fluid deliveries, the calms, the pacing, and the creativity. It’s stupid how jam-packed with awesome the whole thing is, especially when you consider the entirety of Plastic Nee-san can be watched in less than a half hour putting it on par, length-wise, with a single episode from the vast majority of shows. That level of concentration doesn’t seem possible!
What is it about? Any plot synopsis you find will likely be pointless. It’s not really important anyway. Schoolgirls, plastic models, violence, sexual harassment, panties, body image shaming, cross-dressing, careless disregard of sports, weird names, and much more. Wikipedia describes it as “a surreal, frenetic dadaist interpretation of Japanese school life”, but that summary might be a bit too pretentious. There’s three main girls and a whole bunch of side characters, many of them one-off, but each one gets a solid moment in the limelight. More so, each one manages to be fun and interesting despite their brief stay. Through a combination of great animation, character design, and voice acting, they’re all just perfect. The short running time is a double-edged sword in this case; it makes it easier to not overuse ideas and characters since there simply isn’t the time but it also presents a challenge to express and deliver a lot of dialog, story, jokes, and ideas in a very condensed fashion.
It doesn’t hurt either than the animation and voice acting overall is excellent, so they didn’t skimp on the budget. The presentation is top-notch and the enjoyment is nonpareil. Its nature makes it rife with GIF-potential (GIFtential?), and surely if you spend any time at all lurking on the internet, especially in anime communities, you’ve likely seen at least one or two scenes of the show already and you didn’t know it. All-in-all, this one gets my highest praise and my strongest recommendation. It’s possible that its style of humor just won’t tickle your dickle like it did mine, and that’s fine… if you’re a Nazi sympathizer.
Crunchyroll doesn’t carry it but you can watch it all here.