I’d completely forgotten about the new law in Japan that said that no anime was allowed to have over 5 minute episodes. That’s why Shaft shoved out Nekomonogatari on the very last day of the year. Everything else unfortunately is stuck trying to make a compelling narrative and engaging characters out of a couple of minutes and the animation budget equal to half a packet of hobnobs. It has been done before mind you. Kogepan is pretty fantastic, as is Fireball, although Fireball was working on a budget from Disney so that’s probably not a fair comparison. But the point remains that you can still have a great anime with episodes of less than 5 minutes. How do this season’s shorts compare?
Being apparently the only person on the planet not to think this was going to be about the fusion of the sexes into one being, I wasn’t instantly disappointed that Mangirl was about a bunch of girls setting up a manga studio. The girls are all utterly brainless, which is where all the humour comes from, using the term ‘humour’ loosely. Mangirl doesn’t really bring me many answers about what goes on in the manga industry, but it does raise many questions.
For example, do people in Japan really enjoy listening to grown women singing out of tune with false cutesy excited voices like they’re 4 years old? I mean sure, Japan idolises youth to the point that their top selling artists are all a bunch of teenage girls dressed up even younger with a fanbase of adult men, but do they really enjoy this as music? Technically this is about a bunch of older ladies founding their own company in a daring display of entrepreneurship, but I swear this is actually taking place in a school. One of the girls is even holding a teddy bear.
Ai Mai Mi
More anime about a bunch of girls doing nothing really whatsoever. It doesn’t even have the grounding plot conceit that Mangirl has. I think they’re manga artists? I guess when manga artists are truly out of ideas, they just draw a bunch of cute girls talking about manga for a few panels, have something cute and/or random happen, cap it at 4 panels and then fart it in the general direction of a publisher. Where as Mangirl focuses more on being cute, Ai Mai Mi focuses on randomness for the sake of humour. If you like this kind of humour, you should probably just watch last season’s Teekyu instead because it’s far crazier.
However if you are the kind of person who finds this funny then you are terrible and need to upgrade your humour meter. It’s not that randomness can’t be used as a function in humour. Arakawa uses it to deconstruct Recruit’s vision of what constitutes common sense. Cromartie uses it to demonstrate the elephant in the room syndrome to utterly ridiculous degrees. If Ai Mai Mi is funny, then potato monkeys eating santa hats made of cheese and rainbows while farting double decker buses filled with children with no legs and tattoos of the 4th Doctor Who instead of faces is also funny. Which it isn’t.
2 episodes are out for Inferno Cop already, and I’ve watched them both twice. Partly because I wanted to show them to my sister, seeing as she’s a huge Gurren Lagann fan and this is by the same director, but also because I needed a second viewing to decide if this was the Best or the Worst anime ever. It’s one of those that are intentionally made to look bad, but does it fall under the category of Popee in being intentional to make a point, or like Abunai Sisters where it’s just terrible. Then I look at the scene where the bullet ricochets off Inferno Cop’s chest and I burst out laughing and reason that yes, this shit is totally intentional and legitimately funny.
The gist of Inferno Cop is that it’s a hilariously awful exaggeration of manly 2000 AD-esque cyberpunk cop bullshit, where the lead character is some hard-nosed brutal arm of the law in the same vein of Judge Dredd or Robocop. Much like how Popee plays on the idea that taking a step back from some children’s shows makes you realise how truly fucked up some of the stuff that happens in them are, Inferno Cop is taking a step back from these cyberpunk police shows and realising how silly they really are. Inferno Cop drives a flaming police car. That’s totally the kind of thing you’d see in those kinds of shows, but placed in the Inferno Cop setting is where you realise how dumb it really is.
Moe Mountain Climbing
Unlike the other shorts about moeblobs this season, this one actually has a narrative focus, albeit an incredibly generic one. Shy girl meets old friend who wants them to go do X again but shy girl has *gasp* a phobia of X! The way they played the phobia was pretty funny though, as were the flashbacks to the two girls time together as children. Having a narrative provides greater weight to the jokes, which makes them funnier. You have to tell seriously great jokes to have them work on their lonesome. There’s a reason why comedians work narratives into their standup routines.
That said, Moe Mountain Climbing isn’t great or anything. It’s no Inferno Cop, that’s for sure. It’s very much like the funnier segments in K-ON. You know the scene where Yui reasons that she’s good at playing musical instruments because when she was a kid her kindergarten teacher praised her enthusiastic castanet playing? That’s the level we’re talking about here. It’s cute and harmless without being insultingly so. I’m unsure how much actual mountain climbing nerding out we’ll get here. My impressions from what little I saw of the manga suggested loads, but there was little on display in this episode. Then again, the entire series will be less than 40 minutes long.