Saturday, March 10, 2012

Anime Review No. 26, 'Kujibiki Unbalance" Part I (Episodes 1-4)

Hello, I'm the Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz.

Well, here it begins: Kujibiki Unbalance. A re-imagining of a "show within a show" used in Genshiken, which is a rather dull and straight look at anime otakus in college, the subject of last week's review. Apparently some one liked the idea of that show and wanted to make it an actual anime. So, 2 years later, in 2006, Kujibiki Unbalance was broadcasted on TV in Japan. It was directed by Tsutomo Mizushima with work done by Ajia-do Animation Works. So yeah different people were doing this then the people behind Genshiken. Will that make or break this? Let's find out.

Now, the concept of this show is simple and interesting: The use of a lottery to determine who gets on a student council at a upper class academy in Japan. So, essentially a school slice of life story this will turn out to be. And for the first four episodes, it seems to be just that.

Episode 1 starts us off with a good opening song, just a Jpop song over character montages, which seems rather standard and not particularly interesting. We are introduced to the main cast of characters in this first episode. First there's Chihiro, your standard male lead character whose had a streak of bad luck followed around by his childhood female friend Tokino, who conversely has good luck. Both are new students at Rikkyouin Academy, the usual "school where the rich kids go to" place. Once they get to school, they are given lots for the Kujibiki, the lottery used to determine who gets on the Student Council. And surprise, both Chihiro and Tokino are selected, each assigned to President and Vice President respectively. Sent to the Student Council room, they meet Renko the candidate for secretary. Renko can be best described as loud, smart, and short stature (source of some jokes). She also has an android assistant named Kaoru, whose function is comic relief. Watching the two banter off each other is very humorous.
Then, the current Student Council (best of the best at Rikkyouin), led by a mysterious blond girl wearing a strange helmet, come in. They explain that Renko, Tokino and Chihiro will act as interns for the current Student Council for one year, then take over and do the actual work the following year. However, any failure at any task will results in expulsion. Wow, what high stakes! Of course, their treasurer is missing. So, their first task is to find that person within the next 12 hours or be expelled.
Well, their efforts seem in vain, until they find out that their treasurer is Koyuki, a female grade schooler at Rikkyouin. After an elaborate chase scene, they track her down and convince her to join up, since she was a bit uncertain about the whole Student Council. They almost don't make it in time, but the President allows them to stay on. Of course, the President is revealed to be "Rit-chan?", someone Chihiro knows apparently.
Overall, a pretty good start.

Episode 2 continues on the story. Chihiro and his pals go through some more tasks for the Student Council. These include working for the student store, cleaning out a dorm with some rodent damage, even defusing a plot to kill the President from a malignant chess club. It's all nicely done, striking a good balance of humor and drama while still being engaging and interesting. However, there is one thing I didn't like about it-introduction to Shinbou, Chihiro's older sister and math teacher at his school. Now, she has "affection" for Chihiro that is quite frankly is a tad unhealthy and also unnecessary in this story. Which leads into...

Episode 3, in which the focus is on Shinbou, unfortunately. It turns out she was a former drag racer, trying hard to be straight-laced, as such a past is socially unacceptable for a teacher at a prestigious school. Anyway, she wants Chihiro to notices her affections (which is just strange) so she has the science teacher Mr. Kaburagi (total nerd xD) to make a love potion. He does, but a mishap causes it to be applied onto Shinbou, resulting in everyone (male and female) falling for her and chasing her down.
Now, as if that was not enough, that is Plot B. Plot A involves Chihiro and his friends tracking down a missing panda from the school zoo, because apparently Rikkyouin has one (yeah i know weird rite?). Both plots do collide in a way I saw coming a mile away. The panda gets returned and Shinbou fails to gain any ground.
Problem with this episode is that it has 2 plots that could be worth an episode by themselves but they crammed the two in just because, and as a result both suffer for it. It is a half-baked mess of terrible.

Episode 4, is an improvement, thank goodness. It deals mainly with Ritsuko, Chihiro and Tokino. Chihrio and Tokino have to go over to the school on a Sunday to get a textbook she left behind. But, a rainstorm happens, and they end up stuck at school. Fortunately, Ritsuko happened to be at the school, working on a Sunday. The two then decide to help her out with work. What I really like about this episode is that it is relatively quiet character piece. It turns out that Ritsuko went away some time ago, then returned without letting Chihiro and Tokino know about it. She is now strict, unapproachable, almost like an 'ice queen'. In the past, she was meek, shy, easy to cry, like most kids I think. Whereas it seems she has changed, in more subtle ways she really hasn't, as the episode shows.
This episode also starts off the love triangle between the three characters. I think this will play out in the end, I hope and not meander off like episode 3.

So, two good yet cliched episodes, one bad episode, one good episode-not much of a good start. Hope things improve with episode 5.

Until next week,
The Eclectic Dude

No comments: