Review: Chu-Bra!!

Yes, the show is a comedy about Bras, as in undergarments.  Specifically, the main character, Nayu, is obsessed with the fashion and practical benefits of women’s undergarments.  Her brother and grandmother are also underwear designers, so it’s in the family and she has good reasons to demo her brother’s products for him.

This has led to her having a less-than-flattering reputation, mostly started by a jerk-girl squad in her class.  And throughout the show haters gotta hate. Though the evolving bad reputation, from a prostitute to a lesbian etc., is pretty entertaining.

She meets two friends, they are weirded out, but eventually accept her love of underwear. They try to start a club, and they add some more characters throughout the show.  Each character has a different perspective on underwear, since they have different personalities and interests, and they all get together to have fun times together. Underwear tends to show up, though they do have interesting interactions outside of that.  The show makes a lot of good points, for example the fit of a bra is really important to it looking and feeling right, and certain cuts of bras are much better for different sizes and kinds of busts.  And there is something lovely about fashion and looking and feeling good about yourself.  So I like that about this show. But it’s seinen, so it’s for men and utilizes the male gaze rather regularly when actually showing shots of undergarments.

But!  Even though it’s an ecchi comedy made for men and there are panty shots galore, the way that it’s done isn’t really offensive or problematic to me.  Firstly, the premise and subject matter are underwear a lot.  Having them shown is not just thrust in there for perving, its mixed in with the story and characters.  Rarely if ever are panties shown to the viewers that are not shown to the characters. It doesn’t have a predatory POV or even a character that is like that. Second, they talk about and show how this objectification and sexualization of clothing affects the characters, both male an female.  For example, the episode where they go to the beach and the male character, Komachi, has a really revealing swimsuit that he’s too embarrassed to wear, but gets seen in anyway, as well as the characters shopping for a swimsuit for the teacher, many of which were similarly embarrassing.

Third, they actually make a point of showing that even though he gets all hot and bothered by things, that this too isn’t always pleasant for guys.  There is a real sense that although some of the exact details of the girls versus boys experiences with underwear and also sexuality are different, in general its very similar, human experience that they’re growing into, and I find that lovely and fascinating.  And watching women’s fantasies about men is always fun and nice for a change, so go Mizuno-sensei! And the episode with male bras?  AMAZING!  Perfect ecchi entertainment!  And non-squicky ecchi comedy, BANZAI!

The end is an ending that just shows that the good times will keep on rolling, pretty common in anime, but this one’s happily realistic, where the whole thing isn’t neatly wrapped up so that life can go on exactly like it is.  I really liked that.  There is something really good about the timing and set up of the last two episodes that really helps create and relieve/resolve some good tensions without just making the whole plot points of angst that started it all magically disappear. The characters grow and change, and that’s good stuff right there.

The character designs and art overall are nothing to shout about, and the animation has some bleh moments and otherwise is really a non-entity.  The directing, likewise, is par for the course, standard.  Nothing to scream about in rage but also nothing to scream about in amazement.  Occasionally it does some interesting things with borders and patterns.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful anime, chock full of easily enjoyable lighthearted comedic fun that anyone can enjoy.  Granted, if you’re not into things about school-aged characters or you’re not a fan of any ecchi comedy or something, this won’t be for you.  But I think that it will even appeal to people who aren’t big ecchi comedy fans, nearly anyone.  There are a lot of issues that hold it back from being a three-star masterpiece, but good entertainment is good!

P.S.  The Shoujo Kakumei Utena references in the latter half of the show?  WONDERFUL!  So exciting! BRAVO! The thrown in Evangelion one?  Made my nerd heart so happy!

Review: Yoiko

So I wanted to do an anime I can’t recommend to pretty much anyone, since I haven’t done enough yet and I’m starting to feel like Fuuma just likes everything anime. which is only kinda true…  So from the bowels of 1998 I bring you Yoiko!

The premise of the show is extremely simple and follows the same thought process of the underwear gnomes: Step 1) Fuuka-chan, the protagonist, is an extremely developed 5th grader; Step 2 ) ???; Step 3) Hilarity. Most of the entertainment value is in it’s sex jokes and immense fan-service.  I didn’t really appreciate either most of the time.  I mean sure, from time to time the HILARITERRIBLENESS of Fuuka showering at the beginning of the episodes, or doing something relatively licentious seeming would make me crack up, but it didn’t really have enough going on to be so bad it’s amazing, and the stuff it was “shooting” for *wink wink* fell flat with me.  Perhaps I am just not into 2-D enough as an Otaku…  I did really enjoy the Oniichan’s constant praying to the god of masturbation and getting cock-blocked.  I thought that was hilarious in it’s own right, the poor bastard.

Fuuka is an innocent bystander in most of the antics, and just kinda wants to live out her childhood.  She makes friends in class who she enjoys time with, and they are also relatively innocent and want to live their lives as kids.  They are constantly accompanied by their desperate and single OL teacher, who serves as a chaperone for their antics, and also occasionally tries to use Fuuka’s adult charm to her own advantage. The show ridicules her for being unattractive and single, which I don’t enjoy, though her drunken antics were occasionally funny.

In general, there are times this show is offensive (the oogling and general sukebe-ness of people’s reactions to Fuuka got bothersome to me from time to time), times it’s just ecchi and silly fun, usually it’s plot points are all about misunderstandings and the main appeal is sex jokes.  At the very least, it doesn’t condone pedophilia, and that is a strong plus with a premise like its.  If that means BANZAI! to you, sure, why the hell not watch it.  Otherwise, don’t touch this show with a ten foot pole.  Go watch B Gata H Kei instead (unless you’re THAT kind of person and the female POV distress you and you need more objectification with your ecchi fun.  In that case, go watch Ladies Versus Butlers or something.).