One of the odder anime series to be released last year was the delightfully
Saga. In each episode of this show the heroine, Excel Excel,
was placed in a parody of a different movie genre. (All this while
trying to take over the city. After all, taking over the world is
a big job, and she thought she should start small, and build her way up
to the larger task.) It was a fast paced show, very funny, and well
received. So the logical step is to make sequel. But nothing
with Excel Saga was logical, so the creators decided to make an
OVA series based on a fictional cartoon that makes an appearance in an
episode of Excel: Puni Puni Poemy. This
two episode series is very similar to Excel in tone and feel, with jokes
flying by at breakneck pace and many parodies of other anime shows.
There really isn't a story to this series. If there was one originally,
it soon disappeared among the jokes and gags that populate the show.
What little plot there is involves Poemy, a 4th grader who wants to be
a voice actress for anime shows. After her father (Nabeshin from
Excel Saga) is killed by an alien, she moves in with the Aasu sisters,
seven young women who live alone in a large house. Poemy goes to
school and tries to break into show business, but whenever invading aliens
threaten the Earth, she chops up a dead fish to become Puni Puni Poemy,
The cover of the DVD announces that this disc is "an all new exercise
in breaking the weirdness barrier," and they are right. There are
many bizarre aspects to the show that will make viewers laugh, or at least
scratch their heads in confusion. One of the stranger parts of this
show is 10-year-old Futaba, Poemy's classmate. She has a crush on
Poemy and is always trying to get her into bed (often successfully I might
add.) Then there are the rest of the Aasu sisters. When aliens
threaten the Earth, the seven sisters use their super powers to protect
it! Unfortunately their powers are totally useless against any invaders,
but they still try.
If you've seen Excel Saga, you can expect more of the same with
this series. The show is filled with very quick dialog, rapid-fire
jokes and a lot of sight gags that fly by in the background. The
jokes are often very silly, and since this in an OVA series, there are
a lot of sex jokes and a lot of fan service. The biggest problem
I had was that things happened too fast. The characters talk so quickly,
with several people often speaking at once, that it's hard to catch everything.
I found myself pausing the show so I could read the subtitles and look
at the background gags so often that I switched to the English audio track.
That didn't help much since even then the dialog was just too rapid.
It is one of those shows where you are not supposed to get all the jokes
the first time through.
The more you know about anime, the more jokes you'll get. Not
only do they parody many styles of anime, but they also lift character
designs and even scenes from other shows, making it fun to play "where
have I seen that before." But even if you are new to anime, there
are a lot of jokes you will get.
I though this show was definitely stranger than Excel, I can't
say that it was better. The series was so short that there wasn't
any time to set up running gags, which were used so successfully in the
parent series. The Aasu sisters were wonderfully peculiar, but with
the whole series running less than an hour, you didn't get to focus on
any of them. But the main criterion that I use to judge comedies
is how much I laughed. While there were some very funny parts (the
1st time the Aasu sisters use their powers, Poemy fighting the transforming
space cruiser, and the way the soldiers talk in code all stand out in my
mind) I didn't find myself laughing as much as I did with Excel Saga.
I think the speed at which the dialog was delivered and the rapid-fire
gags were a little overwhelming.
One final warning, this DVD is rated 17+, and while there is no graphic
sex or explicit nudity, there is a lot of fan service and suggestive situations.
This wouldn't be a good DVD for a young child to view.
One complaint I have with this DVD is the price. This disc contains
only two shows that run a tad less than ½ hour each. The retail
price of $29.98 is too high for a series that doesn't even last an hour.
While I realize that OVA shows cost more than TV series due to the time
and expense that to takes to produce them, I think $25 retail would be
a much more reasonable price.
This show was has both an English dub and the original Japanese language
audio tracks in stereo. The show sounded very good, with no noise
or hiss, and clear dialog (something that this show really needs!)
The sound was a little light on the bass, with the explosions lacking punch,
but that wasn't really a big deal. This is a comedy after all.
There was a lot of directionality in the mix, with voices and sounds being
placed near where the characters appeared on the screen. It must
have been complex to mix, and it was done very well.
There are optional subtitles in English or, get ready for this, pig
latin. This latter set of subs was funny for about a minute, but
then got old. Listed on the menu as "weird subs" I was hoping that
they would do more with it, but they didn't. In any case, it's a
good chance to brush up on your fake languages.
The video quality was also very good also. There is a lot of motion
in this show, something that is hard to transfer to DVD without digital
artifacts, but the authors did a great job. There wasn't any noticeable
aliasing or other common defects that plague animation. The lines
were tight and the bright colors stand out well. This is a good-looking
This DVD does have a good number of extras, but I didn't care for many
of them. They included a clean opening and closing, something I always
appreciate and thing should be standard on anime discs. There is
a 2½-minute reel of productions sketches, and another 2-minute reel
of character art.
There was also the world's first Dolby Digital 5.1 audio commentary.
This was a really unique offering. There were two groups of three
voice actors that would add comments from the left and right speakers.
The ADR Director, Matt Greenfield, was in the center channel acting as
a moderator. The rear channels were used to occasionally bring up
sounds that were in the background that you might have missed. I
really like the concept, and hope that ADV and other studios continue to
use it. Unfortunately, I didn't like the commentary itself.
What you mainly heard was a bunch of actors laughing and speaking in partial
sentences. It seemed like every time there was a bit of fan service,
one of the female actors would yell "Boobies! Look at the boobs!"
and the others would join in. Mr. Greenfield did an admirable job
trying to keep everyone on task, but he just wasn't able to. His
comments were always interesting and informative, and I would have enjoyed
the commentary track much more if he had done it alone. He pointed
out some of the jokes that most viewers would get (like the fact the Aasu
sisters' names are the numbers one through seven in Japanese. But
they are in reverse order, with the oldest being seven and the youngest
being one, which makes no sense.) and gave a lot of interesting background
on the production.
There is also a 13-minute behind the scenes featurette that show some
of the recording of the commentary track. This was pretty much a
waste. After a brief view of the cast sitting in a waiting room before
they began, the rest of the reel is taken up with seeing the contributors
sitting in a sound booth recording their comments. The camera work
was very bad, with jerky movements and badly framed shots. It looks
like this was the raw footage from the camera, with no editing done to
it (something they make fun of in an opening title card.) The featurette
ends in mid-sentence, as if they just ran out of film. I wouldn't
have objected to them leaving this extra off the disc.
Enclosed in the DVD case, there is a mini poster of Poemy with a text
piece on the reverse, and an iron-on Poemy patch!
There are also trailers for Excel
Saga, Azumanga Daioh, Magical
Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Cosplay Complex, Super
Gals!, and Wedding
I enjoyed watching this strange and bizarre spin-off from Excel Saga,
just not as much as the original series. The jokes seem to come at
too fast of a rate, and there wasn't enough plot to follow. It wasn't
as funny as I was hoping, but there were some great moments that make it
worth viewing. Recommended.