Sunday, 22 January 2012

今日の5の2 / Kyou no Go no Ni / Today in Class 5-2: 2006 OVA series

First Impressions, 22.4.06: New anime: Kyou no go no ni (‘Today in [Class] 5-2’)

Heheheh! Ultimate pedo-bait anime! Perverted humour mostly involving a boy getting inadvertently put into seemingly sexual situations with various girls, then being found in compromising positions, is an old staple of anime humour, especially in the harem genre. But they’re not normally 11!

Funny little show. Could be quite entertaining, could be eye-roll-inducing fanservice for undiscerning lolicons. We’ll see. But I was amused enough to want to watch more. I feel somewhat dirty afterwards, though.

In all honesty, though, they could’ve made exactly the same anime and just SAID they were 18, so I don’t see why anyone should be too disturbed.

Final thoughts: 22.01.12
It was only in the last couple of weeks, when I decided to finally watch the five-minute special that capped off this OVA series, that I found out that Kyou no Go no Ni – or ‘Today in Class 5-2’ – was by Sakuraba Koharu, the mangaka behind Minami-ke. It was something of a surprise, much like when I read the manga of Ichigo Mashimaro and found that rather than a comedy about childish silliness, it was actually quite pervy. For though I had watched the Kyou no Go no Ni episodes more or less as they came out, they struck me as both not very memorable and pretty embarrassing.

You see, Kyou no Go no Ni is about a class of 5th Graders – mostly 11 years old. They have all sorts of mishaps, almost all of them involving one poor hapless boy innocently blundering into what look like sexual encounters and getting smacked for it. The truth is that it’s quite possible to tell this is from the same source as Minami-ke, really – there, too, a lot of the humour comes from people leaping to the wrong conclusions, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or misinterpreting what someone else is talking about, and indeed, most of my favourite characters there are the same age (and mostly in their own Class 5-2) and have similar – often rather androgynous – designs. Albeit with those strange mouths.

The trouble is that these OVAs were made by Shinkuukan, who are a porn animation production studio. And they produce this little mini-series about 11-year-olds more or less as porn. I don’t know how much of the manga is sexual-themed fanservice, in which the poor protagonist Ryouta is constantly seeing girls near-naked, falling and landing on top of them or even getting a kiss or two, but just about every joke in these OVAs is along these lines or leads in that direction. And the fact is that it’s much better when they’re not. Humour about Valentine’s chocolates or thinking your childhood friend is talking about an old memory of wanting to marry you when actually she’s talking about bedwetting are worth a thousand cheap skirt-flipping gags – and to be honest, those would be far funnier if they were played for the laughs you get from reactions (ie, the shot is arranged behind the girls having their skirts flipped up, showing nothing of what the boys see but their shocked expressions instead) rather than the uncomfortably blatant child erotica of close-ups of crotches.

After this, Xebec made a series of Kyou no Go no Ni in its own right – with its own OVA afterwards – and apparently they are much less squirm-inducing, and honestly the character designs look rather nicer. I expect the animation is less smooth and the colouring much simpler, but it doesn’t matter if it turns out this version looks far nicer: the fact is that so obviously eroticising the children makes them immeasurably less cute rather than making them more desirable, and takes the viewer’s thoughts not to the character but to the animators and their motives. Either make a cute comedy or make loli porn; don’t spoil a comedy about cute 11-year-olds with more awkward erotica than High School Girls and Rosario + Vampire combined. At least Moetan doesn’t feel like it could be something much better.

On the other hand, Kyou no Go no Ni does indeed have another chance – the Xebec series, which I shall watch. I don’t really remember much about the characters beyond the main boy, his childhood friend and the spacey blonde girl, there’s no plot to sink my teeth into and, well, I’ll always be wondering how much fanservice is in the manga (and perhaps I’ll find out at some point), but I’ll give it a chance. After all, I didn’t particularly care for Minami-ke after a few episodes but it grew on me and I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming fourth season.

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