Finish or Fail 7 – Kuuchuu Buranko – A Feel-Good Hit

Kuuchuu Buranko was my favorite show of the last season (fall 09), and I would probably have blogged the whole thing episodically if OMG-Life hadn’t intervened. No matter, I knew I’d finish it before too long because there were only 8 eps left, and I got the drive to do so when I started listening to the OP and ED like crazy over the past week or so.

What I love about this show is that it’s an arthouse show with feeling. It is designed and directed by people usually associated with the more hardcore arthouse shows like Kaiba and Mononoke but it succeeds where those shows failed for me – humanity. The thing about arthouse shows is that it seems to me like they tend to bank everything they have on being as out-there and artsy as possible without having any real thought to it. It’s more of a ‘look how crazy this is!’ thing than something that really adds to the overall likeability of the show.

I want to use video games as an example. Some games like the infamous Rez try to be as out-there and trippy as possible to ostensibly be like no other game, however these games can be hard to enjoy because they don’t really deliver on the sensation of actually playing a game. Kuuchuu Buranko is more like a Suda 51 game (No More Heroes, Killer 7) – it’s played like a video game, but the presentation is completely new and exhilerating.

Now, it’s still true for both Kuuchuu and Suda that they aren’t going to appeal to all of the same audience that likes anime or video games respectively. (You can tell Kuuchuu isn’t an anime-fan thing because most of the commercials that aired with it were non-anime related and the only ones that were were for Eden of the East DVDs, lol.) However, you also don’t have to be a total artfag to appreciate them. Most of the people I’ve seen who love shows like Kaiba are ones who only really value anime that go all-out to be like nothing else ever created. I’ve never really been able to get into these shows because they don’t give me the things that make me such a big anime fan in the first place. Kuuchuu Buranko does, much as games like No More Heroes do.

I loved all of the characters in KB, and Irabu-sensei deserves to be on some kind of favorite list. I loved how even though the story wasn’t focused on Irabu, I still feel like we got a lot of information on his world and thoughts, so that he could be fleshed out enough as a memorable character. Mayumi was also cool, and ended up with more personality than one might have expected.

Visually, this is probably the show best deserving of being called ‘like an acid trip’ of any anime ever created – the phrase is used to describe a lot of things by people who probably have never done any acid (I haven’t either but I have some friends who fancy themselves ‘psychonauts’) but really, the world you see when on it probably looks more like this than anything else. Incidentally, we could even say that each of the individual protagonists is having a ‘bad trip’ for a week or so until the good doctor drags them back to the light, hehehe.

I loved this show’s structure the most. I would compare it to Boogiepop Phantom or Paranoia Agent, but those shows have a bit more of an overarching plot than Kuuchuu Buranko does. Each character’s story takes place within the same general time at the end of December, and all of their paths end up crossing at unexpected moments (many of which elicit an ‘ah!’ from the viewer as they realize they are seeing something they saw in an earlier episode) and the connections, however minute, help to define and explore the issues that each character has as well as further enforce to overall message spelled out in the last moment of the show which is that ‘no one is perfect.’ Indeed, wherever you turn, there may be someone who’s as fucked up as you are and even seeing the same doctor for it, hehehe.

For me, Kuuchuu Buranko was the ultimate pick-me-up sort of feel-good hit. I’ve always been really into psychological stories because I was one of those guys who did a bunch of research on psychology to try and identify or correct my own issues. I love seeing interestingly developed psychological disorders (which has a lot to do with why I like the Boogiepop Phantom anime) and I especially loved seeing how each one would be resolved. Seeing the characters all having happy endings I guess made me feel like I could have a happy ending, too :D

And it was just too much fun to watch Irabu work, because you just knew that he was going to get to the root of things, and that he was going to pull these people out of their catharsis. The final episode (which was nearly ruined for me by annoying people talking around me the whole time! yeck!) was some powerful stuff, and I couldn’t help but smile at it all. This whole show was just like a wave of pleasure, and I can’t get enough of that~

Kuuchuu Buranko – Finished (8.1)

While Kuuchuu Buranko isn’t going to be a favorite of mine, it’s a show I can see myself rewatching many times and would love to own, though today’s anime market would in no way allow something like this to be released. If only Geneon were still around~ well, in any case, I’ve got the opening and ending themes to constantly remind me of that good feeling!

11 thoughts on “Finish or Fail 7 – Kuuchuu Buranko – A Feel-Good Hit

  1. Kaiba isn’t really what you say it is. The art style is actually very well-thought-out and it matches the theme, story and setting. On the other hand you totally dropped the ball and fail to explain why Trapeze is actually a life action show with some animation thrown in there ;)

    >> The thing about arthouse shows is that it seems to me like they tend to bank everything they have on being as out-there and artsy as possible without having any real thought to it.

    That is Trapeze in a nutshell, or is it? More like you just don’t understand the stuff. Seems to me you like Trapeze because the story is easy to understand and compelling, but you don’t even get the nuances to the presentation. On the other hand you don’t seem to understand the story to Kaiba so naturally you can’t appreciate it.

    • Omo, first of all, please pull the head out of the ass real quick. Thanks. Anyway, I didn’t watch Kaiba – I watched 2 episodes of it, and I thought it was pretty good, but I couldn’t connect to it. I understand that it’s well-thought-out and all that shit, but I also think it tries too hard. I don’t like it’s structure, I don’t like it’s pacing, and I don’t really like it’s style all that much. It’s too far off from what I want out of entertainment.

      Trapeze has plenty of thought to it. It’s a show that could succeed even if it didn’t have the trippy artstyle (it’d have to be, it’s based on a novel) but the art provides a nice bonus. I won’t comment on not understanding Kaiba since I obviously didn’t finish it, but I’ll say that what I saw, I didn’t feel was in any way something difficult to understand. I’m not saying Trapeze is, it’s easy to understand, but I’m not really sure what you’re accusing me of, here.

      • I saw six episodes of Kaiba. It sucked. The art was actually one of its better qualities.

        Buranko knows how to put together a compelling story. It more than made up for Irabu’s annoying voice. The boner episode ranks among my favorite episodes of 2009.

        • I couldn’t actually remember you posting about Kuuchuu Buranko, which led to me tracking down the podcast that I apparently never listened to, lol. So did it end up achieving +++? (I guess I check your MAL? will do that…)

          EDIT: I see it maxed out at 2, ah well. Now I’m just wanderings why you used $s instead of +es.

  2. How much of Mononoke did you see? I went into not really sure whether I would like it (and partly intimidated by the subject matter, haha), but the main plots are surprisingly straightforward and cool. As a big fan of horror, I also really like the intensity of how the show is put together, even if there’s just one moment in the whole series that truly scared me (but it’s pretty scary lol). Plus, the main character is a total badass. I’d be shocked if you didn’t love him. And you have to love any series that casts Norio Wakamoto as a creepy frog creature that challenges people with their deepest fears.

    Anyway, I liked Trapeze a lot too. I had a lot of fun with just about every episode.

    • I actually like Mononoke. It, too, I’ve only seen 2 eps of, but I have high hopes for the series. It’s just a matter of looking at it differently. Basically I like Mononoke because I AM somewhat of an artfag, but not so much for anime-like reasons.

      Really, I should have subbed out Kaiba and Mononoke for better examples like Mind Game and 1001 Nights or something, but I also don’t want to totally alienate my audience, lol.

  3. Pingback: On the Negative-Second Day of Kurisumasu My Imouto Gave to Me: A Bunch of Shows that Didn’t Air This Year | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

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