ONA, OVA, TV shorts, and specials, there are so many anime out there worth talking about, but which are just a little too short to make for compelling reviews. Today I am tackling a semi-random selection of them. Hopefully, some of these pique your interest.
Azumanga Net Daioh
While I want to generally avoid tie-in specials to popular anime, Azumanga Net Daioh deserves special mention. It was originally offered as an episode 0 on a premium streaming service back in the year 2000, but it’s popularity would eventually lead to a full-blown TV anime.
Net Daioh is only 4 minutes long, but offers a fun Azumanga skit not seen in the original manga. If you enjoy either the TV adaptation or its source material, going out of your way to find some reupload of this is definitely worth the hassle. It was very cool to see such an old web animation, knowing now that it eventually led to an all-time favorite anime of mine. It’s endearingly small in scope and capability, but nowadays that appeal is limited to people with an established passion for the series.
God, this one requires some explanation. Wonder Momo started life as an okayish arcade beat ’em up by Namco, which managed to earn itself a cult following and somehow stay decently relevant as the years went by. In 2012, Namco produced a web comic to drum up interest for Wonder Momo: Typhoon Booster. This anime is a tie-in for that webcomic and counts 5 episodes of 7 minutes each.
Momo, in this version, is a high schooler with her sights set on a career in the idol business, which isn’t working out very well. While returning home after an audition that was cancelled on her, Momo encounters an alien who gives her the power to transform into Wonder Momo.
The episodes follow a monster-of-the-week formula and actually produces a cute, little story in this short timeframe that ties the anime and arcade game together. The focus is more on comedy, with especially the alien bad guys being a bunch of ineffective goofballs. The voice-acting is a bit mediocre, but besides that, I don’t see why this was reviewed so poorly. Sadly, it’s an advertisement for a game now listed on the Lost Media wiki after it was retracted from digital stores.
Peeping Life is a strange, long-running series of TV shorts that started in 2009 and continued to receive sequels and specials in the years that followed, including a full TV anime in 2015.
Ostensibly, the show features little snippets of daily life as experienced by the Modern Japanese citizen. An episode can be about two colleagues who showed up wearing the same outfit or about a man debating what item to purchase from a vending machine. A novel idea for a series of shorts, but the anime looks like it was half-assedly made to run on the Playstation 1 and dialogue sounds like they pulled random people from the street to read the script into a Pringles can. Every background is ugly and static, with characters that are poorly-proportioned and animate like they are puppets from a horror anime.
The anime is a disaster and Crunchyroll’s version of it has misplaced subtitles in almost every episode on top of only offering either the 2015 TV version or the first series of shorts from 2009 with none of the sequels. It’s not even that funny of a show, with each gag tediously dragged out to fill a 10-minute timeslot. It’s abysmal to sit through and as close to unwatchable as an anime can get.
16-year-old Yuusuke is the only son of a famed gynecologist, whose future as inheritor of the family business is complicated by his gynophobia. To help cure him, dear old dad decided to hire a set of twins to work as live-in assistants around the house.
The girls are a feisty bunch and both are determined to seduce Yuusuke, which leads to a lot of hilarious incidents and near-death experiences. The jokes are well-directed, brazen, and very creative, often managing to catch me off guard without ever veering too far into straight-up hentai territory despite of the of the nudity it proudly displays.
It’s one of the granddaddies of the ecchi genre, so consider checking it out if you’re into that genre. It does have to be said that the two episodes feel very different in terms of tone and especially the second storyline feels a bit too rushed.
Di Gi Charat
Di Gi Charat is certainly a thing. A thing I struggle to fully comprehend, but a thing nonetheless.
It’s a series about the mascot for the real-world “Gamers” line of chain store that sells geek merchandise, manga, and anime. Dejiko is an alien catgirl who lands in Akihabara together with her friends Gema and Petite, hoping to strike it rich as idols, only to find themselves homeless and alone. The manager of a local Gamers store takes them in and offers them a spare room, so long as the girls and Gema help man the store.
It’s a cute, little idea with the presentation quality you’d expect from a series of 3-minute shorts. The main characters are well-designed and reliably funny, and it’s cool to have an anime about working in a store in Akihabara.
However, Di Gi Charat drifts further and further away from this core idea and becomes infatuated with increasingly surreal in-jokes and running gags, which eat away at the already limited screentime. The comedy feels overindulgent, constantly changing things up at a whim, starting and abandoning storylines, and introducing gag characters that make less-and-less sense. It already kind of lost by the end of its original run (16 episodes of 3 minutes), but the movie tie-ins and specials killed what little fondness I still had for it.
The Kagura Total Security firm is a small band of mercenaries that specialize in dealing with paranormal issues, most notably the “Phantom Cats” that terrorize humans. These are seemingly regular cats who can transform into half-human forms and sport overwhelming strength, regenerative abilities, and can pull off all sorts of magic and hacking nonsense.
Storywise, Geobreeders is all over the place and lacks focus. It’s a comedy action series that mostly just seems to stumble from one disaster to the next with little to no downtime. It’s certainly not boring, but I also never felt that the setting was clicking with me or that I was given much opportunity to grow fond of the characters. The Kagura employees are a bunch of colorful morons, but their characterization is basic and one-note. I was pretty darn tired of seeing it recycle the same few gags over and over again across its 7 episodes.
Geobreeders certainly has its charms, I just wish it had better pacing and the characters received more development.
Animation Runner Kuromi
Fresh out of art school, Mikiko Oguro has joined Studio Petit hoping to make some fun anime series, only to have the role of production lead forced on her when the only other person on the production desk is hospitalized. She has to salvage a failing anime production that has staff doing overtime while work-at-home artists slack off.
This’ll sound familiar to anybody who has seen Shirobako and it has a very similar appeal. It gives us a look behind the curtains of chaotic anime development, a chance to witness the struggles of the artists, producers, directors, and other staff members who make the shows we love. I enjoyed Shirobako a lot, but I do have to say that I like the characters and pacing of Kuromi even better.
Animation Runner Kuromi is an exciting tale of project management gone wrong that any fan of anime is likely to find interesting. A solid 8/10.
Mink is the curious product of a love between a red dragon and the knight that was once dispatched to kill her by an evil king. Upset at this betrayal (and now horny for the red dragon as well) the king is looking to get his vengeance by capturing and killing the couple’s lovely daughter.
While it features some good action scenes and sexy character designs, Dragon Half is primarily a slapstick comedy show with some good fantasy lore to it. I was very interested in the characters and they all have excellent chemistry with each other, such as the jealous princess of the land who has a secret of her own or the popular singer/monster-slayer Dick Saucer who is tasked with hunting down Mink, who happens to be his biggest fan.
Dragon Half was exceptionally funny to me and a recommendation goes out to anybody who can appreciate 90’s anime. I really wished there was more of it and will be seeing if I can find the manga somewhere.
Hentai bonus: Boku no Pico
Recommending Boku no Pico, a 2006 shotacon OVA, is the go-to joke for many an unoriginal and unfunny member of our anime community. What better way to counter these jokers than by just preemptively watching the damn thing?
I don’t know what events led to Boku no Pico‘s fame because it’s actually quite a mediocre yaoi anime. It’s about a young, effeminate boy who is seduced by an office worker who frequents his grandfather’s bar, which takes all of 2 lines of dialogue before the two of them move on to rigorous fucking. Character interaction is treated as an awkward necessity, with neither Pico nor “Mokkun” having an ounce of charisma or charm to them. Their budding romance is rapidly skipped through, somehow managing to make it difficult to follow a story that barely even exists.
The sexy stuff is remarkably graphic despite censorship, but also manages to be hilarious at times when sufficient amounts of liquor is involved. It’s awkward and weird, diving straight into weird fetishes and featuring some of the worst pillow talk imaginable. It’s bad, really bad, and I do feel sorry for genuine yaoi fans who have to put up with it. Still, as a cultural phenomenon within the anime scene, it’s at least a little recommendable.