Posted on 27 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kuchuu Buranko



There are a few things you must know about Kuchuu Buranko. It’s being directed by the director of Mononoke and Bake Neko, which were deep horror-mindscrews with deep stories and characters. Kuchuu Buranko, while you might think otherwise at first, is completely different.

It’s a series about psychology: a weird doctor and discusses 11 of his patients throughout its run. Instead of trying to surpass Mononoke in terms of depth, the creators decided to focus on something completely different: entertainment. The patients in this series really aren’t that complex: most suffer from some sort of Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and each conclusion often just requires them to realize one small thing. However, seeing this show explore their issues and struggles is where this series’ strength lies.

The characters in this serise don’t shine through their depth, but their simplicity. While they’re all exaggerated, they’re also down to earth. Just random people from all sorts of walks of life, and their problems are very easy to relate to. Especially in the second half of the series, where the creators take more and more chances, this results into a number of hilarious and charming situations.

While the depth in this series doesn’t come from the individual stories, it’s more layered when you look at the big picture. This series loves to put in easter eggs or references to past (and in some cases even future episodes), but the general message that it in the end wants to convey is genuine and yet simple.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Very entertaining and interesting.
Characters: 8/10 – Not deep, but fun and easy to relate to.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Unique art with great direction, though the actual animation is minimal
Setting: 8/10 – Lots of references to other episodes, nice moral.
Posted on with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Ah, screw it. I originally started to follow the subs because I couldn’t pick up all of the details with just the raws, but I’ve gotten impatient now. Besides, this episode wasn’t really that difficult.

But boy, what an episode the creators decided to end this series with. You can see that the creators put their last bits of creativity here in the direction. I really liked it, and I’d rank this as my third favourite ending this season (after White Album and Aoi Bungaku). It’s basically a follow-up to the cellphone kid episode, where this time we see that his father also has issues.

It’s hard to describe exactly what was so good about this episode, and I think it was a combination of many things that created its charms. The way this episode completely broke away from the formula that it had previously built up, the weird tantrum scenes of this doctor inside the toilet. I also liked the characterization of that doctor for some reason. He’s very much one of those dads who is a workaholic and neglects his family, but the personality this episode gave him was a bit more than most of these stereotypes. And really, that’s the thing with Kuchuu Buranko: its characters don’t try to be unique or multi-sided, and yet they’re entertaining because they’re so down to earth.

As for the Christmas episode, well, the creators indeed stuffed the Christmas party into the final minutes of this episode. The morals at the end of this episode were a bit cheesy, but it’s also interesting how well the creators really managed to summarize this show with just three words: nobody is perfect. That really is Kuchuu Buranko in a nutshell. Whether you’re a student, journalist, writer, doctor or famous baseball player, everyone has something that he doesn’t like. And sure, in Kuchuu Buranko they were very exaggerated, but the series also tended to be spot-on at times.

As for the next Noitamina-show, it’s going to be another Nodame Cantabile. Because I’m searching for eight shows that are going to be interesting to blog, there’s a really good chance that I’m going to end up covering it, however my big worry for it is Chiaki Kon. With a show like this one, will she really be able to match the brilliance of Kenichi Kasai’s first season, or will it just be another quirky romantic comedy that, while nice to watch, isn’t anything special?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 December 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Now THIS really is this series at its best: a great sense of humour, a very fine selection of references to past episodes, it continues fleshing out this series’ themes in a rather clever way, and it actually has a really good story with a great main character this time. It’s really here where this show makes use of its formula that it’s built up over the past few episodes, and gives it a very interesting and creative twist.

It’s interesting how in this episode, the lead character didn’t turn into an animal. Or to be more specific: he didn’t need to be turned into an animal because he already had taken on a strange form: that of his 30-year-old self. Throughout the entire episode, we just see this version of him. There are quite a few points at which things don’t really make much sense this way: how can such a young person be president of a country, why does he have flashbacks of the construction of Tokyo Tower and why is Irabu suggesting retirement to him at that kind of age…?

It was definitely a nice twist, and out of all the Kuchuu Buranko lead characters, the personality of this guy ranges among the most colourful. With him, you can really see his development in a way that isn’t superficial, cheesy or rushed, but it’s really genuine.

And I’m actually pretty curious to see what the creators have planned for that final episode. Especially with this kind of a series, you can really put anything there. Considering that it airs at Christmas Eve in Japan, not to mention that the creators have been dropping countless of Christmas hints for the past few episodes, I really can see them doing a Christmas-themed ending. Pretty heart-warming for the holidays, if this turns out to be true.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 December 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



At this point, it’s pretty clear what the general message is that this series wants to convey: nobody is perfect, not even your role models. So instead of trying to be perfect, you should try to live with who and what you are. Overall, these past nine episodes did a good job in showing the ins and outs of this: from the more extreme to the less extreme ones: you should just accept what you have to live with your entire life. overall, pretty well done, if I say so myself.

The general message that I got out of this particular episode however, is something completely different: Japanese TV-shows are weird. To think that people are actually willing to put morons on the screen who do nothing but smile cheesily over and over. And I thought Dutch TV was bad…

I’m surprised how little crossovers this episode had, though. Where the previous episodes threw references with heaps at the time, I don’t think that I spotted any reference to a past episode in this episode other than the usual bucket of syringes. I think that because of that, and how I had absolutely no interest in the subject material this time (child stars and variety-shows… *yuch*) that it disappointed a bit compared to the previous ones.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 5 December 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Remember that episode in which that kid stood amongst a crowd that was looking at some sort of fight going on? Yeah, this episode explains the reason behind it: a reporter with an out of control obsessive compulsive disorder was attacking a homeless guy for groping school girls. Makes sense. :P

But yeah, this episode showed yet again that the psychology is just a vehicle to this show’s real purpose: entertainment. This really turned out to be a show that makes fun of obsessive compulsive disorders, but it does it in such a way that it also becomes a bit relatable. And really, this series works great as a comedy: that chase scene was really hilarious in its over-the-topness.

And yet, this episode actually had quite an interesting message as well, the fact that not every psychological ailment can be cured. Here we have a guy who can do his research, and thinks that for every ailment there’s a sure-fire cure. In the end though, he just ends up living with his ailment. I think that this was actually one of the more powerful endings that we’ve seen in this series yet.

I’m actually pretty curious to what this show has in store for its final episode. With the way that it keeps referencing previous episodes, there is a possibility for it to take this to a next level at the end.

At this point, I’m pretty sure of how I’d rank this year’s Noitamina-series:
4) Eden of the East
3) Kuchuu Buranko
2) Genji Monogatari Sennenki
1) Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

It’s overall been a great year for this timeslot, full of daring concepts and creative ideas. Sure, some series didn’t go as well as planned (Eden of the East… I still believe that it was poorly balanced), but you can see that a lot of time an effort has been put in every single one of them.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 2 December 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Apologies for the lateness of this post; the very slow subs really threw me off. In any case, this yet again was an episode that was more than worth it. I really like how this series continues to get more daring with every passing episode, it has a very nice effect of something spiralling out of control. This episode was hilarious, and while not the deepest one it still had a fun and interesting protagonist to work with: a yakuza who can’t stand pointy objects.

At this point, you can also see that the creators have loads of fun with the cross-references to past episodes. Bando returns, and heck: we even saw this episode’s protagonist in one of the previous episodes if I’m not mistaken. This explains that the ski glasses wasn’t just a random stylistic choice, but the guy actually had a reason for it: experimenting whether or not that would help him cure his fears.

This show is over the top, but in a good way. The fun in this series comes from the characters, and not necessarily the psychology: it merely fits a supporting purpose in this series. I only didn’t like that eventual part in which the rival yakuza guy turns out to also have an OCD. It’s just cheesy.

We also learn that most of Irabu’s appearances next to his patients are in fact in a flashback, and he doesn’t always accompany his clients like what was previously suggested. Only in the scenes in which he directly interacted with other people are the parts in which he went out of his office. At other times, he’s simply inside the client’s story, commenting on what happened.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 November 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Whoa, this series has really gotten significantly better in the past couple of episode. It’s hard to imagine that the first few episodes were a bunch of depthless guys, because this episode had a really good main character to play with. There’s something with teenagers making an appearance in otherwise adult shows: in teenaged series they’re often annoying, but this episode had definitely its charms.

A teenager addicted to cell phones. It’s something very typical of teenagers, and the start of this episode had something sadistic, in which both Irabu, as the nurse as his classmates started picking on him. And yet, this episode did a wonderful job of making me feel sorry for this guy. The ending was really well written: there’s no forced climax, but instead it made perfect sense.

The ending would have happened as well if the guy didn’t pay a visit to Irabu, but Irabu’s addition had a very nice effect on the episode, the way in which he, after he realized that his friends weren’t who he thought he were, they simply invited him with all of the other patients. It’s an interesting story about a loner trying to fit in, yet trying way too hard in the process. In fact, his frustrations which seemed to cause his cell phone addiction (what if he got left behind by them?) only caused a distance between them.

And to a surprise, this episode continued to flesh out Irabu and the nurse, surprisingly enough. Especially that nurse is quite unexpected: I really thought that she was going to be a simple plot device. Also, this episode had quite a few of references to other episodes: there were actually quite a few cameos from previous episodes, and I also like the subtle part at which the theme song is played, and the lead character claims to really like the “drama” it’s based on. Yeah, right. ;)
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 November 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Definitely the best episode of Kuchuu Buranko yet. It’s the kind of episode that for me made up for all of the annoying and depth-less parts of this series. It’s one of those episodes that’s awesome to watch in the way that it played around with its lead characters.

I’m not sure whether the rest of the series can do the same, because this episode did also give Irabu an actual life. I mean, that’s something I never saw coming: I thought that he was like the medicine seller. A guy without any past, background or identity, whose only purpose seemed to be solving mysteries. This episode however shows Irabu during a college reunion, and some of his earlier friends, who all went to become doctors or other medical staff. Pretty interesting to see what this guy’s friends were like.

Anyway, the patient in this episode is one of these former friends. He’s a doctor who also knows a thing or two about psychology. He’s got another form of OCD. When I found out about this, I feared that this would be much of the same again, but I was proven wrong: this guy keeps imagining how he’s going to cause trouble. What follows is a crazy episodes as he tries to give in to his urges by actually carrying them out. His stepfather (who seems to be the cause of his frustrations)’s wig was utterly hilarious.

Oh, and the Banto references also rocked. This is what I mean by connecting the characters of the different stories: the lead character is a huge baseball fan, and Banto is his favourite player. Nice touch.

Setting aside the depth, I also kind-of like the realistic portrayal of the characters in this series: all characters featured so far are adults just plucked from society: they’ve got lives, careers and a family. It’s strangely refreshing in anime in which 95% of all characters are either students or warriors (or involved in some other kind of job that involves fighting).
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 7 November 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



This time: a baseball player. It’s interesting how every episode of Kuchuu Buranko deals with the media of some sort. This formulaic format limits creativity: unlike Aoi Bungaku the variety isn’t really this series’ strong point. Instead, what it needs to do is make the whole series greater than the sum of its parts. The best example of how this is done right is Jigoku Shoujo. At this point, it’s a bit too early whether Kuchuu Buranko will be the same but there’s an actual good chance that it will pull this off.

What I mean by that is the following: this episode was very similar to the previous one: a writerbaseball player is very popular, however he experiences psychological problems off of it. Parallels are drawn between him and a different writerbaseball player. Irabu meanwhile tries to take up writingplaying catch-ball and he eventually gets cured by realizing that he was wrong in his stereotypical assumptions.

After four episodes, I finally realize that the similarities of the stories isn’t lazy scriptwriting, but instead meant to be that way. This episode wasn’t meant to stand out with its story, but rather with the subtle difference with the previous story. Ignoring the second episode, this series has been about people who are very successful at what they do, but just have a problem as they’re at the height of their popularity. It could be failing to cooperate, or simply forgetting the past. They’re so focused on the right now that they sometimes forget what they already accomplished.

The big difference between this series and Mononoke: Mononoke’s individual series had a lot of depth, but they were straightforward and standalone. Kuchuu Buranko on the other hand isn’t that deep with its individual cases, however they have overlap, they’re not straightforward at all. There are two ways in which you can watch it: just watch an episode brainlessly, and end up with a rather boring series about a bunch of depth-less people, or you could try to look behind the exterior, and try and find connections and hidden meanings. And that’s why I like this series.

Also, is it me or did that kid have a Bake Neko t-shirt?
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 31 October 2009 with categories: Kuchuu Buranko



Ah, we get a look into the authors of cheap romance novels. Again, it had a very simple conclusion: just start writing good novels! The fun in this episode yet again came from exploring the life and carreer of this guy.

As I’m also somewhat a writer, I can identify with him a bit: so you’ve written a masterpiece. Then what? You’re popular as hell thanks to your hard work. Now what? I can understand how this guy would eventually fall into a habit of writing stuff that sells good, yet are utterly crappy and formulaic. For a starting author, this means complete suicide, however an already famous author can pull this off and still sell items.

While I’ve never written a masterpiece myself, I do recognize how you can be incredibly passionate about something when you first start out. If you happen to know the right techniques, then despite your lack of experience you can put down an incredible piece of work.

This episode was all about getting in the right mindset. It’s not about writer’s block; this guy was very able to churn out novels if you ignore his vomiting problem. Instead, it was focused on getting him from writing half-assedly to passionately. And that’s something I do recognize from my own writing, especially with my episodic reviews: the more passionately I write abot an episode (whether it was good or bad), the better that entry is usually going to be.

… and yeah, you could probably guess that this wasn’t such a passionately written entry. -_-
Rating: * (Good)

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