Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ebiten [Anime Review]

I have yet to write a review for a Parody Anime. They are oddballs. Some are excellent, some are really boring. This one was... weird. Well, that's not completely fair, since every Parody Anime is weird. Excell Saga was just weird piled on top of weird. It also had a major bonus; ADV did pop-up music video style info text.

This pun is different in Japanese.
I don't get it either. I really don't.
Ebiten is just weird from the get go. Actually maybe the better term is 'stupid' or 'sophomoric.' And yet it is not lacking for plot or depth. It's just so... there really is not a better word... stupid.

3 out of 5 stars
This is Neko-sensei. Obey the cat.
First, let me cover the pun in the Asstronomy Club's name. (No, I did not make a spelling mistake). Normally, in Japanese, the word for astronomy is Tenmongaku ( 天文学 ). Here, since this is the Asstronomy Club, it is read as Tenmonbu (notice the change in the last kanji).The first, non-pun change is merely a move from 'gaku ( 学 ) which means learning, knowledge, or school to the 'bu' kanji ( 部) meaning section, divion, or more accurately, club.

I have no idea what this title is parodying.
However Ebiten has replaced the original 'mon' kanji ( 文 ) with this 'mon' kanji ( ). They are both pronounced 'mon' when used here, but they have completely different meanings. 文 means literature, culture, writing. In contrast 悶 means gloomy, depressed, melancholy, or bored. This kanji is actually a Hyogaiji kanji, so in Japanese the pun is not half as sophomoric as the English one is. 

And now I've probably bored you to tears.

Hey, a parody I get. Dragon Ball.
I don't care. I took my time to research that whole bit, because I wanted to know. Now you know too.

Oh yeah. The title of the series, well it means 'deep fried shrimp,' so yeah, there's that too... (Shrimp Tempura).

Ah-ha. I caught Sailor Moon as well.
 Ebiten is filled to the brim with almost one dimensional characters, some are so flat they actually are just one dimensional characters. We have the doujinshi reading masochist girl who is constantly abused jsut to provide fan service. We have a girl who is romantically attracted to cats (do not ask). We have a teacher who is so obsessed with her relationships that she is the cause of all the (and I hate this word) drama. Perhaps it would be better to call her a well-intentioned stalker? We have the naive new club member. We have the student council president who is an over achiever, and yet hates the club our characters are in and wants to shut it down. Oh, and a cat is their faculty adviser. Yeah. Every character is almost a trope cut and pasted on the screen.

Ebiten is also filled with parody. I got a few of em. I caught the episode themed in Dragon Ball, the episode themed as Sailor Moon, and the K-On episode. That was only about 30% hit rate. I actually feel bad about this. There were a ton of parody's I did not get, or was uncertain if I got them or not. I feel bad. My Otaku flag is shamed.

But you know what is really confusing.

There was a plot. Yes, there was a cohesive and cogent plot the whole time. It's almost perfect in its subtlety.

But the best epsiode, the winner by far, was the OVA episode (happily included in the BD). It was awesome. It did not just break the fourth wall, it kept going... It blew past the 5th, sixth, and more... it was beyond self-referential. It had scenes (Spoiler) that involved characters having conversations with their Voice Actresses. Yeah, it was great.

The series is really a hit or miss kinda show. I enjoyed sections, liked the plot (despite the fact that it was cleverly hidden), and really enjoyed the OVA episode. If you are interested, give it a try. It was not as uproariously funny as Excell Saga was, but it has a better (far better) plot. 

This is not what you are thinking it is.


  1. Agreed about the OVA episode, but I straight away noticed the HUGE influence it had on Red Dwarf: Back to earth, which uses so many of the same plot devices and even some of the same dialogue from the subs, the there is no doubt in my mind that this is beyond coincidence. (Bear in mind Back to earth too was meant to be a last hurrah for the series, but as it turned out was a new genesis for the dwarfers.)

  2. Correction I meant Red Dwarf was a huge influence on Ebiten not the other way around
    Red Dwarf 2009 Ebiten 2012