Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kujibiki Unbalance

Overall Rating: B
Summary: In order to understand this series at all, you need a little backgrund first. Kujibiki Unbalance began it's life as a manga and related anime series within the world of the manga and related anime series of Genshiken (Go check out this manga/anime, it's one of my favorites!). Confused yet? Essentially, the characters in Genshiken are obsessed with Kujubiki Unbalance. In the manga, we get notes on the series in between chapters and the characters refer to the show. However, in the anime version of Genshiken, they created three episodes of Kujubiki Unbalance as well, and put one episode on each disc, so that you could watch the episodes that the Genshiken characters were watching. It was all very meta.

Then, Genshiken got cancelled, but strangely Kujubiki Unbalance was approved for a 12-episode series, but each of the three discs would have one episode of Genshiken on it (flipping the former format). This review is for the first volume of this series.

The series serves as an homage to, and a parody of, many of the standard themes found in manga and anime, including the influential yet shadowy Student Council, brother-sister relationship weirdness, childhood friends growing apart and then meeting up years later, and more. One oddity of this series is that it is completely different from the series discussed and shown in Genshiken. The character designs are different and the plot differs as well.

I won't get into the previous plot, but both focus on Chihiro, a good-humored but somewhat nerdy looking boy who girls seem attracted to for no apparent reason. In this version, the Student Council is determined by lottery (in the old version there was a competition), and Chihiro is chosen to be president. Tokino, his somewhat-slow childhood friend, and potential romantic interest draws the position of Vice President, a young woman pretentious mad scientist named Renko is the Secretary, and elemantary student Koyuki is their Treasurer. Together, they must prove themselves worthy of being the Student Council for the giant and prestigious Rikkyouin Academy.

The tasks they are given to prove themselves worthy are all mundane so far, but inevitably result in robots, horny pandas, and general hilarity.

This one was really hard for me to review. I love Genshiken, and got the first disc primarily to see the episode of Genshiken on it, but was pleasantly surprised with the quality of Kujubiki Unbalance as well. I'm still not a fan overall, but Renko is hilarious, and I appreciate the parodying of classic manga/anime themes. However, I don't really care about any of the characters, and the plot is really uninteresting. I will be getting the second disc so I can watch the next episode of Genshiken (seriously, if you haven't read/watched this yet, go check it out!) and hopefully Kujibiki Unbalance will improve as well. As it is, I would have preferred the same format as before, with more Genshiken and a few episodes of Kujibiki.

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