Having finished my classes for summer I’ve actually had more time to sit down and watch anime series I’ve neglected. For Punchline I had seen the first few episodes and it fell off the map for me simply because series like Kekkai Sensen, Durararax2 Shou among a few others were grabbing my attention more.
An original anime series on the Noitamina programming block I was very eager to see this show: MAPPA handling animation production and the script by Kyokugen Dasshutsu ONA writer Koutarou Uchikoshi gives this series extreme promise. Plus, the story is very strange– the world blows up if Yuuta Iridatsu gets a nosebleed from seeing panties. I’m all for series that takes creativity to a whole other level. If there is a series I’d recommend that had thrown in a “left-field” hook than look no further than Punchline. It’s got a ton of FLCL spirit to it– which makes sense considering director Yutaka Yemura first began his career as a CG artist for GAINAX. I can clearly see some crossover influences in his works between these shows. The characters in both are really exaggerated in the physical actions and personalities.
The amount of puns in this show are quite hilarious too! That is if you can catch them. The title of this show in Japanese “パンチライン” contains the word “Panchira” which literally translates to “panty-shot”. Which is very in-line to the anime’s intentions. Mikatan Narugino plays the love interest to Yuuta in this show and it’s funny how even her name translates to “ally for justice”. Referring to her mahou shojo identity “Strange Juice” and the group the girls represent “Justice Punch”. The genius inventor Meika Daihatsu is even a pun: “dai hatsumeika” where “dai” means “great” and “hatsumeika” meaning “inventor”. Otaku and NEET is derived from Ito Hikiotani’s name and Rabura Chichibu reflects her character. Pun on “Chichi burabura”. In Japanese the term “Chichi” or it’s written style “ちち” is a homophone for “father”, “milk” and “boobs” depending on the context. As for “bura bura” it acts as an onomatopoeia for “just wandering”. Depicts a lot of what she does in this series from all the running around and when Yuuta takes over her body to tell the others about the destruction of the world or Ito’s danger with the QMAY group. All the girls names illustrate their own ideals and actions throughout this show that gets them closers as friends.
The first 4 episodes teaches the audience about Yuuta’s situation as a spirit and spirit cat Chiranosuke as a mentor figure in guiding him on his time-traveling journey. The terminology in this series rocks because a lot of it is well-timed jokes that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Chiranosuke is a pervert so the creators decide to nonchalantly put in cats having sex with each other on a computer he’s looking at. The transitions there are fantastic! The slapstick comedy between Rabura’s psychic powers and Mikatan’s Strange Juice transformation sequences are highly energized and are quite refreshing compared to some of the calmer series of the season.
When Punchline does get serious though is where it actually shines. Remove all the supernatural spirit stuff, sex jokes, time-traveling and you’ve got a couple of high-school students living together in the Korai House dealing with separation issues from childhood, neglect from parents and experimentations that separate them.
The main problem of Punchline is attributed to too much in too little time. With 1-cour only to deal with the narrative switches throughout episodes as Yuuta is time traveling to different days with the Christmas Party being the constant unknown mystery factor as the key to Yuuta saving Ito from death as well as Mikatan. This series is a definite re-watch in order to catch a lot of what’s going on between the QMay group’s infiltration of Korai and exactly what days these situations happen on. Switching bodies at childhood is certainly a new approach but I feel it would have worked if this was 2-cour and the twist isn’t a rushed and cheap attempt at establishing Yuuta as the sacrificial (turns out to be a girl) in saving the people she loves.
Have to admit Marina Inoue did a fantastic job of masking Yuuta as a boy.
After a long absence from the anime soundtrack world, Vampire Hunter D composer Tetsuya Komuro returns to compose and produce Punchline‘s score! His last work was on 2005’s Zoids:Fuzors by Tokyo Kids Animation Studio. He’s well-known for bringing the dance genre to Japanese music and I can see some of that style in this show. His strength however, lies as a producer signing on popular artists Namie Amuro, Ayumi Hamasaki, Ami Suzuki and many others even internationally like the Backstreet Boys within the pop scene around the 90’s. Towards the beginning and in a few of the action sequences we get a lot of dubstep and it’s actually pretty decent. You can tell the production of it is really high and it has a very deep bass sound. The show has a strong bond with music and Mikatan’s pop-idol songs are key to this. There are a few really funny drunk karaoke party scenes with some horrible singing!
Animation Studio MAPPA has quite a bit under its belt now. Sakamichi no Apollon. Zankyou no Terror. Garo Honoo no Kokuin and now Punchline. Their upcoming work on Ushio to Tora looks like it’ll be animated nicely but those character designs suck. As for Punchline, it’s one of the most detailed in animation of the season. This is where FLCL‘s influence comes in– Yuuta flying through rooms trying to avoid panties, Rabura busting into a room and her wild psychic situations and the fight scenes are tightly animated! The fluid style is pretty to look at the episodes aren’t as detailed as shows like Kekkai Sensen in terms of conceptual design on its backgrounds and characters.
OP: “PUNCH LINE!” by Shokotan ♥ Denpagumi (Shoko Nakagawa x Dengapumi.INC)
Such a strange opening. It reminds me of how quirky Hozuki no Reitetsu had been in integrating its cast to the song. The character movements are edited well into the song but the transitions from scene to scene are a bit off. I like how this basically tells Yuuta’s journey from each room discovering each girls’ panties and what happens to him if he does. The band Dengapumi is a female Japanese idol group that are all former otaku and cosplayers that perform the instrumentals and backup to Nakagawa’s lead vocals. It’s a fun and crazy song about panties that reflects this series a ton. Generic in the style but its delivery is nice.
ED: “Mitsu Mitsu Mitsu” (蜜蜜蜜) by Ayumikurikamaki
Great ending. Another JPOP idol group that formed in 2012. The name is derived from the original members’ names. Known for their bear costumes on stage (they probably should have done a Yuri Kuma Arashi insert song haha) that change according to the season. The song itself just like the opening is typical with a steady drum beat and strong rock guitar riffs but the vocals are great because they do a wonderful job of illustrating the fun these girls have in the Korai House. As for the animation it’s awesome– the characters are drawn in a kawaii style mixed with this pastel matted background design. The director and animator on this is Wataru Uekusa.
This is the first time he’s animated and worked on a full-fledge series before as most of his work are from music videos. Including Yasashii March: The Tender March for Soutasei Riron’s song “Miss Parallel World”, fake!fake! for the song “fake!fake!” by A Crow is White and Mukougaoka Chisato wa Tada Mitsumeteita no Datta. Curious by this style: I could see him working with Masaaki Yuasa sometime in the future. Uekusa gives off a visually smooth and bright tone that contains a wild trip spiraling out of control.
Here’s the music video of Mikougaoka Chisato:
This one is fake!fake!— its visually stunning and has some of smoothest animation I’ve ever seen in a music video! Reminds me of Kaiba.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 71/100