Sex jokes really are great. You know you’re in honest company when no-one feels the need to shy away from a filthy double entendre. Unless of course, you’re surrounded by a bunch of dicks. Due to societal sensitivities towards eroticism as a whole, we find ourselves drawn to perverse humour like a forbidden fruit. With so many fruits growing ripe and firm however, we feel it may be worth informing you of the juices before you bite, by comparing two recent risqué anime releases: No-Rin and Shimoneta: A Boring World Where The Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist (henceforth referred to as “Shimoneta”, because…bloody hell that’s a mouthful).
Pitch. Exposition. Example. Typically, an anime fan will PEE all over series when a new anime season begins with a three episode rule – a probationary period where an individual selects shows they’ll watch to completion. While it doesn’t fit every anime, the general assumption is:
Pitch – The opening episode serves as a “hook”; usually with something exciting to persuade viewers to tune in again.
Exposition – The second episode is likely to lay the laws of the land; explaining the “Who? What? Where? And Why?”.
Example – With the hook and set-up out of the way, the third episode is typically your first taste of how the series will handle those elements for the remainder of its run.
Although both No-Rin and Shimoneta have been released to home video, with their initial broadcasts long since past, there’s no real reason why this rule can’t be invoked this time – after all, we’re setting out to determine which dirty comedy is for you!
No-Rin: The world comes crashing down for agricultural school student Kōsaku Hata when the teen idol he’s obsessed with, Yuka Kusakabe, announces her sudden retirement. Not long after however, she transfers into Kōsaku’s school – to the disdain of thirsty childhood friend Minori Nakazawa. Hilarity ensues as Kōsaku and friends explore their daily lives together, including analyses on the lewdness of eggplants and in-depth lectures on the value of panties.
Shimoneta: While Japan has become a dystopia of moral purity where even dirty jokes run afoul of the law, Tanukichi Okuma’s hopes of spending an upright adolescence with the pure Student Council President Anna are dashed when he finds himself involved with Blue Snow, the leader of terrorist organisation SOX, who are determined to reignite Japan’s sexuality.
At times, watching the world of No-Rin set itself up felt like a game of “Cliché Bingo”. As if thrown against a wall until something stuck together, the series draws obvious inspiration from a number of series leading to an end-result that feels like a Frankenstein’s Monster of comedy anime. There’s no rule stating Hiromu Arakawa’s Silver Spoon can be the only agricultural college-set series, but when mixed with a pathetic otaku protagonist, short-haired infatuated childhood friend #8192 and the mid-term strangely connected transfer student amongst multiple references to other anime, everything starts to feel a little too unoriginal.
In contrast, while Shimoneta‘s opening gambit of a dystopian future has been done to death in recent years, the manifestation of this reality sets it far apart from the rest. The big bad government isn’t leaving the poor in famine or denying them any rights other than those to make dirty jokes. It’s an utterly ridiculous concept that the series owns from the offset – a young woman shouting playground-level euphemisms for genitalia is treated as a terrorist attack requiring a rapid response. Behind the layer of childish humour could also lie commentary on recent events, such as Japanese law clamping down on “harmful publications” or from a western viewers’ perspective, an arguable increase in cultural sensitivity towards perceived offensive material.
Of course, a tantalising set-up is nothing if executed poorly in later episodes, but based solely on impressions from each series’ opening act, this round is awarded to Shimoneta.
With the board laid out and key pieces introduced, Shimoneta‘s second episode delivers insight into the motivations of our characters and their positions in the story; such as how Okuma and Anna’s respective parentages have informed their current roles. For Okuma, the disgrace of his “erotic terrorist” father made him ideal as the Student Council’s “Lewd Consultant”, while Anna’s politician parents set her up to be an unfortunate antagonist. This helps shape the dynamics of the cast as well, such as Okuma’s past resulting in distrust from macho treasurer Gouriki’s distrust, with the overall result for me, being the creation of a cohesive cast with enough depth to warrant familiarity once SOX take off for real.
On the other hand, I’m not convinced that No-Rin actually cares for coherent character dynamics. Following the set-up of Yuka’s transfer to Tamo Agriculture School, this follow-up focuses on the former idol’s introduction to the wider cast. That sounds reasonable enough but becomes an issue when I’m left with an impression that these characters don’t really have solid personalities, but rather, are liquid that take on the shape of the scene they’re in. For example, childhood friend Minori can go from being flustered about the thought of marriage, to literally taking off her panties and handing them to the same guy.
To No-Rin‘s credit however, this episode also gave our first real sense of the hilarity that will ensue in later episodes. It’s been a very long time since my jaw has hung open in disbelief, but the passionate debate on the appeal of panties was just that bizarre. I can’t go as far as saying it made me laugh, but it was a ridiculously amusing experience.
Following the end of their respective second episodes, I was left feeling a greater appreciation for the world and characters of Shimoneta, who I felt were stronger defined than No-Rin‘s. So unfortunately for Silver Link’s series, this is another position with Shimoneta on top – but can it get a straight flush?
Despite my praise of Shimoneta‘s concept and characters, once the stage is set and the curtains open, the show starts to unravel like a dishevelled kimono. The main issue with Shimoneta is that it takes itself more seriously than the premise warrants and its attempts at comedy often miss their mark. The series’ humour mostly relies on double entendres that are so forced even characters complain about them. You know they aren’t exactly great when the subtitle track has to italicise where the intended double meanings are like a cheeky wink at the viewer. The series does hit the occasional bullseye, but rolling around on the floor repeatedly shouting the names of genitalia won’t exactly leave me in stitches.
The series arguably works better when trying to play with itself more seriously, which is bizarre considering the premise. However, this episode asks interesting questions, such as whether leaving youths uneducated about courtship or sexual urges may lead to behaviour not unlike stalkers.
On the other hand, No-Rin knows it has plenty of screws loose and is more than happy to just roll with it. Minori goes full throttle in her romantic jealously, proposing a series of increasingly bizarre challenges in a desperate attempt to not be upstaged by the former idol – from cleaning chicken poop to planting racing. Character behaviour is exaggerated far from what you would naturally expect, but No-Rin clearly has no qualms about putting comedic potential above anything else. However, with its quick-fire roll-out of gags, anime references and accompanying art-style changes, No-Rin does have an unfortunate tendency towards hyperactive pacing. Some scenes, like Kōsaku’s friend proudly showing off a mankini are too absurd not to laugh though.
Now, for a comparison of shows whose bread and butter are lewd jokes, I think it’s time we talk dirty. As mentioned earlier, Shimoneta relies mostly on poorly executed innuendo and the shock value of its cast (particularly the female members) saying crude things. No-Rin on the hand, takes pleasure in the absolute absurd and playful ribbing, such as Kōsaku cornering Minori about why it may not be appropriate to send a girl an eggplant. While it stumbles at points itself, No-Rin is a clear front-runner on comedic merit – awarding it the win for this round.
With victories in 2 categories awarded over 1, the decisive winner of Tanuki Bridge’s first “PEE On It” anime comparison is…J.C. Staff’s Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist. Now, this doesn’t mean the series is better than No-Rin in every aspect as the tally shows.
My final impressions of the two shows, based on the first three episodes, is that Shimoneta has fantastic and original ideas with a likeable, fleshed out cast, but would be better served with more concrete tonal direction or a better comedy writer. On the other hand, No-Rin brings no original ideas to the table, but still manages to produce a mildly amusing meal.
Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist (DVD & Blu-ray) and No-Rin (Blu-ray) are available on Blu-ray from Funimation Entertainment, courtesy of Anime Limited.
Disclosure: Copies of Shimoneta and No-Rin were supplied by Anime Limited, the distributor, for the purposes of this review.