Aiura

October 18, 2013

When you have an anime series that is as short as four minutes and the synopsis that reads “Three annoying, spirited high school girls with zero motivation” – and their classmates. Their daily life is “what happens when there is nothing happening”, one must expect that Aiura should be jam packed with spontaneous jokes that will keep you laughing like crazy for the next few minutes or so, right? Let me just warn you not to get your hopes up. Because when there is nothing happening and you need something to happen, you make it happen. Get what I’m saying? From my observation of that line and the girls in this series, I think they have too much free time in their hands. Life must be so bored and uneventful that they have to make it happening. Or maybe they are just plain idiots.

Episode 1
Ayuko Uehara makes her way through town. While resting and having a snack, Kanaka Amaya accidentally bumps into her and drops her snack. As apology she gives the taiyaki of Saki Iwasawa to her. Ayuko finds it to be spicy. Back home, she worries about her school uniform which looks a little big since tomorrow she’ll be starting her high school. But she is confident she’ll grow into it.

Episode 2
At school, Kanaka and Saki see Ayuko having trouble reaching her shoe box locker. Kanaka is glad to offer a helping hand by allowing her to step on her body so she could reach. She doesn’t mind this humiliation as long as it brings a smile to her face. But tall Saki quickly gets it done and they leave all while ignoring Kanaka. When they get to know each other, Kanaka nicknames Ayuko as Ayukong. Is she some sort of gorilla? Or Viet Cong?Saki thought of giving Kanaka a taste of her own medicine by nicknaming her as Kanakamantis. But this just sounds awfully long. Kanaka thinks Ayukondor sounds great but thinks about the merry condor sinking. Ayuko gives Kanakana as her nickname and Kanaka had to cheek to say she has got a poor naming sense.

Episode 3
The class will have a pop quiz. Don’t worry. It will be easy. What is the teacher’s name? Those who can’t get this right… Sumiko Yamashita is her name and it seems the class notice she wrote her kanji wrongly! A person can get her own name wrong? Yamashita announces Mei Yanase as the only person who got all the answers right. So? She is now the class rep. Eh? As for MVP award, it goes to Kanaka! Because she put “Hikaru Jinguuji” as her name in the answer. It’s not even close but why? Yamashita thinks this name suits her better. Kanaka thinks Ayukong is too long and wants to shorten it to Kong. Or Yukong. Or Yukon. Whatever. Saki allows Ayuko to call her by her first name but when she puts up a scary look, Ayuko becomes scared despite just a joke. Ayuko calls out to her teacher via that Jinguuji name. After so many times, she didn’t respond till she blurted out Yamashita. So which one suits her again?

Episode 4
Kanaka rings Saki’s doorbell incessantly and gets a pillow missile thrown in her face. Three more annoying school years with this girl… Then she wants to race to school but Saki makes a head start. When Kanaka gets serious and uses all her strength, she realizes she ended up in the wrong school and had to run all the way back. Shusaku Matsuno is catching students who are late. He catches Misuzu Wakatsuki (Oh, squeaky Yukari Tamura!!!) as one of them. However despite her petite and young looks, she is actually a teacher! Worse, she is wearing the school uniform. Although she has been told many times not to, she couldn’t resist. She had lots of boys asking her out and even the principal! He won’t tell her not to wear but at least put on a lab coat so she will be easily distinguishable. Yamashita tells him there are lots of weird teachers in this school. Probably it is just a distracting because she too is late.

Episode 5
Kanaka puts up another dramatic play in front of Saki’s house. She plays dead but Saki makes the right decision of ignoring her. So is she the type who ignores a dead friend at her doorstep? Depends on the person. If it’s Ayuko, she would call the ambulance and do CPR. It’s great to know that this means Ayuko can die any time. So why was Kanaka ‘dead’? She points out a big guy with an axe attacked her but she managed to defeat him. However she let her guard down and was stabbed in the back by Ayuko. WTF. I guess no point in denying so Ayuko plays along. Why did she do it? Because she was irritated. With this kind of friend, I can see why. Ayuko apologizes for being irritating and taking her out in the heat of the moment so Saki points out Kanaka as the most irritating one.

Episode 6
Once again, Kanaka plays dead in front of Saki’s house. She ties her up… Hope she learns never to do that again. Due to the test week, class is off early. Yamashita admits she doesn’t care about their grades! Kanaka suggests coming over to do group study but we know hardly any of that will happen. True enough, she is playing a game with Ayuko. That’s fine but why do they have to do this in Souta, her little brother’s room? They’re not even remorseful. When Souta asks Ayuko what she thinks of her sister, after a long pause, she says she’s a fun person. After a long pause… The girls continue to bum around in his room so he tells them he would like to get some studying done. Hey look. Saki is even deep asleep.

Episode 7
The girls continue to play in Souta’s room. Kanaka invites Souta to makes his next move on the jenga. Of course it collapses since it is already near that stage. This means Souta is forced to go buy snacks and drinks for them. He never heard of this punishment. Life is so unfair. Even Saki is ‘sleep talking’ to get him buy what she wants. Later Souta plays video game with Saki but is told to go easy on her if he is about to win. Otherwise the stress of the loss will make her do badly in the test and it will be his fault. Yes, adults don’t play fair. On another day, Kanaka brings her friends to play again in Souta room. Souta is so upset that he just went off to clean Kanaka’s room. Good brother? More like a sister who sucks.

Episode 8
Kanaka wants Saki to join a club because Kanaka has ambitions and wants to be called captain. Go join yourself. Ayuko offers if she would like to accompany her to try out some clubs so Kanaka considers her an angel and Saki the fallen one. However thinking through all the clubs that she could join, unfortunately Kanaka isn’t good in that particular skill. She becomes ‘depressed’ she can’t do a single thing so her friends at least call her captain. But Kanaka is going to give up on that and move on. She wants to be the student council president. Saki remarks that the government won’t allow that.

Episode 9
Speaking of dreams, Kanaka had one but is reluctant to tell since Saki will be angry. She assures her she is already quite angry. It’s a dream whereby Kanaka split the watermelon before Saki did. Ayuko also dreamt of Kanaka. She was doing some magic trick with her hair. When Ayuko pulled her shorter hair, it became an atomic bomb and destroyed the world! Scary dream, huh? Asking Saki about her future dream, she replies it is to marry into money. Kanaka wants to become an idol because her mom said she is so stupid that she should just become one. Even her teacher said that. Well, is it a good thing she didn’t take it as an insult? The question is how to become and idol. When they ask Misuzu how to marry into money, she tells them to zip it. Oops… Spot on?

Episode 10
Misuzu once again wears her school uniform and without her lab coat. She gets reprimanded by Matsuno and her reason is that it is too hot. Misuzu gets the wrong idea he wants her to just wear the lab coat and calls him a pervert. Kanaka plays guess who with Ayuko and then asks her to guess her height. Then she does the same for Yamashita and drops lots of exaggerated hints (if not lies) about herself. So did Yamashita recognize this super star Madonna? Actually, she doesn’t even recognize her! Some teacher… Kanaka tries to do it on Saki but instantly gets elbowed in the gut. Fast reflex. Saki assures that she knew it was her all along. Kanaka tells her that high school girls normally don’t do this. So what do they do? Asking Mei, it is to study. Why does Kanaka have that disbelieving expression? Doesn’t she know her responsibilities? I think she prefers Ayuko’s answer about talking about things like love. Kanaka and Saki become sad when they think Ayuko doesn’t like them (because she said she has nobody she likes of the romantic kind). But when she corrects her answer, they think she is into that sort of fetish and want to keep their distance. It’s tough hanging around idiots, huh?

Episode 11
It is raining so Saki feels so lazy she doesn’t want to go to school and even considers becoming a shut-in. Till Kanaka points out becoming a NEET means ranking lower than her. Saki is forced to get up and move… Effective… Kanaka wears rain boots to school because she doesn’t want her shoes to get wet since tomorrow is the start of summer vacation. When they arrive at school, Saki takes off her drenched socks. Kanaka snaps a picture of her bare legs so Saki threatens to break her handphone if she doesn’t delete them. Yamashita complains about the students having it easy compared to her. Complain, complain, complain… With that, she irresponsibly declares the first semester over. Kanaka wishes the rain would wash away her troubles. What trouble? She admits she had none actually. On the first day of summer holiday, Kanaka incessantly rings Saki’s doorbell and gets more than just a pillow missile thrown in her face. It’s going to be the start of a long, hot and annoying summer…

Episode 12
Just like in the first episode, Ayuko makes her way across town through the familiar scenes. Just that she meets up with her friends to hang out. They spend the rest of the day at the beach playing in the water and watching the sunset. Kanaka has thought up of something stupid but Saki won’t let her ruin the fun and makes her wait to say it tomorrow. When Ayuko is back home, she sees the very starry sky and is amazed by its beauty.

Crap! Where’s The Crab?!
Well, it’s a good thing this series only lasted 4 minutes (less than 3 minutes if you take away the opening and ending part). Otherwise despite being funny on its own, I don’t think it would have been quite fun if it had lasted more than that duration. Because it is more or less the same thing. I suppose we have been warned in the ending theme having its opening lines that goes “Even though there are pointless conversation, it was fun nevertheless”. Fun, yes. Memorable in the long run, not quite. Kanaka as the idiot of the group is a must if you are going to make this series a funny one. But how much more interesting can Kanaka make from a normal situation? At first it may look cute and funny for the idiot and her idiotic antics. But you will soon get familiar with the kind of antics that does and thus the thrill and fun factor is no more there. No more the surprise element despite sometimes she can still tickle our funny bones but it is not as effective as she was at the start because like I’ve said we’ve become accustomed with her silly ways. Because Kanaka being serious for once doesn’t make her Kanaka. Get it? It’s just not her.

Ayuko sometimes feels like a cutie retard. She’s cute, she’s lovely, she’s adorable, she’s innocent and in a way it makes her character feel a little retard. Although not as mischievous as Kanaka, I feel the way she accepts the antics (or gets caught in between then) makes her part of the idiocy too. Tall girl Saki plays the straight man for Kanaka and I can’t help feel that she has a little sadistic side to her. If having a sister like Kanaka is bad enough, having her friends over with such similar idiotic traits must be triple the terror. Sometimes I feel bad for Souta. Kanaka has got her own room and everyone has to hang out in his room? A boy’s room? Unless you’re telling me her room is messy, dirty and unkempt. Not very girly-like, eh? He’s a decent little brother and if he grows up to be a stressful psycho, we all know who to blame. Like that will ever happen as far as this series is concern. Second to Kanaka (which I noticed has become a measuring stick for this series’ idiocy) is Yamashita. Clearly her attitude doesn’t befit a teacher at all. Makes you wonder why she is still doing this job if she lacks the certain passion and dedication. Sometimes the students even have more sense than her.

The other side characters feel like a let-down since they only feel like a side distraction and to provide some variety in addition to the main trio. I feel they could have really been done without. Misuzu is a loli looking teacher with school girl uniform fetish (maybe she hasn’t gotten over her school days yet), Matsuno’s minimal role is catching those who are late and reprimanding those flouting the school rules (ironically the ones caught are his fellow teachers) and Mei as the class rep is a bright student but you just don’t feel that impact. There are many other more minor characters that do not appear in the anime probably because this series is so short that it wasn’t worth to put them in (they should too for those minor ones that appeared here). In that sense, you probably won’t get to know more in depth about the quirkiness and behaviour of those characters (and the ones here too). How can you adapt a series that is based on a yonkoma to its full potential when the duration of the series doesn’t call for that? It’s like if you avert your eyes away from the screen for a few seconds, the show has already ended. Before you can understand anything, it ends.

The real ‘star’ of this short series is actually the opening theme, Kani Do Luck. Yes. It is the craziest and the wildest of the most insane. At least for where this series is concerned. And the theme of it is crabs!!! Lots of them. That’s why I’ve been wondering where the hell the crabs in the series are seeing they are all over the place in here? Maybe it’s just a pun for crap? It could have easily been the series’ mascot (somehow I feel Ayuko fits that role). So crabby that you have other nonsensical randomness featured. Like Steve Jobs. What the blazes is that late Apple founder doing in this series? Are they paying tribute to him? Oh yea. Steve Jobs. Think Crabing. iCrab. iCrap. Real funny. I wouldn’t mind rewatching this part over and over again. Until I get sick of it. I figure the reason the connection between Steve Jobs and crabs is that he passed away due to cancer. And you know the crab zodiac? Yeah. That. Guess what is CNN? Crab News Network! Don’t we love crabs now?! Even the lyrics are amusing and nonsensical. When you have lines that goes “The 3-star chef ran away barefoot” and “I’m okay with this bullsh*t recipe” and lines that psycho you that crab meat is the best (you can have them fresh, fried or for snacks too!), you can tell how nonsensical this is going to get. The tune is also catchy enough that you might just get addicted and sing along with it. Crabby, crabby, crabby, crabby… So have you got crab yet? The ending theme Ichigo Ichie is a much slower beat and it is like after all that craziness, you need a little goodie calming song to cleanse your soul. Even the lyrics are toned down (your typical friendship thingy – how long can things last, same feelings wherever you are far apart, etc). Very contrast to the opening theme if I should say.

The background especially looks like water colour painting so if you look closely you might realize the difference and thus it can be a little odd if you see the different mixture of art between the background and the characters that are drawn in the usual conventional Japanese anime style. This series is produced by Liden Films whose only other anime at this point is Senyuu, another wacky short series. On a trivial note, the main trio girls are voiced by seiyuus making their anime debut (that or at least in a leading role instead of very minor roles that would go unnoticed such as Girl A, Friend B, etc) and I think like many other seiyuus out there, they did quite a good job in breathing life into their colourful characters.

Logically, what happens when nothing happens? Nothing happens lah! Facing such boring situation, there is this dilemma to make life more interesting with silly antics or you can just play it safe by doing nothing eventful. Or you can do both. One burst of silly humour followed by plain dull nothingness. I read many complained that this show is too short to flesh out anything. Looking at the positive side, the shorter the story, the less problems to worry about. If assuming that is done right. Sometimes being long doesn’t necessary mean good. For this series, I would say it is still enjoyable since there is nothing elaborated and plain simple, yet it managed to tickle the bones a little. If they put the crabs into the picture, maybe I don’t mind sitting there for an hour without feeling crabby.