Kujibiki Unbalance OVA

February 5, 2010


After watching Genshiken, I thought I should take a look at Kujibiki Unbalance OVA too. Yup, this was an anime that was created within the anime itself so I guess with the popularity of the former series, it is no doubt that in no time that this series will have a show of its own too. However when I did a little reading up myself, I was a little confused at the start.
 
You see, initially the series has 26 episodes planned so much so there are titles for each of the episode. But the OVA released only have 3 episodes of it. That means, viewers will only get to see actual episodes 1, 21 and 25. What about the rest? Unproduced. Such convenience, eh? Besides, now that I have watched the OVA, I remember some of the scenes shown in Genshiken while the club members are watching it. Yeah, they even got into discussions of how different the anime and manga of this anime is.
 
In a nutshell, this series has a prestigious high school named Rikkyouin High School. The one thing odd about this school is its student council system. Individuals and teams are to be pitted against each in a yearlong battle to decide their pre-determined positions and roles for the student council next year. Wow. That long, huh? Running for a country’s presidency doesn’t seem that bad. Plus, the positions are decided based on lottery or draw, hence the term ‘kujibiki’. As such, cooperation is the main focus as a loss in a real competition would see your entire team being eliminated or worse. Get expelled. And you thought reality TV shows are tough.
 
Episode 1
The episode starts off with a young girl, Ritsuko Kubel Kattenkrad (she’s half German as I found out later), walking up towards a boy, Chihiro Enomoto, before breaking into tears. Fast forward to current time, Chihiro is now a high school student and today is his first day as a freshman. He is eager on his first day but it’s a total opposite for his sister Shinobu, who is also a teacher at Rikkyouin. What is your first impression when she clumsily tumbles down stairs in her undies? Not to mention that crude reply to Chihiro. Chihiro meets up with his best friend Mugio Rokuhara as they head on to school. Mugio thinks Chihiro has luck on his side today but the latter feels otherwise. At the school assembly hall, Shinobu once again trips on the microphone wire during her speech. Damn. She’s going to have a dojikko tag if this continues further. The student council president (Ritsuko) then steps up to give her speech. If you are wondering why she’s wearing an oversized helmet, that’s because it is a symbol for those holding the student council president post.
 
Later Chihiro goes to the library to do some research on some weird mushroom his sister brought home earlier on. That’s when he meets Tokino Akiyama. This girl is such a mushroom freak. She knows every damn thing about them and she is excited that Chihiro is reading a book on one. Is it some sort of a turn on for her? Then back at the hall, the students are to draw their positions and roles for the student council as presided by the student council vice president Kasumi Kisaragi and the treasurer Lisa Humvee. It is Chihiro’s turn to pick but he is spacing out till Kasumi calls him out. Chihiro quickly takes a paper but he didn’t notice that Ritsuko was blushing during his turn. It seems Chihiro’s number is 27, his post, secretary and the place, kitchen. To his dismay, Mugio is in a different group. He is disheartened because he is the only person he knows. No time to whine because everyone will have to head to their designated places once they have got their draw.
 
Chihiro rushes to the library and bumps into Tokino again. Yeah, she is relieved that nothing serious happened to… her mushroom book. Her other friends soon appear and they find out that they are on the same team. Other than Tokino the president, there is the tomboyish Izumi Tachibana as the vice president and Komaki Asagiri as the treasurer. However things get heated up for Chihiro’s team because a self proclaimed rival of Tokino appears. She is Renko Kamishakujii and is a very obnoxious bratty girl who wants to beat Tokino in everything she does. Some may call her to have a kiasu complex. She is also very bossy and domineering, having her team mates treating her like a queen. They include the very loyal Kaoruko Yamada, and a couple of guys known as Suzuki and Kenji. We find out why the reason Renko hates Tokino was because during elementary, Tokino ‘hogged’ the toilet so much so Renko wet herself. How embarrassing. Yeah, Tokino remembered her because of that.
 
Ritsuko and the rest are to supervise the match between Chihiro and Renko’s team. This is just a mock battle and the results will not contribute to their records. The 1 hour competition has them to cook up any amount of dish using the ingredients available: Mushrooms. Oh, the joy for Tokino. But be careful, some of them are poisonous. With Tokino using her wide knowledge of mushrooms, kiasu Renko isn’t going to lose so she uses her special ability by reading up the whole book in 3 minutes! Wow! Super fast! She is better than a computer! Not. Why? Though she gives her command to Suzuki and Kenji on what to do, after 3 minutes, she forgets everything! Some 3 minute memorization technique, I’d say. Chihiro is impressed but Komaki chides him for having time to admire the opponent so they continue to work together. However, Izumi is sitting there doing nothing. Chihiro accidentally burns a mushroom as Tokino gets a little excited. Seeing that there is nothing wrong, Chihiro gives it to her to take a bite. By then, Komaki and Izumi knew it’s too late. Tokino ate all their hard work mushroom dishes. Note to self: Never feed a mushroom lover with mushrooms. Renko is laughing and relishing that victory will be hers (oh, just shut up!).
 
However with only 5 minutes left, Komaki refuses to give up so they start working again even if there are only poisonous mushrooms left. Don’t worry, with Tokino’s knowledge, she can turn the inedible to something delicious. Renko starts to panic so she orders Suzuki and Kenji to take them out. Hey, there are no other rules, remember? Thankfully this is where Izumi comes in as she counters the menace of flying utensils while the rest work on their dish. Time is up and Ritsuko is going to judge them by having a taste. After tasting Renko’s dish, Kasumi however is reluctant for her to taste Chihiro’s team because she isn’t sure of the poison being totally removed. However Ritsuko just ate them and finds them delicious. Ritsuko announces that Chihiro’s team wins because of the innate ingredients they put in. You see, they were supposed to make a mushroom dish and not some French or German cuisine. In other words, Renko’s mushroom dish was totally overwhelmed by those factors, which hinders in bringing out the mushroom’s true taste unlike Chihiro’s team. Too bad Renko, suck it up for that lost. Padan muka.
 
When the student council leaves, Chihiro realizes who Ritsuko is, goes up to her and asks her when she returned. He wonders why she didn’t tell him of her return even though she said she returned 3 years ago. Her reply was that there was no need to do so. Chihiro stood there in shock and that flashback from the start of the episode continues: As Ritsuko cries on Chihiro’s shoulders, she asked him would he take her as his bride if she stops being a cry-baby. He nods his head.
 
Episode 2 (Episode 21 actually)
What a better way to put all those unproduced episode into a recap summary episode. Yup. That’s what this episode is all about. Talk about saving time, cost and energy. Anyway Chihiro’s team are having a meal at Umeya House of Plums while reflecting the weird events that they have gone through. And indeed they are weird. All this just for next year’s student council’s posts? One of the matches includes a football game whereby Chihiro’s team won by an unbelievably huge margin 12-0. Well, rough Izumi has taken out all the weak opponents with her pushing so Komaki has no qualms and even took her own time scoring. As for Tokino the goalkeeper, she’s fast asleep. Their next match has them against a bunch of otaku geeks to see who gets the most hits on their website. The geeks’ hit counter is rising by the second because of their ecchi fanservice pictures they have drawn. With time running out, suddenly Chihiro’s team’s counter rises at a super fast rate. That’s because the girls uploaded pictures of themselves in bikinis. Wow! Real life pictures and bouncing boobs! They won by the skin of their teeth! 10,024-10,023 hits! Amazing!
 
Then it’s a sauna competition. If anyone of their members goes out first, the whole team loses. Tokino can’t stand it anymore and is going to leave but the rest try to restrain her (fanservice cue! Body sliding over each other!). To take their mind of the heat, Komaki tells of a story whereby 4 men who got lost in the blizzard took refuge inside a cold dilapidated hut. In order not to fall asleep, each of them stands at a corner and took turns walking to the next corner. When he has done so, that person moves on to the other corner and this process goes on till day breaks when they are rescued. The catch? If the 1st person moved from his spot, his place would be empty and the process impossible to continue, right? The gang tried it out themselves and found it to be true. Komaki’s conclusion? There was no 5th person! A horror story! Everyone starts to get scared but Komaki continues with her ghost stories so much so the other team has to be taken out because they have been dehydrated and roasted! Now that’s a ‘creative’ way of keeping cold in that intense heat! Soon the same competition but this time in a freezing room but their sumo opponents broke the fridge.
 
Next, a jungle military survival game but their opponent’s team has 7 members! And you thought each team had 4 members only. Well, call it the luck of the draw. And don’t question its sacredness. Chihiro’s team is having a tough time because the leader of the other group has a general-like thinking. Four of his men are in the field while he and his remaining 2 operate from a distant headquarters. Airhead Tokino is frolicking with some wild mushroom when the quartet enemy surrounds her. However, 1 of them has had it of this manly ideal and throws down his gun. He goes up to Tokino and confesses his love for her! Soon the rest too went up to the other girls and confess their feelings! WTF?! That huge guy confessed to Chihiro?! Gay?! Furthermore, they have defected to Chihiro’s side and the opposing team is on the losing end. Realizing victory is not on their side, they shoot each other in the head. What a way to win for Chihiro’s team.
 
Fancy a karaoke competition? Think this is easy? Well, until Tokino opens her mouth. She sounds like a burly man singing! Everybody run for your life! Cover your ears! Her singing is enough to cause disasters to happen over the world! Apocalypse, now! From car crashes to birds falling to flowers withering! It’s the end of the world! Next is a swimming match with aliens. While the ladies look gorgeous (albeit the same face), the single guy look like a typical little gray man. Komaki notices their weakness as having weak bowels. At the start of the competition, Tokino’s unbalanced causes her to have several false starts. Then all her members fell into the pool when they tried to pull her out. Having fun? The real match begins and the alien team is having a huge lead. However as their bowels build up, the final female can’t take it anymore, gets out of the pool just before the home stretch, and jumps out of the window. Boom! So kids, remember never to hold it in. Can’t she wear diapers? Hmm… Maybe they would look odd in it. Then it is a mahjong match which is Izumi’s forte. However her partner is clueless Tokino. They are so doomed. Not. That’s because Tokino wins on her first hand. Talk about super lucky.
 
Chihiro and co are running away from monsters in a dungeon-like RPG match. Their opponent led by Maori seems to be having a better time disposing monsters and levelling up with their powers up as they breeze through. Tokino then felt hungry and luckily Chihiro’s handphone still has signal deep down underground as she calls for 4 bowls of garlic ramen. I don’t know how the delivery guy found his way here but the gang had a delicious meal. Meanwhile Maori’s team is close to the home stretch when she suggests healing their wounds. However, seeing that this isn’t like the real RPG and that there are 4 of them instead of the usual 6, there is no healer. Running low on HP and MP, soon all the monsters surround them to get their revenge. And their handphones are out of range too. Say goodbye to whatever help. As for Chihiro’s team, their garlic breath is enough to scare away all those monsters as they reach the mage’s room. As he is about to give them his magical ward, their garlic breath stinks the whole place.
 
Back in reality, Komaki notes how there are 2 more competitions left. Ritsuko and Kasumi are also dinning nearby. Ritsuko seems to have that forlorn look on her face every time she sees Chihiro’s face. She soon takes her leave. Back in her office, suddenly an outsider intrudes through her window. He goes up to her and tries to flirt. Kasumi enters and is surprised to see what is happening. Her reflex has her taking out her sword to battle with him. He is no pushover though as he too whips out a gun and starts blasting away. The short cool battle ends when he leaves through the window. Kasumi asks if Ritsuko is alright and her reply is yes.
 
Episode 3 (Episode 25 actually)
There seems to be a crisis with Chihiro’s team. They are lacking some sort of resolve and have decided to disband. Gasp! Ritsuko comes out of the infirmary, assuring her assistants that she is fine. She then gives a speech regarding the Kujibiki Draw. Six teams have made it to the final phase but they need to register for the final tournament by next Monday 5pm or else they will be considered forfeited no matter the reason. Chihiro walks back with Mugio and the former tells how he isn’t going to participate since nobody wants to. Back home, Chihiro notices tomorrow’s visit to Domyoji Shrine and Shinobu, she’s still tumbling down the stairs, eh? He tells her to go to the shrine with her boyfriend and will go after so as not to interrupt them. He also says he will be fine alone if they both get married. Shinobu tries to deny all this.
 
Chihiro visits his parent’s grave and is surprised Ritsuko praying there as well. They walk back together as Chihiro learns how she is indebted to his family and has been coming to visit their graves every year. Suddenly she collapses and that young promise flashback again. When she comes to, she finds Chihiro carrying her. She gets enough strength to walk on her own again. As they walk home hand in hand, she tells him how she initially hated the tournament nor understand the meaning of it and though she knows the Kujibiki Draw must not be tainted, she feels running away is most shameful. But before Chihiro could say anything, she continues and hopes he will become stronger from here on. He understands.
 
While Komaki is busy tending to her house chores (she is playing a motherly figure to her naughty younger triplet brothers and sister Koyuki), she spots Chihiro from her balcony. He is here to talk about participating in the final tournament but Komaki does not want to because she feels that she is neglecting her siblings as she is busy. Elsewhere, Izumi’s gambling luck isn’t good either as Chihiro stops by to request her assistance in persuading Komaki and Tokino to participate but she too isn’t interested. Meanwhile Tokino is alone in her room when pissed off Renko barges in to tell her off about her no-show. I know she always wanted to beat Tokino but how can she claim true victory if she beats her by default? Hey, it’s her rival. Till Renko starts shedding tears, Tokino hugs and thanks her. Later Tokino meets Chihiro at the library and he wants their team to participate but Tokino still has no change in heart. Chihiro continues to explain that it is better to finish what they had started, that it would be a waste to give up when they’re so close and that they will certainly find something that they don’t see right now. However, it isn’t enough as Tokino walks away.
 
Later as Komaki goes out with Koyuki, the latter wonders wouldn’t it be better if she and her brothers aren’t around so that they won’t bother her. But Komaki denies it and asserts she’d love to spend more time with them. Izumi happen to pass by so she tells her "When tomorrow comes, the situation is going to change". As she leaves, it starts snowing. A gloomy atmosphere befalls on them as we see Shinobu being proposed by her boyfriend. Next morning as Komaki is cleaning the house, Koyuki says she will watch the house so she can go see Chihiro. She doesn’t want to see Komaki holding back anything because even though she is treating them kindly, she feels she has some sort of a scary expression. Komaki apologizes and hugs her. Ritsuko comes in to her office and finds out that 5 teams have already registered and the only one left unregistered is Chihiro’s team.
 
As Komaki treks in the snow to school, she sees Chihiro and Izumi waiting for her. Seems like they are going to participate. They wait for Tokino but as the deadline looms, she isn’t anywhere near. Then Chihiro spots her from afar hiding behind a tree. He yells out for her to come over so she asks what he sees from over there. He replies "A scene that I am seeing for the first time". Tokino gets elated and rushes over into Chihiro’s arms. Problems solved. Yay! They’re back together as one. Then in the hall, Ritsuko announces that all 6 teams have registered for the final tournament and that she will now announce the content and rules of the competition.
 
Kujibiki Unfinished
Because of the way they released the episodes, lots of questions are raised. At least because I don’t read the manga (if ever there is one!). All I can say that this OVA was fun and it could have been a good thing if it was properly released as a full 26 episode series. But then again, it may not have that attracting and retention factor if it was to be shown for that duration. There were quite a number of potential build-ups for the plot and characters to grow but you can’t argue much seeing that only 3 episodes were properly produced. I mean, I saw that potential from the opening credits animation and the producers even made a next episode preview for the next episode which never materialized! Sighs… I would have liked to know how Chihiro and Ritsuko will end up, the kind of illness that Ritsuko seems to be having or even who that funny looking outsider assassin guy is.
 
Summary episodes are not my thing but in this case is an exception because we don’t see those episodes! Therefore I really loved the recap episode because of the hilarious and weird competitions that Chihiro and his team had to go true. Some are amusing while others are outrageous so much so I couldn’t help myself laughing out loud at times. Creative, I’d say. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to go through all that say, to get a job. How I’d wish they should have made more of those kind of short snippets of them going through the competition. Come to think of it, I noticed that Chihiro’s team mainly wins out of sheer luck. Hey, they don’t have any real ability or talents like the rest and the way they won or outlast their opponents was like a fluke. Is this coincidence or fate? Man, the things they go through just for the student council post.
 
Tokino is such an amusing character. She is such an airhead that it makes me wonder how the student council next year will be like. I can’t even begin to think what kind of effect she will have on the entire school if her team wins the tournament and she becomes the next president. Renko on the other hand is another amusing girl. That’s because she can’t stop her fast high pitched yapping. Always blabbing about her high and mighty ways and interested in nothing but beating Tokino. But in a way, she showed that she cared for her in the end, right? You know the saying? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. And for Shinobu. I hope she won’t tumble down the steps of matrimony if she ever gets hitched.
 
One thing about the drawing and art is that though they are drawn in a kawaii and cute way, I can’t help notice that the characters’ fists are somewhat a little bigger than they’re supposed to be. Then some of the characters’ thighs are like bloated (like Komaki’s. Sorry). Due to that, they seemed a little odd at first. Surprisingly, there are quite a few star studded cast lending their voices here. They include Yukari Tamura as Komaki (Nanoha in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha), Akemi Kanda as Tokino (Ryou in Clannad), Yuko Kaida as Izumi (Riza in Kaibutsu Oujo), Yuka Imai as Chihiro (Arisa in Fruits Basket), Saeko Chiba as Ritsuko (Natsuki in Mai-HiME), Ayako Kawasumi as Kasumi (Oono in Genshiken), Haruko Momoi as Shinobu (San in Seto No Hanayome), Ikue Ootani as Renko (Chopper in One Piece) and Yuko Gotou as Yamada (Asahina in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu).
 
However in 2006 there has been a proper 12 episode TV release of this series. But then again, the reincarnation is much different than the OVA as there are character redesigns and even the art doesn’t look the same although the main plot remains the same. Even the seiyuu cast is completely different. I read that Chihiro is to be the president while childhood friend Tokino the vice president. Yeah, Renko is part of their team as the secretary. Even if the OVA is interesting, however I’m going to pass this one (one big reason is that nobody subbed this!).
 
Just like life itself, it is one big lottery draw if you like at it in this way. Some call it fate while some call it coincidence. Some may not believe in this luck thingy and believe in making their own destiny instead. Would it be easier if a lot of things in life were pre-determined? But that wouldn’t make life interesting, wouldn’t it? Meanwhile, I’m having a tough time deciding which animes I should watch next. Hmm… Maybe a simple lottery draw should do the trick.
 

Kujibiki Unbalance