Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan

July 26, 2019

A sequel to an anime that I have never heard of? Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan is apparently the sequel to Genki!! Ekoda-chan that was aired way back in 2011. It must have been one of those very obscure animes and I would have probably given this anime short the skip too had not the synopsis sounded intriguing. The titular character is a woman who drifts around Tokyo through various jobs and even relationships. This series is a take on cute girls who use their cuteness and affect stupidity in order to try and score against men (against whom the author is constantly fighting). I guess it really is a dog eat dog world out there when the competition is so intensely insane. But this series isn’t going to be a typical continuous series like many others. Each episode is directed by a different director and hence like a standalone, you can see their different interpretations and results on this take.

Episode 1
* Ekoda has been working at a bar and people always make assumptions she is 3 years older than she looks. This makes her worry that she looks older than she is supposed to be.
* Ekoda while changing manages to catch a lizard (after 20 minutes) and makes it as her pet.
* Ekoda works so tirelessly at the bar that the only way she can replenish herself every night is… sumo wrestling with a dog?! Sure it wasn’t sex?
* Once her family wanted her to help out with some family business but she ended up driving all over the crabs on her trip. What did her boyfriend think? What a waste of crab meat…

Episode 2
Ekoda ponders about the structure of a baby’s body that made them able to survive plane crashes. However all these thoughts are just to distract herself from her boyfriend who is brazenly talking to his other girlfriend on his handphone! He even has the cheek that he is not cheating on her! But there is a reason why Ekoda tolerates this. She has been waiting and ‘fighting’ this long battle and if she gives up now, all this would be for naught. She knows he is the problem but if she starts telling herself that, it renders this long hanging on as meaningless. Then she asks if he would like sex. Nah. He has to wake up early tomorrow. The problem now is to whether sleep facing him or away. The former makes her look like begging but the latter makes her look like sulking. Facing upwards looks like some desperate pathetic compromise. In the end, she sleeps facing him.

Episode 3
* Ekoda is now a cat girl! She observes a girl who loves animals. Including eating steak… Maybe it’s just her.
* Ekoda’s big sister thinks she knows everything but she doesn’t know she eats in her sleep because Ekoda herself has tried feeding her so!
* A guy tells Ekoda how all the school girls here would be married or have migrated overseas in the future. And then, some will have died… WTF?!
* Ekoda tries to order a hamburger but the waiter keeps messing up her order.
* A friend talks to Ekoda about her sexuality. As she is unsure about BDSM, she bought some ropes and boiled them to soften it up. However her dad accidentally ate it thinking it was oden. It has been awkward between them ever since.
* Ekoda’s rule of doodling is to draw fish on rice omelettes, put paw prints on condensation and draw happy faces on knees.

Episode 4
Ekoda is always fine being alone when young. But as she grow older and saw on the news how a celebrity died, it made her worry if she’ll die lonely. Well yeah, she knows her boyfriend is brazenly having another girlfriend. So she ponders about relationship issues and feels that her boyfriend doesn’t even acknowledge her existence considering he knows her ‘warm living insides’. Then she finds out from his friend that he already broken up with her girlfriend. You mean to sound that shocked? She confronts him and why didn’t he tell her? It’s none of her business. Oh, there’s this other girl he wants to date… And he finds his new date nothing new. Ekoda blames him for fooling around. Likewise he does the same. Her excuse is that she only changed into so because he didn’t become her boyfriend. And that is why he didn’t want to. That must have really hurt Ekoda. She is devastated that she has now become a ‘ghost’.

Episode 5
Ekoda fears this lizard would crawl inside her (?!) so after painting herself with body paint, she captures it and it now becomes her pet. But now she has the cockroach to deal with! A battle begins and as she tries to throw a knife, she missed and instead her lucky bamboo became unlucky, cut into half. She manages to trap it in a paper bag and then microwave it! Extreme! But now what? Mosquito attack! Yeah, her room is like a pig sty, no wonder so many bug invasions. Will Ekoda smack the blood sucker? Will Mosquito get the better of this giant? Accidentally Ekoda releases the lizard as it violently eats the mosquito. Then the lizard escapes. Alone again. Naturally. Even more so when Ekoda realizes she stepped on her favourite bun. Summer has ended.

Episode 6
Ekoda returns home after a long day at work. She strips all her clothes till she is in her comfortable birthday suit. She cooks and drinks in the privacy of her own room that makes you think that she might be acting like a typical middle aged man. Then she gets a call from a friend to hang out. So she dresses up and puts on makeup and heads back out. She narrates that unlike middle aged men, she acknowledges she is at the prime of her life and is attractive enough to make the flowers around blush. She still has dreams, hopes and other battles to fight through.

Episode 7
Ekoda wakes up from this weird dream with red threads of fate everywhere. She panics and looks at her boyfriend’s hand. No red thread. I guess he’s not the one. Then more weird dreams of red threats connecting everything as she is trying to find her own. Sometimes she gets too tied up in them. Then there’s a time she was drowning in the sea of red threats and some monster was about to eat her but luckily her mom and sister reel her up. Too bad the string broke and it’s down into the monster’s mouth. What a way to wake up from another weird dream. It is then she realizes her familial bonds felt more real than any other fated connections she might have.

Episode 8
Ekoda’s friend, M is attending a drinking party. Everyone is trying to figure out what Ekoda does and they have very different ideas. Albeit they think she’s an amazing person. They ask M about it but it’s not like she’s her babysitter who knows everything about her. When another member comes in and talks about seeing Ekoda somewhere, M cuts short her night and leaves. Returning home, she sees Ekoda eating alone. Looks like she cooked for her boyfriend but that guy stood up on her last minute again. M joins her and thankfully didn’t invite Ekoda to the drinking party that she was supposed to. There wasn’t anybody interesting. I guess that’s why they love their curry meat as it doesn’t cancel on you or badmouths you. But you can’t marry meat and can even get fat. Ekoda is confident she’ll get back to normal again later.

Episode 9
A unique first person view of Ekoda as she works as a customer service call centre for a life insurance company. With so many waiting calls and people calling with the strangest and most bizarre reasons (including disgruntled calls), I guess her only reprieve is the nice view across her window. The colleague sitting next to her is equally noisy and her superior seems to be a pushy one. And then a storm. The lightning is scary enough to cause a blackout. Is this the norm because everyone is like doing an evacuation drill. Although the power comes back, the boss tries to tell everyone to get back to work. Some really losing it and the next door colleague is just going crazy before returning to her duties. It’s utter chaos. Ekoda feels like running away but eventually picks up a call. A mother’s son has STD… Here we go again… Sighs…

Episode 10
Ekoda in weird marionette animation and musical. Basically the song is about what really Ekoda is and that Ekoda exists inside us all. We are Ekoda! The final full body marionette of Ekoda, why does she remind me of The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally? Somehow seeing blue characters now give me the chills. Megamind, Avatar, Smurfs, the rebooted Genie from Aladdin, that horrendous Sonic the Hedgehog…

Episode 11
Ekoda is in a bar and some guy who sounds like he is some sort of budding musician is trying to get her to join his gig or something. We can tell from Ekoda’s face that she isn’t really interested but she isn’t that mean to tell him to go f*ck off. On another night, this time this guy can’t stop chatting about himself and how he got into this music genre and its history or something. Boring. You can tell Ekoda once more has picked up a useless guy. But all this didn’t dishearten Ekoda as she continues to do what she’s doing. Maybe she’ll hit the Mr Right one day?

Episode 12
Ekoda realizes she has turned 24. But screw all that because ignorance is how you survive today! Right on! Unknown to her, a peeper is happily watching her via his viewing scope from across. As Ekoda watches TV about knife demonstration and laughs at the impossible cutting, she realizes her boyfriend hasn’t called her recently and could it be that she has been cut off?! Not sure what this weird cat girl idol dance is all about but whatever. Ignorance, right?! Then she realizes the peeping tom is watching and then dares him by baring it all. Can you see the bear in her pubes?! Look at all you want you creepy bastard! Gochisousama?

Naked And (Not) Afraid
So which Ekoda am I? I don’t know. I’m not a woman who loves frolicking around naked so I don’t know which Ekoda I am closest to. Heck, I’m not even a woman! Excuses, excuses… Speaking of excuses, I guess I was expecting the final episode to end with a bang. You know, saving the best for last. But it is just like any other standalone episodes and nothing really that mind blowing. Except maybe Ekoda may have awakened and transited from a closet pervert to a full blown exhibitionist. I suppose there is nothing more turn off for a peeper for a target who knowingly dares you to look. Yeah, where’s the fun in that. Ekoda may not be winning in her life but she’s doing it at her own pace. Ekoda being Ekoda is just Ekoda. Heh. I don’t even know what I’m saying now. Ignorance is to survive!

With only 3 minutes of running time in each episode, a simpleton like me who jumped into watching this series without reading the original manga source would definitely be lost. I mean, they have to cram everything into that duration and have to tell what needs to be told in that same length. Therefore there are many skits that I don’t really understand and I’m just like, “Okay. Whatever”. Essentially I believe that all showcases somewhat the challenges and issues faced by Ekoda in her everyday life. Mostly about her relationship blues. After all, Ekoda like many other women do long for a man to lean on and be supported in her life. Not to say that Ekoda is a weak woman but that is naturally a woman’s instinct. So what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? I suppose that is why the series’ title included rinshi which means near death. Well then, fight on, Ekoda-chan!

Not sure if it is clickbait to get people like me to watch since one of Ekoda’s most prominent feature is that she loves to be naked. At least within the confines and comfort of her own home (notwithstanding the final episode somewhat). But don’t worry. This isn’t even hentai or close to ecchi. You can circumvent that by not drawing tits! Yeah, that always works. I don’t think Ekoda is an exhibitionist but by I believe being naked somewhat symbolizes the freedom that she longs for. Because by wearing clothes especially uniforms, you are then chained and bound by the rules of whatever the role or job that uniform or clothes encompasses. Even if it is for a short moment, Ekoda can be by herself, for herself with that freedom she enjoys, oblivious to the world. Then it’s back to dolling herself up and trying to get herself a man. The vicious cycle continues. I guess eventually she has to go back to the system. Or maybe nobody can really escape it.

The irony of having a 3 minute short episode is the special interview segment that comes after it. Uh huh. It lasts way longer! A full 24 minutes to be exact! As each episode has a different director and seiyuu, this interview segment discloses their thoughts on just about everything. Their views on the anime, the character to even their opinions on working with each other and how relatable Ekoda is in their life. It is quite comprehensive if you really want to know more about this stuff but I have to admit, I skimmed through this part and didn’t watch the whole thing. Yeah. Don’t want to fall asleep listening to their outlook on just about everything. No wonder I’m so blur after watching this series. Not that I would understand it any better if I sat through that whole 24 minutes! I mean, when you have this segment longer than the actual series itself, you gotta make it worth by expressing and saying all that you want to say that is on your mind. Sometimes it feels ‘wasted’ because they put so much time and effort in the interviews but the actual anime is just 3 minutes. Ah, I see even producing an anime short has lots of challenges going on in the background. But what do I know? I’m not even in the anime industry.

And isn’t it just weird, pairing an old man director with a young cute, beautiful seiyuu? Feels like an after porn shoot! Haha! Oops, sorry. Crossed the line there. But yes, it does feel a bit odd. Of course some seiyuus are veterans so they’re also showing their age but not as hagged and ugly as the male directors. Old men in Japan don’t really take care of their appearances, huh? On a trivial note, the only seiyuus I recognized participating in this series are Romi Paku and Ami Koshimizu. Damn they didn’t employ Mamiko Noto and she would have been perfect for the role of Ekoda. Oh yeah. I can already imagine her in it.

But this interview segment isn’t all about the boring talking. At the end of this segment, we have a glimpse to see how they make the episode in focus. However the interesting ones are those who didn’t employ the usual traditional 2D hand drawn style. For example like that marionette episode, it is quite interesting to see the equipment and how they do it to make the visuals look so surreal. Quite fascinating. Otherwise those traditional hand drawn ones are just your typical artist sketches and adding colour and final touches before that scene becomes the official and final cut.

With different director producing an episode each, it is hard for me to pinpoint which is the most interesting one. They have their hits and misses. Each has their own quirky weirdness (some call it creativity). From the very sketchy frame-like episode 11 (like as though it isn’t finished and still at the editing board) to the rotoscoping technique in episode 6 and of course that live action marionette in episode 10. In terms of visual, my pick would be episode 9 because of its first person view. I don’t know, I seem to be quite fascinated with this visual style since you don’t often have series that is entirely from a first person perspective. In terms of the ‘storyline’, episode 5 is most amusing and interesting because Ekoda vs the bugs! That was really funny. The most WTF is episode 7 because everything is so abstract, I don’t know what is going on. The most thought provoking would be episode 2 as Ekoda contemplates if should tolerate the tomfoolery of her boyfriend despite him shamelessly having another girlfriend and not even trying to hide it. Episode 4 comes in a close second and her relationship with her boyfriend can be easily checked as Facebook’s ‘complicated’. Episode 12 is the closest I can somewhat relate to. At least in the sense that ignorance is the key to survival! Oh yeah. I wonder myself how I got this far in life… Thanks Ekoda, for that one :-).

Each episode also features a different ending theme. Some of them are quite nice to hear. For instance, the jiving Broadway-like Ukiyo Ni Hana by Shoose (episode 1), the dramatic Yume Ni Yowasarete by Sho Hayami (episode 2), the interesting enka take of Mukudori Bojou by Hiroshi Kitadani (episode 6) and the lively Numa by Masayoshi Ooishi (episode 10). Hard rock ones feel somewhat weird like Naked Echo by Araki (episode 3) and Ganbarima Sengen by Gero (episode 5). Not as weird as the weird Ito No Yume by Noristry (episode 7) that sounds a bit like cacophony. Other okay ones include Sora Omoi: Dattan-jin No Odori (episode 4), the slow ballad of Roudousha No Ballad by Asa (episode 8), Koi Ga Hajimara Night by Yuusuke Kobayashi (episode 9), the soulful lounge-like Tokyo Shinobi Saki by Piko (episode 11) and the generic rock beat of Dear Gemstones by Yuuri Matsuoka (episode 12).

Overall, not really a bad anime but despite being a unique styled anthology it still isn’t enough to make me really want to love it or wish there was more or another season. It’s just, how should I put it, strange and peculiar. You mean, unique? Nah. More like strange and peculiar. Because at the end of the day, it’s not like I understand very well Ekoda’s heart either. Maybe Ekoda just simply wants a man to love and I’m just overthinking if there are lines to read in between. Even if Ekoda doesn’t have the advantage of those ‘birds of prey’ girls, as long as she knows this by heart she’ll do just fine: God made women beautiful so that men could love her. Also, God made women foolish so that they could love him!