"No one is perfect!"
Everybody has problems, everybody has fears, everybody needs help sometimes, but despite being as flawed as we are society seamlessly moves forward and knowingly or not we are each an important gear in advancing our culture and world.
Kuuchuu Buranko is an artistic, psychedelic expression of problems or doubts we have and getting through them or bettering ourselves. Some of us have common fears and anxieties from not being able to deal with our families and trying to run away, to maybe some stranger problems like uncontrollable erections, as well as everything in-between. Those are the types of experiences we handle in this show, I say experiences because they are 'representations' of real life problems and feel very human to the core despite being very surreal and seemingly visceral on the outside. It presents various psychological problems in a visual way, makes the unseen seen as they attempt to rip out the problem at its root.
These problems and the characters suffering from them are dealt with in an episodic, case-by-case nature giving them all the time necessary for a self-contained journey of self-realization or epiphany that is pushed along by our central characters Ichiro Irabu, an eccentric, care-free psychiatrist with an injection fetish and a generally strange method of treatment as well as Mayumi, his sexy, somewhat cold nurse. The main characters I feel however, are the patients of each episode with Irabu and Mayumi there to help guide them to the path of recovery, but not outright curing them, making every episode cathartic and full of character development. Some of the outcomes are very blatant with their problems being completely solved, some of them are more subtle and only put them on the right mindset to recovery, but each and every one of them is educational, inspiring, full of catharsis, and an insane, crazy, mind-trip that may seem random but is actually very precise and well-coordinated. That isn't to say that there aren't some weaker episodes, there definitely are but they all have a great sense of purpose and still manage to give you something to think about or reflect on. The finale may not be a grand-stand that makes its episodic nature into something more but it really puts an emphasis on the themes of the show and wraps it all up very nicely. All the events are actually linked together, not in a high impact epiphanous way but in a way that's meaningful to the show's purpose and ideas.
Our characters may not be the most fleshed-out but they're very engaging, sympathizable, and most importantly, human. Some of them are defined by their problems, some of them aren't but there's always a degree of depth to them that makes up for episodes of over-arching screen time with sheer writing quality. Kuuchuu always puts it's heart and soul into its themes and characters, always lively and ambitious but never pretentious or insincere. Sometimes the writing can seem sloppy here-and-there but despite that it proves itself as a masterful work with lots of meaning, artistry, expression, and heart.
I described this show as "surreal" or as an "insane, crazy, mind-trip" and that's largely to do with its art direction. It's an interesting culmination of traditional style anime with lots of vibrant colors, real-life people or backgrounds, and rotoscoping. I know when I say rotoscoping a lot of you want to run for the hills, but here it works quite nicely. It's used in more of a comedic way or to properly emit facial expression, mostly comedic though. If I made the show sound like it's entirely serious up to this point, that's definitely not the case. It's really charming and extremely goofy in presentation, while also being dark and strong on its themes, the show knows exactly when to take itself seriously and when to throw in some great satire. There's never a jarring tone-shift and its comedy really works, at least from my perspective. Back to the art, Kuuchuu features a ton of visual metaphor and is fairly heavy on symbolism, it doesn't use its symbolism as a crutch to make sense but it certainly adds a lot of content to the show. If you're the type to look deep into those types of things then you'll definitely get a lot more out of this show. All-in-all though the show just looks great, has tons of flair and style with lots of meaning to it, it's not just trying to look different for the sake of being different.
The voice acting is stellar to say the least. Everyone gives a really convincing performance and really brings their character to life, most notably Paku Romi and Mitsuya Yuji as Irabu, he has multiple voice actors as he is represented by three different appearances according to the personality traits he's displaying, but there's assuredly other reasons as well, he's shown as: A large man in a bear outfit, a child, and kind of a middle more 'normal' form. His seiyuus really bring out his personality and capture all his little quirks perfectly, I can't imagine him with different seiyuus. Kuuchuu also features an interesting soundtrack full of music that's kind of reminiscent of eurodance or technopop including the OP and ED which are really catchy and emits the feeling of the show pretty well.
Kuuchuu Buranko is truly an artistic gem with a ton of merit. It doesn't shake off being formulaic, a problem most episodic shows have. However, it manages to be incredibly engaging despite that with it's zany narrative and art direction, human characters, solid comedy, great foreshadowing, and fantastic execution of it's themes. If you're a fan of psychological anime, willing go out of your comfort zone in terms of visuals, and don't mind episodic shows then I fully recommend this, you're in for a very powerful and different experience.
Story: 7.5/10, Characters: 7.5/10, Art/Animation: 8.5/10, Sound: 8/10, Enjoyment: 9/10
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