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Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist

(12 episode series)

 

This is by no means "The Anime to Save Anime" that at one point many fans claimed it to be, but it is a fun satirical look at censorship culture and the effects it might have if carried out to its logical conclusion.  Its real strong point is how it manages to be light and funny in spite of tackling a rather serious subject matter that is rather relevant in current times.   So while it's too much to say that this show is going to somehow save anime, it did happen to be in the right place at the right time.

 

As the beginning of every episode informs us, this series takes place in the Orwellian future of Japan, which has passed a law called "The Law for Public Order and Morals in Healthy Child-Raising" that essentially bans anything that could be considered lewd or otherwise immoral.  This not only includes things like porn or the figurines from your favorite ecchi series, but also cussing or using any other words the state has forbidden on the grounds of Helen Lovejoy's favorite argument.  This is actually somewhat comparable to the PC future of 1993's Demolition Man, except that this series takes it even further.  For instance, rather than simply having a computer print out tickets whenever you cuss, instead the not at all symbolic collar you wear around your neck will start sounding a shrill alarm that informs you that the morality police (yes, they actually call them that) are going to come and arrest you, perhaps by even busting into the place you happen to be and beating the crap out of you the way American SWAT teams like to do to pot smokers.  And just to make sure you don't draw anything lewd since you can't just buy porn, the little omni-tool bracelets you wear around your wrists and use like a smart phone also keep track of your hand movements and likewise alert the morality Gestapo.  Hell, it would probably alert them if you tried fapping or playing the slots or twisting the tentacles or whatever, too, provided you even knew how to do it since you'd be childishly naive about anything relating to sex.

 

The series follows Tanukichi Okuma on his first day at Tokioka Academy, "Japan's most elite public morals school."  He's looking forward to reuniting with his childhood friend/crush, Anna Nishikinomiya, who is serving as his new school's student president.  He actually practically idolizes her, as when he was a child, she was the only one to not ostracize him following his father's arrest as an "ero-terrorist" for attempting to distribute condoms on the steps of the Diet building (while shouting "free the penis" :D ).  Unfortunately for him, he gets caught up defending someone he knows to have been falsely accused of groping a woman on the train, which in turn leads to him getting saved by the ero-terrorist known as Blue Snow.  He very quickly finds out that the man he saved, Raiki Gouriki, actually was stalking him on that train as he suspected, and that he's on the student council as well.  Also, it turns out that Blue Snow is actually Ayame Kajou, student vice-president and Anna's best friend.  The way Tanukichi ends up finding this out is after Ayame kidnaps him and essentially blackmails him into forming SOX with her in her effort to spread what amounts to sex education to their school, as well as her normal activities of spreading porn and shouting dirty jokes.

 

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I saw this series referred to as the "anime to save anime" during the time it originally aired, but I have to say that as much as I liked it, I wouldn't really call it that.  It's essentially a romantic comedy with a message, and considering its subject matter (not to mention Blue Snow's disguise consisting of a pair of panties on her face and a white sheet with nothing underneath it), it's actually fairly tame fan-service-wise, though at one point they totally manage to sneak a giant dick in past the censors thanks to one of the character's hairstyles.  The series is well paced, had plenty of humor of both the well-thought-out and just straight up sex joke variety, and is just overall competently done, but I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece or anything, and to be fair the series doesn't really set out to be.  It just happens to stand out for its competence thanks to so much of anime these days consisting largely of moé/ecchi that's pretty much just made to pander to the plastic-collecting otaku fanbase.

 

The story is fairly straightforward, with Tanukichi helping out Ayame, at first rather reluctantly, while being torn with what he feels to be his duty to Anna to turn Blue Snow in to her and the knowledge that this would probably crush her since Blue Snow is actually her best friend.  Not to mention the way he idolizes Anna and feels this will keep him from living up to his image of her.  Along the way SOX gathers more members, including an artistic prodigy who helps with the whole distributing porn thing by drawing it, though she has to do it with her mouth to avoid her "Peace Maker" bracelet going off and drawing the "morality" police.  Later they come into conflict with another ero-terrorist's group led by "White Peak," who steals other people's used underwear and makes a body-suit out of them that he wears.  He also claims to be allied to SOX, which makes things a bit worse for SOX by being associated with actual terrorist acts, like bus hijackings, rather than Blue Snow's immature antics aimed more at education and protesting the morality laws/censorship.

 

Ayame is helped by a gift from her father, who was likewise arrested for being an ero-terrorist (though she claims he was framed), which is an old-school flip-phone that is programmed to jam the PM devices within its range for 3 minutes per day.  This enables her to cuss and say other banned words, and to make lewd gestures without setting off the collars and bracelets she or the others around her wear.  And while it's never spelled out, I'm guessing it somehow keeps the authorities from tracking her.

 

The series is very entertaining to watch, with plenty of good moments along the way that made me laugh so hard I actually had to rewind a bit to avoid missing anything.

 

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Moments like this...

 

The characters are somewhat cliched, but that's about what one can expect from what amounts to a harem romantic comedy with a twist.  I know some people might object to the "harem" label, but if you think about it, almost all the supporting characters have a thing for Tanukichi, including hyper-masculine Gouriki (which is played for laughs).  Not all of them are as bad as Anna, but it's there to a certain extent in all of them, even if it's just to tease Tanukichi.

 

Anna is the "pure" love interest, and the twist here is that Tanukichi, for as obsessed as he is with her, is actually not interested in her in a sexual way, though this seems to be in keeping with his view of her as "pure" with himself as being unworthy for her.  Which means the other twist is that it's actually Anna aggressively pursuing him rather than the other way around, and is also played for laughs, but I'll get into more depth on that later.

 

Ayame/Blue Snow is this show.  She may not be the protagonist/viewpoint character, but she is this show, which is very much a statement against censorship in Japan.  She's every bit as dirty-minded and lewd as one might expect from the stereotypically perverted guy, and she has the kind of forceful personality that makes her really interesting to watch as she stands up to her oppressive government and its prudish demonization of sexuality, and combats the childish ignorance of her peers and even some adults.

 

Not to forget about Tanukichi himself, I have to say that that's kind of his problem in a way, in that he's kind of forgettable because of how plain he is compared to all the other, even minor characters.  I wouldn't be quite cruel enough to label him a self-insertion character, but he very much serves the role of the "average high school student" that one would see in pretty much any harem anime out there.  I feel that this is probably mostly so that Ayame, the true voice of the show, can be that much more prominent.  Of course, this show is also very comedic in its satire, so he also functions as the straight man for that comedy, giving Ayame someone to contrast her and bounce her outlandish ideas off of.  He could be seen as something of a voice for reason, except that he's also something of a coward with a chip on his shoulder.  Having both him and Ayame have fathers labeled as dirty joke terrorists was something of a nice touch by giving them something in common there.  This served as a nice starting point for the more "romantic" aspect of their relationship, which blossomed more or less naturally, especially as it became clear that Tanukichi wasn't interested in romance from Anna, and he went from grudgingly going along with Ayame's plans to a mutual respect developing between them.

 

There are a lot of characters in this show, though I wouldn't really call it an ensemble, because even the antagonists of the show are somewhat bit parts.  While Anna's parents are the more overall antagonists in that they are politicians pushing for even stricter anti- obscenity laws and more pervasive surveillance (though I don't know how much more Orwellian they could get), probably the most prominent antagonist was White Peak, the leader of a group he called "Gathered Fabric."  I mentioned them briefly before, but essentially their goal was to steal people's used underwear (preferably the ones they were literally wearing) for them to wear, with White Peak wearing nothing but a bodysuit made out of them.  I feel this is because White Peak embodied the kind of argument most moralist busy-bodies used while pushing for the morality they want to legislate, and Anna's parents actually do just that, as well as conflating Gathered Fabric's actions with those of SOX's.

 

Which brings me to the more in depth part of this review.  While I usually try to avoid going into politics too much, that's pretty much unavoidable in this case, as this touches very close to home for me.  Because while this show was actually targeted at censorship in Japan, the themes of this series fit rather well into the United States given the militarization of the police and their tendency to go way overboard in their response to any perceived threat (even if only to their authority), or if they just decide they don't like someone's attitude, as well as the more recent efforts to ban anything perceived as objectifying women and just undermine free speech in general.  The series actually gives us an example of this early on in the first episode by having a woman scream that a man groped her (she admits this was entirely intended to blackmail him out of money), and even though he actually didn't (he was actually stalking the protagonist), the accusation was enough to have the morality police come running to give the guy a beat down before hauling him off to prison.  So while the title of the legislation in this anime and the rhetoric of the main antagonists of this show calls back to the Jerry Falwell, conservative Christian, "moral majority" of the '80s and '90s, the censorship and authoritarianism is equally applicable to the feminist, "progressive" liberals who also no doubt see themselves as being akin to the "moral majority."  After all, they seek the same kind of censorship, and even use some of the same rhetoric (i.e., the objectification or exploitation of women), even if it the reasoning they use is different (conservatives demonize female sexuality and feminists demonize male sexuality).

 

This is essentially the crux of what Shimoneta is getting at, and actually just comes right out and spells this out for the audience more than once, that sexuality is a natural and important part of humanity and shouldn't be demonized, even if there are those that go too far and infringe on the rights of others.  It also calls out the childish nature of the reaction that calls for censorship and demonizes its opposition.  After all, not only is the reaction itself completely self-centered and childish, but the outcome of this is to perpetuate this childishness in others by either acting ignorant for the "benefit" of others, or actually causing ignorance by withholding information about something as simple as how babies are made.  Of course people still talk about it on the sly, and a few even act like they know more than their peers, but they're still completely ignorant about it and feel completely confident in their sense of moral superiority over others they consider perverts for actually knowing what they only think they know about and whisper about to their friends.  After all, for as much as feminists complain with righteous indignation about what they perceive as objectifying women, they will often do very much the same thing to men (as can be seen in various articles on feminist sites like The Mary Sue about Orlando Bloom's dick and pictures of male Olympians in their Speedos) while being completely confident in their own moral superiority.  The series gives us an example of this through Anna, who sees herself and is seen by others as being moral and pure, and doesn't see the hypocrisy in her objectification of Tanukichi and her later sexual assault and rape of him.  Her reasoning is that since she wants it, and she's moral and pure, that makes her desires moral and pure.

 

It's because of these themes that I feel this series is very relevant to the current political climate, in part because I feel it really isn't all that exaggerated in the way Demolition Man felt in response to '90s PC culture.  So your enjoyment of the series is very much going to depend on your views of the censorship of speech/expression and your perception of a threat to free speech/expression from the government and/or busybodies.  If you are concerned with these things, this series will likely resonate with you at least somewhat.  If you are pro-censorship or otherwise agree with the rhetoric behind censorship, you probably won't like this show.  Actually I've seen comments on anime boards from people upset that this show glossed over the "positive aspects of censorship," so I know that this is going to be the main thing that determines whether you like or dislike this show.

 

As you might be able to tell by this point, this series resonated with me quite a bit, and I really enjoyed this series, not only for its thoughtful story and themes and characters, but also for its humor and sense of fun.  Personally the only real problem I had with this show was its use of the old trope of female on male rape being funny thanks to Anna's persistent attacks on Ayame and the reaction of other characters to these attacks.  To be fair, Tanukichi does go from having fun at Ayame's expense to expressing disgust at Anna over it, especially as things go from Anna trying to get Ayame to drink her "love nectar" (you can probably guess) to her getting more rapey and threatening to stab him at one point over another girl he claimed was his cousin living in his apartment.  I suppose it could be seen as the series being consistently irreverent, and perhaps as a sly way of addressing this double standard, but given the straightforwardness of pretty much everything else in the show, that could be over-analysis on my part, or, you know, just looking for a way to excuse what I see as a problem with this series.  ontome.gif

 

So while this wasn't the "anime to save anime," I still feel that it is important and worth a watch.  It manages to get its message across without coming across as a lecture through its heavy use of humor.  Its characters are a bit clichéd, but still extremely fun to watch.  That being said, your enjoyment of this series is going to depend entirely on your outlook toward censorship.  It's a bit hard for me to score this, but I think I'm going to call it a good solid 8 inches out of 10.  :D

 

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So I hosted all my images over at Photobucket, and they decided to get butthurt that people were doing that, and won't allow it unless you pay them a subscription fee.  This effectively nuked all my reviews which I have posted over quite a few forums.  Does anyone know a host I can use that I won't have to worry about having this problem with?  I'd hate to switch over to one and edit all my reviews with images in all the forums I've posted them in only to have the same problem again.  :/

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My first anime was DBZ... 

I was 11 yrs and that was the first anime that aired on national television during that time

I saw and followed all 51 EPs (CN only aired 50 EPs of DBZ on their first run and they rotated 4 times that before canceling the show. They resumed the show after 8 yrs b4 covering all 276 EPs) note:  for those don't know the TV version has 276 EPs and uncut which released in 2007 has 291 EPs being some extra eps introduced to the context of the manga. And remember those where the days where TV was the main source of entertainment for us kids. Internet was non accessible,  not much people were interested in sharing, encoding, uploading,  ripping etc. That was the age dial up connection where top speed of 50-80kbps could be achieved that too on a clear sunny day. 

 

Second was Pokemon

Started airing in 2003 or so.. 

The first time I saw the preview on CN I couldn't sleep for a month 

Until the first episode finally aired. Every day they used to air 1 episode and  that too at 5pm. The worst time possible for any grade schooler.  Why you ask,  the answer is "tuition" Of course. I have to actually bolt out of the tuition class, wear my flippers and cover a whopping 400 mts to my house all under 5 mins.. And not miss the ep (I missed the intro song but thats the sacrifice I had to make)  Sunday was the repeat telecast but I never used to get to watch since my sisters hogged the TV all day long. 

 

Third ws ONE PIECE

Also saw 2 EPs on television 📺 but got cancelled after they aired 26 EPs... I watched it after 8 years after that and I liked it

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