Is that what we’re calling when a p*ssy does “that” now?
I really hope Prison School fans don’t get it into their heads that I dislike dirty humor or anything of the sort. Seriously, the guy whose favorite genre is exploitation – particularly 70s-80s slasher films and pornos – hating dirty humor? Anyone with that belief goes beyond being a hypocrite and straight into an entity that the 4chan trolls would shun. And to prove my point, let’s give a positive review to an actually good cartoon with dirty humor, Shimone–oh wait, I don’t like that show either. Well, let’s review it anyways.
Shimoneta aka A Boring World Where The Concept Of Dirty Jokes Don’t Exist is JC Staff’s other perverted anime of the season, except instead of being based on a decently-regarded manga, its source comes from a light novel. Is said light novel well-regarded? Well it wouldn’t matter either way, because a first place trophy in the city’s annual nose-picking competition would have more weight to it than a stand-out in the light novel field. I’ll never understand what it about anime fans that make them reject western cartoons due to the abundance of crappy comedies that flood the market when the eastern cartoon field is no better in terms of repetitive humor. At least when there’s a stand-out in the western comedy field, it’s actually really fucking good.
Case in point, Rick and Morty aka the best thing to happen in Adult Swim in fucking years. The show has continued to stay strong after I last wrote about it, and now that the second season is finished, I can safely say that its title as “best anime of the summer season” still holds true.
Whilst its humor is no less dirty than JC Staff’s summer output (in fact, it goes way further than either of them), Rick and Morty has managed to really click with me and many people ever since it came onto the scene because it understands that exaggerating everything to its logical extreme isn’t enough to push the boundaries of what you can get away with in comedy. You need to subvert expectations, whether it be brushing up on relevant issues in a unique way or just going “holy shit I did not see that coming and I can’t stop laughing”. And what you should NEVER do is keep calling attention to that unexpected thing like a drama queen who had a pipe shoved up his ass. Even Morty’s constant freak-outs over what’s happening in front of him don’t take up a quarter of the screentime the likes of last season’s overreactions did.
Now to be fair, Shimoneta is a lot better than Prison School when it comes to comedic timing and execution, let alone the reaction monologues. It’s still a little hyper-stylized and there’s overall way too much energy being directed at jokes that failed ten minutes ago, yet the show still insists on banging them further to the point of weariness. But there were times when the show actually managed to make me smile with its formula, mainly because it’s actually tackling relevant issues (Japan’s censorship laws), and whilst the characters are obvious stereotypes (main character is a reactionary loser, the female lead is a joyful beacon of hope, the gay guy is a masculine gorilla, derpy derpy doo), the show occasionally seems to be aware of this and plays out their lame personalities with an ironic sense of joyful camp. Doesn’t excuse the loli though. Especially when she’s wearing black underwear that might as well be masking tape over her miniscule nips.
I’d recount the story for you guys, but there’s really not much to be said because it’s all very loose and mostly just an excuse for crazed stalkers to “high-lariously” chase after wimpy boy dick whilst people wearing underwear on their heads steal more of the stuff in order to use them as missiles. The setup is pretty much the same “normal boy with barely relevant circumstantial things surrounding him” meets “wacky girl who is attracted to said things and ropes him into her madness” schtick you see in most anime these days. And whilst the show does a better job at using the setup for unique ideas better than most, it’s pretty clear that Tanukuchi being the only straight man amongst the entire cast isn’t to make any artistic statement that you couldn’t see done better in a Russ Meyer film. Yes, only two of them are viable candidates for his junk whilst the others might as well be on Mars, but I don’t see how that makes the character setup any less dumb and fan-pandering.
Don’t get me wrong, Rick and Morty’s cast isn’t exactly all that well-rounded either in terms of story and character. The Smith family is pretty much your stereotypical sitcom setup with a supporting cast of either one-episode gimmicks or celebrity guest stars, and the actual events that occur are mostly some variation of “movie parody in space happens” and Rick has to sort it out whilst putting Morty and the entire human race at constant risk in the process. But whilst Shimoneta failed to really elevate its core premise due to waving back on forth on its tones like a virgin couple experiencing their first time together, Rick and Morty keeps its satirical tone focused, always remembering to love its subject matter whilst shooting the shit out of it in order to allow for creative laughs. And even by comedy standards, there’s a depth to each of the character that makes them all memorable so that even when the jokes fall flat, you’ll still care about them somewhat.
This is particularly true during the second season’s surprisingly touching finale, which I won’t spoil since nobody deserves to have that done to them in regards to this particular show. But towards the end, one of the main characters realizes how much his actions have hurt those around him and in order to reverse the damage he caused, sacrifices himself in a non-comedic manner whilst a cheesy pop song plays in the background. Yeah we know he’s going to be fine come next season, but the fact that that scene gripped my cold black heart and warmed it up to over a hundred degrees for five minutes just goes to show how much I’ve grown attached to the cast in spite and because of laughing at their nasty adventures. And this finale’s setup was just “another random adventure” that had no arc tying it or the previous episodes together like South Park has been doing lately. It basically accomplishes in one episode what most stories can’t even accomplish in thirteen or twenty-six.
Looking at you right now, Shimoneta. Because man did you miss the mark when you tried to go for a touching finale. We’ll let it slide that the official last episode was just an OVA that was tacked onto the series’ TV broadcast and that the penultimate episode is this season’s real conclusion since those things tend to happen. But whilst I can kinda see the chemistry the main couple had developed up to that point, ending your show’s war on decency with a hasty “on reflection, you changed me and I kinda like you” isn’t exactly what I’d call emotionally moving nor conclusively satisfying. You didn’t even give me any indication of where you could possibly go after this other than more random hijinks in attempts to take down the system that I can’t really take seriously. In fact, I don’t think the characters’ attacks amounted to anything more than an Occupy Wall Street protest. If anything, they accomplished far less.
Overall, Shimoneta is not the worst of JC Staff’s comedies – you don’t even have to look beyond the same freaking season to find a worse one – and I guess light novel fans will eat up its joyful shamelessness alright. But no amount of bravado can make up for a lack of really funny jokes, decent characterization, and substantial criticism against a system that always seemed kind of hypocritical to me given Japan is a country where you can buy panties from vending machines. I know I’ve been referencing it a lot lately, but I really recommend playing Bayonetta instead if you want to get your fixture of high-octane sexiness. At least the dumb fun is being led by a woman who’s confident in her image and only uses sexuality when it involves summoning hair demons to rip angels apart.
As for Rick and Morty, this season is an overall improvement on the first one with many stand-out episodes, but in no way am I calling it perfect. The music episode doesn’t quite live up to its potential, mostly due to poor implementation of the Ice-T character. The finale has eight minutes of cheap jokes you have to sit through before the more hard-hitting material arrives. And the eighth episode is quite frankly horrible, better off forgotten and thrown into the void where we throw every Simpsons episode post-Season 8 or 9.
But those faults don’t distract from the fact that at its core, Rick and Morty is still a damn good show with creatively hilarious space adventures done in eye-pleasing hand-drawn animation that may look ugly on the surface, but is more visually pleasing than most animated things today (western or eastern) when in motion. Fans of animated space comedies like Space Dandy or Futurama should definitely check it out before it gets so long that you’re better off marathoning The Wire in your free time. And personally, I can’t wait for the third season to come into our lives and defend its title as “best anime of that particular season”. Not that it had much of a challenge the season it came out; but man, it wasn’t even giving the good summer 2015 shows a chance.