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Cidolfas's Anime Reviews: Pani Poni Dash

Okay, Japanese people. I give. You must have read my review where I said that Excel Saga was just random insanity. Oh no, you said. I got it too good. So you churned out Pani Poni Dash, which makes Excel Saga look like Ghost in the Shell.

Excel Saga has a storyline. Characters have goals and actual roles within the plot. Although stuff is silly, it's not out of nowhere. PPD, on the other hand, takes place in a school, has no overarching plot whatsoever, and its characters consist mainly of tics and weirdness.

The basic premise isn't complicated: Rebecca Miyamoto is an eleven-year-old genius who graduated MIT (yet can't pronounce the word Massachusets). Being half-Japanese, she heads to Japan to, of all things, teach a junior high classroom (thus making her not only the youngest junior high teacher to ever graudate MIT, but probably the only junior high teacher ever to graduate MIT; it's a technical school, after all). Her students promptly dub her "Becky" and "Chibiko" (shorty). The rest of the series consists of hijinks. Oh, and there's also a set of very silly aliens whose job is to observe Becky. And a terminally depressed rabbit.

And references. Totally random references to absolutely everything Japanese. The notes that come with the fan translation easily stretch to twenty pages per episode, with no images. These references aren't well-known either, no. Anyone who isn't a native Japanese will be lost at sea. I've been watching anime for three years now, and literally 95% of the references are from places I've never even heard of. There are a few desultory American nods, but they're like poor castaways in an ocean of foreignness.

Stylistically, PPD is, yet again, random. Characters often show up around the screen in chibi format, creatures float across the screen for no reason, the backgrounds change every time the camera view does, and a running gag has the characters on an actual sound stage with cameras and staffers in the foreground.

For all this randomness, PPD is... not really all that funny, to tell the truth. It's weird, yes, and there's a certain fascination in seeing what sort of wacky things will happen next, but since pretty much all of the references went over my head, and I spent way too long trying to catch the notes at the top of the screen (which are often gone within a second), I didn't find myself enjoying it in the least. There's a ton of characters, many of which only exist for a single reason (to trip and fall, to dress up in silly costumes, to walk around with animals) and the conversations are rarely allowed to continue normally without being interrupted with some random interjection. Other people seem to vehemently disagree with me and think that PPD is the best thing since sliced bread, so I guess your mileage may vary.

Long story short, I'm sure there's some sort of genius in there somewhere, but damned if I know where. I will say that the opening and closing songs are amazingly catchy, though.

Favorite Character: Himeko.

Overall Rating: 4.0

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