Any way you slice it, a high-school dude chasing after a girl shouting “Eat my fresh vegetable stick!” is just plain wrong.
It’s glorious to have Minami-ke back at the height of its powers again, because it’s a reminder that this is one of the titans of anime comedy. Frankly I wasn’t sure we’d ever see this level of brilliance with any consistency again, and certainly not without Ohta Masahiko directing. Watching Minami-ke at its best is a little like watching Michael Jordan in his prime – there’s the sense that it can succeed choosing whatever path it wants, because with this cast and this writing, no style of comedy is outside its reach.
I hardly know where to start in singing the praises of this episode, because it was hilarious pretty much from start to finish. Just a few highlights from the infinite list:
- Hosaka and Hayami’s banter in the opener. “Before that. Not that insulting.” “I could really go for a few sauries…”
- Bell peppers in the vending machine
- Not one, but two Hosaka insert songs – one of them a duet with Chiaki
- A rare appearance by Plain Yogurt Shuichi, introducing the vegetable-plot conspiracy
- Big, scary pumpkin-head hypnosis
- Kana’s “God of Fire” speech
Really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This was the sort of episode where you really had to watch scenes at least a couple of times because there was so much hilarity going on in the background. The BBQ is a perfect example: The front-end story, with Chiaki’s war with vegetables and Kana’s con job with the God of Fire, was funny on its own. But Touma’s dialogue with Maki and Atsuko was entirely in the background, but telling a story all its own – Touma acting like a spoiled little princess, except that Atsuko and Maki thought she was a boy (which shed a different light on her behavior, and references to Atsuko’s “cushioning”). Not only that, you had the lyrics to the “Barbecue Song” playing over everything.
Grill it up, and anything makes barbecue
Let’s make it a free and easy barbecue!
Maybe grill some udon , eat it up! Eat it up! Eat it all up!
Even if we’re having curry, it’s a barbecue
Even vegetables you hate are on the barbecue!
Little did we realize that was going to start an entire vegetable-themed show, the first hint of which was Makoto and Shuiichi doing their “Zun-ta-ta!” dance at school (Chiaki’s head-bob response was worth the price of admission). Turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg of a massive M.I.B. caliber conspiracy to get kids to eat vegetables, headed up by a truly terrifying pumpkin-head on TV singing about talking vegetables. Give all this points for absurdity, but perhaps the best joke of all isn’t apparent until later – only baka Kana is resistant to the hypnotic power of Pumpkin-head and his healthy weapons of terror.
I think the last segment’s brilliance pretty much speaks for itself. Anything that recalls the outrageous “Curry Fairy” episode (Okaeri, #2) is off on the right foot, but when a mind-altered Chiaki and Hosaka end up meeting in the supermarket and giving us a fell-fledged musical number complete with Shirley Temple-style dance moves from Chiaki, the level of service is almost too much for the heart to bear.
With vegetables all around, every day is like a dream
So let’s vegetable!
Thank goodness the healing power of fatty sausage is able to break the spell – but it’s too late for Haruka-neesama, who’s fallen under the nutrient-rich sway of the terrors that come from beneath the ground. For dessert, we finally get to see Hayami – who really, really deserves it – get a little taste of terror itself as Hosaka turns the tables on her at last. And thus ends what amounts to pretty much the perfect episode of Minami-ke – hell, maybe the perfect anime comedy episode. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a craving for a big plate of carrots and radishes.
Insert Song: “Let’s Vegetable!” by Ono Daisuke and Chihara Minori