I’m not sure how Binan is going to stack up as a blogging candidate, but I’m certainly enjoying it as a viewing experience. I’ve said from the beginning that this series was only going to work if it unreservedly embraced the silliness of the concept and carried the joke all the way to its theoretical conclusion. And I think it only works for the viewer if they reciprocate – if you don’t appreciate the validity (some might even say urgency) in mocking what this show is mocking, I can’t see it providing much satisfaction.
For its part, Binan seems fully committed to the premise its laid out. After a very absurd and campy premiere introducing us to the Battle Lovers and Wombat, it’s the super-villains’ turn to step into the spotlight here – and they come with their own alien furry and transformation sequence. It’s the Caerula Adamas, a prissy gang of tea-partiers who look down on the unwashed masses and engage in their “Total Conquest of Earth Lifeforms” master plan for the peasantry’s own good. This group is voiced by Kamiya Hiroshi, Fukuyama Jun and Terashima Takuma – who take this about as seriously as you’d expect.
Upping the bizarreness levels even further is “Lord Zunda” (Yasumoto Hiroki), Wombat’s evil counterpart. He appears to be a green spiny hedgehog (I’d have named him Norman myself) who spends most of his time in. Kusatsu’s pocket or curled up in a teacup. Zunda is the evil one (-dar!), but the boys of the Earth Defense Club rightly note that there’s a certain hypocrisy in Wombat’s professing to love the Earth and its people when he has in-fact killed their teacher and re-animated his body. This, as it turns out, is Hakone-kun’s indirect doing – though Wombat is the one bearing all the guilt.
The SOP here seems to be to feature a student with a big-name seiyuu (last week Ishida Akira, this week Konishi Katsuyuki) with a ridiculous quirk being used as a weapon by the Conquest Club. This time around Hashida Owario is a boy who for some reason loathes everything asymmetrical – especially disposable chopsticks that break unevenly. The pattern of last week plays out again, with the Battle Lovers again foiling the plot with “Scarlet” providing most of the heroics. And if all that weren’t enough, we also get Sugita Tomokazu as his buff older brother Gora (yet another boy named after an onsen – in his case, two of them).
Most comedies, anime and otherwise, tend to boil down to one simple equation – whether or not they make you laugh, and I think this one is going to be even more polarizing than most. All I can say is that for me it’s working – I’ve laughed at most of the gags in the first two eps and I’m pretty on-board with what the show is trying to pull off. This could probably still go either way, but for now I think the outlook is pretty positive – the writing is smart enough, the cast is on their game, and I don’t sense that Binan Koukou is going to lose its nerve.